Just returned from one of our best weekends away yet! We were in Rye, and we were really fond of the village itself, plus we spent a sunny (but cold) day at the coast and ate like kings. But the icing on the cake was a fabulous celebrity encounter…one that could only be matched by meeting a royal (some would argue it beats meeting a royal). Any guesses? We’ll get to that. But first…
When you’re in Rye you feel like you’ve stepped back in time…the narrow cobblestone lanes and the crooked, half-timbered homes…it was such a breath of fresh air from London. Remarkably, there is not one chain store in the village – a real testament to its authenticity. It’s the kind of place where a cantankerous old man can eke out a living selling odd goodies at his ye olde sweet shop. The village sits up on a hill overlooking the harbour and the sea below. Picture perfect quaintness cuteness.
For such a small town, Rye had some good eats. We can actually say that a number of our best meals in England have now been in Rye, which is really quite impressive considering the town is as small as six streets criss-crossing each other. We made a repeat visit for pre-dinner pints to the historic Mermaid Inn, an ancient, timbered pub with a massive log fire, low ceiling beams and relics from its days as a smuggler’s retreat. Many celebrities have come for a pint at the Mermaid Inn, and we half expected to see one here (or the pub’s ghost).
We tried another pub at the base of Rye Castle, called The Ypres Castle Inn. We liked the fact that no one seems to be able to pronounce the name, so it’s just called “the wipers” among the locals. While this pub had nothing on the Mermaid Inn (it smelled like cat food) we did meet an interesting English couple there. The lady took a liking to us because she had just moved back from living in Sonoma for thirty years. Point is, we met and chatted with them for about 15 minutes, ran into them later on the street (so small town) and joined them shortly thereafter to while away the afternoon over tea and scones. At some point during all this, you’d think there would have been some introductions (after all, we learned right away there dog was Monty). No. They never offered their names so we never gave them ours. This is very “English”…for some reason exchanging names is something you have to work up to…apparently we weren’t there yet.
Okay okay enough about Rye. We met Paul McCartney! He was walking along one of the little backstreets of the village with his daughter and girlfriend. We were the only other people around and he was really friendly, chatting it up with us for a few minutes before we “let him go.” Here is a transcript of the conversation:
B: Sir Paul.
P: Hey how are you?
B: Can I shake your hand?
P: (laughs) Yeah!
K: This is such an honor.
P: Where are you two from?
B: Well we’re living in London, but were from San Francisco.
P: Ah. Is it your first time in Rye?
B: Yeah this is our first day. We’re here for the weekend. The village is great.
P: It’s lovely. This right here (pointing across the street) is one of the oldest buildings in town. (Shameful. He told us what the building used to be and we can’t remember. We were starstruck)
K: It’s beautiful. I just took a picture if it.
P: So are you staying in town?
B: Yeah we’re staying in a B&B right down the road.
P: (Wiping his nose with a well worn yellow kleenex) Yeah they’re quite nice aren’t they?
B: So do you come down to this area a lot?
P: Yeah oh yeah. I love it down here. You know, it’s a private place for me to come and spend time with my family. Thats my daughter right there (points to daughter and girlfriend off playing a few feet away. They smile at us.)
B & K: (Nodding) Oh how nice.
K: Well we’ll let you get back to your family.
P: It’s no problem she’s fine. We’re going to get a pizza.
K: Well thank you it was such a thrill to meet you.
B: Yeah take care.
P: Okay then cheers.
It seemed strange to run into him in Rye of all places, when he has an office in Soho, five minutes from where Brent works. As we were walking away, our legs felt like rubber bands, and we couldn’t stop talking about it the rest of the weekend.