Opera In Rye, accompanied by a leather rat…

On Saturday we had a lovely, if somewhat unusual, evening out in Rye. After a day of pouring rain, the weather cleared, and we seized the moment to have a cruise round the shops. A leather rat? Of course, why not.  Then it had to be chips in the street, a drink in the George and Barefoot Opera in the Rye Art Gallery.

Rye at night.

On a winter’s night, Rye always looks romantic. Very Dickensian. The Christmas lights make it look even better. Shame about the cars, though. Anyway, very early on in our wanderings we inspected the first of many junk/antiques shops and my heart was stolen by this leather rat. I am fond of rats, this particular Ratty is very appealing (I think) , and you certainly don’t find creatures like this very often… so I had to buy him.

After a while we started getting a little chilly and the smell coming out of Marino’s fish bar was very tempting… so we had to have a portion of chips, to be eaten while walking along. Very good chips too – hot and crispy. So exceptionally hot that I was reminded of a time years ago in Brum when I bought chips on a freezing cold night and one of my teeth exploded. The tooth had a gold filling in and I guess the extreme heat following icy cold caused an expansionary crisis. Nothing like that happened this time thank goodness.  Wolfed the chips, walked a little further, and next thing we are seduced by the lights and warmth of the George.

The George in Rye – far too tempting

Haven’t been in there since it re-opened in 2022 after the terrible fire of 2019. Strange, there is no mention of the fire on the hotel website, but here’s an article about it.  It is now beautifully restored and very chi-chi. Much brushing down and wiping chip grease from chin was required before going in. We were lucky to find a vast and squishy sofa by the massive red stove, and collapsed into it with a nice drop of Harveys Best…

Here’s the stove – and look, Ratty is already peeping out of his bag… It was so wonderfully cosy that we could barely move. I think we’ll sample the food etc in there – looks good. Eventually we prised ourselves off the sofa and headed for the Rye Art Gallery. Philosopher got to know Louise, who is married to Art Gallery boss Julian Day, via the WEA, and we are now quite friendly with them both. Since taking charge of the gallery Julian has done all sorts of good things to make the place more appealing and inclusive, and one of them was this event, a Barefoot Opera Young Artists recital  – ‘A Festive Cracker’.  We knew lots of people there – including Alex from poetry, John Cole the photographer, writing friend Liz Allen, and other regulars at cultural events. I regret to say I downed a large prosecco, which, immediately after the beer, went straight to my head. I showed off Ratty to far too many of the Great and the Good of the local arts scene. Philosopher said, rather pained, ‘they will think you are stark, raving mad.’ No news there, then. But look, by the end of the evening I had total strangers asking to see my rat…

Here’s Julian doing his intro stuff, with Jenny Miller from Barefoot in the background.

Readers will know we are great fans of Barefoot Opera – see this recent post. There were two young singers, Kezia Robson, soprano, and Joel Robson, baritone, plus Hanshi Zhang on electric piano (which had an alarming squeak from the pedals – fetch that WD40…). They sang a short, varied selection of pieces, both opera and Christmas music. They both had beautiful voices, and like so many Barefoot Opera events, the intimacy of the experience made it very powerful and affecting.  It was really lovely and I am so glad we went.

Two young singers…

What else have we been doing? Friend Shaun came down – much time spent in St Leonards buying mid-century chests of drawers, and also finished our Christmas decorations at home. Here are the obligatory annual pretty lights photos…

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