Hello February, So Long Slow January
February, oh February, how we love you! There’s something about February arriving that cheers everyone up after the long, very long, bleak, dark, cold, wet January days.
It’s taken us the whole of January to get out of first gear. We had a slow, very slow, January!
Mainly this is because I got the awful cold, that seems to be hitting everyone (if you haven’t had it yet, you are very lucky, or you’d better watch out!). I got it before Christmas, felt terrible over Christmas and it took me six weeks (yes, six weeks) to get completely rid of it. I think it took longer to get over it because of the ME/CFS, most people seemed to be about 3/4 weeks. Anyway, if you’ve had it, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about and if you haven’t, you are VERY lucky! hahaha
Then, it was my birthday. A rather significant one! Now, I hate having my birthday towards the end of January. Let’s face it, January is a pretty miserable month. People aren’t well, the weather is awful, ‘dry January’ is taking place, you realise how much you spent at Christmas and that you can’t afford anything for a while. Yes, it’s miserable.
A Weekend Away
So, we thought it would be lovely to get out of London, with the dogs, for a long weekend. Cosy cottage with a log fire, winter beach walks, good food and lots of fresh sea air.
So we took to AirBnB for the first time, with the idea to head down to Rye on the south coast.
We found two potential properties in Rye Harbour, which we had visited, very briefly, a few years ago.
Now don’t go getting Rye and Rye Harbour muddled up, because Rye Harbour is about two miles from the historic (and well worth a visit) town of Rye.
Rye Harbour is a village, a quiet village, but it is also a working harbour on the River Rother. It is my understanding, that Rye Harbour village was built where the old shoreline used to be and the beach line is continually advancing southward.
There isn’t much in Rye Harbour, one small convenience store, two pubs, two cafes, a yachting centre and a holiday home village. A Martello Tower (No 28) was built at Rye Harbour to defend the area against possible invasion during the Napoleonic wars.
What appealed to us, is the peaceful, quiet location, some good dog walks and for me, the beach (if you’ve read my blog for a while, you will know that I love to be by the sea). The cottage we chose, in Rye Harbour village, is a short walk to Rye Harbour Nature Reserve and, more importantly, close to the beach, Winchelsea to the west and Camber to the east.
Seakale Cottage, Rye Harbour
Our search on AirBnB brought back Seakale Cottage as an option, which was, not surprisingly, available in January! For our first time using AirBnB we had a great experience, once we had logged in and downloaded the app.
Jane, the owner of Seakale Cottage, was helpful and always friendly in her correspondence with us, we didn’t get to meet Jane but all the information and instructions she sent us, were clear and concise.
We arrived on Thursday afternoon, negotiated our way down an unmade road and found the cutest little cottage tucked away in a very quiet spot, there would be no passing traffic and very few people walking by. All we could hear were the seagulls!
Seakale Cottage is a former fisherman’s, white-washed cottage, with a small barn attached on one side and another cottage on the other. It has 3 bedrooms, one king bed and two twin bed rooms. Decorated in muted blues and whites, with a nod to the coastal setting in the furniture, artwork and soft furnishings.
The kitchen is small but well-appointed, with dishwasher, microwave, kettle, toaster etc, pretty much anything you could need. The bathroom is big in comparison, very stylish with double sinks and a view out over the Martello Tower.
With wooden floor boards through-out, the cottage is very dog-friendly. Jane welcomes dogs, she even leaves crates, bowls, spare poo bags and treats for them. Not only that, she also left a treat for us, a delicious Victoria sponge cake, which was demolished over the weekend. Jane had no problem with us having two dogs staying in the cottage either. More importantly, for us, there is a dog-friendly enclosed garden too.
The living room is comfortable and cosy, with a log burner that will warm you up on the coldest of days!
The really noticeable thing, for us, coming from London, is how peaceful it was. In the evening we stepped out into the garden, and on the clear evenings, we could see the stars shining bright and clear!
Everything we needed was just a short walk away. Everyone we encountered were friendly and stopped to chat with us.
Rye Harbour Nature Reserve
The Rye Harbour Nature Reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and was only a 5 minute walk from the cottage. On our first morning there, we were up early as the sun was rising, it was a cold but bright day and we headed out to the nature reserve with the dogs.
The nature reserve, is free to enter and there is a car park opposite the entrance. It has a network of footpaths which provide bracing walks down to the beach, along the sea-shore (towards Winchelsea beach), across fields and large areas of shingle, in all it covers 800 acres. It attracts walkers, dog walkers, cyclists and nature lovers alike. There is the opportunity to observe wildlife from 5 excellent bird hides, 3 of which have wheel chair access.
The dogs loved being off lead, the areas of marsh land were well fenced off, so they couldn’t damage anything. Hubby even took his bike out one afternoon and did a circuitous route around the reserve.
William the Conqueror Pub, Rye Harbour
Just round the corner from the cottage is two pubs. We asked, in the local shop, which one they would recommend for food. So, off we headed to William the Conqueror, just a five minute walk from the cottage.
We were pleasantly surprised. The pub has recently be refurbished, with a contemporary, stylish and nautical theme. It is a comfortable, friendly, traditional pub with a selection real ales, hearty homemade food and a warming open fire.
It is also very dog-friendly, so we didn’t have to leave the dogs behind when we headed out for dinner on two evenings.
Very unusually, we thought, a lot of the menu featured many Greek/Cypriot options, as well as the usual pub choices and, of course, fresh sea food too! We found out that the owner is Greek/Cypriot hence the unusual options. We enjoyed both our meals. The first evening I had an aubergine bake and Hubby had moules marinere. The next evening we both went for fish and chips (well, it would be rude not to!).
This pub is the sort of pub you want just round the corner from your home, great food, cosy ambiance, friendly staff, local beers/ales and dog-friendly too.
Once you get on to the beach, from the nature reserve, head towards Winchelsea (you can’t get to Camber Sands, from the nature reserve, the harbour is in the way!). It’s about an hour’s walk along the beach to Winchelsea and there’s a cafe there, so you can take a break before you head back.
It would have been a bit of a long walk for me, so we jumped in the car and headed there for our morning walk with the dogs.
Sadly, it wasn’t the best of days! Luckily, Hubby had some old wet weather gear in the boot, (I call it ‘junk from the trunk’ haha), as you can see, it wasn’t the most flattering outfit but it did the job and kept me dry!
When the tide is out the beach is vast and seems to go on forever, but the sea looked murky and muddy. It was a grey, drizzly, breezy morning. Not surprisingly, we pretty much had the beach to ourselves. In the far distance we spotted another dog walker and some people who looked like they were picking mussels? whelks? Who knows but they were bent over searching for something.
The weather didn’t stop the dogs enjoying the expanse of space. Sandy absolutely loved it, she ran with the wind, her ears flapping as she went! I love to watch the dogs on the beach, they chase and play with each other, it gives me such joy to see them so free and happy.
As you walk down through the nature reserve, you can see Camber Sands to the east. It’s so close and yet so far, if you are walking!
This is because the River Rother and Rye Harbour are, rather inconveniently, in the way (joke!). It’s a short drive to Camber, but a pretty long walk around the harbour.
We’ve been to Camber Sands before and it’s a beach that we, and the dogs, love.
However, this time, we arranged to meet our friends, who have two adorable dachshunds, in The Owl at Camber for lunch. We were supposed to go for a walk on the beach afterwards but it such was a rotten day, so we decided against it and stayed longer in the pub, chatting and enjoying the food.
This is our second visit to The Owl and, once again, it didn’t disappoint. The Owl is very dog-friendly, but we do recommend that you book a table. They had no problem with us having four dogs with us and set aside an alcove area with plenty of space for us and the dogs.
The food was great the last time, the menu changes seasonally, but it was still really tasty. The staff are so friendly, popping over to take our order and giving the dogs treats each time!
In the summer, this pub is jam-packed and rightly so. It has a great atmosphere, the staff are friendly, the food is good and it is so close to the beach. They told us that this summer they are hoping to put a BBQ area out front, for beach takeaways (does it get any better?). In the winter, it is still busy but the staff have more time to have a chat with the everyone.
It’s a great pub to visit, whatever the season and so dog=friendly.
A Relaxing Weekend Away
All in all, considering it was January, we really enjoyed our weekend away. In fact, winter is a great time to head down to the beaches in the UK, there’s less people and all dog restrictions are lifted until 1May.
After the Christmas festivities, the horrible cold bug and the January blues, it was what we all needed, to get out of London and blow the cobwebs away.
Have you been to Rye or Rye Harbour? Did you enjoy it?
We definitely did.