Rye Harbour dazzles, Henry James at Lamb House, Rye

The weather has been amazing the last few days. Colder, but sunny with a crystal clear, brilliant light. I've read that people have been seeing France from Hastings. We have not seen that, but with our telescope chez Battleaxe we can see ships passing both ways in the Channel - we can usually only see the shipping lane closest too us.
    On Sunday we started a lovely day out with a walk down at Rye Harbour.
    The horizon is so wide and the land so flat that we were just stunned by light and the cloudscapes.
Rye Harbour

Looking towards Pett Level

Rye Harbour
     There were many, many birdwatchers down there with their kit. Birds are nesting on the reserve now. I expect many people had come to see the avocets.  Avocets disappeared from Britain in the 1840s, and only reappeared in the 1940s, in Suffolk. They are still a rare bird, with around 1500 breeding pairs in the UK, but appear plentiful at Rye Harbour. We felt a bit smug because our walk took us round the corner from the mass of birdwatchers and we encountered a pair of avocets busy shovelling away in the mud with their strange spoon-shaped beaks, only about twenty metres from us. Here they are, followed by a shelduck.
Avocets at Rye Harbour

Avocet at Rye Harbour
   
Shelduck taking off

      After our walk we had lunch in Simply Italian in Rye - they run a really tight ship. Service is fast and friendly, food is fresh and good.
     We had a browse round the shops, and a wander round Rye, which was looking lovely in the afternoon sun.

Rye

Rye Church
     Then, to Lamb House. I have previously written about the house, and about Henry James, after an earlier visit with my reading group.
     Philosopher volunteered there for a while, for the National Trust. He thought, being a great Henry James fan, that he would enjoy chatting to like-minded American academics et al. However, he found himself overwhelmed by visitors with no interest in Henry James, they had come to view the setting of the recent Mapp and Lucia TV dramatisation. E F Benson, who wrote the novels, lived in Lamb House.  Also, the rooms open to the public are quite few, and Philosopher got bored after a bit.
     However, he was invited to an afternoon of readings to mark 100 years since the death of Henry James, and I went along too. Battleaxe confesses she has never managed to finish a Henry James novel, but may try again. The dry wit and waspish tone of his letters are often very funny.
     We had a glass of wine and wandered in the garden for a while, then squashed into the hall for the readings - there were about 40 of us. The readings were by local group the Lamb Players, featuring guests Henry Goodman and Miriam Margolyes. It was very good indeed, both in terms of the selections they chose and the skill with which the material was delivered.  Miriam M and Henry G were totally excellent. I have to do some more poetry readings soon. Reading well is a real art.
Henry James readings at Lamb House

The readers take their bow
     One or two in the audience were fast asleep, presumably after a heavy Sunday lunch, while others, clearly James afficionados, (have I spelt that right?) were hanging on every word. One bloke in front of me kept repeating the last few words of the extracts... 'most arrangements,' 'at Torquay', 'she's always blowing at me' with a gentle little titter and a frisson of delight.
     Anyway, it was a lovely day.
     At the moment we have our old friend Bill from Birmingham staying with us. We went for a walk over the East Hill this morning, then called in to the Jerwood - Philosopher was down there doing his bit. My arrival with Bill coincided with the arrival of the Duke of Gloucester, who appeared to be visiting various things in Hastings, including the Source Park. One was met by a welcome committee of the great and the good in the Jerwood foyer, but soon realised it was not meant for me. Of course, one is not too interested in minor royals, deah.
      Tomorrow we are going to Dungeness.  More material for Hastings Battleaxe.....

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