We've had numerous family gatherings in Rye, and it's also the town where my mother was married and my sister christened. My maternal grandparents are very nomadic (I touched on some family history in this post) but since retiring they have been based fairly steadily in Rye. It's certainly a scenic place to be.
My mother is one of five children and whilst she is based in Australia, she has a sister in Canada and a brother in Hawaii. Her other siblings remain in the UK and all but the Hawaiian family made it for the weekend's celebrations.
Mr Bite and I travelled down by train on Saturday morning. It's only a 2 hour journey, but I had volunteered to make my grandfather's birthday cake, so the trip was a little more fraught than usual due to carrying the cake box. Fortunately the cake made it intact! We were aided by a rowdy but friendly hen's party on the last train, where the carriages were too crowded to allow us seats. They volunteered their train table as a resting place for my cake box, and it sat their happily amid various hen's party accessories (I'll let you use your imagination...). It was an adventurous start for a cake destined for a 90-year-old.
I'll share the cake recipe in a separate post, but I'm pleased (and relieved) to say that it was well received. After quite a bit of research I made a layered orange sponge cake with chocolate ganache icing, decorated with rose petals and edible gold dust. In addition to being vegan, it was diabetes friendly, a new challenge for me.
Before cake, we had lunch at the Mermaid Inn. This was rebuilt in 1420, after fire damaged the original inn. The cellar escaped the fire so that dates right back to 1156. It's an impressive building, and suited to special events.
|Mermaid Inn interior|
I know we can be biased when it comes to our relations, but if I manage half of what my grandfather has I'll be very happy. At 90, he (and my grandmother) are still involved in numerous community events and he regularly writes articles for stamp magazines. He's authored several books on stamps, was a professor and dean before retiring, and fought in the RAF during WWII. Even after his RAF postings, he lived in half a dozen countries (the US, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Jamaica, Malaysia, the UK) and traveled to many, many more. He was a hands on, adventurous grandfather and has given me and my 10 maternal cousins many wonderful memories.
I'm really glad we could join in the celebrations, and do so with just 2 hours of travelling time instead of the 24-odd it takes from Australia. Around eating and celebrating, we even managed a scenic walk through the Sussex countryside. My parents have spent so much time in Rye they know the surrounding area as well as their own neighbourhood, and we enjoyed clambering over hills and through country fields. The weather is truly summer-like at the moment, to the extent that I even managed sunburn (!).
We're back to work tomorrow, but I'll certainly be thinking of my grandfather as he reaches the 90-year milestone. I'd like to think we'll be gathering to help him celebrate 100 in due course too.
What did you get up to this weekend?