Juel in the Crown

May 21st, 2009

There’s a shop in Rye which is dangerous. It beckons you in with glittering jewels and you may well emerge back onto the streets of Rye a little bit poorer.

But we have to say that Juel is one of the most wonderful treasure-troves around, selling  jewellery that you’d never find anywhere else. Most of what they sell is handmade in Europe and each piece is unique. This is not where you go for a silver neck chain, this is where you go for someting that will make a real statement.

We’ve also just found out Juel are offering a hire service so you can make like Cate Blanchett and head off to a party wearing something seriously special (pearl choker below a case in point) knowing that it’s not cost you very much. Sadly Juel don’t provide a security guard to protect you on the red carpet, but maybe next year.

You wouldn't wear this when popping out for a pink of milk...

You wouldn't wear this when popping out for a pink of milk...

Given that they specialise in being ahead of the curve, we asked Juel co-owner Judith Herbert about the cultural movements influencing what you’ll see in the shop:

“We don’t follow seasonal trends because we adopt a ‘futurist’ approach –  we look at key events –  like anniversaries of  famous artists and designers – that have a great influence on design in our environment, from clothing to interiors and architecture. These movements become reference points for the jewellery we buy for Juel.

So at the moment in jewellery, you’ll generally be seeing elaborate designs around, which stems from the Victora and Albert museum’s current Baroque Exhibition, also abstract designs which take a cue from all the Picasso revival’s that are going on.

“For next season, we’re anticipating a 1950s and modernist revival, and Juel is also going to be reflecting the Art Deco period with a strong contemporary edge.

“Another movement, linked to the recession, is the revival of ‘Art in Design’. We want to offer products that will stand the test of time, and that offer versatility – people are being more cautious in buying new clothing, so this season we are having great success with vibrant colours that lift and enhance neutral outfits. Sometimes it is more prudent to purchase accessories than to replace items in the wardrobe. Several new looks can be created using accessories, say with a simple black dress. It is a formula used always by stylish French women.”

So there you go: make like the French and don’t bother with a new frock, all you need’s a necklace (though make sure it’s Art Deco!).

Juel have shops in Battle and Rye, and say hello to Judith next time you’re in. She might even show you that pearl choker.


Art Attack

April 23rd, 2009

For all you budding artists out there, we’re very lucky to have Fiona Graham-Mackay at The George in Rye next week, where she’ll be running a series of art classes between 28 – 30 April.

Fiona has lived all over the world – she is a Border Scot but spent periods of her childhood in Nigeria and Central America. Her artistic talents went through the roof as she grew up, and so Fiona headed off to the Royal College of Art, where she studied alongside Quentin Blake.

Though Fiona continues to travel heavily, she now lives near Rye in the countryside, where she practices oil painting, portraiture and runs an annual festival of painters. Some of her recent work comes from her time in Morocco, The Alhambra, among tribesmen and women in Pakistan and at sea (she sails an ocean-going yacht).


So, whether you’ve never picked up a paintbrush in your life, or are an artist yourself who’d like to develop your skills, come join us for the art break. Find out more about Fiona on her website, and as a taster, here’s her account of Robin Knox-Johnston’s round the world boat trip, taken from the website:

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

Conversation with Courage:

“There is a sense in Robin Knox-Johnston that he could never have been ordinary. The first man to sail single-handed non-stop round the world in Sulhali, his boat he built in India. He set out on the last round-the-world race at the age of 67. In this painting I saw the strength and courage of this man. Someone said, “O Robin? He’ll be all right. In the middle of the gale, he’d just make himself an Irish Coffee and fight it. And he’ll win.” The brush strokes took on the tempo of the wind. It had to be got down. A sense of urgency. But then, I saw him, casually surveying the wreckage. Knowing what had to be done next. Then sailing on, all alone. Eventually, I thought, most of us have to do that. We all have Gale Force 10’s sometime in our lives.’” – Fiona Graham-Mackay

Beating the French at their Own Game

April 9th, 2009

Lots of people who come to The George in Rye are always surprised that we have so many English Wines on our list. Any cynicism is usually blown away when we persuade them to try a glass or two! it makes perfect sense, really; we’re slap bang in the middle of English Wine-making country, which is concentrated in the chalky soils along Kent and Sussex.

We’re lucky enough to be collaborating with English Vine Tours this summer, an organisation which offers group and bespoke guided visits and tastings to our best vineyards. Think Sideways but with an Anglo twist! Look out soon for the launch of  private wine tours for Georgers, or shouls that be Georgians….. in the meantime, we interviewed the fittingly named Georgie Furst, the founder of English Vine Tours, about the revolution taking place in our vineyards. What she doesn’t know about English wines isn’t worth asking.

Georgie: the English Wines guru

Georgie: the English Wines guru

Why do you think there’s been a surge of interest in English Wines in the last couple of years?
It’s really been a steady growth over the last 5-7 years really, in which time English Sparkling Wines have won numerous international awards, beating the French at their own game. This in itself has created the impetus for interest, growth and increased production. The weather in the UK has been warming over the last few years which has enabled us to ripen our grapes further which has enabled us to produce better quality wines all round. Additionally there has been a tremendous growth and interest in the production of local foods and wines.

What’s the one English wine would you foist upon the cynic to change their mind and why?
Well that has to be our sparkling wines. The sub-soil structure is similar to Champagne and our sparkling wines are undisputedly amongst the best in the world. Fresh clean fruit, good mousse (fizz), subtle fruit notes on the palate balanced with refreshing acidity and hints of yeast are typical characteristics.

Is there a typical punter who comes on your tours?

We have a varied range of people booking from individuals, corporate groups to couples from London visiting for the weekend. The key common factor is the interest in visiting the vineyards and getting to understand a little bit more about how wine is made, without having to travel abroad.  Another key thing to remember is that the tours are experiences so they make a perfect gift for any friend or loved one.  The vineyards are set in beautiful countryside so simply make a great day out.

What vineyards are leading the way in this renaissance?
In reality all the vineyards are leading the way. They are all promoting themselves slightly differently as well as trying different things either in the vineyard or in the winery itself, thus giving us a diverse range of products.

Carr Taylor, Breaky Bottom, Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard, Ridgeview Vineyards all in Sussex, Chapel Down in Kent, Camel Valley in Cornwall, are just a few who are making not only some great wines but also making headway in promoting UK wine as a viable alternative at the dinner table and English vineyards as a tourist destination.

What’s the future of English wine – top trends and tips!
The future of English wine is going from good to great and as such it is one of the few home grown industries that is experiencing growth. As our climate slowly warms, the wines that we produce will get better and better. As such it is key for us to ensure that we do not sell out to foreign investors and lose the uniqueness and individuality of what we do. Top tips would be English Pinot Noir in the next 2-3 years, and Rose wines which are growing in quality as well of course the sparkling wines. Buy some local cheese and savour!

If it wasn’t 10am as we write this, we might just do that.

Look out soon for the launch of our partnership on the main George in Rye website. Till then, happy drinking!

The very beautiful Nutbourne Vineyards

The very beautiful Nutbourne Vineyards

Rye is where it's at

March 26th, 2009

Some pleasing news: Rye has been rated in the top ten destinations for UK holidays by Which? Holiday. The town’s been voted alongside The Cotswolds, North Cornwall and Colansay, Hebrides.

In a moment of glowing pride, three things we love about Rye:

  • the brilliant kitchen shop that sells lovely pots and pans
  • walking the circle around Great St Mary’s and hearing the seagulls
  • the sausages at Ashby & Son Butchers

That dress is mine

March 26th, 2009

We’ve just come out the other side of our first fashion sale. No photos of the event once it started – a frenzy, clothes everywhere! No not really, it was rather civilised and we even had Amanda Holden along to open the sale which was good fun. Bargains to be had an better than an afternoon rummaging around in TK Maxx.

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Confessions of a Shopaholic

A little something coming up…

March 13th, 2009


We’re rather excited about this: serious discounts plus tea and cake = heavenly.

Comic Relief Etc.

March 13th, 2009

Many visitors to Rye tell us that the highlight of their trip has been stumbling into the shop Glass Etc and coming out a few pounds poorer but much happier. Run by raconteur and glass Expert Andy McConnell, who is one of the Experts on the BBCs Antiques Roadshow, Glass Etc. is a treasure trove of a shop. It specialises in glassware – much of it completely affordable –  which sits on the shelves looking beautiful and twinkling, and you can usually guarantee when you go in that:

a. Fleetwood Mac will be playing
b. You will be offered a cup of tea
c. There will always be something anomolous for sale (a few months ago there was a sack of Wet Walnuts from Andy’s house in France)

Inside the treasure-trove of Glass Etc.

Inside the treasure-trove of Glass Etc.

It’s truly a wonderful place that takes life light-heartedly, so it came as no surprise to hear that Andy will be starring in Comic Relief this Friday night. Tune in to BBC2 at 6.30pm tonight (friday) for Priceless Antiques Roadshow, where andy will be traversing Rye with tongue firmly in cheek. Expect much mischief and fun…

Andy McConnell in action on Antiques Roadshow

Scallop Overload

March 6th, 2009

Oh my. We’ve come out the other end of the Rye Bay Scallop Festival. Epic is all we can say. I think in the space of a few days we ate more scallops than in the last 5 years put together.

Some highlights: we had over 80 people in our ballroom for our annual Scallop Gourmet dinner. We went to town on the decor front and dressed the table with seagrasses, coastal plants and tealights in scallop shells. You can also see from the picture below that the table was rather full of wineglasses – we always have a different wine with each course and there are quite a few courses…always makes for an enjoyable evening.

Going to down on the table pre-feast

Going to down on the table pre-feast

Earlier in the festival the infamous Hairy Bikers arrived in Rye (mode of transport: as you would expect) and went out to catch scallops with one of our local fisherman. Check back the number of scallops they brought back!

The hairy bikers rock up in Rye

The hairy bikers rock up in Rye

Er, that's a lot of scallops

Er, that's a lot of scallops

Festivals such as this one are so important. Yes the Rye Scallop Festival is rather focused in subject-matter, but by shining the light strongly on one local treasure, you’re reminding people that it’s little things that make life enjoyable. Why else is the Isle of Wight’s rip-roaring garlic festival so popular other than giving people the chance to get really, obsessively into a flavour for a weekend? Bring on next year, and in the meantime, what other ingredients deserve their own festivities?

What Rye Reads

February 20th, 2009

Rye is known as a writer’s town – it’s the birthplace, living place and death place of all manners of classic authors.  Some have slightly dubious links to the town while others are at Blue Plaque Level.

But what do Ryers read? Though we’d love to say we’ve read Henry James’ The Golden Bowl (yep, he lived in Rye for many years and you can visit his house) the answer is, erm, we haven’t got round to it yet. Next year, we promise.

We asked the Martello Bookshop, down the road from The George, to reveal their top-selling titles of the moment. They’re independent booksellers and so free of those 3-for-2 tables that are controlled by the marketers with the budgets to make a book a hit – meaning there’s a little more diversity in the books on offer.

So, what are we all reading in Rye? Local author John Ryan’s Pugwash series are perennial best-sellers for children and the young at heat. Here are a few other hot titles:

‘When Will There Be Good News?’ by Kate Atkinson
the latest literary detective book in a series featuring Jackson Brodie which is recommended by Martello Bookshop staff

‘The Old Country’ by Jack Hargreaves
a best selling nostalgia trip which appeals particularly to those who remember Jack Hargreaves’s television programmes

‘Doctor Syn’ by Russell Thorndike
a story of smuggling on Romney Marsh featuring the sinister Dr Syn, a vicar with a shady past as a pirate and leader of a smuggling gang. Let us know if you bump into him near Rye. He’s probably still wanted.

‘New Moon’ by Stephenie Meyer
sequel to the phenomenal vampire love story ‘Twilight’, a favourite with teenagers (though adults have been known to secretly love the book…) which has been made into a blockbuster film.

‘The Road Home’ by Rose Tremain
a new offering on the subject of economic migration from the author of Restoration.

New Moon, the new vampiric novel from Stephanie Meyer

New Moon, the new vampiric novel from Stephanie Meyer

Want to tell us about books you’re loving at the moment? Drop us a line at hello@thebloginrye.com and we’ll feature them.

London Fashion Week eat your heart out

February 19th, 2009

Rye may not house the Couturiers of Paris, but we don’t need the likes of Chanel to dip our toes in the fashion water.

We recently hosted a catwalk show in the Ballroom of our very own George in Rye (yes, Dior will be booking the venue for next year!), which was organised in aid of the NSPCC.

The team from Aveda organised a hair and beauty show and about 40 models who are customers of Rye Retreat – a day spa in Rye which does a wonderful head and shoulder massage – sashayed down the catwalk in front of an audience of 120.
Over £2000 was raised and Rye took on London Fashion Week at its own game for one night only. Check out some of the photos below (we’re sure the models won’t mind we’ve included a shot of them in their hair rollers!).

The Rollers - all part of the look

The Rollers - all part of the look

They've got the catwalk sorted

They've got the catwalk sorted

If you’ve got any ideas of  events we could host at The George, get in touch and you never know, we might just take you up on it.