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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A required tonic

A long slow lunch
With like-minded friends
In misty mid-winter
At the Queens Head Inn
In Icklesham,
East Sussex,
Is a required tonic
Before strolling wistfully
Over the Brede valley downland
To the ancient medieval hill towns
Of Winchelsea and Rye.

This is Old England
At its best.

There are ghosts hereabouts
And the memories of ghosts.

Creep into
The thirteenth century
Rib-vaulted cellar
Beneath The New Inn
In Winchelsea
And listen,
But do not extinguish your candle
And do not go there after dark:
The smugglers will have you still.

The liquid treasure
Of Gascony
Still lubricates life
On the other side.

And then on
Past lonely Camber Castle
To Rye
And The Mermaid Inn
Rebuilt in 1420.

Those who remember
Still talk in the tea shops
About what happened here
In 1377
And spit, politely,
At the French.

In this part of the world,
It is only the present
Which seems unreal.


The Queens Head at Icklesham
The pub's website

The New Inn (Winchelsea)
A photograph

A note on the cellars of Winchelsea

Camber Castle
A photograph

The Mermaid Inn (Rye)
A photograph


Happy hour

A taxi is possible

Out beyond the Gas Giants

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