This Pub Taxi Business is becoming addictive. Two days after dropping BRAPA in the middle of nowhere (aka Dorset), I popped down south again to take Paul Bailey to see Jeff Bell’s new home in Rye, something I promised on a drunken evening of Tonbridge karaoke last Easter (photos lost, I hope).

Rye is the attractive little town I visited two years ago purely to get a literary blog title that went right over your heads.

In Tonbridge I took the opportunity to see how Paul is converting his own house into a “micro pub” using benches, bottles of Stella Old Dairy and Guinness adverts.


I say “pop down” to Rye.  It would be an epic journey at 6pm on Friday night in half-term week, but last week the whole journey took two hours, which is how long it takes to leave Cambridgeshire on the A14 these days.


Being a tight git we avoided a fiver’s worth of parking charges by dumping the car down a side street next to this place.

Mrs RM liked this one, which looks like Fortnum & Mason inside
Exciting OS extract

Rye has a little bit of central Durham or Bridgnorth about it, cobbled streets packed with interest if not students and pubs. We had half an hour before the Ypres Castle opened, long enough to be attacked by birds at the gate,

They were after Paul, I’ve decided

buy a fivers worth of mint crumbles from a sweet shop owner who was either violently pro or violently anti European Union, we were never sure. I just wanted mints.

Your place for Brexit argument

and climb the tower of St Mary’s for the best views in Sussex.

A walk along the rooftops
Oddly Germanic

And certainly the steepest steps.

We recovered in the pub.


A really great welcome at the bar, genuinely friendly and knowledgeable about the beer. No Harvey’s so Paul went for Old Dairy. I looked on sadly.  Mrs RM had driven me here last year so I knew how good the beer was. Read Paul’s report here.


The lacings probably tell you more than that report, and I reckon it was spot temperature wise (OK, I had a sip).

That’s what beer should look like

Jeff turned up, whizzing around like a whirlwind, and said “Hello” and raved about the Ivy House in Nunhead, which shares some the Ypres Castle character.

By half twelve the place was filling up with gentlefolk diners and younger drinkers. Decent indie music from Whitney (the other one), and a pub for all ages.

Cosy spot
Note Rothaus sign

If micropub owners want to know how to run a pub, they should come and visit here.  One Old Boy even got a bit of table service, which was nice to see.

It was a struggle to get Paul to leave as he saw the keg range, but I needed chips.  We popped through the Smugglers alleyway,


and found calamari and fishcake and chips in Marino’s.  Grief, they were good.  The birds in St Mary’s tower could smell them 300 feet away.


If this all sounds a bit gushing, sorry.  It’s a lot harder to write about rubbish pubs than great ones.  Ypres Castle is a great pub.

NB Roger agreed with me, too.




44 thoughts on “HIGH IN RYE

  1. Ah, Rye. Such a beautiful little town. And a part of the country I return to every year. Nothing beats the atmosphere of the Romney Marshes and the Cinque Ports in a misty winters day. The Ypres Castle is a fabulous pub with live music, good beer and fantastic views. There’s a couple more that I like too, even if they may not be in the guide.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d forgotten the details Paul (more on your blog). Seemed right to me, though would have been too many down the road. I see more and more pubs with two handpumps for cider these days, a still one and a fruit one typically. No idea if they sell or last longer than 3 days.


  2. “Rye has a little bit of …. Bridgnorth about it” – yes, and just lacks the cliff railway.
    And the Sussex accent denies it the bostin’ joke that Lye enjoys.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There’s more breweriana in the summerhouse, Martin. Now were I to clear that out, then it could be a half-decent micro-pub!

    Thanks for a great day out, and fishcake and chips to die for.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. When street viewing Halcyon Quest one sees a for sale sign on the building. I either have the wrong building or hope that it is an old view.


      1. It’s maybe twenty years since I last went. The locals were still tipping a bottle of light ale into their draught beer then, just to make it palatable. I never quite got that, might as well drink bottled ale full stop, instead of trying to liven flat rubbish? I think beer quality generally in the South of England has improved considerably since then and definitely since I lived down there for a while in the eighties. Mind you, it can still be hit and miss.


      2. Oh, I think you’d appreciate the products of the breweries, especially Burning Sky, Old Dairy and Three Legs. But a lot of the GBG pubs are predominantly middle-class diners with Prosecco and Peroni dominating. Hastings would make a great day out though.


      3. I like Burning Sky. Not been to Hastings for a long while neither, again maybe twenty years. On my last visit I reckon it would have given Blackpool a run for it’s money in the seediness stakes. This SE prosperity thing is overplayed and patchy. There are lots of s.holes down there when you look.


  4. been to Rye & Ypres castle many times & never knew you could go up the church tower ! Will have to investigate this on a day when my knees would not protest too much at the climb -thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 2 sensible comments now -didn’t realise the landlord of the Ypres is a well known/liked figure -he was very keen to welcome us a few months ago & offered tasters (not accepted -Mr S just goes straight in ! ) Read your chums blog about this visit & noticed the link to Bamburg & Franconia which I have made a note of -our lad has been there & raved about it -we have put it on our to do list now we are able to get out & about more in our/my semi retirement


    1. I limit all readers to 3 sensible comments a week so be careful now.

      Jeff can talk for England (he’s from South Shields I think); a lovely chap, and he’s presided over or helped improve every pub he’s been in. Unpretentious, cheery staff, really top beer. I sense Rye is his ideal pub though. A National Pub of the Year contender for me.


    2. Oh, Paul’s blog is a favourite of mine. You get the personal detail and family stuff I love to read (bit like young BRAPA but less close to the bone). Beer is an adjunct to life, not the main purpose of it.

      Even without the pubs, I can recommend Franconia for a holiday. Much more interesting than France, and cheaper. Start in Nuremberg (honest) and work your way up toward Bayreuth with a stop in Pottenstein.


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