A Book Worth Reading. . .


How is your lock-down going? It’s a great time to read a book worth reading.

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How to Teach Your Child to Read


How to Teach Your Child to Read

by Anne E Thompson

 I wrote this article several years ago. Now that many parents are forced to implement some kind of home-education, I thought it might be useful. There are some practical ideas, as well as a little educational psychology to explain why some things work better than others. I hope it’s helpful. Please share with people who will find it useful.

If you want to teach your child to read, as a primary school teacher, I am tempted to say: “Don’t!” There are lots of things, like tying shoe laces, identifying birds in the garden and cracking an egg into a cup, which are easiest taught at home and which you will do so much better than a teacher. When teaching to read is done badly, it is actually possible that you might delay your child’s reading or cause problems that can take years to undo.
However, as a mother, I know that teaching your child can be rewarding and fun, and we want to do it. This article therefore aims to give you some helpful hints on the sort of things that you might do at home with your child. It also lists a few of the problems that can arise.

Firstly, the most important thing that you can do is read, and let your child see you reading. Children are great imitators, and if they see both their mother and their father reading, then they will want to. You can read anything: books, newspapers, recipes, instruction manuals. What is important is that your child sees you reading. Young children who never or rarely see their parents read are less likely to want to themselves because it does not seem important. They are at that stage where they think everything you do is wonderful, and will want to copy. (Unfortunately, this stage does not last long. By the time they are teenagers they will think everything you do is wrong, so make the most of it!)

You also need to have lots of reading material in your home. This does not have to be expensive: join the library, or visit jumble sales and buy some cheap second-hand books. If children see their parents reading, and if there are books in the home, it is a natural step for them to pick up a book and turn the pages. It does not matter if they are only looking at the pictures or saying words that are not in the book, the first stage of learning to read is ‘playing’ with a book for pleasure.

You also need to read to your child. Sit them on your knee, and read them a story. They will learn that reading is something pleasurable, that can be done in a relaxed manner and will also start to internalise written language. This can be done at any age (some people even advocate reading to your unborn baby!) It will help your child learn to read as naturally as they learn to speak.

Much of reading is to do with prediction (which I will explain in more detail later) and if they have heard, “Once upon a time…” a few times it will help them later, when they are decoding for themselves.

Let your child see that you turn the pages one at a time, and read the words from left to right, top to bottom. Even before they can read, they will start to copy this behaviour.
If you are a working parent, it can be hard to find time in the day to read with your child. However, it really is important. Try to set aside the same time each day and make it part of the rhythm of the day. It does not matter if it is every day while you eat breakfast, or last thing in the evening when they are in bed. Read to them! It is as important as cleaning their teeth.

Do not rush into ‘proper’ reading lessons with your child. There is an age whereby a child is physically too young to learn to read. The human brain is a wonderful organ and it takes about 21 years to be fully developed. Different parts of the brain have different functions and control different things. It develops from back to front, and inside to outside. You would not sit your child in the driver’s seat of your car and tell him to drive—if nothing else, you can see that he’s not tall enough to look out of the windscreen, and his legs aren’t long enough to reach the pedals. Learning to read also needs physical development, but it is harder to gauge because we cannot see that a child is not ready. There is a substance called myelin, which I do not fully understand (I am a teacher, not a neurologist!) which is essential for a child to be capable of reading. This is the stuff that carries messages to and from the brain, and it coats different nerves as time goes on—so, first a baby can control their large limbs (arms and legs) later, they have finer motor control (can use their fingers). After a few years, it enables the eye to carry symbols to the brain, and for the brain to then decode them into language.
Now, if a child is ‘forced’ to read before they have developed sufficiently, they will use different parts of the brain to decode symbols (the brain is very clever, if it cannot use one pathway, it will make a different one.)For example, they might attempt to memorise, rather than decode. This can then cause problems later, and they will have to ‘unlearn’ what they are doing, which is very difficult. For this reason, some countries will not begin to teach reading in schools until a child is aged seven and they can be confident that the brain is sufficiently developed.

However, some children are ready to read long before then—which is why you are reading this article. My daughter learnt to read when she was aged three. One son learnt when he was four, the other was not ready to learn until he was well over five, and had started school. There is no correlation between when they learnt to read and their long-term academic success. It is not an indication of intelligence; it is an indication of physical development. So do not get involved in competitive ‘parent talk.’ You may just as well be proud of your child’s hair colour, as the age they learn to read.

It can be difficult to know when your child is ready to learn to read. I do not have a fool proof method, so will simply share my own experience.

Firstly, I watched my children. As children develop, they are able to use and control their large limbs first (Swaying an arm to hit a baby mobile) then their smaller limbs (holding something in a fist) then their fine motor skills develop (playing with a thread of cotton and holding it with a fingertip and thumb.) Fine motor skills give an indication of how your child is developing.

Secondly, I played a game with them to discover if they could recognise a symbol. I wrote lots of random letters on a piece of paper (or could be shapes) and wrote one at the top. Then I said, “This is an ‘a’, can you point at the other ‘a’s on the paper? If they could consistently match letters/shapes, I would begin trying to teach reading. If they did not seem to be learning, I stopped, and tried again in a few months.

So, what do you actually do to teach your child to read? I think that you need to understand the different components of reading and give your child experience in all of them. Education is constantly changing, and the methods of teaching and testing reading ability seem to change from decade to decade. However, you are a parent, not a teacher, so you do not have to worry about current policy, you can just give your child a varied reading experience and discover what works for you. Here are some ideas which I suggest you muddle up and use in any order as often as you can. Just be sure that every activity is fun.

Reading is very similar to listening. To listen, you hear sounds, your brain sorts the different sounds into words and you derive meaning. When reading, you see symbols (which in English are letters, grouped into words) which the brain then deciphers into meaning. When you listen, you do not hear every word. Much of your understanding comes from the tone and the context and what you feel makes sense. The same is true of reading. When you read you do not look at every letter—you do not even look at every word if reading fluently and quickly. Again, you use the context, and what is logical, to make sense of what you have read.

Context is very important. You can even ‘read’ things that make no sense, because you will use your understanding of how language works to fill in the gaps. So, if you read:
“Judy loved to blimp. Every morning she went blimping. Whatever the weather, rain or shine, Judy could be found blimping away. When she thought back over her year, Judy realised she must have … a thousand times.”

If you are a fluent reader, you will probably decipher the last sentence as “Judy realised she must have blimped a thousand times. This is with you having no idea what the verb ‘to blimp’ means.

You can teach your child to use the context of what is being read by asking them to predict the end of phrases. Ask them to read with you and when you read: “Once upon …” let them read: “…a time.” Sit so your child can see the words, you read the story but leave some gaps where there are ‘obvious’ words and let your child say them. This is developing their prediction skills and their ability to use the context of what is written. Later, when they are reading on their own, they will also use the pictures as part of the context that helps them decode the text.

Another part of reading is word recognition. There are words which we hardly need to look at, we know their shapes so well. I would teach word recognition as a separate activity to reading. There is, in my view, a real danger that children will focus too much on individual words and not enough on the meaning of the text. We want our children to become fluent readers, not people with amazing memories who can remember thousands of words.

One good way to teach word recognition is to cut up some cardboard, and write some simple words on it. Then play a game of ‘pairs’ or ‘bingo’ with the words. Later, when you are reading to your child, if you come to one of the words that they have learnt you can stop, and let them read that word. Reading then becomes a shared activity, with you reading most of the story and them filling in any words they have learnt to recognise plus any that are obvious from the context. Gradually, they will read more and more of the text themselves.

Children need to see lots of words, and several different types of text. If they are cooking, help them to follow a simple recipe. If you have time, write out a recipe for them, if nothing else they will learn lots of imperative verbs. (Imperative verbs are bossy verbs, like ‘put’, ‘fill’, ‘place’.) Reading a recipe, is still reading.

Some people make word cards, and place them around their house, so every coffee table, kitchen appliance, door, etc is labelled. I expect that this does help children to recognise words (however, I personally would not want to live in that house, so I never did that with my own children. Plus, my children were quite inventive, so would probably have switched the labels around, thus confusing the youngest!)

Magnetic letters on the fridge are a fun way for children to practice making words. Do check them though, one of my children wrote lots of misspelt swear words. He thought that as he’d never heard me say them, I would not know what they were! It was funny, but slightly embarrassing when visitors came.

Another part of reading is phonics (the sounds of letters.) A fluent reader rarely uses phonics unless they are introduced to a new word. It slows the flow of reading and is fairly inaccurate. Most people do not say the pure letter sounds, so ‘l’ becomes ‘le’. If you sound out ‘le’ ‘o’ ‘o’ ‘ke’ ‘e’ ‘de’ it is very unlikely you will decipher ‘looked.’ However, it can be useful in giving children a clue about what a word might be, if they are also using context to decode a sentence.

Again, I always taught phonics as a separate lesson to reading. It is a natural part of a spelling lesson, and when children have internalised phonics they will use them very naturally when reading. If they are directed to ‘sound out’ words too often, then they start to focus all their attention on individual letters and all meaning of the text is forgotten. It is possible to say all the correct words, and not actually derive any meaning from the text. If given some German to read, I can probably say all the words correctly, but will not have any idea what the text is about. Unfortunately, some children learn to read like this. They are able to say the sounds of the letters to form words, but the words never seem to touch their brain, to have any real meaning. They have to listen to themselves speaking to understand what the words mean, which obviously slows up their reading and is not what they should be doing.

A good way to teach initial letter sounds is to play “I spy”. You can use either letter names, or letter sounds (your child needs to learn both) and they will gradually build up a good knowledge of words that begin with the same sounds. You can always write the letter on a piece of paper, so they also begin to recognise the shape.

I often told The Magic Pens story (see under Children’s Stories at anneethompson.com Link is Here ) It is best told rather than read, and I would tell it to the class whilst writing the relevant words on the white board. The children always, unprompted, joined in by chanting the lists of words, which made a fun way for them to learn phonics. Also, as the initial letter is a different colour, it helps dyslexic readers. It was a great time-filler when waiting to go for lunch or assembly, and the children always enjoyed it, especially if we included some naughty words like ‘bum!’

It can be extended by the teacher returning to the classroom in the morning and making a sentence with the words, such as : “Kit wanted to sit, but a nit bit her, so she had a fit.” You can do the same activity at home. If you write a sentence with the words, put it on the fridge and your child can return to them throughout the day and read what was written. Obviously, change the letters used each time, so the child begins to build up a good knowledge of letter blends. You can also start with initial sounds, such as ‘br’ or ‘ch’ and change the story accordingly.
{Incidentally, I have only ever told the Magic Pen stories in a classroom. If you try them at home, please let me know if they are still fun and if the child joins in!}

Your child also needs to be reading books. Proper, child friendly, story books. It does not matter if they cannot initially read every word, they need the opportunity to explore them and to practice reading. Try to find some simple books that have very repetitive language. Read the story to your child a few times first (Yes, they will remember the words, that is okay, reading uses memory.) If there is a word they cannot read, just tell them. Do not tell them to ‘sound it out’, that takes all the fun out of reading. If they are asking you for help, that is excellent, they are showing that they understand the text has meaning and they want to know what it says.

Do not ever be tempted to buy the books from the school reading scheme. Your child’s teacher will be using them to both teach and as a diagnostic tool to assess your child’s progress. If your child has read them at home, they will give an unrealistic performance (which the teacher will be aware of) and the child will be bored with them, and not want to read them again at school. It is hugely unhelpful and will slow their progress. If your child’s teacher wants the child to practice the school books at home, they will be sent home for you to borrow.

Do not force a child who does not want to read to begin learning. I home-schooled one of my children when we were living abroad, and I found reading a real tension point. It really mattered to me that he should read fluently and he decided he did not want to learn. (This is the child who every day picked up his pen by the wrong end and told me he could not remember which way round it went! Some children need more patience and prayers than others…) I did teach him eventually—mainly  thanks to finding some simple books about a dragon who had a pet cat that pooped everywhere, which appealed to my son immensely! However, he never enjoyed reading. Even as a teenager, he would pay his younger brother to read to him the books set by his school while he did something ‘more interesting.’ I do not know if his personality means he would never have enjoyed reading, or if my daily frustration with his four-year-old awkward self somehow left a lasting impression. If I could turn back the clock, I would tell myself to stop trying, have a rest and start again in six months’ time.

On a similar vein, do let older children choose their own books. Another mistake I made was when my daughter, who had read fluently from a very young age, was about eight. I decided that she should be reading books that would extend her, and gave her lots of the child classics (The Railway Children, Little Woman, that sort of thing.) She just wanted to read simple tales of magic and princesses. After a while, she stopped reading for pleasure completely. She did, after a year or so, begin again but I had made the mistake of taking the fun out of reading. It has to be fun. If children enjoy reading, they will always read. We might enjoy reading Dickens, but we need a few novels in between time too.

Your child will learn to read at his/her own pace. Just as some children learn to walk as early as ten months of age and others are well over a year, so some children acquire reading skills very quickly and others learn more slowly. Try not to worry and absolutely do not start comparing with other children. You have been given a very special role in raising your child, let them develop at their own speed, they are not like anyone else. If they seem completely disinterested in reading, stop trying to teach them (but do not stop reading to them) and enjoy other experiences instead. If there is a problem, your child’s teacher will alert you but probably your child is just not quite ready to start learning yet.

Watching your child learn to read is hugely rewarding and very exciting. I hope that you will both enjoy the experience and it will be special activity that you share.

More articles, stories and poems at: anneethompson.com

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QuaranTime to Read . . . Chapter Five


What if…a happily married woman falls in love with someone else?

Chapter Five

Due to the KDP rules on Amazon, I am not allowed to upload a whole book anywhere other than on the KDP site. I can therefore share chapters with you, but must remove them when read.

 

If you would like to read the whole story, or perhaps buy a copy for a friend, it is available from an Amazon near you. The link to my author page is below:

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anne-E-Thompson/e/B07CL8HV95?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1584963604&sr=8-1

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Wearing a Cone. . . and other dog problems with humans


Thank you to everyone who sent kind messages about Kia, following her operation for a twisted stomach. Things are progressing mostly well, though we did have a set-back last week. I will tell you about it from Kia’s point of view:

It was about a week after the operation, and things were getting better. Anne had stopped forcing pills down my throat after every meal, and seemed to have got the hang of providing decent food. I was aware she was still smuggling my normal kibble into the bowl, but she was managing to disguise the taste pretty well with a variety of meats and fish, so I had decided to eat it. This seemed to please her, which was nice.

The only really annoying thing was my wound, which stung like crazy. I was licking it regularly to keep it clean, and had managed to scrape off some of the nasty wiry stuff they had sewn into me. I did this at night, because the first time I started to give it a really decent lick, Anne saw me, and made all sorts of worried noises, and used that ‘don’t mess with me’ bossy voice which I really do not like at all. Better to clean it at night, when she was safely out of the room. But then one morning, I heard them say they were taking me back to the vet, and that’s when things started to go badly wrong.

Now, I was not particularly worried about meeting the vet again. True, one had stuck needles into me, which was pretty horrid. But there was also a very nice girl, who fed me pieces of fish and took me out for short walks, so I was hoping we were going to see her and not the nasty one.

There was bit of a kafuffle at the vets, because they were all talking about a virus, and only one human was allowed in at a time, so Anne went to sit back in the car, and the husband took me in to see the vet.

I was unlucky; we saw the nasty vet.

This time she made the husband hold me, while she fiddled around with the wound. She was removing the rest of the wiry stuff, and I figured she’d be glad that I had made a start already, but I could tell from their voices that they weren’t very happy. Afterwards I was put in the car with Anne, who seemed upset and kept stroking my neck, but I didn’t know what all the fuss was about. We drove home.

After supper, Anne gave me more pills. They were pink this time, and tasted awful. I have become quite good at holding them in my mouth for a really long time, but she seems to have sussed this, and holds my mouth closed until I swallow. I am trying to think of a new tactic. However, the pills weren’t the main problem. What came next was much, much worse.

There I was, waiting for my praise for having finally swallowed the awful pink pills, when the husband arrived with this weird plastic cone and put it round my neck.

It was such a shock, I can’t tell you how awful it was. The collar came right up over my ears, so all the sounds of the house were distorted, and Anne’s voice seemed very far away. When I looked sideways, all I could see was fuzzy images through plastic. How was I going to keep the family safe if I didn’t have clear all-round vision? I just sat there, not moving, waiting for them to take the stupid thing off again.

But they didn’t. They went upstairs, to the upper room attached to the kitchen, and started to watch the news, saying they would check in a few minutes to see if I was used to it. ‘Used to it?’ That was never going to happen. They had clearly made some mistake, or left this thing on me as some sort of test. I would do my best to remove it.

I spent ages trying to remove it. The outside was slippery, so using a paw to force it off didn’t work. I tried jamming it between a chair and the wall, and moving backwards to scrape it off. That didn’t work either, it simply made the edge dig into my neck. I attempted to roll, but that hurt my wound so I stopped that pretty fast. Knocking it against walls, rubbing it on chairs, hooking it under my water bowl—nothing worked. The thing was stuck fast.

This was clearly a mistake, so I decided to go upstairs and find Anne, so she could see that she needed to remove it. The stairs were difficult. At each step, the collar caught on the step above, so I staggered, nearly fell, got my balance, attempted the next step. . I could hear voices above me, the television announcing that some people should stay inside, Anne and the husband speaking in tense voices about shops being empty. I tried another stair, the cone caught on the step, I staggered, regained my balance, took another step. Half way up, I realised Anne had heard me, and was coming to meet me. She made a little gasp, and rushed down to where I was, then steadied me, and together we continued up the stairs.

There was a discussion at the top. Apparently, I was not supposed to climb stairs yet, and they were unkeen for me to walk down again. The husband said he would carry me. This never works very well, and I tried to wriggle away, but he held me fast, Anne walked in front, we slowly descended.

At the bottom of the stairs, back in the kitchen, I waited for Anne to remove the collar. She didn’t. It began to occur to me that maybe, for some terrible reason, the ghastly device was here to stay. Did they not realise it made hearing difficult, it limited my vision and even running was affected? How could this be? A wave of genuine terror washed over me, my legs began to tremble, my sides shook, my teeth chattered in my mouth.

Anne put her arms round me, holding me as close as she could around the sides of the horrible collar. I felt her warmth, and the trembling subsided. I heard her praying for me. She has done this a lot recently, asking God to make me better, to let me have a bit longer, to not be frightened—it wasn’t working, I was frightened. Maybe God would explain that she needed to take off the collar. But she didn’t. She put her head inside the collar, right next to my cheek, so I could smell her skin, feel the damp of her tears on my own face. She held me for ages, her voice low and soft. There was something calming about that voice, and I began to relax, and lay down.

At one point, a long time later, Anne started to leave. I wasn’t having that. If she couldn’t take off the collar, she would have to stay until someone came who could. I jumped up, and started to follow her, the collar bashing into her calves as she walked towards the door. She turned round and came back, collected her coat from the cupboard, and I thought perhaps she was going out for a walk—but she wasn’t. She used the coat to make a sort of bed next to me, settled me down again. I lay down, feeling her slippers against my back. I slept.

When I woke in the morning, Anne’s slippers were still against my back, but her feet were gone. The collar was still in place. I was no longer frightened, but I was quite determined that it needed to be removed.

***

A few days later, and things have settled down. They have still not removed the collar, but I am beginning to get better at coping with it. Drinking was difficult, as the cone kept bashing the wall behind my bowl, but eventually Anne noticed the problem and my water bowl is now in the middle of the floor. The husband steps in it regularly.

There was also a problem with the grumpy old cat who lives in the utility room. The first morning, when I went to give her her usual morning kiss on her head, I forgot about the collar. I licked her head, raised my head to walk away, and the collar caught her neck and nearly took her head off! Whenever she sees me now she runs and jumps into her box. But I figure it’s just payback for all those scratches I got when I was a puppy.

I am managing to hear; I simply have to turn my head to face in the direction I am listening. Eating is fine, as long as Anne remembers to give me the correct size bowl, as some are too wide to fit within the rim of the collar. I have learnt to approach at the correct angle, so the cone fits over the bowl and I can eat normally. I do sometimes forget to allow for my extra size, and bash into furniture, getting momentarily stuck. But it’s not scary any more, because I know I can reverse, adjust my angle, try again. Anne does complain that I walk too close, and I regularly bash her calves. But I do this in the hope that she will realise the problem and remove the cone. It is taking her a frustratingly long time.

The problem with the pink pills continues. I have tried several strategies, and my best one was to shoot them quickly into my cheek, where they could remain the entire time Anne held my mouth closed, and then I could spit them out in the corner later, when she wasn’t looking. But she managed to notice this, and now clamps my mouth shut way too fast, so the pills remain on my tongue. Then she places delicious smelling food near my nose, so my mouth waters, and I can’t help but swallow. I am trying to think of something new.

There is an added procedure now, when twice a day my wound is washed. I am assuming they now are attempting to do what I was doing before all this malarkey with the cone started. Anne holds me still and speaks in that low comforting voice, while the husband baths my wound with something that smells sharp and astringent. I can tell from their voices that they’re still worried, but occasionally they reassure each other, saying it’s not getting worse, or it looks a little better today, so they seem satisfied with the activity. I hope they’ll get bored with it soon and we can all get back to how things used to be. Another annoyance is that Anne insists on washing my bedding every day, muttering things about keeping the wound clean. It means my blanket doesn’t smell of me anymore, it smells of detergent. I am unable to remedy this by rubbing into nice smells in the garden, as Anne comes out with me each time and calls me away from anything dirty.

But I don’t like to complain too much, and I am definitely feeling better. Today I noticed the sheep next door had lambed, and I started to go and investigate. Anne called me back, before I could squeeze through the bush and check them all properly, but it’s now on my ‘to-do’ list. As soon as the humans realise this stupid cone is stuck and remove it, we can start to get back to normal. Let’s hope it won’t be much longer.

***

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget, my Invisible Jane story continues every Tuesday and Thursday, my blogs are posted every Monday.

Stay safe, and have a good week.

Love, Anne x

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anneethompson.com

*****

Now is an excellent time to read my travel book. Happy adventures from around the world.
Available from Amazon.

****

Now is an excellent time to read a new book. All my books are available from Amazon — have a look today. The link to my author page is here.     

Now is an excellent time to read my travel book. Happy adventures from around the world.
Available from Amazon.

What if…a happily married woman falls in love with someone else?

What if…you were the mother of a psychopath? The story of Joanna and her family – an exciting novel.

This is the story I always promised myself I would write ‘one day’ while I was teaching in an infant school. A light-hearted novel about 3 teachers.

What if…a psychopath managed to do something good. Can psychopathy ever be a strength?

Sowing Promises
by Anne E. Thompson
Available from an Amazon near you today.

A hilarious family saga set on a farm. Being a parent has no end-date, as Susan discovers when her adult sons begin to make unexpected choices in life.
A warm-hearted, feel good novel that will make you smile.

QuaranTime to Read . . . Chapter Three


‘QuaranTime to Read’

What if…a happily married woman falls in love with someone else?

Chapter Three

Due to the KDP rules on Amazon, I am not allowed to upload a whole book anywhere other than on the KDP site. I can therefore share chapters with you, but must remove them when read.

If you would like to read the whole story, or perhaps buy a copy for a friend, it is available from an Amazon near you. The link to my author page is below:

 

Amazon link here

 

Thanks for reading.
Why not sign up to follow my blog?
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I recommend a visit. . . don’t wear heels


I was supposed to be in Jersey, exploring the island while Husband worked. But Kia had her emergency operation, and Coronavirus seemed to be rampaging, so we cancelled. Shame—I have never been to Jersey. Maybe later in the year.

Instead, we went to Rye. Probably not quite as exciting, but it’s one of those places I pass every time I go to Camber Sands, and yet I have never explored the ancient winding streets, or peered through the leaded-light windows of the sweetshop, and the day was sunny, so off we set.

As you enter Rye from the north, there are car parks, right on the edge of town. Leave your car there, otherwise you will have to navigate narrow streets and steep hills, bumping over cobbles, and very few streets are wide enough to park on any way. If they are full, there’s more parking near the train station. Really, you have to explore Rye on foot.

Rye is built on a rock, a huge lump of sandstone that rises up from otherwise completely flat land. In Medieval times, it was almost completely surrounded by sea, but now is two miles from the coast. It has a river, with a lock, at the bottom of the rock and some terraced cottages elbowing for room next to a road that is too fast and busy, especially in the summer. We found a bench next to the river (and a dead rat, actually, but we’ll skip over that detail) and ate our sandwiches listening to seagulls and staring at the narrow river flowing through thick banks of mud. When the tide is in, the river swells, and big boats use it to reach the sea; they were all stranded on the mud when we were there.

You leave the river, and walk up roads named things like Mermaid Street, pebbled cobblestones underfoot, ancient houses on either side. The houses have wonderful names too, like The House With Two Doors (a house, with two front doors, right next to each other) and The House With The Seat (you can guess that one). Some have plaques with the date. Although some of the cellars date as far back as 1156, the houses all seem to have been rebuilt in 1421. I am guessing this is due to the French, who burned the town to the ground on June 22nd, 1377. (We should probably have forgiven them by now, but I’m not so sure myself.)

In the 1700s, Rye was a thriving port, and the infamous Hawkhurst Gang ran a smuggling ring, using the cellars of local houses and pubs to escape the authorities. We drove through Hawkhurst on the way to Rye, and it’s now a pretty village of middle-class cottages, so maybe the smugglers all moved away or were hanged. If you visit the Mermaid Inn in Rye, you can walk the dark corridors, under the heavy beams, and imagine that they are still there, discussing evil deeds next to the fireplace.

Not everyone in Rye was bad, and there are two churches, right next to each other (which feels somewhat confrontational). The older, Anglican Church, is worth a peek inside. Hanging from the ceiling is a huge pendulum, ticking backwards and forwards. You can climb the clock tower to see the view, but I managed to avoid that. There was piped choir music, which created a nice atmosphere. The church is old, but with signs of modern activity: a collection for a food bank, and a prayer board for Zimbabwe, and a library of second-hand books. I expect it’s a nice church to belong to.

Outside is the old vicarage, and a memorial to the last town crier (though you can almost see him walking though the streets). There is also the curved brick wall of a water tower, with pump attached, for the townsfolk to collect water.

We popped to the Ypres Tower (where there’s a museum, but it’s shut until April). The tower was part of the Cinque Ports—Edward the Confessor built five ports and two forts. There are more benches at the tower, and it would probably be a better spot for a picnic than our dead-rat bench, as there are lovely views.

When you pass Rye (as we have many times) you notice the old stone gate, built in 1329 and home to many pigeons and doves—though I’m assuming that wasn’t the original purpose.

We spent a happy two hours wandering round, then returned to the car and drove home. We could have spent longer there, especially in the summer when more would be open, or after the Coronavirus scare when we may have felt more inclined to eat in a cafe. I recommend a visit, don’t wear heels.

Thank you for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

PS. Thank you everyone for your kind wishes, Kia continues to improve and is regaining her bounce.

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Now is an excellent time to read my travel book. Happy adventures from around the world.
Available from Amazon.

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QuaranTime to Read — Chapter Two


What if…a happily married woman falls in love with someone else?

Chapter Two

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If you would like to read the whole story, or perhaps buy a copy for a friend, it is available from an Amazon near you. The link to my author page is below:

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