Exploring Dover's Cliffs in Samphire Hoe
Seeing the white cliffs of Dover has been on my to-do list since moving to Birmingham and we had the perfect opportunity to check them out on the tail-end of our Bruges road trip. To my dismay, we emerged from the Eurotunnel into some of the thickest fog I've ever experienced. We could barely see the car in front of us, let alone the coast.
Not willing to give up so easily we drove 10 minutes north to Capel-le-Ferne to see a WWII memorial site honoring those who fought in the Battle of Britain in 1940. The memorial was really nice and judging from pictures on TripAdvisor, a beautiful place when the weather cooperates. A memorial wall lists the names of those who fought in the battle, and the site houses replica Spitfire and Hurricane planes. It was a quick stop - as long as you don't plan on visiting the cafe or doing the "scramble wall experience" you can easily limit your visit to 30 minutes. The below picture was taken facing the cliffs and the memorial to the airmen. O well.
Another 10 minutes down the coast is Samphire Hoe, a coastal park that was created during the Channel Tunnel excavations. Half of the chalk marl and stone (4.9 million cubic meters) that were removed from the channel were deposited in Samphire Hoe, and the other half went to France.
Nerd lesson: Samphire is a category of succulent plants that grow near bodies of water. Rock Samphire is a particular species native to the UK with white flowers often found on cliffs along the coast. "Samphire" derives from the French "sampierre" or "Saint Pierre." St. Peter is the patron saint of fishermen, and since this plant grows along the coast, water->fish->Peter->Samphire... voila. In King Lear, Shakespeare mentions the tedious and dangerous task of foraging for samphire (some people pickle it or eat it in salads). The park visitor's center has a little sign advertising SHAKESPEARE and SAMPHIRE HOE where you can read this particular section of King Lear. A bit of a stretch, maybe, but at least they explain the weird name.
We took the mile-long path from the car park to the rocky beach and by that time the fog had lifted enough for us to see the cliffs. The view was definitely worth the short detour! I know there are other, whiter sections of the Dover cliffs closer to the actual town of Dover, but this was good enough for me. Low-tide meant we could check out some sea critters on the rocks and take some cool pictures of the glowing seaweed.
True to form, I couldn't resist leaving without a few of those chalky rocks. Some habits die hard. If you could only see my rock collection... These ones are now sitting on my mantel in a very zen arrangement and they make me happy. (Dad, go ahead and roll your eyes. I like rocks. And collecting things.)
The above picture has been a recurring joke in our house for the last two weeks. Something about the overly simplistic yet very public apology struck us as hilarious. Connor actually googled the phrase. Nothing.
Mike - I really hope you didn't do anything drastic like gamble away your home and then jump in the sea. I hope you would leave Jan with more than just a chalk apology note. (Dude, it rains here a lot, in case you didn't notice). Or maybe you broke up with Jan. Or just got in a silly argument? Again with my point about something more permanent than a washable chalk message. Snail-mail, perhaps? Since I'm assuming she isn't answering her phone. Or did you think this was romantic? I guess it could be, depending on the situation.
Jan - Did you see this message? Do you come here often? Clearly you aren't answering Mike's calls or texts and you've blocked him on all social media so his last resort was writing on an actual wall instead of your virtual one. Yes? No? Who is Mike, by the way? What happened? I really hope you guys are OK.