Sunday, 30 August 2009
Close to the edge...
No I'm not talking about the result of six weeks at home with my daughters, nor the seemingly endless fruitless forays into town for last minute school uniform shopping. I'm talking about the day the Rambling Roses went for a walk on the wild side, a walk that took us literally close to the edge.
We decided to walk the South Downs Way from just after Birling Gap up to the top of Beachy Head and down into Eastbourne. A jolly jaunt we thought. Let's leave the car at home, take full advantage of the excellent bus service, enjoy the scenery en route and be as green as possible. All sounds wonderful doesn't it? Well it was... except ...
... we chose one of the windiest days I can remember to saunter along the cliffs' edge. Let me just say that we went green in more than one sense of the word, I'm not talking leaving the car at home energy saving kind of green, more the colour of my face when I caught sight of the sheer drop beneath my feet and the strength of the wind threatening to blow us over at any moment.
Shall we say it was exhilarating? Yes it certainly was! Honestly, it was... sometimes just a little too 'exhilarating', perhaps...
I remember years ago walking along the cliffs in Normandy and having one of those moments when you just literally freeze to the spot - taking the minutest steps possible, just wanting to close my eyes and vaporise.
Well it wasn't that bad this time but there were times when I came uncomfortably close to it, I did spend rather a lot of time shouting to the girls (above the noise of the gale force winds) to step back from the edge and, of course, Mr Roses did HAVE to lean over the edge a few times to get the perfect shot of the cliffs which all added to my greenness.
Putting those moments to one side, it was one of the most wonderful walks we have ever done. We've visited this spot before but there was something special about arriving by bus, the wind literally throwing us down the soft dips of the Downs, running along the grass with our arms outstretched and just enjoying the elements.
The blues of the sea to one side, shadows of clouds playing above our heads, the greens of the fields to the other and all the time the wind blowing and blowing...
I am amazed that I took any photos at all, not only was my camera violently shaken by the wind but each photo I took seemed to have my hair flying in front of it or the camera strap doing the same. Fortunately some photos emerged unscathed. Glimpses of the lighthouse appearing and disappearing between the swells of the hills, its stripes shining brightly against the white cliffs and blue sea.
Looking behind us and seeing the coastline that we had followed and the most beautiful fields and downland.
At Beachy Head itself, Big Sister and I literally had to lie on the ground to stop being blown over. We could not get a foothold on the ground. We spotted Mr Roses and Little Sister huddled on the ground together but it seemed impossible for us two to get over there to reach them. All we could do from our position on the grass was to beckon them over!
As we left Beachy Head and started to descend the scenery started to change. Trees appeared along the cliff edge, reminding me of France and Devon.
Touches of pink emerged amongst the grass and there in the distance was the sight of something familiar.
With the wind behind us we hurtled down the hill towards Eastbourne, the wind making it impossible to stop. Big Sister arm in arm with her dad, laughing and chatting. Me and Little Sister sharing her Ipod and singing Coldplay at the top of our voices...
Yes, it was exhilarating, but it was so much more. It was one of those moments you wanted to frame and put in a box. An unexpected delight gleaned from the last days of Summer. A treasured time from our Summer, for some reason I had tears in my eyes (and, no it wasn't the wind) - it was just one of those moments that you know are special.