Everyone agreed when I suggested “beach” for half term break. Even though some of the family members imagine immediately turquoise water, miles of white sand, palms and sunshine. We choose Camber Sands in East Sussex: 3 miles of sand dunes, water with all kind of colors and a sun that’s shining except it’s raining. After we brought some life into the cute little blue beach house we went for a first beach walk. After an exhausting climb over a huge sand dune the endless sea was in front of us with all its beauty, sounds and smells, again and again stunning!! Afterwards a first stroll through Rye a postcard-perfect little medieval town with cobbled lanes like Mermaid Street, Wish Street or Watchbell Lane, croocked half timbered and red bricked houses with crown glass windows, ancient inn’s, antique shops and even a castle. After the compulsory tea and scone break we picked up my mom from the train station. Yes, we have our personal environmentalist in our family. It only takes around 12 hours from Zuerich to Rye with the train.
The next day we could check something off our bucket list: The White Cliffs of Dover. A famous and iconic landmark, a symbol of homecoming and war time defense because they face towards continental Europe across the narrowest part of the channel. The cliffs offer a stunning view over the channel and to the busy harbor of Dover, a serene walk and a unique World War II shelter built into the chalk cliffs. The weather was lovely and the play of colors with white cliffs, turquoise sea and blue sky breathtaking. But to keep dog and kids away from the slippery cliffs is nerve wracking, no barriers, crumbling edges and only 350 feet straight down.
A trip in England without castle doesn’t count. Good thing there’s always a castle nearby, England and Wales alone lists over 1’500 castle. Bodiam Castle is a 14th century moated castle and one of the most picturesque ones in England. Sir Edward Dallingridge, a bBosoldier, King’s Knight and Member of Parliament built the castle to defend against possible external enemies or local rebellion and like most castles also as a comfortable family home and a place of hospitality. Luckily the castle was never involved in a dramatic battle even it was well prepared with a massive gatehouse and all kind of mean gadgets to keep the enemy out (murder holes and machicolations for dropping all kind of nice things on the enemy for example) only the years, the English Civil War and lack of money rattled slightly at the foundation of the building. An amazing place to get a sample of medieval life.
In the afternoon we went for a dog walk to Dungeness: where the Wild West meets the post apocalyptic, they call this place also the desert of England. This landscape certainly divides people: a broad, echoing flatness with the famous nuclear power station on one side, the shingle dipping into the sea on the other, two lighthouses, an one-of-a-kind tiny railway and unique small houses for fishermen, artists, bohemians and odd fish. A special place, fascinating, weird, adventurous. Perfect for taking pictures, beach combing and to have the feeling that you discovered a well cared treasure.
On Thursday we visited Beachy Head, a dramatic and beautiful headland extending 535 feet above sea level. No matter what the weather, this is the place for an invigorating walk. You may feel as though you are at the end of the world (well at least you are at the end of part of England). From Beachy Head the cliffs spread for miles, to Eastbourne in one direction and to Birling Gap and the amazing Seven Sisters in the other. And as a supplement there’s a cute red white stripe lighthouse right in front of the cliffs. It is an astonishing place but this area of natural beauty has a darker side. Beachy Head is a well known location for suicide attempts, around 20 deaths each year
We finished the day in Rye, sunny this time and walked all the way back home to Camber with thousands of sheep, a sinkhole and rabbits hopping around. I’m still struggling with the weather here but on the other side I get rewarded with stunning landscapes, beautiful historic architecture and fruit scones with clotted cream and jam that taste yummy, rain or shine!