Monday, July 6, 2015

Day 40: Seaside Stories

I took another long train trip from the grey, sad skies of Loch Lomond to the frenetic skies over London. Of course I missed the early train, but I listen to the PA and got to ride not just in the right train but on coach on the line. Sometimes they split the rear coaches from the front couches and go in different direction.

But before I know it, I was on the train on my way out to Sussex. I'm a fan of Squeeze so when I saw the station "Clapham Junction" I finally knew I was England.

Because seeing Westminster Abbey, Big Ben or Buckingham palace didn't seem real until I saw "Clapham Junction". Go figure.
As the train is a commuter train, the other passengers were more concerned with shop talk or their smart phones, but I spent the time looking out the window and almost jumped out of my skin when I saw this through my train window.
He's called the "Long Man of Wilmington"and his beginnings are still clouded in mystery and myth. There are theories that it was made between the 11th & 15th centuries since many Roman coins from those times bear a similar figure.

But it's the ocean side that explains why Sussex is such a tourist spot, the waiting room for Jesus. There's a heavy geriatric population, thus the moniker.

But it's a beautiful seaside city. Not too big not too small. My cousins have lived here for over 10 years and have made it their home. I can see why. The ocean front is lined with elegant old homes that has been converted to hotels.
Their beach front is actually man made with rocks and stones of various sizes. But they made an area where restaurants and cafes line the beach making it a popular hangout for both visitors and locals.

There is even an old lighthouse that has been converted to a small hotel. It looks cozy enough in the daylight, but I wonder what it must be light at night when dark skies envelope the cliffs?

The cliffs in the area are magnificent and awe inspiring. They build up a large park for walking, jogging or biking. Many people come up to have a picnic and stare at the sea.

I can't say enough of this pretty little town, it's slow relaxed pace, to be able to see the coast of France on a clear day, and walk the miles of coast line.

However, beauty in nature has its price. When I went, it was low tide, you can walk down there and wander. I was told that there was an elderly couple who went down there and was taken by surprise by the quickly rising tide and succumbed to its watery welcome.

The top of the cliff is also notorious for the jumpers. I was told that it is such a popular stop that as many as 300 possible jumpers were persuaded otherwise by a chaplain who is normally stands watch. But that number doesn't include those who succeeded.
There summer hasn't come yet, it is still yet to come closer to the end of July and August. But the sun rises at 4am and goes down around 10-11pm. But in their winters, the sky rarely lightens, staying dark with incessant rains, an environment that exacerbates the morbidity rates of those who jump.

Yet despite the sad stories, the area is beautiful, this is the English countryside I was looking for. As we drove past a new field of barley, Sting's "Fields of Gold" came on and my spirits were lifted.

I don't know the name of this river, but - here's the Scots in me rising - I imagine Robert Burns' "Sweet Afton" flowing just as gently.

Perhaps in my frantic life of deadlines, priorities and urgency, I have forget what peace and calm look like. Today I was reminded and my heart aches, will I ever know such peace and calm?

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