July 1, 2012
After spending most of Saturday in bed sick, I desperately needed to get out on Sunday. I managed to snag ticket for the Sussex countryside tour courtesy of my summer program. At 8:30 am, I walked out the door with 2 girlfriends, Lauren & Ruth, to find myself immediately drench in rain. I’m not sure if I have talked about this yet but I don’t have any warm clothes here aside from yoga pants and a rain jacket that will no longer unzip. Why would I go to England, home of pouring rain, without any warm clothes you may ask. I couldn’t fit jeans and a warm jacket in my Greece suitcase so my dad was going to ship my clothes to me. They were supposed to get here on my first day. Well, it’s the start of my second week and still no clothes. Cold & wet, I make my way down to the bus stop, accepting the fact that I’m going to be sick this entire trip. The rain stopped 10 minutes later but was replaced with freezing wind- at least my feet were dry.
Our couch drove through Rottingdean, home of Ripyard Kipling (go read his poem ‘If’) and then we made a quick stop at the Seven Sister Cliffs. These cliffs are white chalk cliffs which have a rapidly receding coastline due to extremely rough waters. While they were beautiful, nothing could compare to the white cliffs of Dover; the wind also made it hard to think about anything
but how cold I was. Our next stop was beachy head, which is most famous for having a large amount of suicide attempts off the cliffs and/or people getting blown off by the wind because they are standing so close. Beachy head is also home to some pretty white chalk cliffs. The entire south east part of England is chalk so if you dig a short distance into the ground, you will hit chalk. This is why there are so many chalk cliffs in this part of England.
After a 30 minute walk around the cliffs, our entire group got back on the bus and headed to Eastbourne, a fancier version of Brighton. We had 2 hours to get lunch and walk around so my friends and I did just that. Nothing tooexciting to report here.
2 hours later and we were on our way to Pevensey castle, a castle that used to be a strong defense for England when it was near the coast (the coastline has shifted so now Pevensey is quite far from the ocean). Because of it’s lack of modern significance, the castle is mostly in ruins but we still snapped some pictures.
Our last destination, and by far my favorite, was Alfriston. Alfriston is a small but quintessentially British village. Back in the day (the day being a long time ago) it was a big smugglers town. One of their most famous inn’s has a lot of secret passageways so that the smugglers could avoid capture when the police came looking. A really interesting fact for me was that in the hymn ‘Morning has Broken’ by Eleanor Farjeon was written about the beauty she saw in the village (the song would later be recoreded by Cat Stevens). This was a song we used to sing up at my summer camp, Geneva Glen, so that brought back good memories. After a quick tour of the village, we had another break to go and have tea time. We went to a spot called The Singing Kettle and I ordered the Alfriston tea, which was cream tea (milk & tea), cucumber finger sandwiches, scones and cake.
The tea was delightful but the star of the show was definitely the scones. They were buttery, moist and I had to control myself from ordering an extra plate of them. Needless to say, I will definitely be having a lot of afternoon tea and scones while I am in England. It was 5:30 and it was time to head back to Brighton. I was so happy that I had gone on the tour because the English countryside is certainly one of the prettiest things I have ever seen.
On the tour, I also learned that the town next to Brighton, Lewes, was the home of Anne Boleyn and Tom Paine- an English man who became an American revolutionary during the American revolution and actually helped Thomas Jefferson draw up the Declaration of Independence (supposedly they have an original copy of the Declaration at his house) so I will be making a trip there soon. I am so blown away by how much history I am surrounded in. I feel like one month won’t be nearly enough but I knew that coming here.
Next weekend, I am off to SCOTLAND!!!