Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The white cliffs of Dover

 
The famous white cliffs seen from the boats crossing the Channel from The Continent, are a stirring sight. A reminder of the way things always were, before the engineering triumph of the Eurotunnel and the Eurostar trains shuttling under the sea. These monumental yet unstable cliffs stand for England, and for hundreds of years returning travellers have gathered on deck for a first glimpse of the green and pleasant land come to meet the white chalk edge.
 
It's been years since we last took the car ferry, and we probably wouldn't have this year but for a spot of luck winning P&O tickets in a raffle at the village May Day fete. In the event, not only did we enjoy the crossings but they brought back memories of all the times when the boat trip was an integral part of the excitement of Going Abroad. Slower times, when exchanging pounds for French francs was undeniably exotic, and a first Dubonnet in the lounge bar positively sophisticated.
 
What I liked most was the sense of connection to all those other crossings down the years - the thrill, for a child, of passing through passport control; the first crossing I made alone as a teenager, going back from Brussels to see friends in London; the brief heyday of Hoverspeed, the hovercraft service. The sense too of all those other passengers down the centuries, watching out for the cliffs and the soft blue-greys and greens of home after the bright, clashing colours of foreign adventure.
 
 

7 comments:

Gill Edwards said...

It is a stirring sight and being a homebody, a sight i've loved on the two occasions i made it over to France.

Marcheline said...

I took the Chunnel from France to England, and so never saw the famous cliffs. Lovely photos!

An Eye for Detail said...

Maybe someday.... I love your description, and bringing the past and present together. So the summer is really over? Already? Seems that you just got to Provence!

Sara Louise said...

I've never seen the Cliffs but I would love to sometime.
But when I was little, I took the ferry from Holyhead in Wales to Dublin a few times and I always loved seeing the green isle getting closer and closer as we approached. It was always much more fun than flying :)

Half-heard in the Stillness said...

Oh, wonderfully put, and yes! Those colours of home!

Harvee Lau said...

I've read about the white cliffs of Dover but have never really seen them in pictures or in reality. Thanks for showing us!

Vanessa said...

While the cliffs are magnificent, doesn't it look grey?! I keep forgetting how different the light is down here in SW France.

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