Sunday, 16 February 2014

White Cliffs of Dover: the most exquisite and terrifying experience of my life

With many people gone from the manor enjoying the long weekend, my friend, Sonja, and I decided to plan a day trip to see the White Cliffs of Dover, and so the story begins...

Waking up at 5:30ish on a Saturday isn't usually my idea of fun, but hey, you can't let an opportunity like the White Cliffs of Dover pass you up. So, half-awake we took a taxi at 6:20 to the train station in Grantham to catch our train at 7:15 (we got there earlier than necessary obviously). We got on our train and had a little over an hour ride to London, where we had to cross the street from King's Cross to St. Pancras to get on our next train to Dover. This all went off without a hitch; the first problem we encountered was once we got to Dover. We started walking around Dover and began following the brown tourist signs that pointed us in the direction of the cliffs, only to walk through some sketchy parts of Dover after losing signs, but we eventually made it to an information booth for the Dover Castle where a nice lady points us in the correct direction. Again, we began following the signs...but then we hit a fork in the road and no sign. We decided on the paved road, we walked and realized that this was probably the wrong way so we turned around. Naturally, we decided to head down the other path only to come to a dead end, so we turned back again. We then come across a German man and his British girlfriend who were also heading to the cliffs and they let us follow them. We actually ended up hopping the fence that Sonja and I thought was a dead end, but then a farmer emerged and informed us that we needed to take a turn earlier. So once again, we back tracked to another path, we crossed a street, go through some sketchy wooded area (Tangent time: It was then that I realized that this could have taken a turn for the worst and end up being the inspiration for a horror film: two American girls trusting two others in leading them through the woods only to come across a farmer, who was in on the plan the whole time, who end up leading us back to their home where they would feast on our flesh...yeah...glad that didn't happen), but we eventually made it to a paved path and to the cliffs, and just to clarify, everyone was super friendly and there was no cannibalism involved in this adventure. The cliffs were BEAUTIFUL, and no picture can truly do them justice. We had a wonderful time venturing along the paths, battling the wind trying to get a picture, and just enjoying the view. After walking pretty far we decided to head back to the Visitor Center for some tea, but the weather had a plan of its own. Before heading back, I noted that the sky was getting rather dark, but seeing as there was no rain in the forecast, we didn't think anything of it...and boy, were we sorrily mistaken. We were a little over halfway back to the Visitor Center when the rain started rollin' and the wind started whippin'. This may have been the most terrible weather I have ever experienced (this coming from a gal that has had to deal with plenty of Wisconsin winters). The wind took my hat (luckily it got caught on a bush and I was able to get it back), and it almost took my scarf and backpack. The wind was so strong that when I turned around, it pushed me into Sonja and then pushed both of us into a fence, and not to mention that the rain coming down felt like little needles hitting your skin. We finally decided to make a run for it, so I shielded my eyes so I could only see what was just in front of me and pushed my way through the elements. Let me say that I have never been more excited to see buildings in my whole life. We were soaked, cold, and extremely dishevelled, but in the end we have a memory that will last a lifetime and for that I am grateful. 

By Lorissa Vanden Hoogen

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