Sunday, 6 March 2011
This picture must have been taken by my brother in law, or just possibly my father, but I think not. He didn't have any camera as technical as one with a date. If he had, it would never have been the right date. So there it is, a picture taken by my brother in law in 1985, or by my father at some completely different date.
My father often seemed to be the absent minded professor, he even looked like one. The younger generation used to call him Mr Magoo, which I felt was horribly cruel, but apt. I think he secretly liked it.
He used to love walking his dog along these cliffs especially if he could entice any of the rest of the family to go with him. He clearly did in this photo. It seems to be my nephew in the foreground and my niece is just disappearing down the footpath to the bottom of the cliffs. that was a favourite route for my sons and their cousins. the scramble down (and back up) was almost more fun than the beach itself, in spite of the joy of exploring rocky pools. Of course nowadays the path has been sanitised , paved and stepped. Fair enough really, I suppose. Even 25 years ago I felt I was taking my life in my hands as I scrambled down. The alternative was to take the road but it was, still is, much further - a sort of switchback. It took far too long and to young children seemed boring and tame.
The beach was a small cove really but with a few buildings, a pub, and a private house where Noel Coward lived for a time. A gorgeous place but I'm not at all sure I'd want to be quite so close to the sea. Maybe it's not so close as it looks from a distance. It's certainly been there a good few years.
I've heard the cliffs, this winter, have suffered a lot, to the extent that great chunks are dropping off and threatening the safety of some houses. I don't know which houses are in danger - the ones at the top in danger of falling down, or the ones at the bottom in danger of being dropped on.
Another thing I heard a while ago was that weeds have changed the appearance of the white cliffs, making them look rather dirty. They were planning to clean those weeds off to make the chalk gleam as people expect. Now, of course, if lumps are dropping off, it may no longer be necessary. I would think the weeds would have a stabilising effect so I do wonder how wise it is to remove them. Maybe it has even been the result of the clean up that's caused the crumbling. Not that I noticed any cliffs looking brighter before the winter frosts.
The crumbling has always been a problem and I clearly remember the notices warning people to keep away from the edge. I don't recall anyone falling over but dogs chasing rabbits were always in danger. Thankfully, caution hasn't caused any fences to be erected all along the cliff. A fence would spoil the effect of the white cliffs every bit as much as they say the weeds do.