Beachy Head - Fatally Attractive
As I've said before I make a terrible tour guide. Inside of insights into the history of the area, I will bore you of stories of dates and near-death experiences. I subjected one of my friends to one of my tours. This particular tour was a hike (or a mini-hike) from Birling Gap to Eastbourne.
Even before getting off the bus I was struggling to hold back the tales of my first date with Kasia. The particular location was East Dean, The Tiger Inn. This is where the aforementioned date ended over a romantic drink. I usually try to restrain myself from telling such stories. Quite frankly, probably nobody is interested in hearing them. Another five minutes or so on the bus and we found ourselves in Birling Gap car park. This was the place where (on the aforementioned first) date I'd got a puncture in the car and had to resort to calling the AA because I couldn't find the key for the locking wheel nuts. After stopping briefly for a few photo opportunities in the old-fashioned red telephone box we made our way down the steps to the beach.
After admiring the view (despite less than perfect visibility) we climbed the stairs and began our hike along the cliff edge. When I say "along the cliff edge" I mean at a reasonable distance from the cliff edge. My fear of heights seems to be getting worse as I get older. I am not too ashamed of this, it is a reasonable enough fear. It's not the heights I'm afraid of it's more the plunging to my death that I'm afraid of. Luckily, in everyday life this particular foible doesn't come into play much. There are few other things I am afraid of fortunately. Last night I was watching a documentary on people who are afraid of flying. I should feel sorry for these people, but, alas, I find it quite amusing. I think we can blame Hollywood movies (such as Die Hard 2 and Final Destination) for propagating such fears. Statistically speaking flying is the safest form of transport. This may well be true. But the grim reality is that if something goes wrong in a plane, the chances are that it will go wrong in a completely spectacular way.
Snakes and spiders don't bother me at all (providing they don't crawl into my mouth while I'm asleep). Some people have the weirdest fears. I used to share a flat with a guy who had a fear of fish for heaven's sake. Even the sight of a fish on television would provoke a strange reaction in him.
Anyway, I'm digressing. I often do. Back to the hike. First leg of the hike was from Birling Gap to Belle Tout Lighthouse. Mostly uphill. Visibility was gradually getting worse. Still, the scenery was stunning. The edge of the cliff was mere metres away from me and I was feeling slightly anxious as a result. This place is truly a place of outstanding natural beauty. However, the place has a certain sadness about it.
Beachy Head is unfortunately a suicide blackspot. Cliffs rising to over 150 metres at their highest point attract desperate people from all over the country. A few flowers and crosses near the edge of the cliff were a poignant reminder of this. On a personal level, I've known a couple of people who have met their end in Beachy Head. Not suicides, but no less tragic.
Luckily, the area doesn't just have sad associations to me. This was the place were pretty much every morning before work I would go for a walk with my secretary and her black labrador. What a great way to start the day. Those early morning walks made me physically and mentally fitter. A taste of family life. Minus the children; just the way it should be.
Other happy memories relate to using the winding roads as a race track. The first time was on my moped. Maxing out a little shy of fifty miles an hour. Next it was motorbike, probably at ninety or so miles an hour. Next it was in my Mini van. I would let anyone drive it. No matter how bad a driver they were. The next car was my BMW convertible. Natalie was in the passenger seat. My party trick was to open one of the windows and drive around a little short of ninety miles an hour. The extra element was a balloon in the back seat of the car. The turbulence soon lifted the balloon up, whipping it around the car or sticking against my head.