Exploring Brighton [& Surrounding Area] Part 2!

Day two in Brighton, UK started off with rain.  A lot of rain.  So much rain that I didn't really need to get out of the Airbnb at any particular time.. I also still did not have an umbrella yet (I finally got one this week!) so I knew that if I was to go out that I would be drenched within a minute.  I leisurely got ready for the day and sat down to eat cereal and bread with jam.  My host joined me after a little bit and we had another nice chat over tea when she told me a few of the places she thought I might like to see and a better place to see some of them (read more to find out what it was!).

After the rain lightened up I grabbed my coat (yay!) and headed back through The Lanes towards some of the prominent buildings in town.  I ended up seeing the Brighton Dome and the Royal Pavilion.  I didn't go into either exhibit because I was headed to an even greater sight.  The Royal Pavilion is a building built for Prince Regent and later King George IV as basically a place to party.  The outside is designed in an Indian temple type of look while the inside is Chinese.  Both building are very neat architecturally.

I was headed by those building because there was a bus stop right around there or the bus going out of town.  Why out of town you might ask?  Well!  That is because I was headed to see the Seven Sister Cliffs!  The Seven Sister Cliffs are chalk cliffs outside of Brighton in the Seven Sister national park very similar to the White Cliffs of Dover.  The bus ride took about an hour and a half from midtown Brighton.  Now here is the trick.  There is a stop along the way called "seven sisters" and that is not the best one to go to.  If you get off there you end up at a valley with a very very good example of a meandering stream.  But what that valley means that you have a long way to climb if you actually want to be on top of the cliffs.  Instead if you go a stop or two further to East Dean it is worth it!

When I arrived in East Dean it was slightly after lunch thus I was hungry.  I was told to head to the Tiger Inn which is a local inn and pub.  Needless to say, it was worth it.  I had the best burger ever.  The bun even had four different types of seeds on it.  Absolutely mouth watering.  The tavern itself has a very 'tavern' feel.  It seems like a place the locals go.

Across the square is a little house with a blue plaque.  Blue plaques are on buildings throughout England.  When there is a blue plaque it means that someone of significance has lived there.  In this case: Sherlock Holmes.  It says "Sherlock Holmes consulting detective & bee keeper retired here 1903-1917." As many of you know, Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  This plaque is in tribute to Doyle for writing that Sherlock retired in this little town. Neat huh?

After a very very filling lunch I started walking back to the main road.  I had been told a walk that is very pretty in this area.  Needless to say, after a few minutes the sidewalks ended and I was walking on the street (this is within a very very rural national park and at this point let me remind you from my previous blog that I had only brought my black ankle booties with me on this trip thus I was looking a little out of place).  Not exactly knowing where I was suppose to be turning I kept walking.  I had a few cars pass me and then one actually pulled up next to me and rolled down the window.  It was a lovely woman named Lynn and she asked me if I was headed to Birling Gap.  I said "yes" because why not, and she told me to hop in. Birling Gap as I later found out is one of the visiting centers for the Seven Sisters thus I was actually headed in the right direction.  Lynn was one of the workers at the visitors center and she kindly picked me up because she said that it looked like it was about to pour (how sweet!).  She then asked me if I was looking for Birling Gap or Beachy Head which is another visitors center and said that it would be a pretty walk from Beachy Head back down to Birling Gap.  I said that the walk would be lovely.  Thus she took me up to Beachy Head and along the way told me all about the land around that area which is owned by the National Trust.  There is even a lighthouse which has been moved four times due to the cliffs receding.  While driving up there she informed me that sometimes there isn't buses running in that area to bring you back into town and she didn't feel right leaving me up there without a good way of how to get back down thus when we made it to the top she went inside to ask the workers (how sweet!).  And due to it being a Saturday there wasn't any buses besides the tour buses which are super expensive that could bring me back so she kindly brought me back down to Birling Gap.  Once down there she told me to take a look in the visitors center and once she had put her belongings away she could come find me and tell me more about the cliffs!

Here is when I get to show off all the fun facts that I learned and if you know me you'll know how much I love my fun facts!  First off the cliffs are composed of three different types of rock but mostly of Chalk.  Chalk is defined as a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock which is a type of limestone composed of mineral calcite.  Chalk also is very easily eroded thus scientist guess that the cliffs are eroding by about a meter a year.  Along the floor of the visitors center it has lines marked where they think the cliff edge will be in certain years and it isn't looking good.  From the photographs from the beginning of the 20th century there were ten houses in the area and now there is only one left standing.  Also there are actually eight cliffs because one cliff eroded into two over time.  What is even more frightening is that due to the storms which occurred over the winter the cliffs actually lost five yards just this winter.  If you don't understand how much of a distance five feet is then look at the picture above of the stairs.  The platform leading out to the stairs is the distance of how much was lost.  Before I go on forever and tell you about the shipwrecks, people tying themselves to fences and barrels of lemons I'll let you explore all the knowledge for yourself at the National Trust's website. http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/birling-gap-and-the-seven-sisters/

Back the the cliffs of the hour!  These cliffs are magnificent.  I believe that of all the sights I have see, and I have walked through Machu Picchu, this has to be one of the most stunning.  I cannot do any better describing it to you than saying that the pictures cannot express how amazing this place is.  If I lived close to this area I would be coming at least once every season.  It is a pebble beach but I believe when the water is low you can reach sand.  I ended up spending over an hour by myself sitting on the beach and then walking into the water (because that is a mandatory thing you need to do when you go to large bodies of water) which for me to be alone in one place is a very long time.

Once it had reached a time where I figured I should start heading back, I climbed back up the stairs then went into the visitors center for some tea and ice cream.  Yes, I lollygagged.  I had blueberry and black current tea made the English way with bourbon vanilla ice cream while looking out the window at the cliffs.  It tasted pretty swell if you ask me.  After I realized that I still had over an hour to get back and I still had to reach a train at some point that night I decided I should really start heading back so I went through the gift shop.  Yes, more lollygagging.  It is just so pretty there!!  I then said bye to Lynn who had earlier offered to give me a ride back if the weather wasn't holding up.  Lynn was exceptionally wonderful and if you ever go to Birling Gap, which I highly recommend, try to find Lynn because she will give you all the information you'd like to know about the area!

I walked back to the bus stop (on the grass this time) and walked past many of the animals in the area.  My favorite had to be the sheep that were sticking their heads through the fence to get to the tall grass.  Overall there are many fields of sheep in England and they are so nice to look at!

I got onto the bus and rode into town while watching the sun set.  I then meandered back to The Lanes and actually got into Bluebird Tea Co.  I had heard of this tea company from watching YouTube and wanted to try it out for myself.  As you know, I love my tea and this place is amazing.  I ended up ordering a cup of lemon sherbet to go.  I have to admit to you, I came in fifteen minutes before they closed and it defiantly took me at least eight minutes trying to decide and I was the only person in there.  But, as I was waiting for it to steep I had another mixture catch my eye bonfire toffee.  In the description it said "Smokey black tea with caramel + apple".  I just had to know what caramel apple in tea smelt like.  I smelt it and oh my goodness.  Thus I ended up buying a little bit and it took me two weeks to find a looseleaf steeper so I just got to try it and it is delicious.  If you want to check out Bluebird Tea Co for yourself they ship world wide and have a huge selection! http://bluebirdteaco.com/

After that I really needed to stop lollygagging and start heading back so I went to the Airbnb and ran into my host and ended up sitting down with here to chat about my day (yes, I am a lollygagger... I think I've thoroughly explained this).  It was lovely.  Then I looked up how to get home and it said I should leave instantly so I ran out the door and headed to the station.  Now, at this point there wasn't a person for me to ask which train to get on like I normally do at my station so I decided to come back the way I came (via Gatwick Airport) instead of listening to my handy dandy Google map app... There was 'engineering' aka construction on one of the lines so I could have taken a bus but I didn't want a repeat of my weekend trip prior so I took the long route on the train.  Once I got there, there was only one train going back to Reading and it wasn't for another thirty minutes.  A nice gentleman let me out to explore and I ended up getting a pack of pretzels or as the packaging said "the great American snack."  From there I got on the train and there was literally eighteen stops between Gatwick and Reading. Thus my trip from Brighton to my dorm take a little over three hours instead of the original hour and a half it took me to get down there... but at least I finished my book!

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