On Sunday we took Stevie for a hang-gliding lesson. Stevie had made the mistake about a year ago of casually saying it looked fun. I made a mental note and proudly presented him with a gift voucher for his birthday. For some reason it has taken some months for him to book it.
We all got ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’ stuck in our heads on the drive to the Hang-gliding centre.
When we had dropped Stevie off (!) the girls and I headed for the coast, to the Seven Sisters, for a walk along the cliffs.
It was a perfect day, for flying and photography.
The ‘Seven Sisters’ are a series of hills along this stretch of the Sussex coast. It is a very well-worn path. There is something helter-skelterish about the wide, undulating sweeps.
We climbed the first couple of ‘sisters’ and then stopped here to have a look for insects.
The grasses were perfectly swishy-swashy, in true Bear Hunt style. There wasn’t much breeze, but enough for a tickle.
There was a lot of vivid blue Viper’s Bugloss, Echium vulgare.
And it didn’t take long to realise that the burnet moths were partial to it. I love the metallic sheen on the moth wing here.
The moths, when flying, were a little reddish blur. Sadly, I did not catch this on a photo. But I did get the metallic-blue antennae!
We each followed our own fun, and called to one another if we found anything exciting.
Walking through the long grass disturbed a few grasshoppers. At least I think it was grasshoppers, rather than crickets. I forgot to check the length of the antennae. I think grasshoppers have shorter antennae.
Is this ‘Dropwort’, Flipendula vulgaris? I am trying to brush up on my wildflower identification. I think it is accompanied by Quaking grass, Briza media.
And this is perhaps Wild Mignonette, Roseda lutea. This was looking lovely with the Viper’s Bugloss as a backdrop.
My stepdaughter loved disturbing these fluffy seedheads.
We kept our distance from these though. Possibly Spear Thistle, Cirsium vulgare?
I am reasonably confident that this is Sorrel. I love the rosy-apricot colour of the ‘flowers’.
I’m not at all sure what this little low purple thing is. I thought it might be an Orchid. Stevie thought it was Selfheal. There’s also is a certain similarity with Salvia.
By now, it was about lunchtime, so we sat to eat our sandwiches. Belle Tout, the lighthouse you can see, was moved (on tracks) further away from the cliff edge twenty years ago. I wonder if it will need moving again soon? They left the tracks on site in case it does. This was the lighthouse used for tv adaptation of The Life and Loves of a She-Devil.
We lay on our backs in the sun awhile, and compared the colours we could see with our eyes closed. If we screwed our eyes up it was magenta pink and tangerine. If we relaxed our eyes it was green and gold.
We had a little fly down the helter-skelter, up past Belle Tout, and down to Birling Gap. Here there is a row of terrace houses also being eaten up by the sea. There is a grim fascination with houses that are partially demolished.
We wound our way down the steps to the beach, reading the messages people had made in stones. Thank you to the German people who wrote this. Given that the England football match was being played at this time, I found this calm reassurance of ‘Alles Gut’ (All good) quite touching.
We did quite a lot of this…
We mused that it was impossible not be relaxed when there is the sound of the sea and the seagulls, and the smell of seaweed and saltwater. And sure enough, everyone, children and adults, seemed to be playing.
We noticed we could only hear French accents. It felt like we were on holiday.
We had a ‘Mr Whippy’ and then it was time to pick up Stevie. He had a lovely time too. He told us that last week an instructor had hang-glided from here to our village, which is nearly 40 miles away!