Up to the highest heights

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.

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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.

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We climbed the first couple of ‘sisters’ and then stopped here to have a look for insects.

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The grasses were perfectly swishy-swashy, in true Bear Hunt style.  There wasn’t much breeze, but enough for a tickle.

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There was a lot of vivid blue Viper’s Bugloss, Echium vulgare.

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‘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.

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‘Viper’s Bugloss’, Echium vulgare, with a Burnet moth.

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!

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Burnet moth.

We each followed our own fun, and called to one another if we found anything exciting.

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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.

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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.

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And this is perhaps Wild Mignonette, Roseda lutea.  This was looking lovely with the Viper’s Bugloss as a backdrop.

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My stepdaughter loved disturbing these fluffy seedheads.

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We kept our distance from these though.  Possibly Spear Thistle, Cirsium vulgare?

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I am reasonably confident that this is Sorrel.  I love the rosy-apricot colour of the ‘flowers’.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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We did quite a lot of this…

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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.

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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!

My aim on this site is to share the sense of wonder I get from gardening and being outdoors.

If you would like to join the joy, click on the ‘Follow’ button at the end of this post. You will receive an email each time I post a little pop of wonder.

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31 Comments Add yours

  1. shazza says:

    Wonderful! I am long due a trip to the coast. Your photos are stunning. Think your blue flower is a selfheal. I saw some up North yesterday. Very jealous of all the gorgeous wild flowers you saw. And admire your gift buying skills. 😉x

    1. Ali says:

      Shazza, you are brilliant! Thank you ! Stevie is being very careful about his ‘likes’ this year! 😂

      1. shazza says:

        Haha.😁 I don’t blame him! Though it would have been quite an adventure. X

      2. Ali says:

        Actually that has given me a slightly evil idea. I might make a gift voucher for synchronised swimming, or tight-rope walking, or volcano-caving…

  2. Susan Beard. says:

    While playing Swingball in the glare of the afternoon sun,I closed my eyes and had electric blue lassos on a burnt orange background..fabulous. ✨

    1. Ali says:

      Ooh, lovely! It’s a brilliant game, isn’t it? Swingball and eyeball colours!

  3. fredgardener says:

    beautiful pictures. the cliffs are very similar to those near my home and you’re right it gives you a holiday feeling.

  4. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Just glorious colours, the white cliffs against the blue sea. What a perfect day!

  5. I do love a day at the beach, sounds like you had a lovely day exploring and relaxing in the sunshine. Brilliant photo of the burnet moth!

    1. Ali says:

      There were so many! A couple on each flower!

  6. Emma Cownie says:

    Ah what wonderful photographs of the coast and the wildlife on the top of the cliffs. I love your photo of the lighthouse off the coast. I’d love to paint it. The red and white strip are great. Would you mind if I painted it some time, please? I’d give you photo credit, of course.

    1. Ali says:

      Oh my goodness, yes! That would be fab!

      1. Emma Cownie says:

        Thank you so much!

  7. What stunning photos Ali! You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful country. It is pretty here too, but I am landlocked and the nearest ocean is hundreds of miles away. Thank you for sharing your beautiful England with us.

    1. Ali says:

      It is my pleasure, Cindy.

  8. Penny Post says:

    Sounds delightful. We often dream of living near the sea, but our coast would have to be much further north than yours so we could also get access to proper hills. The south is far too flat for my taste.

    1. Ali says:

      Being from Yorkshire, I miss hills too. We have a couple of hills, because we are on the edge of the Downs, but not nearly enough!

  9. pommepal says:

    What a gorgeous blue that Vipers Bugloss is, definitely a perfect day out

  10. Heyjude says:

    Seems like we have both been visiting the coastal cliffs and admiring the wildflowers this week Ali. I get very confused trying to ID them. Some are obvious, but others leave me totally befuddled. I think that IS Selfheal and Filipendula vulgaris. And thanks for IDing the Sorrel. I confused that with curled dock!

    1. Ali says:

      Oh, I might have done that too, Jude!

  11. Chloris says:

    Beautiful, what a lovely way to spend a sunny day with your children. Yes, certainly Selfheal.

    1. Ali says:

      Thanks, Chloris!

  12. those black and white moths are gorgeous! I’ve never seen them live 😦

  13. rusty duck says:

    The landscape in that part of the world is lovely. Why did I miss seeing it when I lived so much closer?!

    1. Ali says:

      I remember doing this walk once when I was a child and never forgot it. Otherwise it doesn’t get mentioned much!

  14. Fantastic. It looks idyllic. Jealous!

  15. M.B. Henry says:

    Wow looks like a lovely day! 🙂 Love the fluffy seed heads

  16. bcparkison says:

    You didn’t watch Stevie on the gliding adventure??

    1. Ali says:

      We were warned that there would be a lot of safety-talking and procedure, so not this time!

  17. What a glorious day out, stunning photos too and you packed so much in! I think your unidentified purple flower might be Bugle, or that’s what I know it as. A successful day’s hang gliding all round by the sound of it!

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