Today was magnificent. The sun was shining here in Eastbourne, not hotly enough to trigger an autoimmune response in me but bright enough to lift the spirits. The temperature was in the high fifties, a light breeze was blowing, and doggos were everywhere. My version of heaven in a lot of ways.
I took Milo, Paige, and Tori on a hike to the Wish Tower about half a mile from the place we're staying. This took us past the Eastbourne Pier, past the Carpet Gardens, and past the Bandstand. Easily three out of five people on the sidewalk today (and it was crowded) had dogs with them. Some were leashed and some were trotting merrily along beside their owner. Some romped on the beach. Every single one of them looked as happy as I felt.
I didn't take dog pictures during the walk today, of mine or any others, although you'll see them in some shots I took a bit ago here in the living room of our flat. Today was about Eastbourne: the water, the land, the plants, the culture, and the history. I have only just begun to explore this place, and it amazes me every day. I didn't take my big Lumix camera with me today, or even my iPhone. I had my little English burner, which takes decent photos, but nothing like I could take with an actual camera. I'm not a photographer, though, not using a photography tag, so I ask that you please bear with the lower quality. One day soon I'll get the Lumix out and go for a walk.
If you take a close look at the photo above, you can see two swimmers in the water. I spotted six swimmers in total this morning, slicing through the choppy waters of the English Channel impervious to the chill. They were all dressed in thermal swimwear, which I'm sure helped.
Above is the Eastbourne Pier as seen from just below the Wish Tower. It looks exactly the same as it looks from the other side. I'm a bit underwhelmed by the pier because the new owner has shown such disrespect for the town's culture and customs. But it's still a landmark here, so there it is.
Beyond the Wish Tower is a point of land jutting into the Channel just northeast of Beachy Head. You can see the chalk sediment on the face of the cliffs from here, although the main deposits are 'round the bend. One day soon I'm going to walk past that bend and find Cow Gap trail down to the bottom of the cliffs. On that hike, I will be sure to take the Lumix.
One day I'll be able to identify the local species. That day is not today. I have no idea what half the plants growing here even are, other than beautiful. Take the one below, for example. Some type of lily, I presume, but beyond that, I haven't a clue.
(UPDATE: Peruvian Lily! I discovered this while researching the proper name for another plant I saw today.)
I saw a few plants I recognized, like mullein and dusty miller, and the one pictured above that I can't remember the name of. It's a succulent, it's perennial, and it's quite hardy in Virginia. I've also seen Queen Anne's Lace, canna lilies, and petunias--enough familiar foliage that I haven't started to suspect I landed on a strange planet rather than the European continent.
Situated directly on the main promenade, the Bandstand is an epicenter for live entertainment, featuring tribute bands to groups like Bon Jovi, Foo Fighters, Queen, and probably all the major hit makers. It's quiet during the off-season, but in warmer months the place is apparently rockin' almost every night of the week.
One of the most striking aspects of local Eastbourne culture is its affinity for dogs. There are some rules, though--but look how delightful! It's legal for all these cute little doggos to be off-leash on the promenade at this time of year! My eyes nearly fell out of my head when I read the sign pictured below.
Be sure to read all of the rules: "Dogs are not permitted to be on any beach between the Wish Tower and the Pier." Followed immediately by: "...any other beaches are dog friendly."
Most U.S. beaches don't allow dogs at all. Some coastal towns have a "dog beach," a tiny little spot where dogs can swim. Eastbourne has a "people beach," a tiny little spot where people who don't like dogs can go splash around free from cold noses and wagging tails. THIS is the right ratio of beach to dog, folks. This.
Did I mention that I'm in love with Eastbourne?
In the early 1800s, round mini-forts called "Martello Towers" started appearing up and down the coast of England, armed stations of defense against Napoleon. They were typically around forty feet in height, with two floors, and were staffed by a crew of fifteen to twenty-five soldiers. Some were built with extra-thick walls on the seaside, interior rooms located further toward the land side where cannon attack was less likely. The towers became less useful as arms technology evolved, but the fact that many of them still stand today is evidence of how solid their design and construction truly was.
Eastbourne's "Wish Tower" is tower number seventy-three out of seventy-four built on the banks of the English Channel between Folkstone and Seaford. There were 103 towers in all, with forty-three of them remaining today, but only two are publicly-owned and maintained.
After the Walk
Talk about three tired doggos! Once we got back to the flat they assumed the position and have been snoring there since. Well, Paige was the holdout for a while--she stayed up with me while I enjoyed a traditional English cuppa, but then she, too succumbed to the sandman and is now sound asleep on her pillow.
Life is good.