It was love at first sight. Seasoned traveller that I am, I was astonished to find the beauty of the Seven Sisters and Seaford Head on my doorstep. This is an anti-travel tale really, an introduction to the pleasures there are next door. Don’t get me wrong, I love my travels, and the Cederberg mountains of the Western Cape, or the dunes of the Sossusvlei in Namibia will always be places I take every opportunity return to, but the white chalky beauty of these sisters seduced me. So much so I moved in next door with every intention of exploring their curves and the soft up swelling of their Downs.
In the winter to come I hope the to see the spectacle of windblown spume and crashing waves on the pebbles of the beaches. The town itself is delineated by the waves and the borders of the surrounding National Park, hemmed in by the soft beauty of the English countryside, its history tied to the sea. Here the Romans came and built a port, the Norman invaders a church. From here the captor of a French King joined the rout of a French army at Poitiers being awarded with his belt buckle. Here a Queen gave land for butts and in later years people built defences against new invaders whilst wrenching a living from the oceans.
There is nothing spectacular about Seaford now. Its front is not commercialised, the port is silted up, a few fishing boats on lie the beach, yachts in its tiny moorings. Yet it is a different world on the coast to the city life I had for the last 30 years. The train from town stops at Lewes, and transferring to the local for Seaford, where the walks begin, is the first sign of how. My companion and I sought seats together and cheerful smiles and humorous greetings, offers to move, all made us feel amongst friends. The town I now live in echoes this warmth. People say hello in the street, smile, exchange greetings, all seemingly old lovers of Sussex, enamoured of the same Seven Sisters, taking the same pleasure in the Head.
Glistening white above the town the famous cliffs are the delineation of England’s southern shores. So iconic are the white cliffs that Microsoft chose this image to open an iteration of Windows, the bluebirds still are over and I can see their lines daily from a bedroom window. These Seven Sisters will pleasure me daily as I puff my way onto the Head to see them.
I shall still spend time planning my travels, plotting which hotel to see. Our globe is a beautiful world to enjoy. Homecoming will now be just a little more special.