Impossible parking

We were going to check out the view from Ditching Beacon this morning. The weather was perfect for it. 360 degrees of blue sky, a big, beautiful sun casting glorious heat and light down over everything. The trouble was, everyone else within a 100 mile radius had the same idea.

As we wove our way through the millions of cyclists, slugging their way up to the car park, it was all looking increasingly crowded. At the entrance to the car park, people milled, waiting to cross the road. We drove into the car park behind a van. We then followed the van as it left the car park.

Yep, the car park was full. Beyond full in fact, with people parking in all sorts of stupid places. We decided to go to the beach instead.

The trip to Seaford was long and involved quite a bit of A27 but, eventually, we found the car park at the end of a very long road and, guess what? It was full as well. Most annoying. Still, we hadn’t come this far to just go back to the Dairy. We joined the long stream of cars parked along the approach road and walked back to the entrance to the Seaford Head Nature Reserve.

Actually, before we headed down, we stopped off in the barn to visit the porta-loo. A sign on the porta-loo said it was for the use of the coffee van customers. So, having used the facility, we then had to buy a drink in order to fill up with liquid again. This is something that has always amused me.

There were a lot of families out and about, strolling with dogs and kids, some well behaved, some annoying. Obviously, I mean the kids. All the dogs were perfect.

At the end of the path in the photo above, you can either keep following it over the cattle grid or you can branch off onto a greenway which takes a long, slow dip down towards the sea. Of course, the path above may do the same thing but, given we didn’t follow it beyond the grid, I can’t say.

As we reached the bottom of the greenway, we beheld a marvellous vista. Yachts out to sea, a long hand hewn fence leading up to the cliff edge in one direction, a steep hill of green to the other. And, in the middle of the view, a set of steps leading down to the English Channel. Obviously that’s where we headed.

Naturally, being England, the beach was rocks. Not that that stopped people from lying back and sunbathing. A few people were lying on towels, soaking up the rays. In fact, as I sat waiting for Mirinda to return from a rock pool examination, a couple arrived and started spreading things out.

I was intrigued as I’ve never seen this happen before. First there was the removal of some, I suspect, pointy rocks, in an attempt to create a flat surface, then a towel was spread out, carefully. Upon being seated, there was a bit of movement, creating a vaguely human shape, the rocks behaving in the manner of a memory foam mattress I assume.

The couple then started stripping off in order to enjoy the sun. They seemed to remove about 15 layers, complete with jackets and boots. It was not cold.

In the meanwhilst, I sat back on a convenient rock and waited for my wife. Who took the time to take this photo of me.

It was a long way down to the sea and, strangely enough, just as long going back as well as being uphill all the way. Still, it was such a beautiful day that it didn’t really matter. And there was a lot of birdsong to accompany us all the way back.

There was an added bonus because, as we reached the top of the stairs, we ran into a man wearing a Copenhagen t-shirt. Mirinda was wearing her Sweden cap and I had a Swedish t-shirt on and he made some Scandi comment about us all.

He worked in Copenhagen for ages, commuting every week. His partner said that they were thinking about moving there a couple of years ago but didn’t. She sounded a bit sorry about that. And who could blame her? I don’t know if it was the plague that stopped them or something like family but, whatever the reason, they missed a golden opportunity.

Back at the car, we headed back to Ditchling, as we’d decided to have linner at The Nutmeg Tree. Of course, the parking was horrendous. I think everyone had gone from the beacon to Seaford and to Ditchling, just to spite us. We ended up parking on the side of the road leading out of town then walked back.

Not that it was very far. And it was well worth it.

The food and the service at The Nutmeg Tree were excellent. Seriously, if you eat there, have the beef burger on brioche with sweet potato fries. Simply delicious.

Having eaten and chatted to a friendly dog, we headed back to the Dairy.

After Mirinda returned from a long walk, we sat in the small garden, overlooking the South Downs with a G&T and a beer and toasted our final sunset of this too short break.

What a marvellous last day to an excellent long weekend.

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