By way of a change, and in a moment of spontaneity, I decided to go down to sea yesterday afternoon. It’s only about a half an hour’s drive from here and I should really go more often. I suppose it’s part of human nature to sometimes take things that are on our doorstep for granted. The county of Kent, tucked away in the south east corner of England, has a coastline on it’s North, South and East borders, so there are plenty of places to choose for a visit, the most well know being the chalky White Cliffs of Dover. However, I decided to go south to Dungeness Point.
Dungeness has an almost desolate and other-wordly quality to it, particularly in winter. People either love it or hate it – I love it. I think it possesses a bleak romance, which is probably why it often attracts artists – trying to capture its spirit and ever-shifting skies in a painting or photograph.
Because it juts out into the English Channel the weather can be quite unpredictable, although the one element you can generally rely on is the wind, and yesterday was no exception. Not a great day trip destination for wig-wearers. Most of it is a vast shingle beach – one of the largest expanses of shingle in Europe, and is a species-rich nature reserve.
Scattered across the shingle are a quirky, and often eccentric, array of huts, shacks and houses, mostly made from wood. They’re occupied by an eclectic range of local residents, including local fishermen, who’s boats are launched directly from the beach.
To the west, a dominant feature of the landscape is the nuclear power station. It makes for a startling juxtaposition but, in a very counter-intuitive way, it doesn’t seem to diminish the beauty of the place.
So that was my afternoon by the sea. It wasn’t a sunny, sand between the toes sort of a trip, but I prefer my beaches to be more windswept than sun-kissed, so the scudding clouds and blustery rain spots suited me and the dog very well indeed. There are many coastal landscapes in the British Isles that are more dramatic than they are in Kent, but I was born along this coastline so I’ll always have a soft spot for it.