Friday, May 26, 2017

Have I got a Deal for you!

Every day I feel very fortunate that I have been given the opportunity to come here this summer and the last two days have magnified that gratitude. By being here for an extended amount of time, I am able to use my free time to visit important people in my life, some of whom I have not seen for several years.

This week I had a couple of days together with no student group commitments, so on Wednesday morning I woke up very early to catch a train to the southeastern English coast where my former college roommate and adventure partner picked me up. Gemma was one of the first people I met upon moving to Wales, as she and I were placed next to each other in the dorms. We each had Spanish as one of our majors and did our Erasmus semester in Spain together in Granada. There are a couple of long-term friends who I consider to have had a major impact on helping me become the person I am today, and she is near the top of that list. She taught me so much about kindness, British culture, and life in general.

On my last visit to the UK we were supposed to reunite, but shortly before she went on a holiday to Spain and experienced some very scary pregnancy complications that caused her to be in hospital there for a month, so we, understandably, could not see each other. Now she has a healthy and thriving 13 month old who I was so excited to meet.

Don't be fooled, she was very smiley for most of the visit.
Gemma lives in a lovely seaside town called Deal, which has a long maritime history. When Julius Caesar came to the UK, he landed here in Deal.  The UK Royal Marines set up barracks in the town back in the 1700s and in 1989, the IRA set off a bomb at the Royal Marines School of Music here, killing 11 and wounding 21. The barracks are no longer used for military purposes, having now been converted into flats.

Deal is also part of a chain of ports, the Cinque Ports, and King Henry VIII commissioned a castle here for strategic defense of the coast. Deal castle is in the design of a Tudor rose and looks very impressive in aerial photos. It is really well preserved and this time of year was lovely with all sorts of wildflowers and flower beds all around it in bloom.

As you can see, we're still having beautiful weather and from the beach you could see France.
Bonjour! (It's the dark bit on the horizon in the middle of the photo)

My phone has gotten a little confused.

The beach here is pebble rather than sand
A bit of Deal, as seen from the pier
Deal is also only about 20 minutes from Dover, so we took a short car journey there on Wednesday afternoon. 

This Banksy mural appeared in Dover about 2.5 weeks ago. Dover is a busy shipping port, where a lot of people and cargo come from mainland Europe. The mural is located on the main road to and from the port, so it is highly visible to all who come and go. This image is the flag of the European Union with a workman chiseling away one of the stars, an obvious commentary on Brexit.

Most Americans who have heard of Dover know of its famous white cliffs.

The Instagram view
The reality view
There is a ~2 mile hike along the cliffs out to a lighthouse. They don't have anything actually marking the distance and the map they give you upon entry does not give you an idea of scale. By the time we got to the lighthouse, we were already burning a bit from the sun and I was starving, so we visited the tea room for a treat.

Feeling fancy with a cream tea
The rest of my visit has just been quiet relaxing, cuddling cats and the baby, and doing some work on my laptop. Now it's back to London for me. 


  1. Looks like you are having blast! Totally living vicariously Holly!

    1. Thanks! I feel really lucky to be able to have this time here and do all that I'm doing. :)