April 7th, 2021

Pisgah Sights

We parked up on the cliffs at Ramsgate and gazed out to sea. It had been a bright sunny day and I'd been photographing churches to my heart's content but now clouds were massing and some of them were trailing gauzy skirts of what might have been rain or snow.

There was a line of white on the horizon, also to the west a grey bulk that looked like it had to be land, also- in between the line of white and the grey bulk- at least one vertical that might have been a tower or a chimney. I know you can see France from Dover but Ramsgate is set rather further back- as we checked on the maps when we got home. All the same- unless we were witnessing some sort of Fata Morgana type of optical illusion- and it wasn't in the clouds so I don't think it can have been- we were looking at the coastline of our nearest continental neighbour- as if from Mt Pisgah. The vertical tower or chimney will have been at Calais, the line of white will have been the chalk cliffs of Normandy and the bulky land mass will have been Cap Gris Nez.

The actual distance between Ramsgate and Calais proved hard to ascertain- because it's not a route that anyone takes any more. Channel swimmers don't swim direct but follow a curve dictated by sea lanes or currents or something of that sort. And if you take the ferry you get to add on land miles at either end. Putting all the evidence together we concluded the crow's flight distance, cliff to cliff, must be about thirty miles. And, yes, it's entirely possible to see that far...

It's one of our dreams to take the car over the water and travel the length of France (photographing churches all the way) and maybe go down into Spain and then...but it's not going to happen this year- not with covid and having my mother to care for- and next year I'll be 71 and Ailz will not be so very far behind...