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Cliffs and Cathedrals

May 1, 2023

Today we sailed into Dover England at 5:15 a.m and enjoyed a beautiful few of the White Cliffs of Dover at sunrise. (Yes, I voluntarily got up before 5:15 a.m. while on vacation...) What a beautiful sight!! Dover is the point where Great Britain is closest to continental Europe, and where on a clear day the cliffs are visible from France (approximately 20 miles/32km away across the English Channel). Because of its location Dover has historically been a military/defensive location in England. Dover Castle, shown on the cliffs in one of the pictures below, was built in the 11th century by Henry II specifically for this purpose.

So, why are the cliffs white? Short answer - because they are made of chalk. If you can remember back to when classrooms had chalkboards, you know what chalk is. Chemically speaking, chalk is calcium carbonate (CaCO3). It is a form of limestone, a sedimentary rock. The chalk was formed over millions of years, beginning during the Jurassic period when this area of England was under a deep sea. As the marine algae in the water died and sank, deep layers built up, and were compressed by the weight of newer layers being deposited on top. Eventually the seas receded and the cliffs rose out of the water.

Our excursion today took us to Canterbury, a quaint little town set in the beautiful English countryside. The main attraction is the magnificent Canterbury Cathedral. The site originally began as a monastery in 597AD. Later it became a church, grew to a Cathedral, and is now the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. At one time, around 1200, it was believed miracles were occurring there and it became a pilgrimage center.

We also saw a building where discussions were held about a possible trip to a new world on a ship named The Mayflower,

And finally, we discovered that England now has wineries, and they make champagne! Just had to give it a try!

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