White Cliffs of Dover

Located at the narrowest point of the English Channel, between England and the European Continent, the White Cliffs of Dover are chalk cliffs, also containing significant amounts of black flint as well as quartz, that reach a height of 350 feet (106.68 meters) and stretch for approximately 10 miles (16.09 kilometers).

White Cliffs of DoverThe cliffs were formed, along with the Straits of Dover, during ice age flooding, and, historically, have been both a symbolic defensive shield against invasion from the continent, as well as a marker for travelers, generally being the first sight of England as ships made their way across the channel. In fact, on a clear day the cliffs are visible from France.

Dover CastleThe port of Dover, in Kent county, is near the westernmost point of the cliffs, and the medieval masonry Dover Castle, founded in the 12th century, sits atop the cliffs and is the largest castle in England. There is evidence that other forms of defensive structures may have existed on the site from as far back as the Iron Age (1200 BC – 1 BC), possibly earlier.

White Cliffs of DoverThe Victorian era South Foreland Lighthouse, located at St. Margaret’s Bay, can be viewed atop the cliff. The lighthouse has been inactive since 1988 and is currently owned by the National Trust.

White Cliffs of DoverErosion of the chalk cliffs continues to occur (between 2 and 5 cm annually) though there have been times that large chunks of the cliff have fallen into the channel, with the most recent collapse occurring on March 15, 2012.

White Cliffs of DoverThe White Cliffs of Dover are, indeed, a spectacular natural wonder to view, especially when crossing the channel between Dover, England, and Calais, France (or even in your own kayak). The images seen here were captured from the deck of a P&O Ferry when departing from the port of Dover.

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The Chocolate We Love

Chocolate, in virtually any form, has been an addiction for as long as I can remember.

As a child, an untold number of those confectionery bars found their way into my body, along with your standard chocolate cookie, chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, chocolate milk, etc.

Growing older I became more selective in my appetite for chocolate, and the types thereof, i.e., milk, dark and white chocolate, and the forms it could take.

Chocolate MousseYes, there were still candy bars consumed while developing my choc-lover palette, especially, it seems, when chocolate had been combined with peanut butter (still a fave), but my taste grew the most when discovering the myriad ways my favorite flavor could be formed into incredibly savory cacao desserts, paired with, most often, a cabernet sauvignon or Bordeaux, but also with a fantastic double or triple espresso.

Two of my all-time most cherished choc-desserts are Chocolate Mousse and Flourless Chocolate Cake.

Flourless Chocolate CakeI do not think I will ever tire of tasting these two delicacies from any establishment I visit as I cannot recall a time I have even bitten into one and been disappointed or, worse, gagged (as I have when eating some other desserts I have tired over the years).

Fortunately, it seems, my zeroed-in choc journey will never end, for every Chocolate Mousse does not taste like every other Chocolate Mousse, and every Flourless Choc Cake tastes slightly different from all the others, as there are always slight variations a dessert chef will perform when creating their own version.

The pleasure is in the hunt, the anticipation and, finally, tasting the delectable and highly enjoyable chocolate dessert.

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Herstmonceux Castle – East Sussex, England

Boasting a fairly colorful history, including standing as an exterior walls-only edifice for well over a century, Herstmonceux Castle’s name derived from very early 12th century owners of a manor house that existed on the site,  Idonea de Herst who married Ingelram de Monceux, a Norman nobleman. At that time, the manor house was called “Herst of the Monceux.”  There is evidence that in 1066 some other structure existed before the manor in this location.Herstmonceux CastleConstruction of the actual castle did not begin until 1441 by Roger Fiennes, a Monceux descendant, who was appointed Treasurer of the Household by King Henry VI.  Unique to Herstmonceux is that brick was not a common material used during that time, as it was not being built as a fortress from which to defend attacks but, rather, as a grand residence.  In the early 18th century the castle was sold to another family and by 1777 it’s existence as a ruin began. 

In 1913, new owners brought Herstmonceux back into life as a residence.  The castle changed hands between various owners until 1946 when it was purchased and turned into the Royal Greenwich Observatory, until it moved in 1988.Herstmonceux CastleThe castle sat vacant until 1992 when it became part of Queen’s University at Kingston (Ontario, Canada) and was known as  Queen’s International Study Centre (ISC), with primarily arts or commerce students.  The name later changed, in 2009, to Bader International Study Centre, after Alfred Bader, the Queen’s alum who first had the idea to turn this castle into a university study center.

Herstmonceux CastleThough gaining entry to the ISC may not occur, the exterior grounds and the outstanding brick structure make it a worthwhile visit.

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Arc de Triomphe – Paris, France

At the western end of Champs-Élysées in Paris, France, sits one of the country’s most famous monuments, Arc de Triomphe. Situated at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, the Arc honors those soldiers who fought and died in both the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

Arc de TriompheThe victories during those conflicts, as well as the generals, are inscribed on the Arc, while beneath it there is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. The Arc is one of several monuments that are between Musee du Louvre and La Grande Arche de la Défense.

Arc de TriompheIt stands 164 feet (50 meters) tall and is 148 feet (45 meters) wide and 72 feet (22 meters) deep. Though it was commissioned in 1806 it would not be completed, for various reasons, for another three decades. At the time it was finished it reigned as the tallest triumphal arch, to be beaten by one erected in Korea some 50 years later.

Arc de TriompheThe design of Arc de Triomphe was inspired by the 1st century Roman Arch of Titus, though is over three times as large. The Arc is adorned with many sculptures and reliefs, adding much to its artistic beauty. A lift will take those visiting to the attic (which includes a museum) and a 46 step climb will land a person at the top, where there is offered a 360 degree view across all of Paris.

Arc de TriompheThe Arc de Triomphe is well worth a visit when in Paris.

Over For Now.

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