The most spontaneous day of my youth

The first long weekend of my senior year at London Central, our school offered a field trip to Dover…. as in the famous “white cliffs of Dover.” It was an amazing weekend. We went to a flight museum; we saw Stonehenge; we visited a safari type zoo; we stayed at a hostel. Actually, aside from the flight museum, I had not done ANY of the items we did that weekend. I’d lived in England for over two years and not made it to one of its most famous landmarks – Stonehenge. This was back when you could still walk among the stones — on a specific path, of course, but we could still get close.

However, what I remember most of that amazing trip was the time we spent at the channel.

The White Cliffs of Dover face the English Channel. And while I had crossed that channel many times since moving to England, visiting France and Holland, those expeditions had always been on the big ferries or hover crafts. When we got down to that little sea side area, there was a place where we could rent a rowboat. My friends and I did just that. There were four of us that day who rowed out in the boat, heading towards the buoy that signaled one mile. We wanted to get out to that buoy.

Once we did, we rowed around the buoy. Then the guys jumped out of the boat and swam around it — so they could say they swam a mile out in the English Channel (which they did). We rowed back, and returned the boat.
But instead of going back the way we came, we explored along the beach and found a path up and up. We walked from the pebbly beach of the English Channel to the top of those cliffs, and when we got there, our intention was to go back down — until we looked down the hill and saw a fair.

Seriously? Who’s going to walk back down to a beach when there is an unexpected fair?

So we went to this fair and had a great time, before we remembered we were staying at a hostel. With a curfew. And we had no idea WHERE we were. We found the road and walked along these narrow British roads, dodging cars and jumping into the bushes whenever they got too close (including one batch of something rather unpleasant).
Did we make it back to the hostel in time? Yes we did.

It was the most spontaneous day of my youth, and very magical in the gift of opportunities that presented themselves during that day. I only remember the name of one person who was with me on that adventure (and yes, I am friends with him on Facebook, but it is not John).

This was just one of many opportunities and adventures that I had a chance to have because my father was in the Air Force.

M. Corrales

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