Greetings from Kent, the Garden of England, where I’m staying with my mother in Birchington-on-Sea. Birchington (for short) incorporates a small inlet of the English Channel near the Thames Estuary called Epple Bay. That is where I went today, to pass a breezy fall afternoon.
The ocean is strong here when the wind rises and the tide runs high. Without the concrete fortifications, the chalk cliffs would long ago have been broken, taking valuable Birchington real estate with them. Even with concrete barriers and the wide promenade, the waters sometimes rise up to batter the cliffs. The recent very high tide with the super moon left sea weed markers and broken chalk in its wake.
The entire seabed in this area, and all the underlying ground in general, is chalk. The land has a layer of fertile humus over the chalk. Where the ocean roils, the water is a white hue from the dissolved mineral.
The chalk formed when all this land was under an ancient sea. Marine algae, when they died, drifted to the floor and their skeletons formed dense layers of white. Interspersed in the chalk are globular chunks of rock called flint, a type of chert.
It is believed flint forms as a breakdown product of chalk. Flint is popular in this part of England for use as building material. It is embedded in walls or roads and spread in driveways. The top of this wall is armored with a line of projecting flints.
Along the promenade at Birchington there are several deep cuts that allow access through the cliffs to the sea. One can get a good idea of the depth of the chalk and the fragile nature of the overlying thin layer of living soil.
Trees and plants that edge the cliffs are in constant danger of having their roots exposed by subsiding chalk. This fine limestone is also very porous. It does not retain water well. This is why Kent is often affected by drought before other parts of the country.
Westerly from Epple Bay, seven miles out in the ocean, is Thanet Wind Farm, one of the largest off-shore wind farms in the world. Some of the windmills are just visible in this shot. Over the years of visiting my mum I’ve watched this farm grow. It must be very successful. There is certainly a copious supply of wind in this part of the Channel to fill the needs of the farm.
The weather is holding decent, especially for England, not too rainy, some actual sunshine and temperatures in the 50sF. I hope to make another trip to the sea before I leave and to post again about the interesting Kentish Coast.