In elementary school I had the opportunity to clean the chalk boards and pound out the erasers for my teachers on more than one occasion. Not really sure if that was a privilege or the result of me being too chatty. The puffs of white clouds that were formed by clapping the black erasers together were a little like seeing your breath on a cold winter morning.
Chalk is a soft, white, porous, sedimentary carbonate rock, a form of limestone composed of calcite according to Wikipedia. But you probably already knew that right? I must admit that I had never thought about what chalk was made of or where it was from.
Now I know. Ky and I visited the Seven Sisters Chalk Cliffs in Birling Gap, just a short drive south of where we're staying and it was a fun way to learn. Chalk was strewn about the beach in all shapes and sizes, looking like large ostrich eggs or huge thick cigars. Those and the large boulders of the hard white substance which were lying on the beach between the white cliffs and the water's edge were the extreme opposite of the tar balls that were on the beaches of Galveston, Texas where my family went for our seaside visits.
During the same time period in which I was clapping erasers, one of my favorite cartoons was The Flintstones. I hate to give away how old I am, so let's just pretend that I watched it in reruns. I had never considered that their surnames had anything to do with flint stones or that they lived in the Stone Ages. A few years later, I learned that flint could be used to start fires and that flint was used in lighters, but, just as the chalk, I had never thought about its origins.
Now I know after having seen lovely homes and walls and churches in the south of England which are made from flint stones, that the beautiful rocks which were scattered profusely about the chalk eggs and chalk cigars and embedded in layers in the chalk cliffs were flint! These special stones occur chiefly in sedimentary rocks such as chalk or limestone. The flint punctuates the cliffs like thin chocolate icing in between thick layers of a very tall vanilla cake.
How amazing is all that! It took me all these years to learn about chalk and flint stones. I really do need to get out more ;-) . I also think I need to rewatch The Flintstones to see what else I missed - a good excuse!
On our way there, we had the bonus of viewing both the very impressive Long Man Of Wilmington in Brighton and the Litlington White Horse in Litlington, Sussex which is only about 18 miles away from the man. The Long Man is 235 feet tall and it is believed that he was carved in to the chalky hill in the 16th or 17th century. The horse is 93' long and 65' high and it was believed to be cut around 1924. Next time we'll have to do some more exploring around them as they both are in areas with hiking trails.
I'm definitely chalking this one up to traveling being a great way to learn!
Hugs from Brighton!