With seas mistaken for those of the Caribbean, Porthcurno remains a cove held deep in my heart. A short 3 miles from Land’s End, it teeters on crumbled cliffs, encased in a serenity that is often forgotten by young holiday seekers today.
Arriving through narrow roads, the scent of not only the sea, but also the peace, was overwhelming and attractive after the incessant ping of Facebook notifications back home. Ironic considering Porthcurno was once the height of the country’s communication, with cables reaching as far as India transmitting signals continuously. Yet, here I was planted in the Cornish sand, oblivious to the digital world. Quick to find there was a loss of phone signal, I felt like I had arrived on my holiday and whilst my brother experienced momentary panic, I was honestly relieved at the prospect of being untraceable. In a world invaded by daily Instagrams and relentless tweeting, it seemed I had found salvation in a corner of the Cornish coastline, where resisting social media was a given.
Just as many students will be fleeing to the party islands and feeling obliged to take as many pout pictures as Facebook needs, I am going to give you a history lesson. The small, mysterious cove of Porthcurno once served as the largest cable station internationally (exciting, I know) and was imperative in revolutionising the now popular communication technology, but now it has become forgotten as the tourists pour in, in the hope they will spot a seal out at sea. In which case, there will be a video, photo and a call back home to spread the wonderful news; none of which would have been possible without the communication of Porthcurno to other countries in the British Empire. Also a key source of communication during the wars, the cove had a sense of lost and distanced contact. During a quiet day on the beach, children’s cries sounded a little too echoed, and the disused white cable hut stood prominently yet mysteriously on the cliff side. There was a feeling that the place was once busy.
Unlike so many popular destinations this summer, Porthcurno is inexplicably bliss, and manages to evade all the superficiality and noise that can sometimes contaminate our daily lives. Even as I write this, there is something quite satisfying about the red line under Porthcurno, as if unknown to the computerised world. A reminder of powerful history, the visit has been more enlightening than any history book and has given me time to think. Many others may go further afield to ‘find themselves,’ but I’ve discovered that personal reflection has got more to do with opting for the off button.