I know, I know, most of you may be in the same spot we were in:
We'd never even heard of Porthcurno.
But the fact of the matter is, if you are reading this, you should know about Porthcurno... because, as they say there, it's the home of "The Victorian Internet."
Porthcurno is the small beach where modern communication was born. From here, the British Empire could communicate with the world in just around 9 minutes. From here, cables strung beneath the beach still extend into the furthest reaches of the Empire – all the way to Gibraltar, and South Africa, and Newfoundland …
Porthcurno is also the home of one of the most modestly impressive museums I've ever had the privilege to walk through (and belive you me, I've had my share of museums!). The Porthcurno Telegraph Museum has done, with volunteers and a little federal funding, what few museums manage to do: bring the drama of history alive for modern visitors.
We walked down a timeline of 19th and 20th century "telecommunication," ending in a room sporting memorabilia from a WWII wartime Porthcurno (given its central nature in communication, it was a natural target for Nazi forces). From there, we entered the underground facility which they tunneled and built in just 10 months during 1940-41 to house the sensitive equipment which kept England in touch with the rest of the world:
We spent the whole half-day we were there wishing that my dad could have been there with us. The whole history of global communication is right there in that little quarter acre! Amazing.
And somehow equally amazing, but in a different way, was the second half of the day, which we spent above ground, out of doors, in the canonically beautiful English countryside, eating our pack lunches from the day before and drinking in the scenery.
Rolling hills, fields for livestock sized precisely for a human to walk across in 10 minutes or less … all this is beauty on a scale that a person's mind can wrap itself around. And that, in my opinion, is the genius of Britain (and Europe in general): it's beauty on a human scale, that humans can enjoy and manage.
A pint or two and some lively conversation with fellow travelers in Treen, a little town just to the east of Porthcurno:
And then back "home" again to Porthcurno, where our innkeepers Deb & Chris were whipping up a homemade meal which will live on in our hearts and stomachs: roasted lemon chicken with perfectly-cooked mixed veg., plus homemade tomato soup to start. And for pud? An apple pie that made even these home-baked Americans weep.... The perfect hybrid of shortbread and lemon and pie crus that any of you have ever had. Ever. Period.
If any of you are so fortunate as to be able to book a night in Porthcurno, please - we beg you - stay at the Sea View House. And book ahead, so you can book one of Deb's dinners!
If some of you come, she may forgive us for being a tad late... You see, we were at the "Cable Station Inn," enjoying a pint chez Mick and Sandra (Deb's best friend - it's a small town)… and Jeff and Malcom bought us a round just as Malcom was explaining to us how he doesn't have any kneecaps… and that was after the story about how he slept through the Fire Brigade coming to his house in response to the fire alarm going off…
It was a good evening. Porthcurno, we will miss you!