We’ve been back in New Zealand for more than three weeks now, and it feels like a long time since I was writing about Zennor.
Continuing round the Cornish coast, we reached Land’s End, the most westerly part of mainland Cornwall. ‘From Land’s End to John o’ Groats’ is often used as a measure of travelling between Britain’s southwestern and northeastern extremities (John o’ Groats is in the far northeast of Scotland). Today, Land’s End is a tourist trap where you even have to pay to have your photo taken in front of the distance marker shown above (the staff will add your home town to the sign to create a personalised photo).
Some four kilometres on from Land’s End is Porthcurno, a small village with a big place in history.
This memorial marks Porthcurno’s role as a global communications hub, the termination point for international submarine telegraph cables. These cables connected Britain to the rest of the Empire and the wider world, including New Zealand. A cable between Cable Bay in Nelson and La Perouse in Sydney, laid in 1876, linked New Zealand to Australia, and from there to Britain (via Java and Suez).
In time, telegraph cables were joined by Guglielmo Marconi’s new wireless or radio telegraphy. A wireless transmitting station was established at Poldhu in Cornwall (we didn’t quite get that far on our walking holiday), and in 1928 the company that operated the cable station at Porthcurno merged with Marconi’s company. In 1898, Marconi established the world’s first wireless factory in Chelmsford in Essex. A new, purpose-built Marconi radio factory opened in Chelmsford in 1912, and it was from here that the first official radio broadcast in the UK, featuring Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba, was transmitted in 1920. Chelmsford happens to be where Fiona’s brother and sister-in-law live, and was our final stop after leaving Cornwall, before we started our return journey to New Zealand
Almost a century after the first radio broadcast, and a century and a half or so after telegraphy significantly increased the speed of international communication, the world is connected by the internet. Thanks to the World Wide Web, family and friends in New Zealand, Australia and the United States have been able to follow our adventures in Scotland and elsewhere through this blog. It’s been great to keep in touch with you through the blog, and thanks for your comments and encouragement. Some of you may have been disappointed not to get more of Fiona’s lovely words and images, and less of me wittering on about history. But though my voice dominates this blog, I hope it has given readers a good sense of the places Fiona and I were exploring together. And to all the readers in Portugal and elsewhere who have been finding your way to the post ‘Lisbon A-Z (part 1)’ (very few continue on to part 2, I note), I hope you haven’t been too disappointed not to find a practical guide to Portugal’s fabulous capital!
Arriving back in New Zealand for the first time as a New Zealand citizen, I was disappointed to find that the immigration check at the airport has been automated, so there was no smiling official waiting to say ‘welcome home’. It is great to be home, though — back with family and friends, in a land where Vegemite isn’t only available in selected shops, and where people walk on the right (that is, the left) side of the footpath.
Now that we’re home, this blog will become mainly a record of our time away, rather than something we update regularly — although we may still use it from time to time when we’re on holiday. I’m planning to start a new blog for my musings on history, politics and other subjects, so stay tuned for that if you’re interested.
A week or so after our return, we went to Christchurch to attend the wedding of some friends (the same friends with whom we had such a good time holidaying in Lisbon, as it happens). It was a lovely wedding, and nice too to see central Christchurch gradually recovering from the 2010-11 earthquakes. It was also an opportunity to travel just outside Christchurch to the town of Lincoln. Did it, like Lincoln, England, exceed expectations? Perhaps not, but it was a very pleasant place in which to spend a few hours on a cold but sunny winter’s day. And so we leave you with another photo of the Lincolns in Lincoln. Goodbye for now, and thanks for reading!