Gazing down over Porthcurno beach from the path by the Minack theatre I feel the urge to throw my arms wide and burst into an aria in celebration of its indescribable gorgeousness. It’s a place where endless skies meet endless seas which slam into the cliffs and rebound in a seething mass. My hair is blowing horizontally and my coat is luffing loudly. There are rips pulling the water back out to sea. Should I be sensible, or obey the compulsion to leap into the ocean at once?
Far below in the car park, Matt has already decided to ‘have a look’, so the two of us change behind a slightly sheltered rock where my hair is merely at forty-five degrees. We watch closely for a bit, and decide on an entry spot away from the area where most waves are crossing and where there is no rip. The seas’s atomised in the gale and hits us way before we touch the foam. A couple of Grey Seals are surfing further out. Wading in, the undertow pulls the sand from beneath our feet and there’s an unsettling sensation of movement while the landscape stays where it is and the sea churns.
I’m on my arse before the water’s over my knees, and we’re hit by wave after wave. Matt performs a star jump. As they rear up ready to break, the rollers are illuminated from behind like stained glass in the rarest pale turquoise. Legs aching as we fight the undertow, we’re panting and laughing and diving through, over or under the breaks. We stay well within our depth; there’s no way we can swim safely out. Finally we body surf back in, landing inelegantly on the sand in an exhilarated heap. It’s only then that I notice the cold.