Stop All The Clocks

3rd July 2013

“A weekend in a coastal holiday property. Good food; beautiful scenery. No clocks.” How hard could it be? Time telling junkie Clare Howdle gets put to the test…

The deal was simple. Spend a night in 3 White Lodge, a two bedroom property in picturesque Mawgan Porth. Enjoy everything it has to offer with just one rule. Give up clocks.  At no point could I know what time it was, or put myself of risk of finding out.

A self-confessed scheduler, I knew it would be tough. But I was willing to give it a go – until leafing through the brochure revealed how well equipped 3 White Lodge was. There was a flatscreen TV, satellite, broadband, even choicely positioned iPod docks for playing my favourite tunes. The full meaning of ‘no clocks’ began to dawn on me. No TV, no radio, no iPod or even phone. I nearly bottled it there and then. But my competitive nature got the better of me. I could do this, right?

Withdrawal symptoms started the moment we got in the car. Gaffa-taping up the clock on the dashboard I started to shake. How would we know what time we could expect to arrive? How long had it taken? How would the rest of our day subsequently pan out? I was in trouble. And getting lost on a coastal road didn’t help. The Sat Nav was so tantalisingly close. I couldn’t. Not this early on…

Despite the mind numbing temptation, we made it to Mawgan Porth without succumbing to the lure of digital devices. Things rapidly started looking up. The dazzling sunshine and crisp blue skies gave White Lodge – perched on a cliff-come sand dune, just a stone’s throw away from the sea – a beautiful, welcoming glow as we approached. Unlocking the double patio doors and stepping inside, we were beaming.


The apartment’s fresh feel and seaside style hit a welcome note, but singing out even sweeter were the Cornish goodies from A selection of local specialties – from milk, to eggs and bread, to sausages, marmalade and apple juice – lined the kitchen cupboards. I had no idea what time it was, but with such delicious food to hand, suddenly it didn’t matter.


A cup of tea and a Cornish shortbread or two later we hatched a loose plan. Scouting walk to the beach, surf, cream tea, relax, then out for a pub dinner. That sounded about right. The sun was high in the sky. There should still be time. From right outside the apartment a path led straight to the shoreline, where we saw towering cliffs, ocean stretching into the distance, a coastal path clinging tantalisingly to the cliffs. From the wet sand I guessed the tide had just dropped back and the resultant perfect, shoulder-high glistening peelers were too inviting to ignore. We cut out walk short, bounded back to the lodge and, within moments, were clad in rubber wetsuits, boards under arms, wading through the shallows.


The crystal clear water, fun waves and friendly atmosphere – not to mention the pod of dolphins that decided to join us (I kid you not) – made for a near-perfect surf. It may have been later than planned as the sun was beginning to set, but I hardly even noticed. It was time for tea regardless, complete with locally baked scones, strawberry jam and lashings of clotted cream. Followed by Scrabble. Then a little nap. We missed the serving window at the local pub but we didn’t care. The brisk walk down the hill then back again mustered up more of an appetite for a store cupboard supper anyway; Cornish sausage and yolky free range egg frittata.


When you take away time things change. Without the electronic entertainment that clocks bring with them, there’s more talk. More jokes. More sing-a-longs and game playing. I was liberated from digital dependence and loving it. As was my stomach. Without the constraints of self-inflicted meal times, we indulged whenever we wanted – including late at night, when crusty bread and Davidstow cheddar beckoned.


So to sleep, full and happy. And awake contented. Sizzling back and a lazy breakfast giving way to a strapping stomp along the cliffs. Sunshine, endless Atlantic views, fresh air. We had left over frittata I our back pack and smiles on our faces. But inside I was sad. Because I would miss not having clocks more than I missed having them. Soon I’d be back to normal; iPhone glued into hand and four little numbers illuminated in the corner of my laptop, governing my day. But for one glorious weekend, time couldn’t touch me. Life took over and it had been swell.

I wanted to grab every friendly walker we passed and tell them the secret, implore them to try it. It was all I could do to prevent myself from standing bellowing out from the cliff top “Do it, please. Just once. Stop all the clocks. Stop. All. The. Clocks.”

But I didn’t much to my other half’s delight. Instead I’m telling you. Do it. Just once. Stop all the clocks. It’s worth it. I promise.

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