Saturday, May 03, 2008

Cornwall


Last Sunday we decided, despite the weather forecast, to go camping in Cornwall for a few days. Big mistake! It was very, very, very wet... However we did get some sun as well as showers, hail, strong winds, rain-battered noisy nights, low temperatures, etc.

We stopped just inside Dartmoor (Devon) for the first night on a camp site which had its own hydro-electricity - this meant it had the warmest shower block I've ever been in! And there was even a bath available too. The drinking water tasted horrible - all chemical - but the other facilities were amazing. However our goal was Cornwall. And it hadn't rained much yet... So on we went.

Nearly eight years ago we got married in Cornwall as a way of marking it as our future home. Recently I've been wondering if it was time to move there. (See my Looking at Houses in Cornwall blog). But the first real question is whereabouts. Most of our visits have been to the far South-West. I love St Ives as a centre for art and Jim has climbed on the sea cliffs, especially near Sennen (actually so have I but never again, thank you!), which is even further South-West than St Ives.

Jim at the top of Staircase


But thinking about living there means different things from holiday-style living. So this trip was partly to visit Truro, Cornwall's only city, to check out what it was like as neither of us had been there before.

We had decided to camp as this is so much cheaper than staying in holiday cottages - even looking for last minute "bargains" I found plenty of vacant cottages but no-one willing to do a decent discount. (I even asked nicely... but only got a meagre £50 off offer.)

The site we ended up at was mostly a retirement park. There were quite a lot of caravans and camper vans there too but we were the only ones foolhardy enough to be in a tent!

Truro turned out to be a lovely city for shopping so that's good and means we won't feel too cut off from "civilisation as we know it" if / when we move to Cornwall. On the downside the road layouts in Cornwall seemed to be getting worse and the drivers much more impatient and rude... incredibly so... worse even than Bristol!

I was so busy looking at Truro that I failed to take any photos worth showing you here! We also visited Falmouth and St. Mawes - photos of those to come in another post. And on the north coast St. Agnes and Perranporth.

St. Agnes is a place I was vaguely interested in because one of the houses I'd noticed in my house searches was an eco-house there. I'd already worked out that it had no garden to speak of so wasn't suitable for us but I was still curious about the village.

Having visited though I think I can safely remove St. Agnes from the list of possibilities. It just wasn't our sort of place. Whilst there though we discovered that we really ought to have been there for this weekend, the weekend following May 1st. As there are lots of celebrations of St. Agnes and the Giant Bolster, (that's a giant called Bolster, not, as I first thought, a big pillow!) over the weekend. Including a Beltane fire on St. Agnes' Beacon. Its a celebration of one of those strange local legends that Cornwall has in plenty.

After St. Agnes we headed for Perranporth and lunch. Another place neither of us had been before. Perranporth has a surfers' beach. There are lots of places in which to eat and loads of tourist shops too. It also has some pleasant gardens to sit in. Fun to visit. Too touristy to live in.

I loved this tile on the side of someone's house near the beach at Perranporth.

Aren't the terracotta seahorses fun!

One of the main reasons I'm interested in Cornwall is that the air is so much cleaner there - as its a peninsular there is a sea-freshness everywhere. I've always thought that living there I'd be a lot healthier. The downside of Cornwall is its tremendous inequality - the born and bred locals are often very poor and have to put up with much wealthier incomers buying up all the houses... house prices are falling there, as they are in most of the UK now, but it will take a much bigger fall to make them affordable by those on the "average", very low, wage in Cornwall.

On our way home we visited a Tortoise Garden at Lower Sticker. They have over 400 tortoises there. Jim was in his element.

17 comments:

andrea said...

I love reading this kind of post and hope you continue to keep us abreast of your possible moving activities and explorations. I know what you mean about Cornwall's inequalities. Many of us who grew up where I did never had a chance of actually buying/living there when we became adults as the desirability quotient skyrocketed when I was in my teens and is now accessible to only the very wealthiest.

Caroline said...

My home village is like that - the Cotswolds have suffered even more than Cornwall from becoming a stockbroker belt of weekend cottages - the only real solution would be to ban people owning more than one house I suppose... though I'm sure such monied people would find a way around any such law...

One of my brothers was bemoaning the fact that the place we grew up had last sold for over a million pounds...

Becky Vigor said...

I'm very envious of your Cornish trip, I used to live in Exeter and go down to Cornwall as much as I could - still a long way, even from there! I'm not sure I'd want to live there though, especially in summer when it's overrun with tourists. The thing that always strikes me is the amazing quality of light down there. Everything looks fresh and new, even on the stormiest of days.

Anonymous said...

HAHAH, another holidaying in the rain, but it's good you receive sunny periods :) We are often the only ones in tents when travelling - they don't know what they're missing out on, especially when it's raining! One of my favourite places I lived became a 'tourist town' during the Summer, but I found it be one of its charms and miss living there (which is even not affordable to rent now). Good luck with finding a place, it sounds St Ives might be the go?

Caroline said...

Becky - We have wondered about buying a yurt and going elsewhere during the summer indundation! And yes the light is high on the list of attractions.

Anonymous - yes and the tent was entirely sodden when we packed it away - though we have had to dry it since we got home. I'm very drawn to St Ives, or at least near there... but it is very expensive... will wait and see what the credit crunch does to property prices there...

merlinprincesse said...

Cute little sexy hubby... Hhehehe... Seems you had a nice holiday, after all.... :)

Caroline said...

MP - that photo was in our first year together, so about 13 years ago!

Guyana-Gyal said...

Giant Bolster made me think of the Big Banana and Big Lobster in Oz...then I I read what you wrote in the brackets, it's not a bolster, haha.

Last night I saw Cornwall in a mini-series, The Shell Seekers. I was fascinated by the cliffs and crags and sea.

Jim looks happy!

mcr said...

Hi Caroline
Great to read your thoughts of moving to Cornwall...and shocked that these holiday cottage owners dont discount - expecially out of school holidays, and especially short notice. We stayed just outside Padstow not long ago - www.padstow-holiday-cottage.co.uk - and I am sure that the owners would discount.. they certainly looked after us. We too have thought about moving to Cornwall - but I wonder if real life would kick in once we had made the move...?! Mally Rogers

Dru Marland said...

That looks like my kind of campsite; only one tent on it... I bet it's a lot busier right now, at the Bank Holiday.

Those tortoises are HUUUGE! -crikey.

I used to go a lot to Falmouth with my job; I really liked the workiness of the place. And Constantine, a few miles away, where some friends live. A nice village with the best off-licence ever. Not that I'd know, of course...

Caroline said...

GG = I've no idea why he's called Giant Bolster... that part is not explained.

Cornwall is beautiful, especially those crags and cliffs and of course the sea. There are wonderful flowers on the cliffs and great walks along them.

Mally - Hi there - I checked and their calendars showed that they had stayed empty... not good business practice! Thanks for the suggestion we might try it if we fancy going to Padstow,

I think there enough people living there who are enjoying it after many years. I talked to a few such incomers who had not regretted the move in over 10 years each. It just depends what you want out of life. My biggest worry is being further from relatives, though I also rather suspect that if we have room for them that they'd be more likely to visit us there than here in Bristol!

Dru - It was great being the only tent - especially as there were only 3 loos and 2 showers for each sex - so when its full (it can take up to 50 tents) there would be huge queues! As it was some of the vans were clearly using these facilities too... not exactly a plush site!

Constantine sounds interesting... :-)

And yes those tortoises were quite large!

tinker said...

It looks beautiful in the photos. Being near the ocean always seems to invigorate me - the fresh breezes and I also wonder if the ions are different because of all the saltwater - only speculating, as my science is rather sketchy...there's definitely a different feeling in the air though.
I hope you find your dream house. The tortoises are lovely!

winterwood said...

*sigh* youve just made me so homesick Caro! I used to go to st. amny times for hols, and it was a wonderful place...perranport too, but its st. ives that has a special place in my heart.. I think the lifeboat inn is still there? (ps...shsh...a secret - I fell in love in st. ives once...long ago...)

Caroline said...

Tink - the air is definitely different near the sea, for whatever reason. Glad you like the look of Cornwall...

Winterwood - St Ives is a place for love and romance :-) Hope you are not too homesick - its quite a long way for you to go for a quick visit!

Tony LaRocca said...

"Coronworl...oh yes know Coronworl very well. Went to school there, mother and father live there, ah yes. Go many weekend parties and polo playing cards in blidge club. Belong many clubs in Coronworld!"

Caroline said...

Sorry Tony I just haven't got this joke... it is a joke isn't it?

GreenishLady said...

Hi, Caroline. Tried to get in to comment yesterday, but Blogger wouldn't co-operate. I wondered if your plans were moving forward. I had a week or so in Cornwall many years ago, and liked what I saw. Hope the right place turns up for you both.