#1 – THE CORNISH PASTY
There are hardly any meals that you could eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner as deeply rooted into a society as the Cornish pasty. Many people would describe it as a handheld pie that can be filled with a variety of different fillings that was developed for miners in the days when mining was the lifeblood of the Cornish economy- way before Tourism took over. The pasty was allegedly made with a thick crust so that miners could hold the crust with their dirty hands like a handle and eat the rest. So essentially back in the day the miners would throw away the heavily disputed best part of the Cornish pasty.
The pasty is so ingrained in Cornish culture that the EU made it protected under EU legislation as a protected regional food along with items such as Dorset Blue Cheese, Pork pies, and items from other EU states such as French champagne and Italian Parma ham. When Cornish miners immigrated abroad from Cornwall for better opportunities or due to the collapse of the mining industry the pasty immigrated with them. There are US states, Mexican regions and an area of Australia all very familiar with the pasty due to this immigration- in fact, there’s even an area in the Australian state of South Australia that has an area named Little Cornwall.
The pasty has become famous all around the world, there are many disputes about where it came from and how it originated. There’s also many similar varieties all over the world, I’ve personally tried a few in Spain and Morocco. But there’s one thing for sure- The Cornish are bonded to the pasty like no other. It’s almost in their blood and entwined into their history, much like haggis and scotch is for the Scots. Nobody understands the longing a Cornishman has for a proper pasty when far from home. So for me, the number one perk of being locked down in Cornwall is the government regulations allowing takeaway food places to stay open- meaning we have pasties galore!
For me personally if you ever visit Cornwall, there is one place you must buy a pasty from. Philps pasties, they’re are yet to be beaten. They make me dribble and groan, gert lush! Also if you’ve visited Cornwall before and you are craving a pasty- you can order pasties by post from them!
#2 – THE BEACHES
Cornwall has over 250 miles of stunning coastline of which 158 miles has been granted the title of Heritage coast. Wherever you are in Cornwall, you will never be more than an hours drive from the sea- quite possibly even less. From the hidden coves of the South West Cornwall area to the yacht loving South coast. There are so many beaches to choose from in Cornwall to suit so many different moods- some offer family vibes, some are surfer & watersport havens and you’ll also find a few scattered nudists beaches if that’s what you’re into.
There are several internationally recognised ‘Blue Flag’ beaches in Cornwall. This means the beaches have adhered to meet several strict standards in the categories of Environmental education and information, Environment management, Safety & services, and Water quality. Once given a ‘Blue flag’ the beaches have to regularly submit data and statistics to the relevant authority to keep hold of their status.
- Carbis Bay Beach – Saint Ives area
- Gyllyngvase – Falmouth area
- Porthmeor Beach, Saint Ives
- Great Western, Newquay
- Porthtowan, St Agnes
- Widemouth, Bude
- Trevone, near Padstow
Many beaches in Cornwall are cared for by The National Trust. So if you’re a member, you may get some perks in regards to parking. Almost every beach has plenty of bins for disposing of rubbish and doggy poops, it’s important to make sure we keep it as beautiful as it was upon arrival by cleaning up after ourselves.
Cornwall arguably has some of the most stunning beaches in the country, which are regularly voted into the top 10’s in the nation. One massive perk of having these in walking distance this year is how quiet they are due to the lockdown. This is unheard of here, we’re a county that relies on Tourism & Hospitality as our main industry. So for all the locals, this is a rare treat and definitely a huge positive to find out of such strange and worrying times.
#3 – THE CLIMATE
As the most south-westerly region in the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, Cornwall is on the eastern edge of the Gulf Stream and as a result, enjoys a much milder maritime climate than the rest of the country. Whilst the rest of the UK operates on a continental European climate, the maritime climate in Cornwall means milder temperatures and more hours of sunshine than any other part of the UK. The climate allows the growth of many plant species that are scarcely able to grow naturally in other parts of the UK such as Tea, grapes and Palm trees. Cornwall has developed a thriving drinks industry due to this unique climate, famous worldwide for its cyders (ciders) and more recently Gin and other essential spirits. The Duchy also boasts esteemed vineyards producing fine wines and not to mention creating beers to brag about through many local breweries.
There is much typically British wildlife in Cornwall such as Foxes, Rabbits, Badgers, Hedgehogs, Bats, Dormice and Squirrels. From time to time you may also come across Adders or Grass snakes basking in the sunshine. Cornish Heath grows almost exclusively in the Lizard area along with Land Quillwort. There are many wildlife resorts across Cornwall that you can visit and of course bird watching sites are also scattered around too which in the last two decades celebrated the return of the Cornish Chough. Which you may notice features on many Cornish souvenirs as it is the symbol of Cornish spirit, perhaps because it left for pastures new but always returns home.
#4 – THE COUNTRYSIDE
Cornwall is gifted with many areas of outstanding beauty and stunning historic countryside. From the enduring Bodmin & Zennor moors and rolling fields stretching towards the famous rugged cliffs. There’s definitely something for everyone to explore here. This makes Cornwall the perfect place for outdoor activities, with an abundance of natural beauty, mild weather and great food you will always be spoilt for choice finding that perfect picnic spot to break up your hike, rock climbing or just observing the local wildlife.
Cornwall is a land of magic and mystery that many have come to over the years for escapism and the chance to connect with nature in a way they couldn’t in their native lands. From artists, to spiritualists, to animal lovers and suspected cult leaders- Cornwall has been home to all kinds of stories and always seems to pull people back. That’s the magic that nobody can quite find the words to express.
#5 – THE CULTURE
Most people are aware that Cornwall holds its own distinct culture, traditions and identity. For many years Cornish culture declined under a not so subtle Anglicization, but the Cornish culture is biting back under a strong revival of language and people preferring to identify themselves as Cornish or British rather than English. This is partly thanks to groups that now exist to promote the identity, culture and language nowadays.
Most people think the Cornish language is closely related to Welsh, which isn’t entirely untrue- however its closest relative is actually Breton. All 3 languages are descended from the former language spoken across Britain. When the Book of Common Prayer was released in 1549 the Cornish language went into decline as English become the communal religious tongue. By the 19th century Cornish was barely spoken in communities at all.
But Cornish would not die there. Henry Jenner published a book named ‘A handbook in the Cornish Language’ in 1904. And with this the revival would slowly begin! Today hundreds rather than thousands speak Cornish as their mother tongue, but the language has gelled into a dialect of English and remains a glue that holds together a culture that was almost forgotten through town names, sign posts, musical events and local radio stations. Even the New County Hall was renamed to Lys Kernow. Several MPs have even declared their oath of allegiance to the Queen in the language over the years.
The Cornish language has died and been reborn. There are arguments as to whether it died at all, with some locals claiming to still speak it, and others having re-learnt the modern equivalent of it. There are many misinterpretations of what this language is or isn’t. But at the very least it’s a cultural legacy and has put a stamp on what the identity of which the modern Cornishman is. People still talk about crossing the Tamar border into England or ‘Sowsnek’ (Cornish word for England), and this isn’t done with malice. The Cornish see themselves as British for sure, wholeheartedly. But to call them English is an offence their culture and history, and the remnants of the Cornish language is a constant reminder of what that is.
Cornwall is a gift to those who seek to explore new cultures and learn about different histories, because it makes one feel able to travel and engage in new culture within our own country in a time when we’re unable to jet off or escape to far off distant lands. That’s something we should not only embrace, but be proud of! The Cornish show the judging world that being British is not just a word for the English and their powerful grip over the UK- but a feeling within one culture being connected and together with another. This is something Westminster should encourage & shout about as a success story of this ancient union. Not stamp on and try to further Anglicize.
Cornwall is a nation to so many Cornish people, and it always has been that way. Maybe it’s time England respected and appreciated it- instead of using and trampling on it. Cornwall loves and respects England, it’s time it got the same back so we can build a brighter and better future together Post Brexit. I believe its time to give Cornwall is rightful place as a Home Nation of the UK. Greater autonomy to create a better economy for ourselves, and in doing so, the entirety of the UK.
One of the undeniable things about Cornwall in lockdown is that its lazy ‘Dreckly’ culture is an absolute blessing, along with the small population and vast rolling landscapes that people can get lost in during their daily exercising- it certainly feels like a place that’s safer than most in the current circumstances. Whether its picnics on the beach, walking your dogs along the coast or hiking across the moors- there is plenty of outdoor activities to keep us sane and still apply social distancing to keep us safe. It’s a culture of safety where people come to raise their kids or grow old in peaceful serenity.