Moving to the countryside to escape the hustle and bustle can be the tranquil move so many hope for, but growing up in Cornwall can be somewhat of an inconvenience. Forget many of your high street designers and bargain buys the rest of the country brags about and is so accustomed to, they won’t be coming for a while.
Clothes shopping can be a nightmare, especially for men such as myself. Sure there’s a few well known shops like Next, Primark and New Look but there are not many- and they are spaced towns apart and have the most pathetic areas designated for men’s clothes. There are however an abundance of surf-wear shops and that’s a great perk when you live by the sea but you will pay through the nose for these high end brands unless you’re lucky enough to catch a bargain in the sales rack at the end of season.
Food shopping can also be a little daunting, many towns and villages are only serviced by Co-ops and Costcutters, so getting a weeks shop in can break the bank, leaving you to venture out the nearest major town for a proper supermarket and even then, it won’t have the international items required for any dish that doesn’t fit in with the classic pub food this country cherishes so much. You’ll also notice that because many supermarkets are franchised, not every offer comes to a store near you.
For everything else, hardware, furniture, gardening etc- these are only available in the major towns and not each one can be found there. The absolute worst for me, is just plain cruelty . . . THERE IS NO IKEA. I know, it’s actually sickening, this is probably the biggest reason why people leave the county for good. You cannot buy furniture that is impossible to assemble whilst chowing down on gloriously salty meatballs and getting lost trying to find the most simple things you never knew you needed.
So if you love your shopping at ridiculously low prices and aim to have your home or your body furnished with the same things as everybody else in the country has, Cornwall is not the place for you. Instead you’ll have to pay for quality items, often handmade and rarely mass produced from local family owned retailers. You might have to drop contributing to the large industries that evade tax in this Country and empty your pockets into the local economy – catastrophic, I know.
So you can’t find Pecorino or guancale at your local Costcutters to finish off that Carbonara recipe you picked up from your Italian neighbour in London and have had to settle for ‘Italian style hard cheese’ and bacon so screw it, let’s go out to eat tonight. If you’re in a village there is probably a cute little pub but people don’t go there for the food so drop those standards of an international menu and a gastro experience with trendy wines and charcuterie plates – say hello to bangers and mash, fish and chips or lasagne with garlic bread. That’s what I thought – Moving on! Chippy? sure it’s great once a week to save cooking but it’s heavy on the stomach and it’s no Carbonara. So on we go to the next town; Dodgy Kebab shop with reconstituted ‘lamb’ like product? An ‘Indian’ curry house with a 1 star rating on trip adviser that serves Beef Madras with Chips? Or the ‘Chinese’ takeaway place that’s famous for ‘chicken balls, chips and curry sauce’ that your new neighbour mentioned like you’re living in Shanghai and this is THE place to go.
Forget it, finding a restaurant is exhausting let’s just grab some fast food tonight and research a hot spot for the weekend. A cheeky Nandos for me involves a half an hour bus and a 3 hour train ride or a 2 hour drive and extortionate parking prices. Even the more well known fast foods can be a mission, where I grew up, it was a 1 and a 1/2 hour drive to the nearest KFC. So Maccy D’s it is for now, just gotta wait 15 minutes in the parking bay for cold fries, a burger half the size it looks in the pictures and shocker – no milkshakes tonight the machine is having technical difficulties. If only we could have stayed home and logged into Deliveroo or Justeat to have some 18 year old student on a moped deliver it to our door. You’ve got to put in some work for a takeaway here – just like the good old days.
Now i’m not saying there is nowhere good to eat but you gotta work hard to find your spot, small towns service small town people, the only ‘city’ Truro (and I use that term loosely) will have a few good spots or you can try the seaside tourist towns, but expect to pay closer to large city prices and compromised quality in a lot of places. There are some absolute gems scattered around though! If you are into sea food you are certainly in the right place, head somewhere with a good reputation by the Sea and you can expect to be eating locally caught Sea Bass from the bay round the corner onto your plate that was scooped up just this morning by the gentleman slamming pints of Tribute sat at the bar. There are more than a few Farm to Fork restaurants about and the quality is out of this world- or simply forget the greasy takeaways, shitty chains or awful drive through’s and have yourself a Cornish Pasty – Proper Job!
3. Public Transport
Okay, this one is a doozy. Getting around Cornwall by the local services is absolutely ridiculous, the buses take forever- especially in summer when our tiny roads seemingly just about large enough for a horse and cart are chock o block with traffic and every tiny group of houses is serviced so to get from A to B you’ve gotta hit D,Y,P,W,R and X. Before you reach your destination 15 minutes late and about an hours wage is lost on the fare. There’s no aircon and the bus was packed after circling the county to make what could be a 4 mile trip, so you’re dripping in sweat, late for your appointment and you missed your connection at the station.
Shall we take the train? There are only a couple of lines, reaching only a few areas and they take forever – there’s no high speed services here and if you want to get out of the county it can be almost 3 hours depending on where you are coming from, not to mention it only takes you as far as Plymouth which sits barely a stones’ throw over the border.
Taxis cost a fortune to get you absolutely no where but they are unfortunately a necessity for a night out, without bus timetables extending though the night, if you wanna get mullered and smash a kebab you had better have deep pockets if you don’t want to walk home past 11 pm. You won’t be pinging an Uber or a Lyft to save a few quid as these have not and may never take hold here.
So if you want to get around the Duchy, you best have a car or a strong set of legs. You will not be disappointed though, you’ll get to take advantage of the beautiful windy country roads viewing the endless rolling hills, hike the coastal footpaths and breathe the fresh ocean air whilst learning the local mantra to life – Dreckly. It’s a Cornish word, similar to the way the Spanish use Mañana, we’ll get there eventually, slow down your pace of life and take in the beauty, there’s no need to rush here.
When you live in a city, going out for the night is so easy, you have the convenience of late transport services, an abundance of restaurants, trendy bars and clubs that stay open until McDonalds flip their signs over for Egg McMuffins and salty hash browns to soak up the remainders of the Jager bombs your friend handed out at the last call for the bar that you are inevitably going to throw up on once you’ve finished your breakfast. Don’t expect such wild nights out in this County, over the last few years, the trend sweeping the nation of nightlife starting to dwindle due to lack of patrons and pre drinking washing away potential profits for night club owners- well that happened here many years ago. It’s probably the only trend we here have been ahead of.
There are only a couple of clubs left to service the entire area outside of Newquay, they smell like feet, the floors are sticky, you’re never going to get a DJ that is well known outside of the local 3 mile radius and it will usually close by 2 am unless it’s the summer bank holiday weekend or a ‘special event’ which rarely takes place. Newquay is the only town left with a nightlife and even that has taken a hit with a ban on public drinking to combat violence and littering, not to mention the extortionate entrance prices for mediocre nights and overpriced drinks where you’re lucky to find Smirnoff as the house Vodka.
Trendier bars are on their way, so many of them are a cafe in the day, a restaurant in the evening and a bar at night just to maximise profits to be able to remain open. Expect to pay over the mark for drinks and there won’t be 5 Jagerbombs for a tenner, you’d be lucky to get a pint closer to 3 quid than 4. Many pubs do offer a decent night, fairly reasonably priced drinks, a local band or a barmaid with a favourable spotify playlist and fun all round, you may even get caught in a good old fashioned ‘lock in’ and be served way past the local licensing regulated hours if the pub is busy enough to risk getting shutdown to turn over a profit.
There are however a few raves each year, some more infamous that others, with themes appropriate to the season, tickets sell out quickly to be re sold even quicker for a profit, those who cannot drink often ‘taxi’ for prices to wipe out the real taxi drivers market. So buy your tickets and arrange your lift in advance in order to engage in a night filled with masked teens chewing their faces off at an abandoned farm or at the only theme park.
For me, personally, the bests nights out were spent on the beaches with a BBQ, a cold box full of Cornish cyder, a circle of friends engaging in meaningful conversations only to be forgotten staring out at sea listening to the waves crash against the rocks. There’s no kick out times, no rowdy coked up tourists trying to start a fight and my bank balance remained intact the next morning. This is the real nightlife down here through the summer months and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The culture down here can take some getting used to, being from Lincolnshire I faced difficulties when moving here as a child to one of the most remote villages- The Lizard. Although I was young i can remember struggling to integrate at school, it was like we were speaking different languages to each other, our accents were so opposing I had to drop mine just so i was understood and not bullied for sounding so different. It’s fair to say we were not welcomed either, after taking 1 of the 30 social houses in the village that everybody competes for, it made a stir amongst the locals with the pitch fork brigade taunts of ‘foreigners coming in and taking our homes’. I had the misfortune of growing up in the wrong village and with a bad attitude, and it is a poor example of what life can be here.
The true locals here are NOT English, and if you make that mistake- especially at a first impression, you’re going to face a tough time. You’ll just be seen as another invader, a coloniser, somebody sent in to water down the Cornish population as these people have grown used to for 100’s of years at the hand of Westminster and the Kings and Queens before. If you make no effort to integrate with the local way of life, complain constantly about what you are missing or how you don’t feel catered for then you may as well pack your bags before you’re driven out.
Rude, ignorant and littering tourists (even from just over the Tamar Bridge) are often seen as foreigners and nicknamed ‘Emmets’ which is the Cornish word for ‘Ants’. There is a lack of mainland Europeans with there being such little work for expats, no large cities that draw in our cousins from former colonies or highly skilled migrants from far flung nations seeking a new life or better salaries. It might be controversial to say but Cornwall is very white, which may seem daunting to those that seek diversity. What you need to remember is that Cornish people themselves are a minority now, internationally recognised as an ethnicity by the European Union, but often forgotten by the British people.
But fear not, although the racial demographics lean heavily towards the paler shades of society, hate crimes and racism aren’t as prevalent as you might believe. The Cornish are actually a really friendly and welcoming bunch providing you acknowledge their history and don’t make too much noise about being from a greater nation, they are a proud bunch who don’t take lightly to people who interfere with the way of life and the natural beauty. Get on board with ‘Dreckly’, slow your pace of life with a pasty on the beach and a cyder in hand and trust me, you’ll geddon just fine – Proper job.
All in all, Cornwall isn’t for everybody and if it was, it would be dead already. The rolling hills would be flattened out to pave way for large highways and crappy overpriced houses, the beaches would be littered with fast food wrappers galore- and there would not be a patch of sand big enough for you to lay your towel. It’s important that this area of outstanding natural beauty remains this way so it can be a godsend for those who want to raise their families or retire. It can be a nightmare for those inbetweeners that want to experience the globalised world with every modern convenience at their fingertips. Its vital to keep a healthy flow of people moving in to lay their nest, but equally people leaving to try out a different lifestyle and find new opportunities that they wouldn’t back home in Cornwall.