Having spent over two years living in Cornwall – and 16 months in the deepest west of the county – I’m still thrown by the misconceptions many of my friends harbour about this part of the world. So here’s my top list of Cornish ‘myths’ based on recent chats I’ve had with ‘up country’ mates.
1) You can’t work in Cornwall. The assumption is that the only real options are tourism and the care sector. If you fall outside these, then it’s curtains. Leaving aside the education sector and the vibrant arts scene, there is no better time to work where you want to live. Technology has revolutionised how and where we can work and for many people this has liberated them from the daily commute. Granted, travel to meetings can be a pain when you live this far down in the south west but it’s amazing how much you can do with e-mail and Skype.
2) You can’t get decent building workers because they just want to bugger off to the beach at the drop of a surfboard. Definitely not our experience. We renovated our house to a strict time-scale and not only did our builders do a great job – thank you Jonathan Manser and co – but they worked like Trojans. Just struck lucky? Well I’ve met quite a few lucky people in that case.
3) Food is all about the pasties, cream teas and fish and chips. Forget Rick Stein and other top Cornish chefs because this one really refuses to go away. Of course visitors want to sample the trio of Cornish classics but there’s so much more. The food scene down here is exciting, experimental and the food festivals are great show cases.
4) You can’t get a decent hair stylist for love or money. Rubbish. After admiring someone’s beautifully cut hair, I asked her where she had it done. ‘Ask for Viv at Hunter Walsh’ she said and it turns out that Viv trained with Umberto Giannini, one of the most talented hair stylists I’ve ever met and who lost his life far too young. She has worked for Toni & Guy in London and Dublin before moving to Cornwall and setting up her own business with a colleague. So there are some talented stylists down here!
5) There is a dearth of good clothes shops because everyone slops around in shorts and tees. Granted, it’s more of a casual dress code down here but there are some great clothes outlets if you want something a bit smarter or edgier. A shop called ‘Mash’ in Penzance has some brilliant designer pieces for reasonable prices.
6) Outside the main tourist season, there’s nothing going on. Yes, Cornwall feels a very different place in winter but there are still plenty of activities and places open for business. Come to think of it, Cornwall doesn’t really close down and once the summer is over tourism just trundles on in a more gentle way.
Now over to new cockapoo pup Bonnie for her latest take on Cornish living…
‘Hey folks, I’m definitely settling into my new pad and the summer weather has been wicked. I can even get a good eyeball of all those surfer dudes from my favourite place on the balcony. We had more visitors last week – my aunt Sheila and uncle Pete – and I got some great pressies. Loving it now that I’m getting more walks by the sea and I’m wondering if I’ll get one of those surf boards. Maybe if I bat my long eyelashes at my owners…well a girl can dream. One small moan. Why do my owners keep weighing me once a week in a bright orange bucket? (See photo). Woof and out…