Old School

There’s a house in Commins Coch – a nearby village. I noticed the owners have put up a sign, calling their house ‘Old School’. Ha! Gotta love a house with a double meaning – even though I’m not sure how it can be accurate. The house see, is a new build.

We’re driving back from Cornwall today – after a two-night stay, 600 mile-round trip. We’ve gone to see our friends from Canada. We met Mike, Beth, Gwen and Robyn, in the most southern bay in Grenada and cruised together in the Caribbean. This year they’ve come on holiday to Falmouth. We went to meet them. The last time we’d been in Falmouth was 2013 – sailing through on Quest. 

What was Cornwall like? Sailing on Quest it was exciting. We’d bought Quest in Portsmouth that summer and were making our way along the English coast. Cornwall was the last place before we turned the corner for Wales.

We anchored for the first time overnight in St Michael’s Mount. Fin stole a hotdog from an Asian man on the beach there – he informed us but, in the same breath, swore he didn’t mind. We refuelled and stopped too in Falmouth. Because of the Fastnet race, we’d had to anchor quite far up the estuary in Mylor Creek. Here it was forested and remote-feeling. We holed up in Penzance for some days, even attending a church service which was especially conducted to offer prayers for sailors. Penzance was pretty wonderful. We discovered they put on the world’s largest pirate festival, which we swore to return to attend. I’d forgotten that promise until this moment, six years later.

Visiting Cornwall this weekend felt very different. In our car, we hit the tailback at Bristol – only another 150 miles to go. It seemed everyone was coming from London. Perhaps this is bias from reading the news: ‘Mass Exodus From London to Cornwall’. It’s a bit anticlimactic though when you arrive and the place looks like a version of where you just came from. I mean, I know it’s England and not Wales, but really? I could have read the signs differently and been in Pembrokeshire. Except it wouldn’t have been as busy. 

It made me realise how Welsh I’m feeling these days. I couldn’t miss the slight sneer on those Cornish faces as they watched yet another tourist rock up in their town. Must be taxing when every other vehicle is strapped with a kayak or surfboard. I did see the kayak I’m hoping to buy next so that was good. You don’t need to go kayak shopping – just drive to Cornwall and get in a two-hour queue. 

Of course, there’s plenty of tourism in Wales, especially now during the summer holidays. Somehow it feels different though. Is this difference because of the attitude of the locals or the type of tourists here? After all, the majority of holiday makers who come to Borth are from the Midlands. You don’t run into so many Brummies hiking the Ceredigion Coastal Path or searching out the wilderness. They seem more contented with the holiday parks, bucket and spade and a bag of chips. 

Thank goodness for old-school. Even the new-build ones.

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