Sunday, 19 February 2012

Just thinking ...

I’ve been thinking about relocating.  Sorry, that’s a weasel word – I mean going to live somewhere else.  Why?  Well, I’ve been here in Reading, in this house, now, longer than I’ve ever been in any other town or house; is that a sufficient reason to be restless?

(I don’t know the answer to that, but one of the joys of blogging is that you can chuck thoughts and ideas out of the window and, occasionally, they will get shaped, sanded down, and drop, provoked and  purified, back in through the letterbox, unsolicited but the converse of junk.)

As this town (which I like, a bit, and which contains a lot of people whom I like, a lot, but all that’s been factored in to this blogdream) is slap bang in the middle of southern England, and given that I miss the sea and the coast, I only really have four options:  north, south, east or west.  North is out of the question.  South would mean going back to where I was born.  East is a foreign country.  So that leaves West.

West consists of Wales and the West Country.  I don’t want to live in Wales, for reasons too difficult to explain here.  So that leaves the West Country.  This consists of Devon and Cornwall.  Devon is tempting, but it’s too expensive.  So I’m left with Cornwall.

I saw a documentary the other night which purported to be about the English countryside (it looked more like a remake of ‘Coast’, but .)  One of the places it covered was the far western tip of Cornwall, with some emphasis on the tin mining.  It didn’t, as I’d hoped, feature the strange, creepy landscape of Bottalack – the abandoned working buildings and routes – but it did remind me of St Just.

No-one knows just who St Just was, but that doesn’t prevent him or her giving the name to two Cornish towns within a long spit of each other.  I’m talking, of course, not about the one that’s called ‘St Just in Roseland’, but about the most westerly town in Great Britain.  I’ve only been there a few times, but here’s a snapshot…

We’ve walked to a pub which has a Thursday folk night.  About eleven musicians are crammed onto a stage big enough for three – in fact, that’s not true, you can’t tell where the stage ends and the audience begins.  They’re playing guitars, banjos, fiddles, bongos, beer glasses, and in some cases just their own hearty voices.  I hear a suggestion that I should get up there, grab a guitar and join in, and I’m tempted; but then someone moves in beside me.  I apologise (why?), make room and look.  It’s a tall blonde girl in a black leather trouser suit, carrying a banjo case.  ‘I’m a bit nervous’, she says, without smiling.  ‘Never been here before.’  I have no reply to that.  Her minder, who turns out maybe to be her father, whispers something to one of the musicians, who nods.  The girl unpacks her banjo and sits down on a hastily vacated chair.  ‘Duelling?’ I overhear her mutter to the other banjoist.

Yes, I want to live where that kind of thing happens.  Not every day, you understand – just sometimes.


  1. We lived in Cornwall for fifteen years, Tim, in case you hadn't already worked that one out, and almost moved back two years ago, but didn't, due to a complicated family situation. We still regard it as being our spiritual home, and return to catch up with old friends every year. I'm guessing the pub was The Star Inn. During the 80s, I had the pleasure of knowing the late Pete Angwin, the landlord, and regularly enjoyed Rosie's famous cooked breakfasts. You see, I used to deliver their beer.

    If our circumstances were right for us, we'd be back in the county, like a shot.

  2. Cornwall has a great feel to it, there are real communities there.
    I only live half an hour from the coast, but I still miss it.

  3. It did feature Botallack Tim! There were some brief aerial shots of the wonderful Crowns Mine engine houses & the steel gantry the name of which escapes me momentarily (by the arsenic catacombs).
    It was Monday's at the Star, but never mind.
    Yes, great idea, I back you every inch of the way. Go for it!
    They did a lot of stuff on Dartmoor also; you no doubt noticed some familiar granite lumps. In Penwith you get the best of all worlds (apart form access to London theatres - but Minack would be a good compensation.

  4. Some of Cornwall is astonishingly beautiful. And they have that wonderful cheddar with the crunchy salty bits in it.
    Lovely place!

  5. Whenever I have this relocation conversation, people say 'it's a long way away though, isn't it?', which is an obvious category error but still holds some force. You, my friends, have brought home the thought that a long way away from one place is closer to another.

  6. Absolutely! You'd be within spitting distance (with a good sou'westerly) of Numphra, Grumbla & Nanquidno, not to forget the wonderful Carn Barges.

  7. Cornwall? Sure. To look beyond would be Scilly.

    (No emmets were mistreated in the making of this joke)