The Cornish Times received an email from M M Waddingham, Shropshire, it said:
"I was called home by the sea. After a lifetime working for the long arm of the law I retired and looked forward to settling into my new life as a writer. I wanted to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city and retreat home to the coast. I never lived in Cornwall as a child but would holiday there often, so much so that my family were considered locals.
"My journey started in Fowey (pronounced ‘foul-way’ I’m reliably informed by a family friend) where I wanted to get a sense of the ‘real’ Cornwall, one untouched by ‘outsiders’. It’s a beautiful village on an estuary where sailing is rife. I felt right at home in my espadrilles, even if it was raining, a rare occurrence in this neck of the woods. I looked at some truly incredible properties, all with eye watering prices. One can only conclude that the average wage in ‘Kerknow’ must be vastly higher than anywhere else in the country. How lucky the locals are to live and work here. One surprising thing I witnessed was when my sat nav sent me on a wild goose chase and I ended up in the nearby town of Par (pronounced Arrrr), this was completely different to Fowey. This was a far cry from the picture perfect postcard we’re all used to.
"Next stop: Truro, capital city of Cornwall (although as far as I’m concerned this country has but one capital: London). It’s quaint, rustic, cobbled streets make up for it’s tiny size, in fact it’s less a city, more a town that just so happens to have a cathedral. After taking stock of it’s catholic beauty for at least two hours I found myself in need of sustenance. Time to partake in a local delicacy methinks, thus began my search for a traditional Cornish pasty (pronounced paste-ee), one filled half with minced beef and t’other with jam. A complete meal in one delicious pastry case. After visiting several pasty shops I was horrified to discover not a single one sold an actual, proper, traditional pasty. To make matters worse whilst seeking out lunch I had to take in several eyesores in the form of boarded up shops and homeless people. The level of poverty on show was certainly a surprise and suggests there may be a dark underbelly to Cornwall, one beyond the picture perfect postcard we’re used to.
"I completed my relocation by mid September and quickly slipped into a comfortable routine: an early morning shower then a paddle at the beach, shower, a midmorning snooze on the sand, shower and then lunch at a local café, shower, explore the county in the afternoon, a snooze on another beach, shower and dinner in one of several incredible seafood restaurants then polish off a bottle of plonk on my decking, quick shower, then bed. But by mid October the routine was ruined! The sea’s temperature dropped to inhuman levels, most of the local cafes reverted to a winter menu (read: no lunch served), most coastal villages became boarded up ghost towns, the weather turned gloomy and the seafood restaurants closed. When I enquired at the local corner shop (needs must) they informed me that this was how the place was out of season, months of mizzle and misery. This was a far cry from the picture perfect postcard cliché.
"One thing to note, something I’ve picked up on since I’ve moved here is the generally poor attitude of the locals I’ve encountered. From the line of traffic that begrudgingly reversed for me down a narrow country lane (there was a bend behind me and the nearest passing place was at least a hundred yards back!) to the shop keeper who publicly berated me for deigning to feed the local wildlife a handful of chips (perhaps if more people fed the seagulls it would curb their incessant screeching). This is Cornwall, heaven on earth, the English ideal, don’t these people realize how lucky they are to live here? I was surprised nay shocked to learn that despite tourism making up around 3000% of the local economy (Note: may need fact checking) there were a number of businesses here not connected to the holidaymaking industry! Begs the question: why? What’s the point? This is a holiday destination after all but it appears an unruly minority are getting ideas above their station. Suggests to me there’s an uneasy balance in Cornwall and could lead to a place at war with it’s own identity. There’s a darkness here, a world beyond the picture perfect postcard cliché we’re all used to.
"Something that made my English heart swell with pride on my various jaunts around the county was the sheer number of St George’s flags I happened upon. Curiously there must be an issue with colour printing in the region, as said stickers were black and white. Good Ol’ Georgie’s usual crimson red was reduced to a white cross on black backdrop.
"Still the message came across loud and clear: this is England and proud of it. I’m not going to lie, this came as a surprise somewhat as I’d heard rumors that there was an absurd notion here that Cornwall wasn’t part of England. A ridiculous, treasonous idea, formed presumably to pollute young impressionable minds. Let’s get one thing straight and clear right now, there’s no evidence, none whatsoever (apart from hundreds of years of historical fact) that Cornwall is, was, or ever will be a nation. Clearly even having to write this is a ghastly, sinister prospect as it I wouldn’t want to lend credence to such a silly conspiracy. But yet the rumor persists here, like a dark and dangerous disease, churning away in a dark underbelly of Cornwall, one that’s far removed from the picture perfect postcard cliché.
"By November I lost all passion for life in ‘paradise’. My usual jaunts around the county had taken on a somewhat depressing air. The combination of bleak weather and bleaker views felt incredibly oppressive. I found myself over looking the miserable ex-mine South Crofty just outside of Redruth. A long closed mine that’s been left to ruin, on a perfectly good patch of land that could easily be converted to something the region is in desperate need of; homes. Specifically second homes. Attract a wealthier cliental to the region, get some much needed life back in Cornwall’s out of season veins. I happened to suggest the idea at a local boozer (Weatherspoons) but it was met with a frosty reception. A vocal minority apparently want less second homes. “Well” I retorted “If the Cornish are so against second homes why do they keep selling their houses?” that shut them up. Or they didn’t hear. Or they weren’t listening; it was difficult to tell if I’m honest.
"As December began I was well and truly fed up. I had decided to call it quits. The dream was over. I love Cornwall but I’ve discovered I can’t live here (all year round). It was time to pack up and leave (until May). But I won’t just abandon my house, that’s no good for ‘Kerknow’ and no good for me. So, after much soul searching I’ve hit upon the perfect solution: my house will become an Air BnB! So if anyone reading this would like a stay on the English Rivera I offer affordable rates and a promise that you can experience first hand the wonderful sights of Cornwall. Book now and come and have your own picture perfect postcard holiday (no children or pets)."