One of the things I love about writing a blog are the comments and emails I get. I’m always amazed by people who have found this blog for some unexpected reason. Not so unexpectedly I’ve received a number of emails since the US election, from people asking about moving to England. And the other day I received this email from someone thinking of moving from Ireland to Cornwall. Here is her email and my response back to her:
Just stumbled across your website and found it really interesting re your move to Cornwall.
I used to live in the UK till I was 13 and then my parents took me to Australia to live where I lived for the last 19 years so I used to be a Brit (well, still am really!). Anyway, my husband is Irish and Feb last year we moved to Ireland to live. I like it here but prefer to live back in the UK and have many fond memories of Cornwall from my holidays there as a child. My husband is about 60% convinced by me that it would be nice to live there but we obviously need to plan/think about it some more as we are starting to get set up in Ireland.
My question to you is: I’ve heard that the Cornish community is a bit insular and that it’s hard to meet people - is this true? I know it helps if you have children and we have just had a baby so that would help but he isn’t anywhere near school age. Also, I’m curious re meeting people our own age (we are both 33 this year) as I’ve found this a bit of a problem where we live in Ireland (everybody seems to be either under 13 or over 50!) - how is Cornwall for this? Also, are there any areas in Cornwall you would recommend/not recommend to live? In Australia we lived near an artsy community that was into health shops and easy living etc.. and I’ve always thought of Cornwall as that sort of place.
Any advice you can give me would be great.
Let’s just say it’s not like California where everyone wanted to know where you were from, what you did, and did you want to take a hike next weekend. No, it’s quite a bit more insular.
We had an unfortunate experience when we first moved down where we invited a Cornish couple over for dinner, and the response was a very clear “no thank you". But since then we have made some good friends, and we’ve made them through our son’s school. They’ve been almost exclusively transplants like ourselves who have moved down from London looking for a different lifestyle. Nathaniel’s five, and I can’t imagine how we would have met anyone if he hadn’t been at a school where we dropped him off in the classroom, and waited outside with the other parents in the afternoon. If he’d been in high school for example, it would have been much harder to meet anyone.
If we’d been near Truro or Penzance or St. Ives, we might have met people through going to the theater or music, but there isn’t much of that near us here, unless you play the violin or guitar and sit in on music nights at places like The Trewarmett Inn up near Tintagel. I got involved with the St. Minver Parish Plan planning group, but had to drop out when we moved up to Leatherhead (though now that we’re back down I will get involved again).
In terms of easy living and health food shops, you might find some of that in the larger cities – again Truro, Penzance, St. Ives. There is one health food shop in Wadebridge, and a couple of funky-ish cafes in Bodmin, but I wouldn’t characterize either of them as centers of easy living. In the villages you’re lucky to have a Spar or a CostCutter (neither of which is known for its health food selection or alternative lifestyle patrons), and maybe a local farmer who sells seasonal vegetables.
Rachel got involved with a group interested in starting a Waldorf school in Cornwall, but the parents were so spread out they couldn’t agree on where it could be built so that most of them wouldn’t have to drive 40 minutes each way (amongst other issues). And I keep threatening to play my violin more, but haven’t had the chance since we’ve been back down.
I don’t mean to turn you off of Cornwall, because it is an amazing place. But for those considering being here fulltime – who aren’t retired and looking for nothing more than peace and quiet – a lot of internal fortitude is required to wait out the gray days of winter until the flowers of spring arrive, followed by the warm winds of summer.
All the best with your decision,
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