I don’t think I’ve mentioned it thus far on this blog, but I went to university in Cornwall and lived there for 3 years. This is in addition to countless family holidays down to St Agnes and Perranporth on the north coast over the years. As a minor league expert in some areas of Cornwall, this is the first blog about Cornish stuff. Fortunately for my blog ethos, I have fairly mixed opinions about the county and my time there, so expect the usual blunt approach.
1. Land’s End, Sennen
Land’s End is weird. It’s not just a coastline with a sign saying ‘Land’s End’; there’s a whole mini village thing going on – but only for the delight of tourists. It costs a fiver to park in the car park and access the village thing, in which there are a number of local shops, a 4D cinema which shows no films you’d want to see, and a fairly interesting exhibition on people who’ve done the John O’Groats to Land’s End challenge for charity. When you’ve made it through all this, it’s all coastline, vicious waves and windblown spectators taking photos of the Land’s End sign. For some idiotic reason I wasn’t one of them (was my view blocked?), so this one of my family braving the awful weather on the day we went there is the best you’re going to get. Worth it to say you’ve done it, but not really much to do that’s worth doing otherwise.
2. The Eden Project, St Austell
Considering how much upkeep the Eden Project must require – the heating to maintain the tropical plants, the maintenance of the biomes, the cost of event management (the venue hosts ice skating and gigs at various points of the year) – students get pretty cheap entrance (£14.50 if you get there by public transport – trains to St Austell and a bus – and let’s face it, virtually no students on our campus had a car) considering you get not only a generous day out, but free entry for a year. The actual contents of and information within the biomes are educational and interesting, with the unique design and layout of the place making it far more interactive than a normal museum, and the canteen is an affordable self-service buffet with plenty of locally grown, organic options. Only complaint? Having to sit near an ice rink to appease my housemate, as the trip was her birthday treat. (I am terrified of ice skating.)
3. Fistral Beach, Newquay
Newquay is a massive arsefuck to get to from Penryn/Falmouth if you’re reliant on public transport. If you’re going by train, it’ll take 2 1/2 hours and you’ll need to take more different trains to get there than you will to Glasgow (3 trains to Glasgow’s 2, although it takes 8 hours longer to get there); if you more sensibly decide to get the bus there’s a direct one that takes 1 1/2 hours or you can go to Truro and get a direct bus from there, as the services are more frequent. In any case the hassle of getting there seemed a better option than the hassle of having to stay awake through one of my course movie screenings (Blue Velvet looked like it was going to be a load of pseudo-arty crap) in the March of my first year, so I bunked off and made the trek there with my favourite flatmate Thea, whose favourite place was Fistral Beach. And you know what? It really is pretty nice when there aren’t hordes of rowdy 16 year olds having their first blackout on a post-GCSE holiday. We were the only people on the beach and, while it was cold, it was nice to look at. The town centre itself is a bit dodgier (on our way to a nutritious meal at McDonalds we saw a suspicious exchange of money and a bag by an ATM), but it’s nowhere near as tasteless as you’d assume it to be. In March, anyway.
4. St Michael’s Mount, Penzance
No pictures because, er, we only really passed it in the car on the way to Penzance. Which is a bit rubbish. So I can’t really review it, but it does look very nice from the car. Don’t bother continuing onto Penzance unless you’re a heroin addict who likes charity shops.
5. The Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Truro
Cathedrals are often beautiful but unexciting, and this is no exception. Cornwall’s only cathedral – a Gothic revival number built in the late 19th century – is plonked right in the town centre and surrounded by chain stores. It’s free to enter and church services are plentiful. It’s also fairly easy to get photos of, as the square outside it is a pedestrianised area – although considering that I visited the city (really just a town with a cathedral) frequently over 3 years and apparently didn’t take any photos of it, you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise. A course-related trip got those taking my module EXCLUSIVE ACCESS to the lesser seen parts inside the cathedral, such as the upper bit and the basement, although the main thing I remember from this trip is learning that to make the cathedral unique in design, it’s a bit wonky. Seriously – stare down the middle and you’ll notice the walls go slightly wonky towards the end. Pretty nice.