The other night my husband took my youngest son out to see a Jazz guitarist, John Etheridge, play at St. Austell Brewery. He is a boy of particular and original musical taste. However, when it got to the interval he was feeling tired – being only nine years old that’s natural – and so asked his dad to take him home to bed.
One minute, 50 seconds it took to get him home. In the 20 minutes of the interval he put him to bed, suggested to the wife to come back and enjoy the second half, and we were back in time to still enjoy a pint. Needless, to say I rather enjoyed my beer out, my impromptu evening away from the boring telly and the discovery of what an exceedingly good musician can do for your mood.
It got me thinking about all the reason why I love living just where I do inSt. Austell.
1. The impromptu musical interlude. Where else can you dash home to swap the family members you take out for an evening half way through without leaving them cold in the street or having to take the bus home?
2. The Cornish pasty.
My husband reckons when’s he’s hungry he can get from our house and down to the pasty shop inside two minutes. A pasty represents a convenient and satisfying lunch – a meat and vegetable pie in a paper bag – and it’s quicker than you can make a sandwich! He boasts he can actually run (out and back) a 4-minute pasty.
3. The new cinema and shops. It has taken an age, and I’ve watched it being built from my window, but finally the new town centre ‘White River Place’ development is showing signs that the much-maligned St. Austell is improving. Going to the cinema always used to be such a planning and parking ‘faff’ when I was a kid. On a rainy day when the kids are kicking their heels I can slip out of the house, pop down to the cinema, check what’s on, buy the tickets and be back, before they notice I’d gone to say; “ Hey, kids, grab your coats the film starts in 10 minutes.” Us locals can whinge that the shopping area isn’t exactly how we would have liked it – however I bought five fantastic new Sabatier kitchen knives worth £120 for £20 from the newly opened T.k. maxx last week. It was like giving myself the wedding present I really wanted, but never had!
4. Holiday traffic avoidance scheme.
The worse thing about living in Cornwall is being caught in the crawling summer traffic. I live so close to a main East – West route that I can immediately see when traffic is heavy before I’m caught in it and can plan an alternative route.
5. The Eden Project. Well actually the Eden Project is just one of many wonderful places to visit within 15 minutes of here. Eden has serious ‘wow’ factor, there’s always an event, things to interest the kids or something different going on. With a ‘Life’ membership it does make possible casual popping off to the Med or the Tropics at 3 0’clock in the afternoon.
6. International Travel. Newquay airport is just half an hour away at most. Ok, so it doesn’t have anywhere nearly the same number of international destinations as Heathrow, but I can fly to Dublin – which is really handy since I have a sister living in Ireland – and at certain times of year you can fly to France or a bit further. It’s an important psychological boost to know that you can fly abroad without having to cross the ‘border’ into England first and waste a day travelling to Gatwick.
7. The Night Riviera. I’m a five-minute walk to the train station that is one sense a mere five-minute walk to London. Thank goodness we managed to cling onto our sleeper train! I’ve already blogged about the sheer wonder of the sleeper experience in ‘To London and Back Again.’
8. My garden. I live practically in the centre of town but blessed with an ample garden with lawns, shrubs and fruit trees. It shields me from all the things about urban living that I don’t want to see; it’s a green haven that makes me feel I’m living in a rural idyll. As I work from home, if I need a break I go out and sit in the garden, or when something ‘work-wise’ has got me riled, I go and pull out a few weeds or brambles.
9. Not having to use the car. Living in town means never having to drive there and then compete for parking spaces. Conveniently popping into food shops, bank or post office is just minutes walk from our own front door. My children can now feasibly make their own way to school, and off-road cycle routes can take us for miles into the clay district, up to the Eden Project or down to the coast at Pentewan and Mevagissey.
10. The sea and the beaches. There is no greater reason for living in Cornwall. We’re spoilt for choice in places to go. Swimming beaches, surfing, kayaking spots, places for finding shells and sea-glass. Fabulous places for hot summer days, yet greater for the dramatic, moody and inspirational in winter. The beach is the best a therapeutic break when work gets heavy. South coast for stunningly pretty maritime vistas that brightens the soul, the north coast for the spectacular, raging roar of the waves that has me shouting: “Yes, I’m lucky!” 8)