Five things I'm going to miss about Cornwall

Friday 9th December 2016

In ten days we're leaving the UK for new adventures in Spain. It's made me look at our home country in a different way, so I wanted to share the top five things I'm going to miss about Cornwall. 

Here goes.

 

#5 September

It's a truly beautiful county at any time of the year, but my favourite month in Cornwall is September. It's usually still warm and sunny, with a good amount of daylight in the evenings. 

There's also a real feeling of peace and tranquillity at this time of year. Cornwall takes a deep breath in July before everyone works flat out over the summer to make the tourists happy. Then when they all leave at the end of August there's a county-side sigh of relief, and you can see the locals smiling more. 

Don't get me wrong: I love tourists, and I absolutely love living in a place where people come on holiday. It makes me feel like I'm on holiday too!

But it's great when they leave and we get the county back for ourselves. 

 

 

#4 Polridmouth beach

Polridmouth is our local beach and my favourite in the whole county.

It's a 15-minute walk from the nearest road, so it's pretty quiet even in the middle of summer. It's sheltered in a valley, so it's often calm even when the coast is stormy. It's a gently sloping sandy beach, so it's perfect for a swim and often has crystal clear waters.

Some of my favourite evenings of the last ten years have been spent sitting around a fire on Polridmouth beach. 

 

 

#3 The coast path

For the last few years, we've been trying to walk the 300-mile length of coast path that runs around the edge of Cornwall.

We've seen some astoundingly beautiful places, like the old mining areas between Cape Cornwall and Zennor, and around The Lizard peninsula. But the whole thing is spectacular. 

I'm really going to miss the wide open, green space in this part of the country.

 

#2 Lost in Film

It's been suggested by several people that the whole reason we're going to Spain is to escape our local community cinema Lost In Film!

This couldn't be further from the truth, the success of the film club is one of my proudest achievements and I'll really miss being involved in it.

We've shown over 130 films to an audience of more than 5,000 people over the last eight years, and there's a great team of people in charge who will keep it going. 

 

#1 The people

My favourite thing about living here are the wonderful people. We've made so many good friends over the last decade.

But more than that is the amazing sense of community here. I'm really going to miss saying hello to a dozen people every time I nip out to the shops.

We'll miss the people most, and you're the main reason that we're coming back after our adventure!

 

What are your favourite things about Cornwall? Leave a comment below! 

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Lostwithiel then and now

Friday 20th November 2015

This is something I've been working on for a while, but it's really hard to get perfect. We have access to a whole bunch of old photos of Lostwithiel, so I thought it would be interesting to see how the view has changed over the years.

There's something quite eerie about finding the exact same spot that someone stood in a century ago to take a picture.

Interactive version

Here's an interactive version that lets you fade between the old and new images - although it's a bit fiddly on a  mobile.

 

 

Bodmin Hill

 

 

 

Duke Street

 

 

Fore Street

 

 

North Street

 

 

Pascal's / Watts Trading

 

 

Quay St and the river

 

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Cornish holiday

Friday 19th June 2015

If you're not interested in beautiful beaches, breathtaking views and lush gardens, please think twice about visiting Cornwall this summer on your holiday. Visitors please note: beaches may contain sand and owl sanctuaries may contain owls.

Here are a selection of real-life comments I found on TripAdvisor for Cornwall's most popular tourist attractions:

Minack Theatre

Photo By Harald Bischoff (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Minack Theatre
#1 of 55 things to do in Penzance
"It's different..."   
The play was by Shakespeare and honestly, we watched for an hour and didn't have a clue what was going on. All the 17th century talk was just boring for us.

 

 

Charlestown Shipwreck & Heritage Centre

Photo by Andrew Thomas from Shrewsbury, UK [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Charlestown Shipwreck & Heritage Centre
#5 of 31 things to do in St Austell
"Rather boring"   
Utterly boring for someone who has no interest in boats.

 

 

The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Photo by Edwinb (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Lost Gardens of Heligan
#1 of 31 things to do in St Austell
"Waste of money"   
Great if you like to look at trees and grass.

 

 

The Lizard and Kynance Cove

Photo by Andy Wright from Sheffield, UK (Kynance Cove  Uploaded by Kurpfalzbilder.de) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Lizard and Kynance Cove
#1 of 6 things to do in The Lizard
"Nothing exciting"   
I decided to ask the locals what was being offered in this deserted wasteland and all they said was "pasties roun'ere and sea down 'ere".

 

 

National Maritime Museum Cornwall

Photo By Vernon39 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

National Maritime Museum Cornwall
#4 of 58 things to do in Falmouth
"Very poor"   
Too much having to turn handles.

 

 

Tamar Otter and Wildlife Centre

Photo By Robek (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Tamar Otter and Wildlife Centre
#1 of 19 things to do in Launceston
"Not much to do"   
The deers are very friendly, a bit too friendly for me.

 

 

Porthcurno

Photo By Tom Chambers (originally posted to Flickr as Porthcurno Beach) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Porthcurno
#1 of 2 things to do in Porthcurno
"Porthcurno beach"   
Sand very uncomfortable to walk on.

 

 

Lizard Peninsula

Photo By Nilfanion (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Lizard Peninsula
#1 of 42 things to do in Helston
"Southern Point"   
Seemed a little old fashioned and Victorian.

 

 

Screech Owl Sanctuary

Photo By Dario Sanches from São Paulo, Brazil [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Screech Owl Sanctuary
#1 of 7 things to do in St Columb Major
"“Disappointed”"   
Still mainly owls ... the children soon started saying "another owl another owl".

 

 

St Michael's Mount

Photo By Viosan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

St. Michael's Mount
#1 of 6 things to do in Marazion
"Skip the Castle, Stick to the Sea"   
Yet another egomaniac's demonstration of power

 

 

Truro Cathedral

Photo By Tim Green (Flickr: Truro Cathedral) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Truro Cathedral
#1 of 38 things to do in Truro
"A lesson in how not to welcome visitors"   
Could the cathedral authorities please note that there are no signs at either the front or rear door about headgear.

 

 

Watergate Bay

Photo By Proper Handsome (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Watergate Bay
#5 of 58 things to do in Newquay
"“Unexpected”"   
The only thing to do was to walk, drink and eat.

 

 

Do you have any other good examples? Leave a comment below:

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Who should I vote for?

Friday 1st May 2015

I decided to run a competition to find out who I should vote for in the general election. Did you know that we're having an election next week? Maybe you hadn't noticed.

I can't remember who I voted for last time, it was either the Greens or the yellows. One thing I do know is that I've never voted for the winning party nor had my choice of MP elected.

 

Choosing a colour

First I took a number of tests to see who I should vote for.

The fascinating Political Compass has a very thorough test that plots your politics on a grid (see image), and put me nearest to the Greens but miles away from all the other parties.

I went through the extremely complex Vote For Policies website, which gave me a 50/50 split between Green and Labour.

I took the poll at Votematch and I scored 82% for the Greens, 73% for Labour and 66% for the Lib Dems.

I also took the quick I Side With poll, which gave me 97% Plaid Cymru (?!) 95% Green, 94% Lib Dem and 92% Labour.

Finally, just to make sure, I took the very quick Tickbox poll, which told that I should be voting Green.

So far, so good - it looks like I should vote Green.

However they're almost certainly not going to win here (in 2010 they got 1.7% of the vote) so is there any point voting for them?

So I thought I'd put all the candidates to the test and score them.

 

Our candidates

Here in the constituency of South East Cornwall we've got six candidates, with William Hill's odds in brackets:

 

My questions

I thought it would be interesting to see where they stand on issues that are important to me, so I emailed all of them with three questions covering, local, national and global issues.

I did this before the 2010 election with three different questions that were open-ended. I got a very poor response so these questions are much quicker with simple yes/no answers.

Hi [first name],

I live in Lostwithiel, in South East Cornwall where I believe you're standing in the general election in May.

I haven't decided who to vote for yet, so if you've got a few minutes I'd appreciate your thoughts on the following questions:

  1. Do you support plans to build the UK's first spaceport in Cornwall?
  2. Do you support Dignity in Dying's campaign to legalise assisted dying in the next parliament?
  3. Do you think we're doing enough to tackle climate change around the world?

If you'd rather speak to me, call [my number] any time.

Best wishes,

Mat.

I'm going to score them on: how quickly they respond (3 points for the first to reply, decreasing by one each time); the way in which they respond (4pts for a long call, 3 pts for a short call, 2pts for a long email, 1pt for a short email, 0 if they don't reply), and how much their responses correspond with my views (0, 1 or 2pts per question).

 

Andrew Long - Mebyon Kernow

Andrew replied within quarter of an hour of me emailing him, and gave detailed, well-reasoned responses to my questions:

  1. He's in favour of the spaceport, as well as continued development of the AeroHub at Newquay Airport.

  2. He's in favour of assisted dying provided the proper safeguards are in place. He pointed out that this is his personal view, as Mebyon Kernow doesn't have a party policy on the issue.

  3. He doesn't think we're doing enough to tackle climate change, he thinks the government should be encouraging wave energy and geo-thermal as well as existing renewables, and he believes that we need to protect our land for the production of food.

So 3pts for replying first, 2pts for a long email, and 6pts for his answers to my questions.

Total: 11 points

 

Phil Hutty - Liberal Democrats

Phil called me within an hour and a half of receiving my email, and we had a very interesting fifteen minute conversation. He's very bright, enthusiastic and passionate about Cornwall. I'll paraphrase his answers:

  1. We didn't talk much about the space port as he didn't know too much about it, but more generally about the Cornish economy. He'd like to make Cornwall more appealing for business by dualling the A38, adding a second railway line into the county and cancelling the Tamar Bridge toll.

  2. He was in favour of assisted dying, providing the right safeguards are in place.

  3. He thought we should do more to tackle climate change. He mentioned some interesting new technologies that can replace fossil fuel-generated power, and said that he sees wind and solar farms as an interim step for power generation until better technologies come along. He said that he was in favour of building new nuclear power stations if they're needed, to reduce our CO2 output.

So Phil scores 2pts for replying second, 4pts for a long call, and 6pts for giving answers that agree with my opinions.

Total: 12 points

 

Declan Lloyd - Labour Party

Declan responded in a couple of hours with a short email. To paraphrase his answers:

  1. He thinks Cornwall is the best place for a spaceport and will bring quality employment

  2. He agrees with people having the right to die with at their own time, with the correct oversight.

  3. He thinks we're not doing enough to tackle climate change, and opposes mining for shale gas.

So Declan scores 1pt for replying third, 1pt for a short email, and 6pts for giving answers that agree with my opinions.

Total: 8 points

 

Bradley Monk - UKIP

Bradley responded within about four hours. He sent a long email with detailed replies to my questions. To summarise his reply:

  1. He fully supports a Cornish spaceport and the highly paid jobs it will bring to the county

  2. He fully supports assisted suicide, having been personally affected by the issue

  3. While he's skeptical about the human involvement in climate change, he agrees that we need a wider mix of energy generation, but doesn't think wind and solar are the sole answer.

If I'm being honest I was surprised at how eloquent and well-reasoned Bradley's answers were, and I was expecting his answers to include references to the EU and immigration, which they did not.

So Bradley scores 2pts for a long email, and 4pts for giving two answers that agree with my opinions.

Total: 6 points

 

Martin Corney - Green Party

Martin sent me an email reply within a week, here's a summary:

  1. He supports the spaceport because he loves technology and sees it as part of a Green world.

  2. He is against assisted dying because of the risk to the vulnerable.

  3. As you'd expect, he doesn't think we're doing enough to tackle climate change and believes that fossil fuels should stay in the ground.

So Martin scores 2pts for a long email, and 4 pts for his answers to my questions.

Total: 6 points

 

George Trubody - Independent

George replied with a long-ish email after week or so (after I chased him), his replies were:

  1. He would welcome the investment and jobs that it a spaceport would bring. He made the point that Newquay Airport is owned by Cornwall Council who have always struggled to make it profit, so any new business would help.

  2. He didn't know enough about assisted dying to comment.

  3. He doesn't think we're doing enough to tackle climate change.

So George scores 2pts for a long email, and 4 pts for his answers to my questions.

Total: 6 points

 

 

Sheryll Murray - Conservative Party

Unfortunately Sheryll didn't reply to me, so I'm unable to give her a score. This is a shame, because everyone says she's a nice person and a good MP, and because I really wanted to back the winner for once.

 

 

 

Conclusion

I've learned that I'm a natural Green voter, but this year I'm voting for Phil Hutty, our Lib Dem candidate.

Sadly too late for this election I discovered that it only costs £500 to stand as a candidate in a general election, so I've added it to my i-Spy Book Of Life for the next election in 2020!

I hope I can count on your vote.

 

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Post boxes of Lostwithiel

Friday 10th April 2015

When I started writing this blog, I always wanted to feature posts by other people. Here's the first one by John Pegg, a quirky gallery of all of the post boxes in Lostwithiel.

If you've got an idea you'd like to share, get in touch!

A rather tasteful post box incorporated into the main sorting office window of the main post office on Queen street, I'd say circa 1935.
Quite a nice GVR box located on the main road into lostwithiel opposite St Winnow School.
All the family frozen in awe at the amazing and interesting GVR box located at the bottom end of Fore street, by the Co-op.
A jaw droppingly unbelievably rare EVIIR box (1902 -11) cemented into a wall up Bodmin hill. You just don't realise how rare these are . It should be listed.
Well situated GVR box on a wall of the 'Old Post Office' on Grenville road, by the Boer War peace memorial.
This is a fairly common GVR (1911 - 35) located near the entrance to Scrations lane, on Edgcumbe road.
A standard EIIR box situated just below Lostwithiel School, Bodmin Hill.
Another standard EIIR box located on the corner of Coffeelake, on the Lerryn road.
Bonjour... another EIIR box situated on Cott Road, adjacent to the entrance to Barn Park.
Rose Hill / Summmer Street - a standard GVR box.
Standard EIIR at Maudlin, which is within the borough of Lostwithiel so counts as a post box in this category.

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What's this about?

Hi I'm Mat and I'm addicted to new hobbies. I used to think this was a bad thing but now I'm embracing it.

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