That's it. Another summer is fading. The sun is warm and there are
plenty of holiday makers enjoying the last week of the summer holidays;
it's more of an awareness; the dew lasts longer in the morning, the trees
have lost their vibrancy and the leaves are muddied with a dab of black
subduing the green to a darker shade, the sun's sloping towards the equinox,
swallows are practising their aerobatics before navigating to Africa
and shabby posters around the village that no-one has bothered to take
down, advertise fetes, fairs and barbecues with August dates.
If we are to believe everything we read
in the papers, Cornwall could now be the year round destination that
the tourist trade have been hoping for so desperately. Living in Cornwall
has become fashionable and we have A list celebs staying in chic hotels,
buying homes and eating in amazing restaurants; Madonna, Kate Moss, Jude
Law, Johnny Depp, even the Prime Minister's wife inadvertently had their
new baby in a local hospital. Florence Rose Endellion Cameron - an odd
name when she could have had a beautiful Cornish name such as Kerenza,
Senara, Kerra or Tegan, translating into love, joy and pretty little
thing- Endellion is either a 5th century saint who came from Wales to
convert the local pagans to Christianity or a kind of Cornish Brie made
from double cream. The positive side of this is that when Cornwall is
mentioned in anything political, he just may think of us in a favourable
Cornwall being described as the new Tuscany
or Umbria is journalists running out of metaphors. Cornwall is Cornwall
and 'going to Cornwall' is as random as saying you're going to Scotland
or London. Cornwall is vaguely divided into areas and can be defined
by drink and footwear. Around the Camel estuary - FitFlops and Pimms,
at Newquay - 'snakebite' and vomit splattered trainers, in the south,
messing about in boats, deck shoes and several pints of a fantastic local
beer, in the far west - artists and sandal wearing hippies linger, their
hair and beards more grey, sparse and straggly.
As the last of holiday makers make their
home, some will cross the Tamar going back to life as usual, some will
be feeling a tug backwards and wishing, 'If only..."some, not just
the rich and famous, will actually be brave enough to discover what Cornwall
really is about, embracing the difference in culture and traditions and
understand the pulse of the 'countries' beating heart , but, please not
try to change things unless it's for the better!
This was pretty much summed up at the
annual village horticultural show. A class in the domestic section is
a Victoria sponge with jam filling; quite straightforward, beat up the
eggs, butter, sugar and add the flour, put in sandwich tins, cook and
stick together with strawberry jam. One entry was from a visitor, she
had the sponge stuck together with jam and oozing cream, cream all over
the top, decorated with an outer ring of fresh strawberries... lovely
as a strawberry gateau but as the judge decreed, "Not as schedule".
The exhibitor wasn't happy being disqualified; the conversation went... "I'm
from London", she ranted (should I feel pity
or be impressed?) and continued, "I know what people like
to eat", (triple cheeseburgers and pies by
her jumbo size T-shirt), and I'm left trying to explain why, "The
judge's decision has to be final", as she continued muttering at
anyone bothering to listen!
What has changed for the better is that
restaurant food has metamorphosed. When I first came to Cornwall you
couldn't buy fresh fish or find a restaurant that could cook it properly.
and the fishermen who caught it didn't sell it locally, it was auctioned
at market and sent to London or France and Spain. I remember having ling
and chips and wondering what I was eating, it was simply that ling and
pollock wasn't an accepted species for the table. I have a friend who
picks crab and any scallops caught in the pots are thrown to her cat
as she wouldn't eat them. Without a doubt we owe much to chefs who have
a come to Cornwall and recognised that fish is a treasured resource and
doesn't have to travel upcountry. Thanks to initially George Perry-Smith,
then Keith Floyd, and later Rick, and Jamie, fish is on every menu from
pubs to posh restaurants and its fabulous, fresh and imaginatively cooked.
The Newlyn Fish Festival is now a major event and is celebration of the
sea, fish and fishermen.
Which leads me onto our day at the Festival
and meeting the charming, round-the world yachtsman, Pete Goss and his
boat, ' Spirit of Mystery', a replica of the Newlyn lugger, that sailed
to Melborne on 1854. and the serendipitous connection with the Brenda
Wootton CD, 'All Of Me', which is being released next month!
Here are a few pictures from the Newlyn Fish Festival.
this page to a friend