There are a lot of benefits to living down here in Padstow, compared to living in London.
Whenever I tell someone down here in Cornwall that I come from the capital, they always release a long breath of air and look at me as if I’ve gone mad.
‘City folk don’t last long around here’, that’s what their expressions seem to say – and I can understand why. The thing I struggled with initially was the quiet and the dark. Even in quieter neighbourhoods of London, you are surrounded by the ambience of the city. Cats screeching, sirens wailing and the distant thumps of music being blasted from racing hatchbacks. They sound like cliches, but these cliches are the realities of London life.
All those reassuring noises, the buzzing backdrop to my daily existence, disappeared when I moved to Padstow. My first night spent in my Aunt’s room was silent – silent and dark. I was prepared for the quietness, but I wasn’t prepared for the darkness. I would have never said that I was scared of the dark – but, saying that, I don’t think I’d ever experienced true darkness before moving down here. When there are no street lights, filtering that comforting yellow glow through the windows, all you’re left with is what the moon can offer. On my first night at Beryl’s, clouds blanketed the sky, blocking any potential moonlight from entering the twee spare room she had welcomed me into.
For the first time in my life, I was surrounded in darkness – I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.
Despite these slightly unsettling conditions, I soon found that there were a number of advantages to living on the sunny South coast.
You notice the clean air pretty much as soon as you step off the train.
London in Summer is a foggy, murky mess. The Underground stations are sweat boxes, packed with slightly perspiring tourists and tired looking office workers. The stench of other people, sewage and fried chicken is insidious and hard to shake off. In the heat of summer, a similar haze hangs at around ankle level in Cornwall. But, without the traffic pumping out an endless concoction of toxic fumes, the sea breeze is allowed to move the air around, mingling the new smells which are certainly easier on the nose.
Fresh cut grass, baked pasties and sand dunes.
These are the scents that I associate with my new home and they’re infinitely more pleasant than the ones I left behind.
What took me the longest to get used to was the change in social attitudes. London has a bad rep for being an unfriendly place to live, which is somewhat well earned. Before I moved down here, I was told that the Cornish locals were no friendlier than us Londoners. The broad stereotype of xenophobic country yokel was enforced and I believed it. I knew that I’d misjudged the people of Cornwall when I was woken up at around 5:30am. By the sounds of it, the Postman and the Milkman were having an animated discussion about the upcoming village fair.