30th August 2023 – Time to love where we live

Cornwall is a wonderful place; not only for the beautiful scenery and access to wildlife, but also for the people. I have often thought that although in Cornwall we tend to have low incomes, we have a better quality of life. Instead of expensive holidays, we have beaches at our doorstep to access at any time. Instead of new furniture and expensive cars, we have flexible working hours and the ability to make do and mend.

In recent years it has been harder to live like this, as house prices and rent has made sustaining a quality lifestyle harder. I do think this is the issue of the moment; we need a much greater number of social housing schemes, where rents are properly affordable. The ‘cheap’ poor quality housing that blights our landscape is still too expensive for most to buy, and more and more Cornish people are having to exist in substandard accommodation with very little security. I do hope this changes. 

That aside, I think it is still fair to say that we have a good number of people within our communities who are living low cost, low impact lives. As a result we have a much higher than average number of creatives within our communities; musicians, artists, writers, and artisan producers. Here’s a few ways in which they enrich our lives…

Music: In St Germans in the Eliot Arms we have a fortnightly open mic, which is a wonderful way of meeting other musicians, along with live music every Sunday from 5-7pm. Many other pubs in the area are filled with music all weekend, and during the week. The Union Inn in Saltash has jazz every Tuesday, the Copley in Hessenford and the Rod and Line in Tideford have bands every weekend, there’s music most days at the Devon and Cornwall in Millbrook, bands in the Patchwork Studio in Maker and both the Halfway House in Polbathic and The Finnygook in Crafthole have just had festival weekends. We certainly excel at keeping music live in south east Cornwall.

Art: It’s Drawn to the Valley week! Studios throughout the Tamar Valley area are opening their doors to visitors until September the 3rd; there’s no obligation to buy. If you haven’t been to any yet, I do recommend doing so. There are some wonderful artists working in this area. https://drawntothevalley.com.

Local skills: I’ve just had two pairs of boots beautifully restored by Danny Smith in Liskeard. Danny has looked after my shoes for many years; I first visited to get new soles on a pair of cherry-red Doc Martens I’d bought from Gilberts well over 30 years ago. He also recently repaired my favourite cerise leather jacket, bought in Carnaby street in 1986. I’m a great believer in getting value for money out of the clothes I buy! Danny and his son George sell a wide range of leather-care products, as well as running a key cutting business. They can be found on Bay Tree Hill. https://dsmithandsonshoerepairs.co.uk.

Growers: We have many small producers in South East Cornwall. Keveral Community of Growers are a hub of expertise in organic growing. However we need to train more people in the skill of growing, because as climate changes, so will the need to adapt to the way we grown things. There is an interesting article on Sustainable Food Cornwall that reveals community food growing schemes are flourishing in Cornwall but urgently need access to more land, funding and skills in order to expand and thrive. To read more visit https://sustainablefoodcornwall.org.uk.

We are incredibly lucky to live in such an expertise rich area. It’s impossible to be comprehensive in this column. The important message though is that we need to support our creatives and those with traditional knowledge. Local skills are what we need in climate resilience. In this way we keep our society rich, and retain the knowledge to pass on to future generations.

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