Writing ~ Cornwall

February is a gritty, dirty month. A muddy mess, the last slump, the final giving up before proper spring.
An empty train.
Who would live in a place like this? Artists, writers, small-holders. Older folk who always have. Growers and makers. Diggers and weavers.

Who would leave a place like this? Kids: to University, to Bristol, to London, to jobs other than back- or front- of house, or offering care to retirees. Older folk who can no longer manage their land and the damp, moving before its too late, or leaving it too late: just a few miles out of town but without transport, with absentee neighbours, or holiday makers, it’s not like it was.

The lime kiln is collapsing. The new owner has bought it for its development potential.

There’s always been a level of churn – people coming for the good life and leaving for a better life, keeping chickens then chucking it in, or knuckling down with pigs and geese. But we’re in the post-covid, work-from-anywhere world. The price of land is too much for here; dirt cheap for the movers-in. A barn can no longer be just a barn.

Key safes by front doors. Laundry bags and mops. The smell of washing detergent on changeover day.

This is the refurb world.

Upgrade (i) : a ‘for sale’ sign at the end of a track bearing the name, in serifed gold script, of a well-known London estate agent. There are no potential buyers passing by. There is no footfall. So this is just a signal, perhaps, to the monied, motivated viewer on the search for that all-important, elusive country property with potential that – yes, you have arrived. This is it, down that track. Honestly. It’s perfectly safe to proceed. Our sign is here to reassure you.

Upgrade (ii) : a skip, filled to the top with kitchen carcasses, broken battens, sash windows. A builder’s sign, proper site fencing with health and safety warnings and contact numbers, closed padlocks. A pile of shillet.

Upgrade (iii): a double electric gate, solid wood panels, a brushed aluminium keypad, a buzzer, a small nameplate, and a grille to talk into.

You are not lost.

These lanes have no names (but we know the names).
No mobile signal, no sat-nav (but we know the ways).