You may be forgiven for dreaming of the sandy seashores and romantic hideaways of Cornwall as world leaders descend on the coast for the G7 summit this week.
The exact same desires impressed my very own transfer from London to a village by the ocean final yr. Stuffed with optimism, I deliberate to begin a brand new life there after a really troublesome interval in my life.
Throughout the first lockdown, my world had cracked: at 39, I’d left my fiance and with him my desires of getting a household, and misplaced my newspaper job amid Covid cuts. Greedy at methods to rebuild my life, I made a decision to promote my flat and begin a brand new life close to Land’s Finish.
I believed I used to be being daring, adventurous, wildly unique. However truly, I used to be following a pattern. Throughout the previous yr, Cornwall has overtaken London as the most well-liked search location on property web site Rightmove.
Katie Glass (pictured) reveals the animosity she obtained after transferring from London to Cornwall, having misplaced her job and left her fiance
A part of me was aware even then that you would be able to’t resolve your issues by operating from them. However Cornwall appeared to supply a lot that I wanted: a peaceable magic, an in depth neighborhood, a recent starting.
Moreover, I fell in love with a home: a fantastic granite farmhouse in a lush backyard with a stream operating by way of it. It couldn’t have been extra totally different from my tiny East London flat on a screaming Dalston avenue. I believed I’d discovered heaven — or at the very least the Escape To The Nation model of it.
It was simply 15 miles from Carbis Bay, the place the G7 summit is happening.
As quickly as my supply was accepted, I packed my issues into storage and headed for the South-West. I confess I used to be wildly Pollyanna-ish about my new seaside life. This was partly intentional; as an alternative of getting depressed about all the pieces I’d misplaced, I fantasised about swanning round in classic Laura Ashley and baking desserts in my Rayburn (though I can’t cook dinner).
I pictured summers hanging out with surfers, arranging bunting for fetes, and winters snuggling by fires with the fisherman I’d date. I enthusiastically purchased into each nation cliché — looking out for an inexpensive SUV and a rescue labrador.
I walked the windswept coast, perching on rocks overlooking the ocean feeling like Rebecca, or as if I used to be in TV’s Poldark. I learn romantic books about fishing households and West Nation myths.
Throughout lockdown, there have been restricted methods to satisfy individuals in my new house, however I attempted to get caught in, volunteering at a neighborhood farm and mentoring college students at Falmouth College.
Earlier than transferring to the coast, I had no concept concerning the animosity some locals really feel in the direction of ‘outsiders’. I rapidly realized about it: how locals complained about Londoners and ‘emmets’, the Cornish phrase for ants, swarming into their county.
Katie stated she may sympathise with some considerations about outsiders bringing the virus to Cornwall. Pictured: Cornwall’s lovely Carbis Bay, the situation of this week’s G7 summit
Nonetheless, naively, I didn’t assume they meant me. I wasn’t a holidaymaker or second-home proprietor shopping for a fisherman’s cottage to fill with nautical tat. I wasn’t a banker with a shiny new Vary Rover shopping for a million-pound pad. I had come to construct a brand new life in a without end house.
However in my new life, it was ‘us’ and ‘them’.
Given the seriousness of Covid, I may sympathise with some considerations about outsiders bringing the virus to Cornwall. In January final yr, the Duchy had solely 15 important care beds and, within the early a part of the pandemic, the South-West remained among the many least affected areas within the UK.
I observed indicators saying ‘locals solely’ showing in retailers and on paths and understood their fears.
But the pandemic additionally grew to become a lightning rod for long-standing animosity in the direction of incomers. I heard loads of tales about locals calling the police on individuals who’d travelled to the coast, even inside the guidelines.
Someday, once I was strolling by way of my native village, somebody loudly tutted at me: ‘You’re not attempting to cover it a lot.’
‘What?’ I requested, confused.
‘That you just’re not from right here,’ she stated. How did she know? Was I too enthusiastically taking pictures of the ocean?
Katie obtained cross messages on social media complaining about Londoners over-running Cornwall (file picture)
After I moved to a different rental cottage, the landlady recommended I introduce myself to my neighbour, so she may let different Covid-conscious villagers know I used to be already dwelling within the county.
I fortunately agreed and rang her, solely to be summarily instructed she wouldn’t ‘vouch for me’ as a result of she ‘couldn’t ensure I used to be an OK particular person’. She demanded I meet her for an interview (though this contravened lockdown guidelines).
Different native anger I met had nothing to do with the pandemic. I obtained cross messages on social media complaining about Londoners over-running Cornwall, pricing locals out, and claiming I noticed my new village house as a fantasy ‘stage set’.
‘Cornwall isn’t cream teas and fairly cottages and wonderful seashores,’ somebody berated me. As if no one Cornish had ever eaten a scone on a seashore.
In a single village the place I lived, somebody referred to as me to complain I’d damaged the ‘Mousehole code’. I shouldn’t count on to slot in rapidly, she knowledgeable me on the telephone, ominously warning that there was a ‘darkish aspect’ to village life.
After all, not everybody was like this. I made new mates and had heat conversations. The longest established Cornish residents have been the friendliest. The newer arrivals — maybe frightened about their very own place — have been essentially the most tribal and indignant.
In the meantime, I confronted countless issues shopping for a home. My first buy collapsed when it grew to become clear the vendor didn’t have listed constructing consent for varied works they’d carried out.
Katie stated she felt more and more remoted and pushed out, as even issues she beloved about rural life started getting her down (file picture)
I had one other supply accepted pretty rapidly. Then waited three months whereas nothing occurred. After I referred to as the property agent, she instructed me it might occur ‘dreckly’, a obscure native phrase which means ‘someday sooner or later’.
In the meantime, I used to be surprised to search out out that somebody I had excitedly instructed about my home had gone to ask the proprietor for a tour. And one other neighbour had taken my articles to warn the vendor off me.
I started to fret that I’d made the flawed alternative. I felt more and more remoted, that regardless of how a lot I wished to make Cornwall my house, I might by no means be accepted by locals and, worse, they may at all times be in opposition to me. Having gone to Cornwall considering naively that I may develop into part of the neighborhood there, as an alternative I felt consistently pushed out, a collective hostility I’ve not skilled earlier than.
I felt alone and depressed. I additionally grew to become unwell, with a abdomen downside exacerbated by stress that appeared to worsen the extra upset I felt and with each new rejection and hostility I confronted.
Quickly, even issues I’d beloved about rural life started getting me down.
The silence, so peaceable at first, grew to become lonely. I desperately missed my mates — the sensation somebody had my nook, a way of belonging. Nonetheless heartbroken from my break up, I longed for hugs. I started craving my outdated life within the metropolis, particularly as lockdown guidelines eased, eating places opened and mates despatched photos of themselves out at pubs.
All of a sudden, a six-hour drive appeared too distant.
I packed up and left.
I haven’t deserted my rural dream, however now I do know the coast isn’t for me.
I nonetheless lengthy for huge skies and the lashing sea, however I have to be close to individuals I do know. Someplace I really feel welcome.