Monday, 23 November 2015

When the boat comes in


 






 







The sun shone bright today, and it has been most gorgeous in St Ives. It's been a little while since we've had a day like this, and I wanted to be part of it for a while. I should have gone swimming. I flirted with a dip in the sea, but settled for a wander around town instead. It's quiet in St Ives at the moment. There are few, if any holidaymakers in town. The coach tours visit on a Tuesday or a Wednesday., so there were no groups wandering around with a pasty (and yes, people eat pasties at 9 in the morning. Even I couldn't eat one at that time of day). I wandered up to a favourite view, and looked out at the sea. She was calm and resplendent.

Honey and I meandered through the back streets, along the harbour front, past the de-commissioned life boat and onto the old slipway. There were two fishermen mending their nets. It's not something you see these days. There is only one net mending loft in St Ives. The rest of them have been turned into holiday lets. A friend of mine's Dad is one of the last mending the nets with traditional methods here. The town's fishing trade is very small. Back in the day the men would be mending their nets outside of their homes, or all along the harbour. It's all part of the town's past, only glimpsed in the photos contained in the books in the town's remaining bookshop.

I love living here. I really do. But sometimes the beauty feels like a veneer spread very thin over a town that has somehow lost it's way. Very few people live in the centre of town. Most live in the new estates that have been built on the way out. There is an uneasy alliance between many of the locals, and the holiday makers that come here. The town depends upon them, and yet they are disliked for the most part.

I stand to one side of that. The fishing trade collapsed a long time ago, and the town would be struggling financially were it not for the money generated by tourism. And I think that St Ives has capitalised successfully on it's beautiful beaches, the quirky feel of the place and it's artistic heritage.
There are many coastal towns that haven't fared as well. But being one of the most desirable places in the UK to live, has pushed up house prices to a ridiculous degree. Many homes are owned by so called second owners. This makes local people angry. They feel as if the town no longer belongs to them. There were four butchers when I moved here fourteen years ago. Now there is one. There were three book shops. Now there is only one. There were two hardware stores. Now there are none. The main street is lined with surf shops and high end retail. An ice cream costs a fortune.

I don't get involved in any of the heated discussions in the playground about all of the above. I don't feel as if I have the right to be honest. Sometimes I feel like an incomer too, even though I am an integrated part of this community. I have my own views on the complex issues that often divide the town. I'm not sure how a post about a morning walk has turned into something else. I guess I felt a kind of relief about town, even though there was no-one buying.

It's a beautiful place. And there is sadness around the edges. It's part of the town.

Have a great week, lovely people.

Leanne xx



25 comments:

  1. I've only visited once.. In July. I envy you the ability to wander around on a beautiful day when it is so quiet. On a sunny day sometime over winter I think we should take a drive down. I can understand the resentment toward tourists, but all small towns are changing too, not just St Ives. Shops are closing all over Devon as people shop more online, I am probably the no.1 guilty party for that. As an incomer too it doesn't make me feel very good, it's just so much easier.

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    1. It's such a complex issue. The world around us is changing so rapidly, and towns like St Ives have to change in order to survive. And the town has done it so well. A lot of money comes into the town during the year. And yet many are dissatisfied. I'm resigned to the fact that my boys will not live in the town that they grew up in, if they are to find employment. I try to shop local, but I also buy online.
      L xx

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  2. First of all, what gorgeous photos. And the one of the fisherman mending his net with his dog alongside is my favourite. You're right, things are complex in places like St Ives now. The old traditions that people think they want to see have gone. Now everywhere is about spending money and acquiring stuff. It's sad to see how everywhere is starting to look like everywhere else, with the same shops, cafes and housing estates. A lot of the time you could be anywhere. I love to see old traditions and local businesses. I hope some flavour of the old place will remain, but as you say, there is already very little left. I enjoyed reading your post Leanne, you've given me a lot of food for thought. As always, purchase power is shaping our world. You've reminded to spend my money as thoughtfully as I can. CJ xx

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    1. Hey CJ,
      Thank you. I took so many pictures of them! I started with a walk on a lovely morning. But was struck by how happy the locals were to have the town to themselves. I'm not sure that I articulated what I felt very well. You are always so supportive about everything I write here. What a gem you are.
      Leanne xx

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  3. Beautiful photos as always Leanne. It must be a very tricky business between needing the money from tourists and resenting their presence in such a gorgeous place. I can remember holidaying in Cornwall and being amused by a woman desperate to sell her artwork but simultaneously complaining about the 'grockles' to her friend. We couldn't really blame her, I'm sure if I'd lived there I would have resented the intruders too. Have a great week. xx

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    1. Thank you. Your observation sums it up entirely. Needing the tourist, yet resentful too. It all makes for a very uneasy alliance.
      L x

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  4. Hi Leanne, I love coming to St Ives because, although it has the touristy side, you can still see the bones of the Village. One place I never go to any more is Newquay, it can be totally over run by hen/stag do's, and feels very seedy, and not a nice place to be at night.

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    1. Newquay is a real victim of the stag and hen do scene. Such a shame. I've been a couple of times, but found it all a bit, erm, cheap.
      L x

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  5. Lovely evocative photos my dear. I suspect that St Ives isn't the only seaside town to experience such complex difficulties. I've never visited though we are pondering a holiday in Cornwall next year though that depends on what my mothers health will be xx

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    1. Well I really hope that your Mother's health will be good enough for you to pop down. Look me up, and I'll stand you an ice cream ;))
      L x

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  6. Such beautiful photos. St Ives is one of my favourite places. We live in the gorgeous Cotswolds, another area that 'suffers' from a huge influx of tourists throughout the year. I feel really proud when I watch people taking photos/exclaiming over the beauty of the place etc. but the traffic situation drives me nuts. As much as we love Cornwall we only ever visit in December ( as we will be for Christmas this year)...because we have been coming for so many years we find the 'tourists' too much the rest of the year?!! Madness. X

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    1. Thank you. I hope you have a lovely Christmas here!
      L x

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  7. I have still not been to St Yves. I only really know the small pocket that is the Roseland in Cornwall. It is not crowded even at the height of the season. I understand there must be mixed feelings about tourism, with strong opinions. Enjoy the sun while it lasts. Your photos are really really beautiful. xx

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    1. Thank you Christina. The light was wonderful, and the area is gorgeous. All I do is point and press. L x

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  8. Thank you for all your wonderful photos, both recent and previous. They capture everything that I love about Cornwall but I can understand the mixed feelings that must arise about tourism. Please keep posting your amazing pictures, they are the next best thing to actually being there for me. Alex xx.

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    1. Thanks Alex. I'm glad that you enjoy my blog!
      L xx

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  9. Such great photos. We love St Ives but try not to visit at busy times, preferring it when it's a bit less crowded. We noticed one or two shops closing this year, maybe just for the winter? The toy shop I think was one of them. I've always felt welcome though in most parts of Cornwall and always pick out my houses to live in....if only! I do feel for the local communities though as it does seem there are just too many second homes around which stand empty a lot.

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  10. Hello Mrs LH. Thanks for stopping by. Many shops do close for the winter, either for a re-furb or for the tradesman to have a holiday of their own.
    L xx

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  11. Gorgeous photos and an interesting insight into the town, it is sad to see traditional shops go and a way of life left behind in the past.

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  12. Unfortunately Cornwall has become a creature of it's own success in encouraging tourism for so many years. Then as you say the second homers bought up a lot of the properties when they were still cheap because there is only one road in and out again and it wasn't computer belt made it more alluring to a holiday home but that seems to have taken over and it always seems such a shame that some areas seem to close down completely at the end of the summer because there won't be any passing trade until the Spring. It's such a shame. My family originate from Cornwall and I would have loved to have moved back but the opportunity just never arose. Lovely to see your photo's as always they brighten my mood.

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  13. On of the few compensations for a prolonged absence from the web is what I'm doing this evening, binge reading favourite bloggers, catching up on everything they've posted while I've been away.

    I love the story of Olly and the Golden Eagle. And you have me longing to visit the sea, winter is the best time.

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  14. Hi Leanne, I'm just trying to catch up after a couple of weeks away from reading blogs lately. I understand how you feel about your beautiful home. I feel similarly about where I live, but for different reasons. I can't even express how much it bugs me that this beautiful place I live in is primarily known throughout the world these days because of a tv show about methamphetamine. It makes me so sad. I've been to parts of the US far from here and when they hear where I'm from, that's all they want to talk about. I'm glad it was a good, successful show (though I haven't watched it), but I also know the toll of the real drug trade on this area and I don't like the glorification. I would really like to visit St. Ives someday. Your photos are always so beautiful and I want to walk around in the same places you do, you make it seem really wonderful and always an adventure.

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  15. Those are wonderful images of St Ives. I thought that the problem of empty villages full of second homes was only relevant to Cornwall and Devon, but still moving West we have discovered it is quite a problem around here too. It causes such an effect with so many issues within the local economy too. We were amazed what a huge choice of accommodation there was when we visited St Ives. Sarah x

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  16. Interesting post Leanne. We often come down to West Penwith but never with a boot load of groceries and our first port of call is Newlyn for fresh fish and other supplies. We actually avoid St Ives and the last time I visited was on foot via the coastal path west of Zennor. We had a proper sit down very late lunch in the cafe below the Tate and visited the only empty shop in the town which was the wet fish shop. It's probably gone now. I've got some fantastic photos of my children playing on your beach one January. There was no one else there, the sky had a sunset rosy glow and the waves were huge. In May this year, so outside the school holidays, we hardly saw a soul as we walked the coastal path, but I bet the town was throbbing. One evening we walked to The Gurnard's Head for an average meal, but even so it was fully booked with well-heeled holiday makers. We wished we'd stayed home and cooked our own dinner. I feel passionately about supporting the real local economy when visiting anywhere on holiday, but 'Nice Things' shops do not rock my boat.

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  17. gan good job, this article is very interesting to note, cool deh,, of course we have new insights that we get after reading it, thanx yah :-)

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