Urban living has its challenges. The London property market is unforgiving; among the packed urban sprawl, we are all essentially on top of each other. I could chronicle the moves between gym, work and home with all the regimented lack of diversity of an Orwellian dystopia. The distinction being that while London transport has all the cattle truck efficiency of the Soviet era, the city still bristles with all the creative energy the western world has to offer. But despite all this bristle, an exit from the capital once in awhile isn’t the worst of ideas.
In many ways Cornwall is the antithesis of London. While the one races ahead of itself, shuttling aspiring professionals from one engagement to another, as they anxiously seek to achieve a ‘work life balance’ in job roles which demand such off kilter commitments, as to render the search unachievable; the other sedately goes about its business with little or no concern for the outside world, and maybe a slight roughish swagger.
Having recently watched Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049, I was acutely aware of London’s urban sprawl and technology’s increasingly bold forays into our personal liberties. When mooching through a seaside town in Cornwall an urban dystopia seems about as far removed and out place as it would be to Richie Cunningham’s Happy Days.
We travelled to Cornwall by train. Falmouth was our destination. The train line snakes along a route largely unchanged for a hundred years, as we move along a functional relic from the Victorian age of steam.
Falmouth is a university town. The term university town carries the connotation that the student life brings energy and a lively nightlife. This isn’t true of Falmouth. Falmouth adsorbs its youth culture with little youth to spare. The impact is a slow burner. The arts culture colours the town in pastel shades, both literally and figuratively, as craft shops and offbeat cafes infiltrate the high street. It’s a relaxed little haven, the sort of place you can imagine The Big Lebowski’s “the Dude” feeling very much at home in.
It was sunny for November, unclouded blue sky with an equally blue sea, broken only with the odd peculiarly intense hail shower. Falmouth sits on the south coast facing into one of the world’s larger deep-water estuaries. It feels a crisp departure from London. The effect was one of overwhelming relaxation. I was numb from it.
Four days later and I was back on the train. What we had done in Falmouth is difficult to recall, certainly it can’t have been much, but wondering aimlessly around the Cornish coast isn’t a bad way to restore balance. I’d like to say I was ready for the eventful chaos of the capital, but I think I’d have need just a few more days of relaxed boredom first.