10 reasons to be cheerful about living in Cornwall and Devon
Cornwall and Devon are among the happiest places in the country to live, according to a new survey by the Office for National Statistics. Simon Parker and Su Carroll give their personal Top 5 ‘reasons to be cheerful’ from either side of the Tamar.
It might be easy to imagine a vision of Cornwall – it’s basically the opening credits of Doc Martin. But what do I see when I close my eyes and think of Devon? writes Su Carroll.
Its greenery. Not of your Mel Tormé Mountain Greenery variety, but lush woodlands, sweeping moorland, miles and miles of fields and hedges. I've looked out of my office window and even in downtown Plymouth I can count 17 trees within a few hundred yards – and Cornish hills covered in grass and trees in the distance.
In Devon, you're never far from the coast. Rather than beaches, it's the seaside towns I adore – clever and sophisticated harbours like Salcombe and Dartmouth, fishing ports like Plymouth and Brixham or the quirky, slightly old-fashioned air of places like Dawlish. Pedants amongst you might have some of them pegged as estuary towns (or not even towns at all) but you know what I mean. It's the fresh air, the sound of the water and the lure of the land that makes for a winning formula.
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Third in my top five is Smeaton's Tower – a strange choice given my fear of heights. I love the fact that this was a ground-breaking lighthouse design from the late 18th century, originally powered by candlelight and later dismantled and completely rebuilt on Plymouth's glorious Hoe. I have only once (and never again) climbed to the top, some 72ft, but the views are magnificent. It's the one thing everyone knows about Plymouth. A true icon.
It's an example of how enthusiastically Devon embraces history. Just a guess, but it must have preserved more historic buildings and estates than any other county. The Royal William Yard in Plymouth, Exeter's centre – all preserved, restored and celebrated.
Finally food, from Michelin chefs, fish and chip shops to the proper cream tea... we've got it all.
Rich history, vibrant arts, pasties and that all-important sense of humour
The Cornish landscape is a given: who couldn't fall in love with the rough heaths, world-class beaches, quaint coves and fascinating mining sites? But let's scratch below the surface, writes Simon Parker.
We might say "madder do 'a?" – but a standard English translation is probably something along the lines of "who cares?". Launceston poet Charles Causley summed it up when he said: "Never trust anyone who takes themselves too seriously." If the Cornish can be characterised by a single trait it's humour and an ability to avoid making too much of a fuss about anything or anybody.
Where else is there such a rich variety of place-names, many of which link us back to a time when Cornish was the main language spoken west of the Tamar. Names like Belowda, Splattenridden and Goongumpus speak of Cornish distinctiveness. And it's not only Kernewek names, but the countless English-derived examples that say so much about the Cornish psyche. Try visiting Furzeball, Cripplesease, Touch-me-pipes, Water-ma-trout, Shuffley Bottom, Monkey's Grizzle or Drippy Droppy without smiling.
"Gather up the fragments that are left that nothing be lost" is the motto of the Old Cornwall Society. It's often said that the Cornish people have long memories and this probably reflects the fact that there are few people so aware or proud of their past. From Neolithic standing stones to Bronze Age quoits, hill forts to Celtic stone crosses, mine engine houses to ancient ports, Cornwall's remarkable history of industrial, scientific, cultural and artistic endeavour is visible at every turn.
Cornwall oozes art – and always has done. Painting (Forbes to Frost to Kemp), literature (Lee to Causley to Murphy) and theatre (Footsbarn to Kneehigh to Miracle) are part of a rich heritage and provide immense pleasure.
"There's something about a pasty that is fine, fine, fine!" sang Newlyn diva Brenda Wootton. And no matter whether you're "born here or drawn here", few could argue what a great gift this delicacy has been to the world. Made from steak, onion, teddy and swede, wrapped up in perfect pastry, our national dish has been exported to all corners of the world – and can even be found in parts of England!