End of the Season

West Cornwall’s summer season ends today.

It’s the last day we’ll be able to get Jelbert’s ice-cream in Newlyn; museums, gardens and some tourist-focused shops are switching to winter hours or closing altogether; and, most importantly from our point of view, many pubs are suddenly empty.

Pubs which are designed for the hot, heaving days of August — huge buildings with multiple rooms, beer gardens, play areas and several bars — are partially closed. As the rain and fog settles, the lights are going out, and people are retreating to the log-fire in the saloon.

We visited a pub yesterday which, when we last went, was so busy every table was reserved, all day. Yesterday, the barman looked startled when we walked in. The clock was ticking, the fire was crackling, and he had been lost in thought, chin in hand.

We sat in the corner of a pub designed to accommodate more than two hundred people and had it to ourselves. The Overlook Hotel came to mind.

Our first winter out west is going to be an interesting one.

9 replies on “End of the Season”

Very interesting. I’ve visited Cornwall almost every year, but only during the summer months. I can think of several of the pubs ‘designed for the hot, heaving days’ (The Lifeboat in St Ives, Harbour Inn Portleven etc) but It never occured to me how the atmosphere in those pubs would change with the seasons. Curious to know if they’ll be heaving again over the brief Chrsitmas break or will people still favour the smaller, cosier pubs and the comfort of a log fire? I look forward to further updates from out west…

I always feel that Cornwall gets very gloomy over the winter so I will be wishing you both the best of luck — on the other hand locals can get their pubs back until Christmas and New Year brings in the second homers again.

ATJ — there is a bit of an end of term feel, as it happens, and people do seem to be looking forward to having a bit of room to breathe. (Although what counts as crowded in Cornwall seems very sparse to us after all that time living in London.)

Pintsandpubs — as ATJ says, we’re told the pubs get busy again as people turn up for Christmas and New Year breaks. We ought to be OK in Penzance — it’s a working town with a stable population, rather than a tourist destination, as such — but will be interested to see what happens round and about.

If we can get about, of course, with the buses on their reduced winter timetables and no car…

Interesting point of view. As I don’t live in a place so serviced by tourists, I’d never even thought of this sort of thing affecting pubs in the UK. The Silent Hill picture seems entirely apt. The question is – do you prefer the peace – or the buzz of having a packed bar to enjoy a beer in?

Leigh — as ever, somewhere in between would probably be nice…

Not that anyone down here seems to resent the tourist industry — after all it, does make up something like a quarter of the economy!

what counts as crowded in Cornwall

On holiday this year we spent a supremely depressing early-evening hour trudging around Liskeard, followed by a very pleasant couple of hours in Looe. It’s just occurred to me that one of the things that made Looe seem like a nice place to be – apart from the fact that it’s got welcoming pubs & more than one restaurant, both of which Liskeard rather fell down on – was the sheer density of people: for a while there it was like being back in a town!

On the other hand, when I was a kid we lived in a seaside village, and I can remember how claustrophobically uneasy the summer crowds made me feel – and what a blessed relief the off season was, with all those miles of beach just for me and the dog. I didn’t drink then, so I can’t comment on the pub angle.

It probably makes me a massive misanthrope… but from your description, it sounds wonderful!

Ant — well, yeah, I’ve always slightly envied Jack Torrance, and thought he made a big fuss over nothing. If I was caretaker at the Overlook, I’d read lots, write lots (of actual paragraphs, not “ALL WORK…” &c.) and generally enjoy the peace and quiet. But that’s introversion for you.

Phil — dragging around trying to find something to do/eat/drink in a town which is closed for business is miserable. I feel really sorry for people turning up this week for a cheap post-half-term break, only to find the shutters down. Even some museums and National Trust properties are now on reduced hours.

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