THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Final thoughts..

There’s no better way to start a foreign holiday then to wake up on Saturday morning to a good Cornish coastal “mizzle” – a light rain falling at the speed of snowflakes onto a damp garden. Last night we entertained Cat Maceachen, who will be house-sitting with her boyfriend Ash whilst we travel. As Falmouth Week draws to it’s close, I’ll be glad to see the back of the tourists who have swarmed all over the town and the county this last week. My usual 35-minute drive to Newquay Airport yesterday becomes a 90-minute epic as I duck and weave across the peninsula to avoid queueing traffic. Poor Cat waits patiently at the airport and we have to repeat the journey back to “ours”, although forewarned is forearmed and I manage to cut 30 minutes off the journey by taking some back-roads that visitors would never notice. Even so – two and a half hours to the airport and back is a record. It does not bode well for our drive to Gatwick tomorrow. In Cornwall, Saturday is known as “change-over day” as tourists arrive and depart from their hotels and cottages – there’s a golden rule in the West Country – leave your car on the drive. I do intend to cut across country on the “303” but getting to Exeter could be a challenge. I’m going to risk political incorrectness (for a change?) and observe that the quality of visitors this year has taken a nose dive. Perhaps the first true sign of recession is that the usual ranks of Benidormers have changed their plans in favour of camping in England – and as far South as they can manage. I’ve never seen so many tents in fields, nor so many chain-smoking, tattooed men and women in football shirts, jeans and trainers (the former) or ill-fitting white t-shirts, jeans and flip-flops, pushing prams occupied by snotty little kids (the latter). Call me a snob – I am a self-confessed council house escapee – but the place has been crawling with Britain’s detritus for a few weeks now and it’s horrible. I remember many years ago on holiday in Crete, listening to a group of South Africans discussing how they chose their holiday destinations carefully to avoid “ESB’s” – when one of the party asked for an explanation – the answer came back as “English Scum Bags”. I initially began to get angry and then calmed down when I realised that this was not far away from my own thoughts. However, it was interesting to note that, when I went down to town on my mountain bike yesterday afternoon, Event Square was polluted by a large group of South African males in their mid-20’s, absolutely smashed out of their minds, staggering to the point of falling down drunk in the street and putting the fear of God in passers-by (including myself). The usual vulgar and loud behaviour of drunken people all over the planet. So bad-behaviour is not just the preserve of the English. I manage to clear the work decks by 19:00 last night and we celebrate the start of my vacation with a bottle of bubbly that’s been lurking in the bottom of the fridge for such an occasion. There is a big firework display scheduled in the inner harbour at 22:00 and so we wander down in the rain to see what we can see. I’m embarrassed that Cat’s first experience of our lovely town centre is singing gangs of men wandering down the High Street – in my 5 years in Cornwall and nearly three years in Falmouth, I have never witnessed that before – not even at high season. Falmouth has a large student population – but when students get drunk they usually make silly fools of themselves and don’t represent a threat. Last night we had a disco in Event Square with a theme of 80’s versus 90’s and swarming with inebriated young ladies in fluorescent tou-tou’s, chatting to the usual testosterone crowd of young men in white shirts and jeans. All around were scenes that belong in Newquay or Ibiza – not here in my town. We did manage to find some peace at Custom House Quay and sat with more mature visitors and, interestingly, many students, in a much better behaved crowd who enjoyed some of the traditional Cornish beers at The Chain Locker before we watched the display. Its not easy to “do” fireworks when the cloud base is at about 100 feet and the rain is dribbling out of the sky – but the “oo’s” and “aa’s” were still in evidence. After the final big bang (well, splatter actually), we staggered back up the hill to our place and decided to get an early night. Falmouth Week ends this weekend and I hope that Cat and Ash have the chance to see the town at it’s best whilst we are away. So now I’m switching off the technology for the last time – and setting off on a 3-day journey to Ithaca, via Athens, to an island that we love, not the least because we will not see anything like the behaviour I’ve witnessed. Roll on sunshine, warm seas and breezes and rest.

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