Yesterday I travelled up to Bodmin to check out the location of this year's MK conference MK60 . The Shire House Suite will be an excellent setting for the 60th anniversary conference.
My wife and I had decided to make a day out of the trip to Bodmin and on the way back we decided to go via Porthcothan. This is one of our most favourite places in Cornwall and, before we moved to Cornwall, we used to stay there in a small bungalow. There was nothing special about this bungalow except for its location. It was hidden away from the road and had stunning views out to sea and accross the countryside.
We decided to go and take a look at 'our' bungalow and remind ourselves of some of the good times that our family had had there. We pulled up at the gateway and found, not the little bungalow, but a huge, Mediterranean style 'villa'.
Now, I know there are arguments for and against 'development' and 'progress'. I know that tourism has it's plusses and minuses but seeing this characterless new building, where the small bunglaow had once stood with Cornish character shining from every part of the render, gave me a hollow feeling in my stomach.
I'm not Cornish. I have only been living here for three years, but I think I have just had the tiniest of glimpses of how it must feel for Cornish people, who have grown up in Cornwall, and come to cherish memories of the beauty of the Cornish way of life to be confronted by inexorable and relentless change. To see places where they played as children become concreted over. To see the houses where their families and friends once lived become holiday lets.
Development is not necessarily a bad thing per se. Things can can be changed and improved for everyone. The problem is the speed and scale of change. Communities are being overwhelmed and Cornish culture is not able to assimilate the changes before newer and bigger changes occur.
I feel hypocritical now - having enjoyed many memorable holidays in the little bungalow that was, for a long time, a family home - but I have come to realise that there needs to be a pause in development and change. A chance for Cornwall to reassert herself.