The unexpected emergence of a global pandemic and the subsequent isolation that followed could be seen to hold some silver linings. Accompanied with all the surplus time at home, life became a lot simpler and thus I started to feel more appreciative for everything in my life that I possessed before, during, and after lockdown. And so, when my parents proposed a ‘staycation’ (or ‘holistay’, both equally abash), I was so grateful to be able to leave my home for a week that the destination was not particularly important to me. Ironically, all I wanted was a place to read and spend time with my family, albeit there was probably plenty of that during lockdown. Further, I was quite pleased to drive to Cornwall as I could get away with unnecessarily excessive packing that would otherwise be restricted on a plane. Simultaneously, I was spared hours waiting in the airport for the check-in desk to open, annually induced by my typically English, time-conscious Dad.
As soon as we arrived, it was apparent that many other families shared similar thoughts, as the little town of St Ives was consumed by tourists. From my hotel room, I viewed the usually beige coloured beach to be adorned with rainbow-coloured windbreakers; a clear contrast to foreign countries was evoked, whereby the strong English winds we experienced at home still prevailed.
Following this, on one of our morning walks, my mum and I were hit with torrential rain. Whilst she attempted to take cover underneath some trees, I was somewhat amused that many people still continued their daily activities, whether it be walking or swimming, regardless of the weather – it was comforting to be around British attitudes away from home. The crowds in the streets were no different; newly established décor consisted of signs requesting the crowds to ‘keep left’ in an attempt to prolong social distancing measures. Given the streets were relatively narrow, I perceived this attempt to be quite futile – many people either forgot or directly disobeyed (depending on how optimistic the perception of the observer happened to be).
Nonetheless, in each shop one would be confronted with a dispenser of hand sanitiser and a requirement to wear a mask before proceeding. This seemed resourceful, however due to my pleasure in quickly browsing through every shop I pass by, my hands soon became quite dry.
This quick surge in tourists and crowds understandably did not bode well with the locals. It induced a shortage in many commodities, for example a sell-out of a certain type of Cornish pasty (a local tragedy), or lack of places in restaurants, however we were luckily pre-warned to book restaurants weeks in advance for each night. This contempt for tourists was slightly evident in the service of our hotel, supplying a somewhat paradoxical contrast to prior holidays. The waitresses frequently made comments under their breath that ‘there is social distancing you know’, or refusing the availability of a table as it would take ’20 minutes’ to wipe it down, or neglecting to grant housekeeping requests until hours later. Service with a smile was non-existent.
However, the local seagulls seemed to revel in the rising number of visitors, as they routinely swooped onto any available food source held by naïve tourists. My dad dramatically recounted the story of a seagull landing on his shoulder and eating his ice cream from his hand. My humour at his misfortune soon backfired, as in my food-possessing superiority a seagull swooped and took my ice cream out of my hand – an authentic illustration of karma.