Today, I thought I’d write a more personal post about myself and South West England and my ever-present connection to this wonderful region that I call home.
How it all began
My connection with South West England began a very long time ago – in fact, it may have begun when people first arrived in Cornwall!
I’ve managed to trace my family tree all the way back to the 14th century when my dad’s ancestors were hanging around in Cornwall, or Kernow as it was and is still known by locals.
My ancestors spent the next few centuries bouncing around the Duchy, living everywhere from Penzance to Bude. I hope that they got involved in a few Cornish rebellions, although I’ve got no proof to say they did!
There were loose connections to a certain Sampson Tremayne, who was part of the Cornish gentry, owned the Heligan Estate, now the gardens of Heligan, and was potentially my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather!
However, on further looking and analysing dates of when people were born and married, this is unlikely – although there’s definitely a connection there, it’s probably not blood.
After brushing with the gentry, my family turned into what most Cornish locals did at the time – mined.
I always tell people that “I come from a long line of Cornish miners” and this is where it all began!
Up until my great-grandad, pretty much every man was a miner, and the women in the family perfected Cornish pasties. Such was life in those days.
I’m not sure if any of my relatives ever joined the Cornish diaspora of Cornish people living abroad.
History becomes a little bit clearer with my great-grandparents, as although my great-grandma died when I was five years old, my gran told me plenty of stories about her.
My great-grandad was sent off to fight in WW2 but was called home before he left the country as my great-grandma was taken ill.
It was fortunate that he was called home (my great-grandma made a full recovery and lived until 1997), as virtually everyone in his platoon died.
My great-grandparents lived in Camborne, a historic mining town, until they passed away. My living great aunts and uncles still live in Camborne, although many of their children have moved to Plymouth, London and even overseas.
My gran, however, was a wildcard and moved over the River Tamar.
Living all over Cornwall
My gran was an incredibly passionate Cornish woman and never ran out of good things to say about the place.
However, she ended up leaving Cornwall and marrying a man from the East End – who would become my granddad.
They met at a wedding – I’m not sure who’s or where it was (I did try to ask my gran a few years back and she couldn’t remember, telling me “that’s not important, the most important thing is that we met there!”).
But, after 12 dates, they were at their wedding, which took place in Camborne.
My granddad promptly moved, although at the time he was in the Royal Navy, and often had to live in his barracks on the Lizard Peninsula.
When my uncle, his first child, was born, he cycled all the way into the barracks one day bearing the news. In an age where people couldn’t send a quick WhatsApp or Facebook update to let people know about the arrival of a new baby, he thought the best way to inform everyone was in person.
“You should have told us that”, his commander said. “I’d have given you the day off!”.
So he cycled the hour-long journey straight back to be with my gran.
After my dad was born, my granddad joined the police force.
One of the saddest moments of my granddad’s career (and probably one of the most traumatic of his life) was when he was one of the chief policemen who dealt with the Darlwyne disaster, which was when a pleasure boat sunk off the coast of Fowey the day after England won the world cup.
The Devon connection
I’m surprised that anyone managed to persuade my gran to leave Cornwall, but as my granddad was part of the Devon and Cornwall Police Force, he was eventually located to Budleigh Salterton in East Devon.
They moved into what was then the police office, and what is now the tourist information office!
I have a hilarious memory of walking into the tourist information centre with my dad and him telling a very confused tourist board representative “this used to be my living room”.
My dad’s family, and then my grandparents after my dad went to university and his brothers flew the nest, bounced around East Devon for a short time before settling down in Exmouth, where my gran lived for the next 40 years!
Although my parents moved to London after briefly living in Plymouth, we were always in the West Country.
After school on a Friday night, we’d bundle in the car and head down the M3 and A303, keeping an eye out for Stonehenge which always felt like the beginning of the South West.
We’d either head to Exmouth to see my gran, or venture further into Cornwall and see my dad’s family, heading to lots of the West Country’s best tourist destinations.
My parents definitely both had a bit of wanderlust, and we saw virtually all of the South West’s top attractions when I was growing up!
Moving to Bristol (and Bath)
Before university, I’d never even been to Bristol – but it immediately felt like the place for me.
After university, I started to get more involved in the travel industry.
I lived in Bath for a year and checked out all of its best attractions, visiting Bristol a lot too (thanks to the speedy GWR train connection between the two cities!).
After living in Bath, I moved to Australia and spent a few years travelling the world, only to return to the West Country in 2020.
Return to the West Country
We all know what happened in 2020… and while my return to the West Country was abrupt and unexpected, when I thought of a home in the UK, there was only once place I really wanted to be.
My partner, who I met in 2019, and I were travelling the world, when there was an announcement for all Britons to return home.
At the time, my gran was living in my dad’s house – she had dementia and couldn’t cope with living on her own.
We didn’t really have anywhere feasible to go when we returned to the UK, apart from my grandma’s empty house in Exmouth.
So we ended up there, taking daily walks to see the town and exploring afield a little more when lockdown restrictions eased.
It was around this time I decided to start this blog, Go South West England, as it was looking likely that we’d be in the UK for the foreseeable future.
After a few months, we decided to rent a place of our own for a few months. We opted for Bristol, my favourite city in the world, which gave me a fantastic chance to see more of what the city has to offer!
Eventually, after a few South West Coast Path hikes and exploring plenty of Devon, Cornwall and Somerset attractions, we decided to purchase a property.
The present day!
So, that takes us to the present day! We moved into our Exmouth home in July 2022, and we’ve been living here ever since.
I love the fact that being in Exmouth means that Cornwall and the rest of Devon isn’t too far away, Dorset and Somerset are easily accessible, and I can visit Bristol and Bath on the train.
It’s the perfect location to carry on exploring the South West and creating these helpful guides!
I hope this page has shown you a little more about me and my passion and connection to the West Country!
Feel free to follow me on Instagram for my updates, or hang out here on the blog to see helpful guides to all of my favourite places.