I was in Falmouth in Cornwall recently. It’s a town that was built around a sheltered deepwater port that was a hub for the Royal Navy, Packet ships and trading ships awaiting orders.
The high street that follows the line of the harbour is narrow and lined with three-story Georgian buildings, most of which are now independent shops or restaurants.
The town feels real in a way that St. Ives doesn’t. It’s still a working port. Ships, including warships, are still fitted and repaired there. It caters for tourists but hasn’t surrendered itself to them.
I visited in January when the town is mainly populated by locals and I thought the place had an arty feel to it.
Not the self-indulgent, dilettante, we’re artists, darling, feel you get in middle-class towns that are trying too hard. More the feel of creative people who live according to their own rhythms and needs and get along with one another.
In my experience, this kind of population often revels in the quirky and the quietly amusing.
I offer the shop window below as an example of what I mean. To me, it looks like an art installation. It doesn’t prompt me to buy anything. I’m not even sure what the shop is selling. Yet I could and did stare at this window, relishing it sense of style, its affectionate embrace of the bizarre and its invitation to take a moment out of your day and let yourself smile.