My campsite in Wildflower Wood is on Beersheba Hill overlooking Carbis Bay and St. Ives. There is hectic activity around 200 meters below as preparations for the G7 summit continue.
In a field a few miles away, they set up rows of shipping containers to house security guards for next week’s meeting of world leaders.
But in this forest of sycamore, ash, elder and pine, the only sounds are the birds and a gentle Atlantic breeze that ripples the bluebells.
Harbor view: G7 delegates can visit blooming St. Ives during the summit, which begins June 11th
The Godrevy Lighthouse is said to have inspired a novel by Virginia Woolf
I don’t live in a tent, but in a country pod – a hipster spin on a gypsy wagon. It has neither electricity nor heating, just a battery for lighting and a USB charger.
I walk up a wooden bark path to my waterless toilet and gravity shower (luckily not shared with other pods). Boris Johnson said the main G7 agenda was to “help the world rebuild better and greener”.
Cornwall, he added, has long been a leader in eco-technology and thinking. Well, I’m doing my part.
The plan is to get around on one of the campsite’s e-bikes and use the train to get on and off at St Ives. I’m on my own little moral soaring (before I get too complacent, I’ll admit I drove 300 miles in a diesel 4×4 to get here).
The Daily Mail’s Mark Jones stayed at a campsite in Wildflower Wood overlooking Carbis Bay and St. Ives. Instead of sleeping in a tent, he slept in a country pod, which he described as “a hipster shoot on a gypsy wagon”.
Cornwall offers miles of light sandy beaches and turquoise seas. Pictured, Porthminster Beach
As I look outside, I wonder what the delegates will think of this narrow stretch of coast. They are used to luxury resorts chosen to keep them away from the common people whose destinies they determine.
But the Carbis Bay Hotel is just outside a suburban enclave, not far from the rugged, compact port of St. Ives. The locals don’t know why they are there. The G7 delegates are also not allowed to.
But give it a little time and I think you will find West Cornwall the perfect place to escape from their air-conditioned meeting rooms and private jets. Pleasant surprise number one: the miles of light sandy beaches and the turquoise sea. The Japanese delegates could swear they were back on the subtropical islands of Okinawa.
Okinawa is also a great center for pottery. You can bet VisitCornwall will whisk you away to the St. Ives studio of Bernard Leach, the late father of British studio ceramics, who was inspired by Japan.
Cornwall’s literary connections will appeal to the delegates’ partners … You can see the lighthouse that inspired a Virginia Woolf novel
You and other delegates could also come to review some of your prejudices about British food. Along the coast is Rick Stein’s Padstow Empire.
And Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (not officially part of the G7 but invited as a guest and observer) will do one of his own, Warrnambools Mick Smith, at Porthminster Cafe. But Mick also has views on macroeconomic policy.
The British delegation will of course present St. Ives as a fine example of regeneration, a real estate hotspot, a traditional fishing village reinvented for a cosmopolitan clientele of art and food lovers. About 12 miles away, where he barely manages Camborne, Mick recruits staff.
But there is nowhere affordable to live in St. Ives – and nowhere to park. Americans who miss the spicy Cajun cuisine can head to Hayle, where Lula Shack on North Quay serves fine gumbo.
But her boss, Joe Biden, must have ice cream on his head. Boris has to take him to the Moomaid Ice Cream in Zennor on the rugged north coast. And it would be criminal not to jump into the Tinners Arms too. I very much hope that the delegates can explore the country between the north and south coasts.
On my first evening, I hike inland along the old Michaels pilgrimage route. The next day I take one of the campsite’s e-bikes and discover the tranquil, secluded chapel of Towednack from the 13th century.
Inside, I chat with Roger, a real Cornish bard, who sits and reads while the afternoon light pours over the moor, through the sleek leaded glass window, and onto his snow-covered beard. The problems of Belarus, Gaza and Indian variants seem to be a long way off.
Rick Stein’s family-friendly café in the heart of Padstow is popular with locals and tourists alike
A G7 logo can be seen on an information sign near the Carbis Bay Hotel, where the personal G7 summit of global leaders is due to take place
A drone shot of the Carbis Bay Hotel, which is just outside a suburban enclave, not far from the compact St. Ives harbor
They hope Cornwall’s greentech story will appeal to science-minded Angela Merkel. But if she is like most of her compatriots who visit the district, she will visit the places of Rosamunde Pilcher, who was born in Penzance and is big in Germany.
Cornwall’s literary connections will appeal to the delegates’ partners: US First Lady Jill Biden and Maria Serenella Cappello, wife of Italian Mario Draghi, are professors of English literature. You can see the lighthouse, which inspired a Virginia Woolf novel. In my few days here, ten kilometer high storm clouds and crystal clear blue skies change faster than an overseas government travel policy.
Climate change is always on the locals’ minds, possibly because the climate is so changeable. But when the sun is shining there is no better place. The G7 leaders’ R&R itinerary is top secret, but it’s a fair bet that the UK hosts want to showcase St Ives as a city that has really done better after its main industries of fishing and domestic tourism suffered a major slump.
It’s now wealthy and full of places to shop for stylish knick-knacks. Rumor has it that the new Mrs. Johnson will organize a private tour of the wonderful Tate Gallery for the delegates’ partners.
When evening falls on the terrace of the Porthminster Beach Cafe, I have a glass of Picpoul and appreciate the quality of light in St. Ives that has attracted so many artists. Light. Freshness. Quiet. After the year the world’s leaders have had, I think this might be just what they – and the rest of us – need.
Landpods at Wildflower Wood start at £ 79 a night (three night minimum) see beersheba.co.uk. For more information on visiting the region, visit visitcornwall.com.