Having visited Mousehole and Newlyn I think it only right that we take a scenic stop off at Penzance. Like many people most of what I knew about this town was courtesy of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Light Opera, The Pirates of Penzance. In other words, I didn’t know much apart from the fact that it was by the sea used to be a popular haunt for pirating types. Turns out Penzance is the end of the railway line when you journey further and further south into Cornwall. I stayed there for a few days in 2010. Although you could still see the Jolly Roger gracing a ships mast in Penzance, it didn’t really have the mysterious allure that you might expect, given that it was in a parking lot.
My impression of Penzance, more than any other place in Cornwall, is one of colour, movement, and quirkiness. One of the most striking features when I was there were the flags lining the seawall.
The flag motif was extended around the edges of the local swimming pool. It was a stroke of brilliance to introduce such bright and exciting colours to what could be an otherwise grey scene, and sent the message that Penzance is a fun town.
Of course Penzance is steeped in history, like all of Cornwall, but there seems to be an element of quirky humour and modernity; perhaps a residual cheekiness from the pirate past?
True to form, I had dinner in a Chinese restaurant one night, and the decor there also reflected a bold willingness to engage with colour.
When travelling, you need to expect the unexpected. And indeed a bright red dalek was the last thing I expected to see dominating a shop window.
Penzance might be historic, but its not behind the times. I knew enough to recognise this as a retro shop, but that was about it. Little did I realise that a few years later I would be more interested in what appears to be a collectable Villeroy & Boch coffee set. Maybe just as well. I could not have carried it home to Australia on the plane.