IQBar boasts a diverse Buddy network across the world with many Buddies based in countries such as South Africa, Brazil, Holland, however it started its life in the UK when the CEO and founder Helen was studying at the LSE. The company began its life as a platform for learning English and learning about British culture. It has since developed into primarily a language school, however many of our students are still interested in learning about the culture of Britain. Because of this, we thought we’d provide in introduction to the UK by looking at different locations across the country. How better to do this than through the hometowns of our own team? Along the journey, we will be looking at the quirks and culture of each place – before expanding the road trip to our team’s homes around the world.

Our first stop on the road trip is Cornwall in the South West of England where our General Manager Sarah lives. Cornwall has traditionally been a holiday location for Brits who want to experience sandy beaches, traditional tea and cakes, and to walk the moors and countryside of this beautiful area.

The history of Cornwall is rich and varied. In the 15-1700s, this area of the UK was the prime location for pirates trying to sneak their goods into the country and to sneak people out, kidnapping Cornish people to sell as slaves! There are many areas of Cornwall with remaining features from this era including many pubs where pirates gathered with names like ‘The Smugglers’ Arms’, as well as caves where pirates used to hide and small streets where the smugglers used to get away from the authorities.

Since then, Cornwall has been a much calmer place and has developed into a cultural, family destination. It is a place famous for its cream teas which contain the much-debated scone, a cake which divides the country as to whether it’s pronounce ‘one’ as in ‘phone’ or ‘one’ as in ‘gone’. Lavish this with clotted cream and jam and drink with English breakfast tea, you have the perfect afternoon snack. Another food which has become famous across the UK is the Cornish pasty, a heavy and delicious pie with a handle that is filled with meat and veg. ‘Why does it have a handle?’ I hear you ask. The pie was originally created for miners so they could hold the pie without it getting dirty as they worked down in the tunnels. The more you know!

Lying on the most South-western tip of England, the county is neighbour to the Labrador current which brings warm water from the tropics to the isle. Because of this, Cornwall is lucky enough to be on average a little warmer than the rest of the UK! This area is famous for its many beaches which range from pebbley to beautiful white sand. The coast is dotted with small fishing towns such as Falmouth and Padstow which tourists flock to in the summer and where you can find the most delicious fish and chips.

As Sarah says,

“I’d say that Cornwall has many different sides to it, from mining to surfing. It’s a well known holiday destination for it’s beautiful beaches. People are very friendly and you’ll always get a ‘rite me ansum’ when walking along the street.”

Cornish culture

Despite being part of England, many Cornish people identify as Cornish above English due to historic pressure to become English against their will. Cornwall has its own Celtic language similar to that spoken in Ireland and Wales however the number of people who can speak or read it is very small and continues to decline, although in recent years there has been a Cornish revival!

 As with all counties in the UK, there is great rivalry between Cornwall and neighbouring Devon who have longstanding fights over who created the pasty, clotted cream and their different Celtic heritage. The biggest fight has been about what goes on the scone first, cream or jam. Without a doubt it’s cream first then jam – I’m with Devon on this one.

Cornwall has a great wealth of mythical stories full of mermaids, pixies and giants. They are still popular today and go hand in hand with Cornish folk music which is also seeing a revival.

The Tale of Zenner is perhaps the most well-known folktale from Cornwall and comes from the small village of Zenner. It is said that in history, an unknown and beautiful woman would come into the church to sing with the community. She had a beautiful voice which dazzled everyone in the church and particularly one man, Mathew Trewella, who followed her one night and was never seen again. A few years later a sailor was coming to shore and saw a beautiful mermaid sitting on a rock. She told him to remove his anchor as it was stuck on the door of her home, and she wished to see her husband Mathew and their children down there. The sailor quickly left for deeper waters and told the village about what he had heard. After knowing what had happened to Mathew, they warned all the villagers about the perils of falling in love with mermaid.

So, there is lesson for everyone – if you plan a trip to Cornwall, make sure not to get lured into the sea by mermaids!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this whirlwind trip through the Cornish coastline. Next week we’ll be visiting Harriet in Lewes, further down the English coast. See you all then!