11 things tourists will probably never understand about Cornwall

Best known for its stunning scenery and world-famous pasties – Cornwall is one of the most famous and desirable counties in the UK. But away from that there are many quirks that even the locals can’t quite get their heads around at the best of times – so surely there’s no hope for the tourists.

For the infrequent visitor to Cornwall, perhaps they don’t understand the unique slang, or why they never seem to have any mobile phone signal. Or maybe they are questioning why we eat the things we do – stargazy pies, jam first and endless pasties.

Or perhaps you don’t get the appeal of Trago Mills? Or are wondering where all your favorite nationwide eating haunts are?

Read more: Scores of swimmers to do it in the buff at Cornish beach

Here’s eleven things that we think tourists will just never understand about Cornwall. Let us know what we’ve missed in the comments section.

1. The slang

To foreign ears many of Cornwall’s phrases and sayings are akin to a different language. ‘Aright, my’ ansum? ‘,’ Geddon ‘,’ wozelike ” where’s e too ‘- all part of the Cornish slang that you need to know. – but might never understand.

2. How everything that’s not in Cornwall is ‘up country’

If you’re in Cornwall, anything north of Saltash is now ‘up-country’. It just is. We love to use the term as a catch all. So even if you’re fellow Cornish friend is visiting Devon for a holiday, you’ll probably here that they are holidaying ‘up country’.

3. Doing things dreckly

It might be hard to comprehend, but time does work differently in Cornwall, if it works at all. If you’re doing things dreckly, you’re basically undertaking a task at some point in the future, the date of which is not set in stone. Dreckly is the whole reason Londoners want to live here.

4. Tragus Mills

Trago Mills is an iconic store known for its incredible array of literally everything and anything. It seems to have an answer to most problems. Honestly, you can’t really explain it – you just need to see it with your own eyes. We’re not sure why, when or how it became so important – but to Cornish people it has quite the cult following.



Trago Mills, Falmouth
Trago Mills, Falmouth

5. Emmets

Emmet is a word that is used to refer to tourists or holiday makers coming to Cornwall. If you’re a tourist the chances are you’ll never quite understand why this phrase is used. The idea is that tourists are often red in color due to sunburn and tend to mill around.

6. Jam first

There’s always one holidaymaker who posts a cream tea picture online with the jam piled up on top of the cream, practically a crime in these parts. It’s actually jam first all the way here. It’s the true Cornish way and basically tastes better with the cream on top. If you’re spotted eating it the other way, prepare to face the wrath of those who discover your treacherous ways.

7. Stargazy Pies

It’s not just the world-famous Cornish pasty that foodies have Cornwall to thank for. The stargazy pie is a Cornish dish made of baked pilchards, along with eggs and potatoes, covered with a pastry crust. Although there are a few variations using other types of fish, the unique feature of stargazy pie is fish heads protruding through the crust, so that they appear to be gazing to the stars.

8. Having no signal

Mobile phones can be both a blessing and a hindrance – and there’s nothing more annoying than when your smartphone keeps buzzing and pinging while trying to relax or switch off. But what many more people find even more annoying is having no signal to get those alerts in the first place and let’s face it, in Cornwall it is something we’ve all experienced. You might be hard pushed to believe it but many parts of Cornwall have yet to receive the technological advances of 4G. Yes, really.

9. The public transport struggle

A bus every hour, if that. That’s the best you’re going to get here. And you can’t just wait at a taxi rank for a ride either. Actually, what even is a taxi rank? Booking in advance advised.



File photo of buses in Cornwall

10. Popular chain restaurants are lacking

A long time question floating in the air across Cornwall is where are all the popular chain restaurants? No Nandos, Wagamamas, Pret A Manger? If locals feel neglected by some of their favorite food chains then visiting tourists and having to go without their favorites for a change are surely going to wonder why. We have so many local gems, do we really need them anyway?

11. How to pronounce Cornish place names

The issue that splits both locals and visitors to Cornwall is how to pronounce our devilishly difficult place names. You can often tell the difference between a resident and a second home owner by the way they pronounce the beautiful coastal town of Fowey – Foy equals local, Foe-ey equals tourist.

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