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Welcome to the power hub of the world – Carbis Bay, Cornwall! By Tanya Gold

Blog | By Tanya Gold | Jan 16, 2021

Carbis Bay (Credit: Andy F)

Carbis Bay in Cornwall will host the G7 [Group of Seven] in June.

My first question is: where will all the world leaders park?

Carbis Bay and its neighbour St Ives, in the north of the Penwith peninsula, are notorious for their lack of parking, and, in St Ives’s case, its tiny, winding streets. Do not try to take the presidential limousine into Fore Street in St Ives for the fudge; even a defence budget of $686.1 billion won’t get you out again without scratches to the paintwork.

A second question is: why Carbis Bay? In its 45-year history, the G7 has met in Venice, Paris, Munich, Tokyo, London, Toronto and Camp David. Why add Carbis Bay? Perhaps Boris Johnson, a myth-maker by temperament, wants to emphasise the deeper history of the British Isles; to look back further than Empire to pixies and mermaids and giants. Perhaps in 2025 he will run by invoking the friendship of these beings. It’s plausible, if you know him.

If so, he should have taken the Camelot Castle Hotel over-looking the ruins of Tintagel Castle; or even Tintagel Castle itself. (On second thoughts, avoid the Camelot Castle Hotel. Its owner flew a QAnon flag last week). I’d do a lot to watch the G7 leaders and their security detail paddling in “Merlin’s” cave.

Carbis Bay is the least magical, and the most affluent part of west Cornwall. You have to work hard to avoid magic here, but Carbis Bay, by gathering wealthy retirees like dying blooms and building the ugliest holiday homes in Britain, has done it. It has Cornwall’s most expensive hotel but no charm of any kind. It is like Bournemouth but more disappointing because at least Bournemouth is honest.

There are two parallel and inter-dependent narratives about Cornwall. One is that it is the land of pixies and mermaids and giants. This obscures the other, truer narrative, which is that Cornwall is the poorest place in western Europe, alongside parts of Wales. Only Carbis Bay manages to avoid both narratives by being a place with no sense of place. It happens when holiday home-owners build a town. You really could be anywhere.

I go to Carbis Bay to visit the dentist and, until now at least, the only thing to say about is: parking is a nightmare.