FOR almost as long as there have been fiction books to read, there have been love stories set in Cornwall.

Whether it might be Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, Shellseekers by Rosamund Pilcher or almost any book written by Ruth Saberton among the litany of love stories, it is our striking peninsula that has brought the backdrop to which the characters within find true love.

For 30-year-old author, journalist and broadcaster Grace Blakeley, life in the past year is one not so much of finding love in Cornwall, but rather falling in love with the area itself.

At a time where the claustrophobia and constant demands of life in London became one which brought her down, it was Cornwall which brought her back up, with Newquay providing the home-from-home she never wishes to leave.

It was through frequent sharing her love of Cornwall on her social media channels where my attention was piqued, and upon our meeting at the Fore Street Café adjacent to Towan Beach, I felt I knew what the story might be based on that alone.

What I wasn’t expecting was just how much the area that I’ve always been lucky to call home as a proud Cornishman, had transformed her life at a time where she needed it most.

The decision to move to Cornwall came after nine months travelling Central America, when the constant cycle of work and conflict in media appearances while living in London had become too much.

“There wasn’t much of a thought process prior to moving to Cornwall”, said Grace. “I had spent years in London appearing in media, writing, engaging a lot with social media and constantly in fight mode.

“I got to the point where I couldn’t do it anymore, so I felt I had to get away for the sake of my mental and physical health. I spent nine months travelling in Central America where I was able to decompress.”

Upon returning to London, having experienced the joy which a less stressful life could bring, Grace realised that she wasn’t able to return to her previous lifestyle. Something had to change.

She wasn’t immediately clear on what that change would be at the time, although Cornwall wasn’t far from her mind thanks both to happy childhood memories of holidays at Holywell Bay and encouragement from her brother’s girlfriend who had spent time in Cornwall.

“All I knew after coming back to London was that I didn’t want to go back to the life which I had left for nine months”, she continued. “At one point I thought, screw it, maybe I’ll spend the rest of my life travelling and do my writing while travelling the world. I was paralysed after returning, and living at my mother’s not knowing what I would do next. All I knew was I didn’t want to return to London.

“While away, I had really become interested in surfing, so I knew I wanted my next home to be somewhere by the coast and I was looking all over the world for that place when my brother’s girlfriend, who had spent a lot of time here, suggested I have a look at Cornwall.”

It was at this time that Grace decided to spend some time in Cornwall while figuring out her next move, and very quickly, her future home left its calling card, convincing her it was where she wanted to be.

Everything an author, journalist and broadcaster seeking a life where she could be at one with herself was in Newquay. The co-working space from which she works not only is a stone’s throw from one of the town’s many beaches, but those which she shared that space with were people with similar values and backgrounds to her own.

With it being the workplace for filmmakers and NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organisations), it was very much the case of finding company with like-minded people.

It was in this workspace that Grace has written most of her latest book, titled Vulture Capitalism, a critique of the concentration of power within the economy and the influence it has on the economic system of the country.

A temporary return to London would be on the cards with the demands brought by the release of a new book, but first, there was time for Grace to settle into her new home.

The journey moving down to Cornwall was when the reality of her decision had set in. “I remember vividly feeling when driving down feeling so, so nervous”, she said. “I didn’t know how it could go, although I knew anything could happen. It could go well, it might not. I just didn’t know; I just knew my life as I knew it was a mess.

“Although, as soon as I got here, I went down to the beach, I saw the waves, I got in the water and immediately fell in love. It immediately felt like home.”

Grace Blakeley, pictured overlooking Towan Beach. (Aaron Greenaway)
Grace Blakeley, pictured overlooking Towan Beach. (Aaron Greenaway) (Aaron Greenaway)

Visits to London for work related purposes only served to remind Grace of the difference that her decision to move to Cornwall had made to her life, with the city representing claustrophobia, conflict and engaging in a sometime toxic media atmosphere contrasted with a place where she could have space, peace and be at one with herself.

But what of the future? Since moving down here, Grace said she had found herself a social circle of friends as she settled into the Cornish life that she’d made for herself and was now working on getting involved in community groups which help those less fortunate.

“I’m very keen to use my spare time to do what I can to help others. I know how lucky I am to be here, and I know life can be difficult for others, whether that’s affording rent or getting by what with so many holiday rentals”, she said. “I am going to see the foodbank to see what I can do to help them, and I want to volunteer in the local area. I’m keen to get involved in the WAVE Project, which offer surfing lessons to children and help them to get in the water.”

Around the work, volunteering, sea and seeing friends, it is exploring the tapestry of Cornwall’s rich sights and history where Grace finds her happiness, alongside her partner who she met since moving to Cornwall. One plan involves walking the coastal path around the peninsula to take in all the sights offered by Cornwall’s equivalent of ‘life on the edge’ – in this case, the edge where land meets the sea.

With that, it was off to the adjacent beach for the obligatory photos, where unlike the height of holiday season, the people on the beach were outnumbered by the seagulls.

I had arrived in Newquay expecting to talk to someone whose work I was familiar with on a life in Cornwall, perhaps one where we’d talk about the difference between London and Newquay, and I left with a conversation typifying our shared sense of unrequited love for the truly special place we call home.

Upon our parting, Grace was off to help a friend move house across Newquay. As far opposite from a life of constant pressure and arguing with Piers Morgan as it was possible to be.