Friday 2 August 2019

The Practicalities of Penzance

On this trip I was hosted by Visit Britain.

For all the glamour of travel, there comes a time when you have to stop admiring the scenery and get down to some practical travel admin.

One of these necessary tasks is doing laundry, especially if you travel as light as I do. I only take a backpack with me, so it's essential to do a regular wash.

On Wednesday 29 May I caught a train from London to Penzance, having the previous day caught two trains over the very long route of Z├╝rich to London via Paris.

When I arrived in the Cornish city about 3pm, I was very tired from all that travel. But crucially, I didn't have anything else on my itinerary that day. So when I stepped out of Penzance Station and saw on opposite corners a) a laundrette; and b) a pub, I took it as a sign.

Washing had to be done, right then, and as much as possible while I had time to take advantage of the opportunity. So I stepped into the Suds & Surf laundrette and found out what I'd need in the way of coins, and how long it'd take.

Then I walked back to the train station loos, and re-dressed in order to get as much laundry done as possible. I walked out wearing an outfit which consisted of (in its entirety) my black jacket over a fleece jacket, my good black trousers, and my boots without socks. Everything else was going in the wash.

This is where the pub came in. Having put on a laundry load that would take 45 minutes in the industrial-scale machines, I stepped across the corner to The Longboat Inn. Under the guidance of the barman I ordered a local brew, a Tribute Cornish Pale Ale from the St Austell Brewery (see photo top right).

It was excellent, and I sat sipping it on a sofa while engaging in conversation with an English and American couple who were travellers in Cornwall themselves.

After 45 minutes, I asked the barman to mind my backpack, then stepped across the road to put my clothes in the dryer. Then back to the pub for another beer. I can't see how this system could be beaten.

I spent the next two days sightseeing and researching, visiting the island icon of St Michael's Mount and the wonderful hillside sculpture garden at Tremenheere. But I also visited the Penzance post office for another useful chore - posting a load of stuff home.

This is another travel chore I regularly undertake, in order to keep the backpack's weight bearable. When it's ballooned from 8 kilograms to 10 kg, you really feel it. And having come to Cornwall via Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Paris and London, I had a lot of added items such as brochures and souvenirs.

They were worth keeping, but not needed till I got home. So I posted them to Australia, and was glad to offload their 1.5 kg weight. To be frank, by the time the backpack reaches 10 kg I feel like I don't care if I never see those items again, as long as they're gone.

So that was my practical Penzance travel admin. Hardly rock 'n' roll travel, but all quite necessary and a pleasure to have completed. And the ale eased it along.

What are your essential-but-strangely-pleasurable tasks when you're travelling? Leave a comment below (treat it as a useful chore).


  1. I remember being delighted to find a laundromat in Venice and after hours of being harassed, just enjoying the quiet as I did my washing.

    1. Yes it's nice to have that change of pace and do something "local".