Home coming.

    Is this the most important post of all?

    After 30 months and 40,000 miles ArchieVan rolled back into St Just on October 5th.

    Rolled is pretty accurate, the turbo was playing up constantly. Every 20 miles we’d lose power and need to switch off to re-boot the engine. 

    It didn’t matter. For so long the van has been home, and then it got us home. Just before it failed.

    Two days later those months of travel began to feel like a dream.

    The 28 countries are each fresh in my memory, but they exist in a parallel life.

    There are several thousand photos that will keep that memory alive.

    Cape Cornwall. To ask for more would be greedy.

    St Just.

    We’re in St Just now, and for a while this is our life.

    When we talk about the road it all comes flooding back, yet real life is all around us. It’s cleaning the house. It’s catching up with friends. It’s finding out who is well. It’s finding out who has died.

    Many chats begin with “I haven’t seen you in a while.” They’re thinking on the scale of a few Saturdays rather than 130 weeks.

    St Just in the mizzle. Learn to love it, or leave.

    Everything is different. Everything is the same.

    I have to note the idiosyncrasies of this queer place before it becomes normal again.

    Phil Wilkins has retired and now his estate agent’s office is an ice cream parlour – in St Just? Posh ‘tis too! All black signs and old fashioned modern lights. Or is it modern old fashioned lights?

    Cultural life now revolves around the queue outside the Coop. Two in at any one time. Checkout operators retrained as Covid security guards.

    There’s no live music at The Star.

    No performances at the town hall.

    The quiz has stopped at the Kings.

    Even the fighting has stopped. Social distancing.

    That, and the masks aside, so much seems so similar.

    The same walkers walk the same dogs along the same routes.

    The people are a bit older. The dogs are a lot older. The grass is longer. The paths unkempt.

    Polly remembers her old enemies. Straining at the lead to snarl at a particular Norfolk Terrier while his owner and I exchange pleasantries. Three years of truce ruined in a bark.


    Every season is precious here.

    Haws. And dew.

    For now my best days are the ones when I rise early and walk Polly through the unfolding dawn. The reds of the bracken strong against the fresh greens of well watered fields. Leaves holding on in the valleys, while on the tops they’re long gone.

    Kenidjack. A view to restore the soul.

    The fields are getting smaller on Ivan’s land west of the estate. All of his 91 Devon Rubys went to sale in July. Without the cattle to graze the hedges those hedges have started their march across the previously improved land. 

    Ivan’s Red Devons. Now munching grasses new.

    Scrubbing up. 

    The opposite to one of us who might scrub up well, a scrubbed up field is taken first by brambles and bracken then hawthorn and blackthorn suckers spread under the soil to send up new shrubs in the spring. Seemingly dead elm sends its reincarnation out from its roots, we hope the new are more resistant to the Dutch.

    Old Landies never die… TLC scrubs up.


    Christine drives her horse and trap to town, incongruous, but safe in her hi-vis coat. The visitor in his Porsche is baffled at this country behaviour, and frustrated as she stops to chat with every other local on the road.

    Cypriot Stevie G has been robbed of his stage at The Star, so now he sings his hymns to Brexit as he cleans the windows of the town.

    We knew that the electric scooter would eventually make it from city to St Just. We were surprised that the first we saw was Johnny Mac, scooting from his star job as a retained fireman to his star job as landlord of… The Star. Scooting as if it was normal.

    Striker Paul has a ‘new’ TR. His summer was spent stripping, cleaning and preparing a gorgeous TR5. Now when the sun comes out the beautiful 1960s sports car roars up Market Street, it’s exhaust note echoing in the confined space.


    The house required work. A hammering by a young family for the best part of three years had left it functioning, but in need of love. 

    Giving that love was a lesson in the value of strong contacts.

    In poorer countries we were impressed by the networks that exist among those without government services. Everyone knows who to ask for what, and people are ready to help each other.

    Here too a few calls brought excellent people to our door.

    Emeritus St Juster Michael Renshall came in a couple of days to replace rusted out wiring.

    Emeritus St Juster Nick Rawlinson followed to cut out knackered floorboards and replace them with good. 

    Will The Sweep scared the dog with his blackened togs, but cleaned the wood burner’s tubes and that night the fire roared as it should.

    At the builder’s merchant my call is answered with my name, and even though a machine may have provided a prompt, I’m delighted to be back in the fold.

    Terry took the van and stripped it of its turbo, lending me his Fiesta while ArchieVan was out of action. The Fiesta is old, but feels like a go-kart after years nursing our camper up the hills and round the bends.

    We’ve been well looked after in every foreign place we visited, but it’s so much easier to ask in English.

    ArchavonStudio. Scrubbed and cautiously back in business.


    St Just is a seasonal place. Through the winter we have it to ourselves. Just a few wise visitors brave the colder months, though the weather is no worse in December, and February offers days of bright crisp tee-shirt sunshine. Then suddenly it’s Easter and the car park is full. Full with clean cars. There’s a queue at the Coop, and at Jeremy’s, the chip shop, too.

    By October it’s dead again. 

    But not this year.

    The town is busy. The roads are busy. Eating out demands booking ages in advance. The Commercial is full, the Wellington is full, our studio is booked out for weeks.

    Forgotten home. Trewellard.

    St Ives.

    On a sunny Wednesday we made the foolish mistake of going to St Ives (my fault). The first, second, third, fourth and fifth car parks were all full. 

    We began to get the message. 

    After abandoning Fiesta on The Stennack we poked our nose past the cinema and a look down Tregenna Place told us all we needed to know. 

    St Ives was heaving, distance impossible. 

    We didn’t stay. 

    We forged our way through to Pengenna’s for a pasty, then beat our side street retreat. 

    St Ives. Salubrious Place. Hiding from the hordes.

    Pengenna’s pasty? 

    They’re crimped down the middle. Always have been. ‘taint right. 

    £4.35 for a pasty? ‘taint right either. But they’re bleddy good.

    On Friday I visited mother and Peggy served up a pasty too. I wasn’t complaining. Hers was even better.

    Archavon. And my best mates.


    Signs are necessary, some are even fun. But nonetheless I dislike the mess of signs that has increased dramatically in this time of Covid.

    Signs can be fun.

    Home printed signs instruct us on our behaviour at the pub, at the shop. Giant barcodes to track and trace. Council signs tell us to keep our distance, but the space the signs take in St Ives forces the crowds closer together.

    I guess they’ll be knocking on our door soon.

    The National Trust has got in on the act and has littered our countryside with signs telling the world it’ll be shot for overnight stays, or for leaving dog mess.

    National Trust. Keeping us safe from dangerous toilets.

    It’s better than advertising though. There are areas of France ruined by the march of huge advertising boards.

    The beach.

    Many friends have been swimming this weekend, but I’ve let them down. I’ve softened after so many months of Greek winter when even on a cold day the sea was OK. I must try harder.

    Other than a Long Rock dog stroll we haven’t been to the beach yet. 

    The time will come.

    Sea wall. And a beard.

    The Coop.

    On Sunday 18 October our little Coop closed its doors.

    At 5pm the team of six workers marched as one from the store carrying off as much booty as they could manage. 

    In normal times the Pendeen Silver Band would have played.

    It’s not gone for good.

    Before the year is out it should be back. Refurbished. Bigger. Better.

    Now is the time for our wonderful greengrocer Stones to make hay. And for the Premier to host the Covid queue of hungry shoppers.

    Stones. Time to make hay.


    Two rear tyres for the MOT. I knew that.

    A new turbo too. I dreaded that. The turbo is over £1500 without factoring in the oil and filter change, or the labour.

    Total bill over £2500.

    The Wanderers will be church mice nibbling lentils for a few months. But as Minty says – it’s a whole lot more expensive to have a van that doesn’t work.

    Happy to be home, Polly’s back on her grass.


    We’re back in St Just.

    It’s home. 

    It’s a delight. 

    But we’d happily hit the road again tomorrow.

    Before that there are things to do. There are projects to get underway. Dreams to dream. And memories to share.

    The gate to our dreams. Goldings.
    KC and Peggy C. She’s 90 in a fortnight.
    Bosorne and The Brisons. You have to leave to understand.
    Lady R. Learning to smoke at 90.

    35 Replies to “Home coming.”

    1. Gillian Cooper says: Reply

      Hi guys
      Glad your blog is back
      Just as entertaining as ever
      Lots of hugs to PP
      Stay safe

      1. Welcome “home” !
        That’s a steep bill to be footing for the Archievan, for sure, but Minty is so very right, it IS a lot more expensive to have a van that doesn’t work, especially when you’re based in the UK.
        I’ve thoroughly enjoyed virtually travelling with you all and reading about your travels and experiences, and I am totally in awe
        with how you both really get involved with the locals and really experience the normalities of their day to day living. Simple things, like how you manage to drink the same coffees and spirits as they do….how do you do that?! Do you ask for one of what they’re having? I feel so utterly out of my comfort zone in situations like that, whilst at the same time knowing full well I should just grab the bull by the horns and go for it, there’s nothing to lose!
        Please continue to write and share with us your discoveries, thoughts and experiences, even if it’s less often.
        Take care

        1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

          Great to hear from you. Thank you.
          It’s notes like yours that make me work at the writing, although it’s not really work if you enjoy it.
          Good luck with the next adventure, leap in, the worse that can happen is that you’ll feel silly in front of someone you’ll never meet again.

      2. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        Thanks Gill.
        It won’t be a weekly affair, well, not until we get on the road again, but I’ll pop something online from time to time.

    2. Welcome back to dear old “Blighty” after 27 countries and a massive 40.000 miles! The attempted visit to St Ives and as you remark “the same walkers walk the same dogs along the same routes” reinforces the expression Plus ca change; face mask excepted of course! The wondrous note of the TR5 in full flight is of course the 6 in basically a 4 body and was a test bed for the fuel injected 6 cylinder engine, only a small number were made and are highly valuable. Happy summer days! Lovely to see mum Peggy looking so well and I can concur with you regarding the quality of her pasties, which I have enjoyed on number of occasions!
      Whilst the cost of repairing Archevan is definitely is an ouch moment, think of all the miles of hard work that she did and all the enjoyment and countries seen. Speaking of which Alison Carmichael (nee Smith) and husband Jonno are in Lefkada at this moment at Vasiliki lucky things!
      Nice to read your blog again, but I fully understand that there will be many other things that will take priority for now. Enjoy St. Just once again.

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        Cheers Rick.
        The car is certainly a beauty. St Just is becoming a bit of a classics mecca which is mad considering how bad the salt corrosion is.
        My mate Terry has built a showroom to house his collection. There’s even a guy with two Whites stream cars.
        Amanda yearns for Lefkada, I’m happy here for a bit though.

    3. Kelvin,

      As a Cornishman who’s been away from home far too long, I’ve looked forward to your updates of your travels, good to hear you’re l home safe and sound.
      Don’t worry about the turbo, you can fix it deckly



      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        Beauty Steve.
        Thank you.
        Two pasties in the first week.
        That was good going.

      2. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        Beauty Steve.
        Thank you.
        A van with no turbo is fine.
        A van with a broken turbo is useless.
        All done now though and had tea in the van in PZ last night.

    4. Rachael Smart says: Reply

      Ah, you’re back. I hope you are feeling grounded for a bit. Bet your feet are itching.

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        I’ve missed hearing from you. I’ve hardly looked at Instagram either since getting back.
        Well, it’s good to be here, to enjoy the space, particularly in the kitchen, but I’d go again tomorrow given the chance.

    5. So lovely to hear from you in blog form again! Very entertaining! And I’m sooo glad you’re happy being home. Planning your next adventure is exciting, and looking forward to what will be beyond the gate to your dreams will hopefully keep you from wandering too far, for now at least! Wonderful photos as ever, especially the one of you and your mum! She looks fantastic for nearly 90. ❤️
      Much love from the Marmites 😘

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        Oh the gate to the dreams….
        There are plenty of obstacles, but it’ll be all the better when we get there.
        Mum’s a star. It’s great seeing her regularly again.

    6. Keith and Liz says: Reply

      Welcom home pards. Good to have you back aongst us. See you soon.

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        We look forward to a bit catch up and gin sampling session.
        Enjoy your trip up country – stay distant!

    7. Gillian cooper says: Reply

      Kelvin,another brilliant blog,very interesting as usual.Disater with the turbo,but good that it did not let you down somewhere in the European wilderness.
      Hope you are all oak, stay safe, John🚐😀

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        Thanks John.
        We’ll eat grass for a few weeks, but we’ll recover!
        Best wishes. Kelvin.

    8. Welcome home! No place like it as Dorothy said when back from Oz. We are home too after a much shorter trip down to North Cornwall. Fun time with family and grandchildren. Good luck with your repairs to both van and house. Take care and love to you both.xx
      Ps your mum looks very well.

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        How funny. We’re more likely to go to North Yorkshire than North Cornwall, though we love it when we get there.
        Yes, being home is rather special. It’s certainly not routine yet.
        But we did have dinner in the van last night after going to the cinema for the first time in three years.

    9. Anna Szajerska says: Reply

      Welcome home – that’s what comes to my mind first .
      Very good text ; read it with pleasure
      very happy that you are safe in St.Just
      Best wishes to P.C
      Superb anniversary to celebrate
      Say hello to A.C and J.C
      Hope to see you all

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        I was delighted to see your comment pop up on the blog this morning.
        Thank you!
        It’s very good to be back in Cornwall. It’s cold and wet, but that feels more real than the year round sunshine of Greece.
        Janice was so disappointed to have to cancel her trip to meet you. I hope that will happen soon.
        Love to the three of you.KC

    10. Graham Hardiman says: Reply

      I will miss the weekly update on your travels vicariously joining you on your great experiences. Thanks for taking the time and trouble to write this. Really enjoyed.

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        Thank you.
        I’ll keep up some sort of update from the far west I hope. I was thinking of Kelvin’s Letter From St Just, after Alistair Cook’s Letter From America….

    11. Welcome home folks, it’s not too bad a place to come back to? I was suppose to be in Cornwall in December but not sure that Covid will allow! Shame my friends Matt and Helen have moved down permanently from London to Pendeen. You might bump into him! Hope you all settle in and enjoy life at home again? Take care of yourselves and hopefully our paths will cross in the not too distant future. Xx

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        Great to hear from you and thank you for taking the time to write.
        Friends moved to Pendeen from London? Oh blimey, that’s extreme, I hope they’re OK.
        Do come and introduce us.
        Stay here. Stay there. Or do both.
        It would be great to see you.

    12. Oh this is fabulous! I’ve been longing to hear from you and to see what life in St. Just is like these days! In search for comfort I’ve even watched Sennen harbour via life webcam! Gives you a slightly unreal feeling….

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        We used to look at the Sennen webcam daily when we were working elsewhere.
        You have to remind yourself that weather doesn’t matter here in autumn/winter. Unless it is truly awful I get out there a few times a day. I now walk further than Polly can manage and it’s strange to live her in the house.
        Thanks for keeping up with us.
        I appreciate your support and encouragement.

    13. Awesome update – a little triste, perhaps as are all wanderers on their return. One hundred and thirty weeks, eh? Quite the voyage and, of course, covid will have created odd homogeneity – a benchmark to increase the contrast between all of your resting stops, and with home.
      Great to see you both (all three of you, even) looking so good. So pleased to see you, Kelv, with Peggy. She seems less changed than you.
      Looking forward to being able to catch up and start another conversation, or is it the same chat, simply running on and on with pauses, like deep breaths, these past 44 years.

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        Spencer Christian
        Less is more.
        There haven’t been many comments from you.
        But my, they pack a punch.
        44 years? And I haven’t seen you for 3.
        That’s not good enough.
        Let’s sort it out.KC

    14. Home is where the heart is but there’s nothing wrong with leaving it in care for a few months every now and again! This blog proves you came home and found your heart intact .

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        Thanks Jay.
        It is good to wander about this empty space.
        It is great to have the room to make a mess in the kitchen, to bathe at will.
        It is better to see the faces we recognise, to banter and catch up.
        But I’d happily sacrifice it all and take off again tomorrow were it not for the busy winter ahead of us.

    15. Huge trip you’ve had Kelvin, I haven’t read religiously but it was always nice to see the Cornish Wanderer pop up in my email notifications from time to time. Returning home is always a funny thing, some happiness mixed in with the familiar. Some people slip back into it, others don’t. We’ll find out which one you’ll be. Enjoy.

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        Cheers Criag
        We’re lucky to live in a rather special place, but I’d still take off tomorrow were it not for a long list of commitments.
        So far we’ve been busy, it’s when there isn’t a long to do list that I get itchy feet.
        Thanks for your comments along the way. It was a lot of reading.

    16. Welcome home! Gosh isn’t it a strange feeling? Beautiful article as usual and a pleasure to read. Maybe we may get to meet some day when this strange world allows.

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        The most strange thing is the realising how adaptable we have become.
        We live in a van for years, then suddenly we’re gifted all this space, and we just slip into the new life with hardly a thought.
        That said we’re off on a mini tour next week. I think we’re safer in the van at the moment than in any city. St Just is pretty good though, not many people and plenty of space.
        If you find yourself in the far west give me a shout. In a few months we’ll have a field you could camp in too. We have teh field but there’s no track at the moment.

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