It has come to my attention

Happy New Year, my friend. It has come to my attention that it's been half a year since I last wrote to you. I can't do much about that other than give you the shortest possible version of what has happened since.

Cowork Klitmøller had a good year in 2017. At least, that's my impression. I get things done and, at the same time, am having a lot of fun. From what I can see, this applies to the rest of the residents and beta-residents.

Coworkers at work - that day: standing from right: Leah Damgaard-Hansen, Troels Schwarz, Karl Johan Møller Klit, Benthe Boesen, Morten Gorm, Rasmus Johnsen, Mette Johnsen. In front from left: Anders Hastrup Knudsen and Jens Therkelsen.   

Coworkers at work - that day: standing from right: Leah Damgaard-Hansen, Troels Schwarz, Karl Johan Møller Klit, Benthe Boesen, Morten Gorm, Rasmus Johnsen, Mette Johnsen. In front from left: Anders Hastrup Knudsen and Jens Therkelsen.   

Lunch is a core social activity, and the coffee situation is finally more or less under control. The Friday bars have been a pleasure, and the Christmas party on December 9 showed that the new building is suited for this occasion also. The dates for the Friday bars in 2018 are as follows (doors open 3 PM):

January 19th
February 23th
March 23th
April 20th
May 18th
June 15th
July 27th
August 24th
September 28th
October 12th
November 23th
December 8th (the big Christmas Party, doors open 8 PM) 

Anders is now a resident. Anders is a surfer and has moved to Klitmøller with his wife, Sophie, and two kids, Thomas (1 year) and Theodor (4 years). He is a creative director for Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Anders Hastrup Knudsen. 

Anders Hastrup Knudsen. 

Likewise, Karl Johan recently became a resident. Karl Johan grew up in Thy and so moved (back) from Copenhagen, together with his wife, Malene, and likewise two kids, Viggo (2 years) and Anker (6 months). Karl Johan is completing a Ph.D. at the University of Copenhagen.

Karl Johan Møller Klit. 

Karl Johan Møller Klit. 

Finally, we've been blessed with about 160 beta-resident rentals in 2017 (since launch in April).

On January 1, 2018, Mads became a resident. Mads has just moved to Klitmøller. He's a former professional mountain biker. He's the founder and operator of the MTBakadamiet. Mads is about to write a book about mountain bike.

On April 1, Sofie will also become a resident. She's a surfer, and for several years, she has been a frequent visitor in the area. I've known Sofie for some years and enjoyed working with her during the Cold Hawaii PWA World Cup. Her first project as a resident is to write a book about the development of the Danish surf culture. 

To be honest, I feel super privileged and, quite frankly, proud that what we've set out to make has turned into a such a beautiful place and, best of all, a bunch of beautiful people that I'm looking forward to spending time with each day. I hope to see you (again and again) in 2018.

There you have it: the short version.

The transformation of 312 Main

When I met Thomas, I immediately became fascinated by the project he is involved in. On the surface, he is part of the team that is creating a co-working space, but if you dig a little deeper, you find that much more is at stake. I’m so pleased that he has decided to share the DNA of his project with us. Ladies and gentlemen - here’s a guy on a special mission.

What is your background and how did you get involved in the project? 

I am an urban planner and real estate development advisor. I am the owner of TB Real Estate Co, which is a firm that provides support to developers in and around Vancouver, British Columbia. The guiding principal of the work I undertake is to contribute to real estate development that maximizes the assets available for the health, wellbeing and prosperity of future generations. I became involved in the project to revitalize 312 Main Street three years ago when I met Mr. Bob Williams while completing my Masters in Urban Planning. Mr. Williams has been a member of the Board of Directors at Vancity Credit Union for the past thirty years. Vancity is a Vancouver based cooperative financial institution with assets approaching $20 billion. 

What is the background to the project you are involved in?

312 Main is the former Vancouver Police Department headquarters. It is a 100,000 square foot building owned by the City of Vancouver. Symbolically, this building has been a flashpoint in the Downtown Eastside neighoborhood’s struggle for a compassionate and just society. The project is currently at the design stage and renovations will be commencing shortly. The first phase of occupancy is set to be in 18-20 months. The redevelopment of 312 Main is a unique collaborative effort between the Vancity Community Foundation and the City of Vancouver.

The idea for this project was germinating when I first met Mr. Williams. He had set out to pursue this project in remembrance of his late friend Jim Green, a hard-nosed community organizer and developer of social housing in Vancouver. The vision for the project was to create an inclusive centre that would build economic capacity within the Downtown Eastside community, an area that has been subject to much pain and difficultly participating our conventional economic system. 

The transformation of 312 Main is set to be a continuation of the unparalleled work that Jim Green completed over his career, most notability, with his involvement with the Woodwards department store redevelopment. This is a 1.2 million square foot mixed use development, including 200 units of social housing, a Contemporary Arts University, and office space for local NGO's. It was developed by Westbank Projects and designed by Henriquez Partners Architects.

What is the ultimate goal of the project? 

The rehabilitation of this building will be designed to enhance the physical elements that are conducive to cooperation, collaboration, and shared services, and to acknowledge the history of the building in the neighborhood. Offering a spectrum of spaces and promoting different types of interactions, 312 Main will strengthen civic life amongst tenants and the local neighborhood while building economic opportunities. These opportunities will create employment, encourage skills development, and leverage the impact created by social and technological innovations.
 
How is coworking part of the project? 

Spaces will suit different needs including open offices and coworking desks, maker space and studios, conventional offices, meeting rooms, and vibrant common areas with places for local cooks to feed tenants and their guests. The main floor will be designed to be porous to different ideas and interests, where the public and private spheres can readily mingle through the formal and informal programming that is delivered there.

What is the biggest challenge facing the project going forward? 

The coordination of a shared vision between the many diverse groups involved is the most challenging aspect of the project. 

What is your take on a solution (if you have one)? 

Constant and clear communication between all stakeholders is the most important element to any development project. People must feel included, respected and welcomed to participate in the process. Collectively, everyone has much to contribute. If engagement is completed sensitively and respectfully, throughout the entire planning, execution and operational phases of a project, people can be empowered to participate in a way that adds value that may have been hidden initially.

Where do you see the place in 5 - 10 years? 

I see 312 Main being known as a place where Vancouver took major leap towards developing an inclusive new economy. It will be a space that honours stories of the past and transforms this energy into narrative of rebirth, reconciliation and vitality.  

How do you envision cowoking in 10 - 20 years? 

I believe coworking will become a widely adopted and normalized office space typology. These venues will be providing an important amenity to the bourgeoning self-employment and micro entrepreneurial sector. Demand and diversity of coworking venues will continue to grow as people realize its suitability to a flexible economy, where limited supply of real estate in global urban centres renders conventional office space out of reach for a significant number of companies.

///

Thanks Thomas, may your project flourish and bring the changes, you describe. We look forward to following it.

Talent Flow Coworking – what doesn't kill you will make you stronger

When I met Isabelle, she was living in Vienna; she immediately struck me as a person on a mission. "Who are you, and what is your project?" she bluntly asked. We quickly fell into conversation. I told her about our project. It turned out it resonated with some ideas she has. Isabelles project is called Talent Flow Coworking. She has been kind enough to tell us more about herself and the place she's creating. Ladies and gentlemen, here is a woman with grit.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I studied at a business school in France and an additional year at HEC in a special program for start-ups in 1997. I set up my first company when I was 28 (1996). It was an industrial design and graphic consultancy firm acting in Hong Kong and China providing services to consumer goods manufacturers. With no bank support, I developed the company so that at some point it employed 20 people. I closed the company in 2006 due to the $US/Euro exchange rate, Chinese manufacturers' low profit, and the new local Chinese design competition.

I then went to Austria, learned German, and 18 months later, I set up a real estate agency. Very soon, I had specialized in Luxury Real Estate. However, I found that running the business was difficult in terms of creativity, networking and self-development. So I wasn't feeling very happy about it. In 2012, I got a very bad business setback: I wasn't paid a commission of 200K€, went to court for two years, spent 25K€, lost the case and went bankrupt ... That's life – and hey, what doesn't kill you will make you stronger.

Tell us about the coworking space you are creating – when/how did it all begin?

I started thinking about it because one of the designers with whom I've worked with for 18 years started a 400 m² with 80 desks coworking space in Paris. He opened a tiny space in 2004 with some friends; then he got the opportunity to buy 200 m² and later on another 200 m².  He doesn't organize any events or training for the people that are there; the place is working by itself. The atmosphere there is amazing. You can just feel the community spirit and synergies arising from the place. This inspired me to go on a field trip to New York in May 2014. I visited a bunch of places just to understand the activity. I dived into the market and gradually developed a new business idea.

Why are you creating a coworking space? 

First of all, I'm not doing this (entirely) for fun. I want to make a business, i.e., to earn money. I also want a place that'll make it possible for me to keep running my current business, which I started a year ago. I'm exporting cosmetic products from France to China. I also help people find manufacturers in China and just solved two cases in 2014 as a consultant.

I expect the place to facilitate synergies between people, to spark new ideas and businesses. I'll also give me an opportunity to pursue my passion for helping people developing their business. I have a lot of experience in local and overseas business, I know how to start from zero and lay out the steps for growth – and I know how to close a company.

What will be your day-to-day role once you're up and running?

To begin with, I'll be the face of the place, welcoming the new members of the space. From there, what'll happen will depend on the users' request. Mostly, I'll do my best to support them in growing their business by providing experience and network centered around useful training and events. That said, if I'm lucky, I'll be able to create a sense of "our space" and community. If I do it right, people will feel encouraged to contribute to the content, which will benefit first of all their business but also the space.

Why is your space awesome?

Well, I know how it is to be a foreigner wanting to start a business in Vienna. That's why the place will serve as a relay between all chamber of commerce organizations in Vienna and the immigrants who want to set up and run a business here. I'll be able to provide the right information in English (not in German). That's pretty awesome. Furthermore, the place will be great for local Viennese people and businesses that want to interact with creative and entrepreneurial people coming from other places.

How will the space be different from other coworking spaces?

There'll be a lot of diversity. People will spend 10 to 12 hours a day in the space, and so will I. It has to be perfect. That's why I care about design and work to provide quality furniture and a great environment consisting of a mix of work zones, zones for relaxing and playing, a bar and a lounge. I'll use my female intuition to implement a sense of belonging.

What is your biggest challenge?

I've invested my own money. It's a total €300K. That is almost everything I have, and I'm 47 years old, so I cannot make mistakes.

Where do you see your space in 5 - 10 years?

I want to open more spaces with my landlord (the Austrian Post) in Vienna and the countryside. I believe that a mix of presence in the city and the possibility to retreat to more quiet rural places close to nature is and will be of increasing value to businesses. The creative workforce is changing rapidly toward micro-businesses and independent workers. My vision is for my place(s) to provide some of the infrastructure supporting a well-organized cluster of extremely agile people and companies that'll be able to find a solution to pretty much any need out there. I think being able to do that is the DNA and, hence, the real value of the coworking movement. 


COIN will become an important and unavoidable dot on the Europe coworking map

We have come to the next story about other coworking spaces that you can visit and be a part of for a longer or shorter period. This one is told by Iva Kosović and is about a new initiative in Zadar in Croatia. I met Iva during a coworking tour in Lisbon. We quickly got into a conversation about COIN, which is the project she's passionate about. Iva is a member of the project team who's task is to successfully implement the project and to ensure further development of the Zadar coworking community even after the project ends.

Q: Tell me about the coworking space you are creating – when/how did it all begin?

A: From January 2012 until June 2013, the Association of Trades and Crafts Zadar, in partnership with 12 European organisations, has implemented an EU project called Coworking under the Leonardo da Vinci programme. The aim of the project was to produce a comprehensive toolkit of documents/means to serve as propellants for all European contexts considering the coworking option. As one of the partners, ATC Zadar gained appropriate insight and perspective of the coworking concept and implemented many different activities in cooperation with European, national, and regional partners in order to promote it and empower the coworking initiative at a regional level. At that point, the new local partnership started to build, and project partners were included in a new EU project conceptualization. On 14 July 2014, a grant contract was signed, and the project "Coworking Zadar – Innovation through Collaboration" has begun. The project will enable us to create a new coworking space in 2015.

coworking-zadar

Q: Why are you creating a coworking space – what do you expect to get out of it?

A: The main objectives of the project are to increase the competitiveness of the micro SME-s and create jobs through self-employment. The project intends to assist and support the development and expansion of the micro enterprises into the small-sized enterprise category. These things will be done by offering lower costs related to infrastructure and other support services (such as education and social events) that would help with their financial sustainability.

Q: What is your main value proposition (i.e. why is your space awesome)?

A: The coworking space will be called COIN – coworking industries. It will be a place tailored to its users' needs. Also, we could say that our extra plus is our city's geographical location. Considering the direction Zadar tourism is headed in and the fact that COIN will be the first coworking space in the Croatian part of the Adriatic Coast, we are planning to become a ''base'' for everyone coming to town who is in need of a space in which to (net)work.

Q: Who is your primary user?

A: Our target groups are micro enterprises (existing and potential micro enterprises providing intellectual services, job seekers, freelancers, etc.), the local coworking community, coworking space hosts, SME support providers, and European coworking champions (subjects championing a coworking cause – initiators, developers, promoters, providers). Our final beneficiaries are resident and non-resident micro enterprises, business travellers, the global coworking community, the local community, project partners, and business incubators.

Q: How is the space different from other coworking spaces?

A: Our biggest difference is more technical and relates to the very beginning of the founding of the space. Since the "Coworking Zadar" project team consists of people from partner institutions (the City of Zadar, the Association of Crafts and Trades, the Development Agency of Zadar County, Zadar County, and the Croatian Chamber of Economy), what could be the difference from other (mostly private) coworking spaces (especially whose owners we've met in Lisbon) is our institutional background.  However, this is not a bad situation. In fact, so far we have experienced more advantages than disadvantages from this "difference."

Q: In your mind, what is your biggest challenge?

A: In Croatia, there are only a few coworking spaces (in the capital, Zagreb and Osijek), but lately, coworking initiatives all across the country have arisen. Informing and raising awareness about the coworking concept is one of our biggest challenges. In that sense, we maintain a high level of communication with our experienced "coworking colleagues," and we have included them in various activities foreseen in the project.

Q: What's your take on a solution (if you have one)?

A: Since the beginning of the project in June 2014, we have had many different events (jelly, coworking breakfast, and education) in order to spread the word about the project, to get close to our potential users, and to create our coworking community. In a few days, we plan to visit coworking spaces in Zagreb and Osijek with our future hosts and users so they too can see directly what coworking is all about.

Q:  Where do you see your space in 5 - 10 years?

A: We are doing our best to make COIN "The place" for networking in Zadar, enabling all freelancers, entrepreneurs, tourists, and other users to come and work (or have have a meeting or a conversation). Also, our goal is for COIN to be a space that will be self-sustainable through memberships and sponsorships. EU project ''Coworking Zadar'' ends with the end of 2015, but, nevertheless, we are hoping COIN will become an important and unavoidable dot on the Europe coworking map in the future.

Q: Bonus: How do you envision coworking (in Croatia) in 10 - 20 years?

A: We envision COIN becoming the central place for fostering SMEs in the region and a meeting place of different professions and creative persons.

Thanks Iva – next stop Croatia :-)! 

Winner of a holiday stay in Klitmøller

Sebastian Wahl from Kiel is the winner a holiday stay in Klitmøller. We drew a number and the entry drawn belonged to Sebastian. Congratulations!

We’ll e-mail your voucher straight to your inbox. Enjoy your beach house stay!

We wanna thank all you AWESOME people who took your time to fill out our questionnaire, Co-working Klitmøller. The responses tell us quite a lot about our target group (including you), and we are very happy about the support and enthusiasm so many of you added. Also - kudos to our great sponsors, Feriepartner Thy, who donated the beach house stay. You guys rock!

Case # Krowji

Tuesday we followed the signs towards Redruth, where we had an appointment at Krowji with boardshaper James Otter. Krowji is “...Cornwall’s biggest creative cluster, providing studios, workspaces, offices, The Melting Pot Café, meeting rooms and other facilities for a wide range of creative businesses at the Old Grammar School buildings in Redruth” (http://www.krowji.org.uk). Krowji as a site is owned by Cornwall Arts Centre Trust Ltd (ACT) - a charity and limited company. Krowji means “workshop” in Cornish and as a location the Krowji is providing separate space facilities to individual companies or organizations, in total over 100 creative practitioners.

One of these is the Otter Surfboards (http://www.ottersurfboards.co.uk) owned by craftsman, designer and surfer, James Otter. His space is a board-shapery, where the shaping of wooden surf boards primarily is done with locally produced cedar wood. The main object of the business for James is the workshops, where he tutors surfers to build and shape their own boards. Of course, we fell in love with the concept already before we entered the Otter space: The idea of combining board shaping and sustainability must be the ideal birth of a board for any environmentally conscious and ideological surfer. Wooden boards not only materializes the history of surfing back to ancient Polynesia, they also symbolize the lifelong relation between a surfer and his board. With a wooden board you can choose to learn to surf your board in all conditions instead of zapping through different shapes to match the challenges of the waves. That is, at least, how James perceives it, and I like the idea.

Entering the light, wood smelling space of Otter, we stepped directly into what for us as a couple would be the dream work place: A craftsman’s workshop combined with a little exhibition entrance and an office with personal props and a dog resting underneath the table. James himself primarily chose the Krowji as his space provider because the  organization allows residents to rent their space with only one month notice, which is exactly why small start ups like Otter Surfboards can afford being there: they do not have to sign a long term rental agreement.

The Krowji as a co-working space is enormous, and ACT is an organization, that might support more agents than you could ever find within the creative sector in a low population density municipality like Thisted. But it is interesting that the cluster community serves both as an upstart facilitator and space provider for its members. By combining the two, the ACT is actually supplying the Krowji with residents - who do not have to attach themselves to the place for a prolonged period.

Additionally, the wide spectra of business types is a quite unique example in our co-working research. On one hand, James’ shapery does not belong to the group, we usually consider to be within the cultural sector or to the typical target group businesses of a co-working space. But there is a charm in combining the creative professions working with ideas with the crafts working with materials. Otter Surfboards is a brilliant example in which a craftsmanship is guided by the work of shaping an idea, and as metioned above: Imagine the combination of a carpenter’s workshop and a writers office. I like it.

otter1
otter1
tim shaping
tim shaping
otter2
otter2
otter storyboard
otter storyboard

Case # The Open Shed

Behind the Penzance Savoy Cinema in an interimistic bike repair kitchen, we walk into the Open Shed, a crowdfunded hackspace, and are kindly welcomed by Johannes (http://www.openshed.org). Here hackers, bike repairs-men, and computer-recyclers come together in a sustainable survivor atmosphere. First, we do not quite understand the connection between the so-called “bike kitchen” and a co-working space for IT-workers, but the link appears to be the re-use of hardware parts and the ability to (partly) fund the place with the small payments, the bike-fixers charge for a repair.

Johannes gives us the tour of the stuffed location, adding a grass-rooted example to the list of visited co-working spaces. Tools, bikes, boxes, computer parts, trash, worn out furnitures and bits and pieces I cannot identify are occupying the backroom spaces leaving very little floor for movement or conversation (http://openshed.org/content/empty-shelves-full-shelves). This seems to be a place where the financial state of the peninsula is most explicit: no municipal funds are given to the initiative that only charge its 50 members 10 pounds a month for a membership. Do you fix a bike, half the price is given to the space, the other half you can keep yourself.

According to Johannes, it seems as if the financial state of Penzance and Cornwall in general, forces the population of the peninsula to reinvent not only a sustainable industry (since tourism apparently is not enough), but also an identity (since being a tourist destination should not be it). The Open Shed appears to us as a complex picture of this state of development - as a revelation of the need to be part of a work community even when you are out of work and the initiative to create something even though you have no capital to invest.

 

 

Case # Digital Peninsula Network

On our Monday visit to Penzance we knocked on the doors of Digital Peninsula Network, DPN (http://www.digitalpeninsula.org). The largest network of ICT and digital businesses in Cornwall is physically located in an old brewery yard behind the shopping district. Here we were friendly welcomed by an assistant manager, who was still awaiting his managing director to return from his holidays. We had a short conversation on the topic DPN, whilst the AM made a note for his boss and referred me to other places in Penzance (handing me torn pieces of paper with handwritten addresses, which reminded me that there still are people like me who exchange info in paper format).

As I had already acknowledge through my research, the DPN was initiated as a space for the creatives of Cornwall to come and use proper wifi since the peninsula did not have any strong connections. Now - almost 15 years later - the company works more in state of it's networking capacities offering tutoring courses and matchmaking consulting.

At DPN the tea and coffee are free and as we talk to two hot-deskers smoking in the yard, we realize that being around other self employees and a 3d printer is more important to the coworkers than strong wifi since fiber is now installed almost everywhere in Cornwall. The smoking hot-deskers cannot imagine living anyplace else than here, but they admit that making money is hard if it was not because of the geographical detachment of their professions.

Again, I return to Penzance on the following Wednesday but when I reach DPN the manager Janus had just left. One more time the Colombian Assistant Manager takes his time to answer some of my questions, even though he seems careful to admit his complete insight in the organization of DPN. He tells us that DPN as the oldest coworking space in Cornwall, started out of the need for strong wifi, computer equipment and hardware. The EU Regional Development Aid and the “Objective One Programme” (http://www.objectiveone.com) helped start up the DPN. Today it is an organization limited by guarantee with a board, a director and a manager. The DPN primarily functions as a networking platform, and a start up and hotdesking space. Companies that used to be located in the DPN facilities but now has grown bigger keep their virtual membership, small start ups come for tutor and network aid and hot-deskers work there to socialize. The DPN is for businesses within the ICT sector - or so it happened to be by itself, no official criterias demand the business code.

Case # The Workbox Penzance

Monday morning the plan was to go to the port town Penzance even though I had no luck making an appointment with any of the coworking spaces, I managed to locate in the Penzance area. I was hoping to find a more realistic everyday view of the Cornish life than the one we encountered in St. Paradis, since what I was trying to uncover was not the tourist tracks but the way of life of the local self-employed or the travellers staying in Cornwall for a longer period of time.

The economy of Penzance has, like those of many Cornish communities, suffered from the decline of the traditional industries of fishing, mining and agriculture. Like the rest of Cornwall housing remains comparatively expensive, wages low and unemployment high which means that local residents are struggling to make it. As a visitor, though, it can be difficult to distinguish the activities of the locals from those of the non-locals, so the strategy was to knock on the doors of my potential coworking fellows, public holidays or not, and look for the reality of the self-employed coworker in one of the most employment deprivated areas in England.

Unfortunately, I must admit that I passed the location of The Workbox Penzance (http://theworkbox.com) more than once before I realized that I was at the right address. The rather new coworking space is to be found in an anonymous brick office building in the center of Penzance. Nevertheless, from the construction site embracing the ground floor entrance, you could imagine the views to be found on the 4th floor. I did not get to see them though, cause when I rang the doorbell nobody answered.

After popping by some other spaces in Penzance equally derelict of busy coworkers, we decided to come back another day and instead turn the car towards Lands End, the most Western point of England. The beauty of it all stroke us as we made our way down the coast through narrow uphill and downhill streets, past sidewalks and gardens blooming with flowers, through broadleaf forests, along spectacular coastal cliffs and sandy beaches and a completely turkish Atlantic ocean illuminating everything below us. To most people (including myself), I am not sure Klitmoller can compete with the rock sand, hydrangeas and palm trees of Cornwall...

Anyways, on my return to The Workbox the following Wednesday, I was buzzed in by Nigel who, unfortunately, had very little time to chat. Entering The Workbox from the escalator, you are taken by the views overlooking Penzance, and even when trying to focus on the interior or the man speaking in front of you, eyes are drawn towards the light and beauty outside. Truth is, I do not recall much of the decoration, maybe because it was still too new to be personalized and did not leave any sign of its users. While talking to Nigel, though it was only shortly, I tried to neglect the smell of new furnitures, wishing I had a little more time to explore the flexible and transparent interior choices of the space.

The Workbox opened in April this year and now has approximately 30 members, primarily within the IT sector. Through seminars and workshops on various topics and in close collaboration with local colleagues and other organisations such as Outset Cornwall (www.outsetcornwall.co.uk) the space provides its residents with start up help and other networking opportunities. It seems that this is the most common coworking space service in Cornwall: To enable people to start as independents through financial advisory and marketing guidance.

The model of start up business assistance is currently being implemented in The Municipality of Thisted through Thy Erhvervsforum. I am excited about the outcome. Seems that the service is an important entrance to funding and realization of coworking spaces.

Case # Cornwall

Coworking has been a well-known phenomenon in Cornwall for almost three decades. Creatives, IT-workers and self-employed went to places like The Digital Peninsula Network (http://www.digitalpeninsula.org) to be able to work with a proper wifi before any private household wifi could do anything. Today every nook and cranny of the county Cornwall has got the superfast broadband and when it is installed in the Cornish cities also, Cornwall will - according to http://www.gradcornwall.co.uk/living-working-cornwall - “be one of the best and fastest connected places on earth, offering businesses a clear, competitive advantage”.

After the awesome output from especially the visit to Portuguese Óbidos, I was afraid to get my hopes up too high before taking off to the British south-west peninsula Cornwall. Luckily, I chose to buy a ticket for my own personal chauffeur (and boyfriend), so at least I would not have to worry about many hours of driving whilst chasing the good cases.

We landed in Bristol on a cloudy Saturday morning, thinking that we had a hole day of research in front of us. Apparently, we knew nothing about the British highway queues! Arriving in St. Ives six hours later, we only had the energy for a stroll, a chit-chat with the lifeguard on duty and a veggie burger at the local café (though it should not go unnoticed that this was the best beach burger I had in my life).

Waking up at dawn the following morning, we went for a long walk & talk in St. Ives (that quickly became St. Paradis in my vocabulary). A large percent of the the seaside town’s income is based on being a popular holiday resort, and faced with the scenery of the place you get a clear picture of why this place is preferred by so many British tourists. Unfortunately, the main surf beach of St. Ives, Porthmeor Beach, was empty and the Atlantic Ocean flat. In our quest for the surf spirit of Cornwall we headed North towards the very long surf beach Gwithian. Here the crowds were going in the water, though, even for a surfer coming from Denmark, the conditions looked ridiculously shitty. So we went back into the car and made our way up to Portreath, where the surf historian geek inside me had the satisfaction of visiting the Portreath Surf Life Saving Club (http://www.portreathslsc.co.uk). Inspired by the Australian and South African models, the British Surf Lifesaving Clubs were the starting points for many committed and progressive young surfers of the late 1950s and the 60s. Out of the love for the ocean and the meeting with visiting lifeguards (and surfers) from Australia and South Africa grew a passionate community of surfers and by 1964 the new social groups of British surfers had adapted the surfie lifestyle of the Californian surf culture and became an important asset in the tourist industry’s branding of coastal Britain. The story is repeated in many different locations and shifting decades throughout the world, but especially the Australian and British popular surf scene is still closely intertwined with the Surf Life Saving Clubs and the voluntary work they perform to educate, train, encourage and support the local communities of watermen (or waterkids).

The patrolling life guard at Portreath beach told us to go further North searching for waves, so we continued towards Chapels Porth after a stop over in Aggies Surfshop (http://www.aggiesurfshop.com), where we had to rescue ourselves (or rather our personal capital) from the temptation to buy some of Aggies beautiful boards (among these I fell in love with an original second hand Cord longboard). At Chapels Porth rain was falling, current was strong, tide was low and waves were breaking in a messy mess, but people were still hanging out on the beach and eating their picnic with surf boards set as tables.

No surf, we thought, and decided to try to get to Fistral Beach for the Boardmasters final and maybe even the chance to hear Ben Howard play at the festival (http://www.boardmasters.co.uk). To put it in few words: No Fistral for us, no Ben Howard this time. The hole Newquay area was one big traffic jam and there was no parking space to be found anywhere near the fistral festival area. We had to settle with the downtown tourist track and some browsing in surf shops (with views).

Heading back to our hotel we decided to try Gwithian again, and since I am no longer allowed to surf (that is my perception of it, of course, I do not have to mention I would probably give birth to a flat baby if I continue lying on my stomach on a board), I was forced to try the Sunset Café while Claus went into the ridiculously shitty waves. Nevertheless, I had some quality time observing the Sunday living life of the vacationing British surfer families, interrogate the far to busy café people and hang out with a very lifelike poster of Kelly Slater. By the end of the day, I did not feel like neither a researcher, a surfer nor a tourist. I just felt lucky.

st. ives harbour low tide
st. ives harbour low tide
st.ives:st.paradis
st.ives:st.paradis
gwithian
gwithian
aggie the board shaper
aggie the board shaper
beach patrole
beach patrole
surfshop with a view
surfshop with a view
show respect, gain respect
show respect, gain respect