‘I thought people would be welcoming’: Londoner tries Cornish farming life – ‘not for me’
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Earlier this year, the number of Londoners who had left the capital during the pandemic was estimated at 700,000, according to a study led by the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence. Another report, from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, showed Londoners were leaving so quickly that the city’s population would decrease for the first time in the 21st century.
Barnes Thomas was one of those Londoners who fled en masse from the capital when the first lockdown was announced.
The 35-year-old was living in Knightsbridge, central London, and was in the process of setting up a fine art gallery.
Barnes decided to move to his hometown of St Just in west Cornwall, where he lived with his parents before relocating to his late grandmother’s house.
Although he had never farmed before, he bought 40 acres of land and six saddleback pigs.
He was excited about the prospect of a quiet, Cornish life, but it was more difficult than he had previously thought to emerge himself into the community and its culture.
Barnes told the Telegraph: “I thought people would be welcoming.
“I thought maybe I’d be an honorary member of the WI.”
Instead, locals objected to every change the new farmer made on his land, such as building a lake.
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He also bought a flock of peacocks, which were which were unfortunately immediately eaten by foxes.
Barnes explained that a Facebook group was set up “to beat me” and, out shopping one day, a local man reportedly told him to “f**k off back to where you came from”.
The 35-year-old continued: “When I moved here I had so many visions of what I wanted to do but I’ve been firefighting the whole time.
“The locals love a witch hunt.”
Cornish folk did not either approve of Barnes’ secret dinner party during lockdown.
His guests’ tyres were slashed, before he called the police.
Last month, Barnes’ pigs went to the abattoir and he was finally able to taste the fruit of his labour.
“The most tasteless sausages that have ever passed my lips.”
He added: “I don’t think I’m going to do it again – this farming life isn’t for me.”
Although Barnes no longer has pigs on his farm, and does not plan to purchase any soon, he continues to look after his sheep and cows.
The fine art seller-come-farmer told Express.co.uk: “I would be loving it – although hysterical at moments – if people could learn to live and let live.”
As more and more Britons leave cities to live in the countryside, property prices are rapidly rising.
Halifax’s latest House Price Index (HPI) revealed that prices have hit a record high, with the average house price in the UK reaching £270,000 or the first time.
The average home price has soared more than £30,000 since the start of the pandemic.
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