Things you only know if you've been drinking in Cornwall
As life starts getting back to the dimly remembered days before March 2020, the pubs and clubs (or is it just one club now?) of Cornwall are filling up.
We love our booze down here and drinking in Cornwall has always been a unique experience. There aren't many places where you can more or less guarantee ending up on a beach at the end of the night, get in a fight with French fishermen, where Wetherspoons is seen as the height of sophistication and a wolf fleece and Crocs are part of the dress code.
It's still the only place in the country where public transport can let you down and you call your parents for a lift home - even in your 40s. Here are just some things you only know if you go out drinking in Kernow.
Read more: Murder, sex and riots were on the menu at Truro's pubs
Is there another county - sorry, Duchy ... sorry, nation - where its inhabitants get drunk on the booze we actually invented? We should be proud while supping Tribute, Doom Bar, Betty Stogs, Tarquin's, Rattler, Lightbulb, Dead Man's Fingers and all. Devon can't claim that, can it?!
People in Wales will lay claim to being the nation that starts singing as soon as a pint is put in its collective hand, but we all know Cornwall does it better.
Once the beers get flowing you can guarantee someone will start a rendition of Going Up Camborne Hill, Trelawny, Little Eyes or South Australia. By the time half a pint's been downed the whole bleddy pub will have joined in.
We're not very well paid down here and we like our pleasures simple, so that might explain why every Wetherspoons pub in Cornwall is always rammed. Bleddy cheap though, innum?
Falmouth. Two bars per head of population. That's obviously not true, but it feels like it. It's hard to stumble 100 yards without finding a pub or bar in the town. Lucky students. From the cool and funky Chintz Symposium, brilliant dining pubs like the Pennycomequick on The Moor, or Cornwall's unique bookshop-cum-bar Beerwolf, other Cornish towns - even Newquay - look on in awe and spite at Falmouth's nightlife.
But please be careful not to fall down monumental staircase Jacob's Ladder after a night in the pub of the same name.
Here's a feature on Famlouth's booming pub and restaurant scene.
Going drinking in Cornwall will invariably end up with you on a beach, even in winter. It might also end up with you getting sand in your bits, puke in the dunes and a call to the RNLI. So be responsible.
No, not what happens before you get sand in your bits, but the growing trend for craft beers. Cornwall has entered the 21st century at last thanks to the likes of Verdant, Padstow Brewing Co, Goodh, Harbour Brewing Co, Black Flag, Driftwood Spars, Pipeline and more. They have all revolutionised the way we drink and think about beer.
They've also revolutionised our drinking establishments. Visit Verdant's Taproom in Penryn or Goodh's Old Print Works in Truro for proof.
read more here about Goodh's funky Truro bar and here for more on Verdant's taproom and pizza place as well as here for a feature on one-man brewery Pipeline creating the UK's top beers.
It's Cornwall and invariably that means drinking somewhere several miles from where you live. So it's either a designated driver getting increasingly bored and teasy as the night goes on or the prospect of taking out a second mortgage to pay for a taxi for the three miles home.
You're not allowed to get in the taxi unless primed to ask the standard mantra: "Busy tonight er no?"
If you can't afford a taxi, call your parents at 2am. It's the law. Even when you've grown up and had kids of your own.
If none of that works you'll find yourself making that long stagger home at least once in your life, down country lanes, in total Blair Witch Project pant-filling darkness. You'll usually end up having a chat with a cow and sleeping in a hedge.
There is no such thing as a dress code in Cornwall. Crocs, shorts and no coats in November, sinking in sand in high heels, wolf fleeces, Cornish rugby tops and St Piran's flag underpants are all acceptable.
Until someone invents a late night pasty shop, the devouring and subsequent spewing of kebabs, pizzas, spring rolls and naans goes hand in hand with a Proper Job.
There seems to be something in the psyche of both Cornish men and women that means a good night out is often not complete without a scuffle near a taxi rank. That same good night out is also not complete until you've spotted at least two girls crying for reasons that never become clear. Even to them.
Oh and all Helstonians know not to chat up the wives and girlfriends of Navy personnel stationed at RNAS Culdrose.
One particular pub which was always notorious for the odd punch-up, especially if French fishermen were in town, was the Swordfish Inn at Newlyn.
Just last year, the Mirror and Star listed it in the roughest and toughest pubs in the UK. That might have been the case once when drinkers downed the Newlyn Knockout, a mixture of vodka, Drambuie and absinthe, but it's a reformed character now.
TripAdvisor is full of glowing reviews, like this one from last month: "The Swordfish in Newlyn is feisty, raucous, in your face and a brilliant laugh. Don't expect early nights but do expect a warm welcome and a good time!"
If you're true Cornish then it's cider all the way and Rattler has become the dominant force, so much so that it even has its own festival now. But it's a feisty mistress so watch that hangover.
Forget Rattler, you're definitely not proper Cornish unless you've downed a pint of 'half and half' at the Blue Anchor in Helston. That's half Spingo special with half Spingo middle - Spingo being the legendary beer brewed on the premises. It may smell like rich fruit cake but this is one thing you might not want to serve granny on a Sunday afternoon.
One rite of passage for a Cornish drinker is to go to a meadery, eat a whole chicken with your hands like you're Henry VIII and down a carafe of the sickly sweet fermented honey booze. It's so potent it could knock that there Man Engine off his giant legs.
Another rite of passage is to vomit it back up again. It will come out as blackberry mead even if it went down as another flavour and colour entirely.
It is a biological fact that when Cornishmen have too much to drink their voices go an octave higher. It's bleddy true, bey!
What goes on in Porthleven, stays in Porthleven. This goes for every coastal village and peninsula across the Duchy.
Getting your hand stamped on the way in to Falmouth's infamous Club International is a peculiarly Cornish badge of honour. If your feet stick to the floor at the same time, see it as your own personal Valhalla.
If you can find one, be my guest. The days of Cornwall being overrun with unforgettable nightclubs have sadly long passed. But, depending on what age you are, a quick visit to your memory bank of nights at Tall Trees, Twilight Zone, The Loft, The Barn et al will leave you with an illicit thrill and a feeling of dread.
The area between Spoons, Tyacks and the White Hart is known to lead to "complete memory loss and void of reason" according to Peter Collett, one of those who has lived to tell the tale to unbelievers.
Drinkers in St Ives are starting to realise that the best night out is found "behind the bins" on the harbour front.
The Pilchard Press Alehouse is basically a hidden pub and local Rachael Gaunt loves it. She said: "You have to cut down a dead end alley on the harbour and walk up past about 20 industrial bins. One door and no windows. Barrels on a long shelf. That’s it. No cocktails. No fuss. Just a quiet pint with occasional shanty singing or dominos!"
A breed apart. Cornwall's young farmers are famed for downing more booze than is medically possible, then dancing (and more) through the night before revving up the tractor at 6am. And that's just the women.
In the age of Cornish gentrification most pub toilets in Cornwall are so sparkly and clean you can eat your dinner off them, but there was a time not so long ago when it was a completely different story.
I remember entering a cubicle in one Truro pub, which will remain nameless, which had a pile of human excrement on the floor adorned with someone's mobile phone, like some filthy flag-bearing sandcastle from hell.
And as for the toilets in the much-missed Studio Bar in Penzance... one man who braved them said: "I remember going to the toilet in the original Studio Bar, when ladies had to walk through the band and gents had to use an outhouse. One time the gents toilet was smashed to the point that only a shark's fin of porcelain remained. It had a gaffer taped note attached saying 'toilet out of order'. You wouldn't want to sit on that."
I'm afraid I have to end this celebration of drinking in Cornwall on a downer. Having your drink spiked is becoming less unusual occurrence these days and it's also not unusual for women to be harassed on a night out. Don't leave your drinks unattended and to the small percentage of blokes who do that sort of thing: sort yourselves out.