Friday, 12 August 2016


These clouds caught my eye - made me think there might be something going on with the waves right now.

So I took a look, but nothing doing...

Crazy clouds pretending to be swell lines.

Sunday, 31 July 2016


I really like summer - I get an evil little thrill out of seeing all those terrible tattoos that spend the majority of the year hidden from view.

The good doctor - Hunter S Thompson was the undisputed King of Gonzo - but above and beyond all the madness he was an excellent journalist. Read 'Gonzo Papers, Vol. 1: The Great Shark Hunt' for some of his brilliant essays and articles from the 60s & 70s. I can only begin to imagine what he would have to say about the state of world politics today.

The yin & yang of surfdom - Had another pleasant dawny with Stu and Cealan yesterday. Summer surfing is just so easy (apart from the damn parking - hence doing the dawnys). Warm water, light wetsuits & fun waves all lull me into a sense of well-being. But summer also increases the kook count - part of why I started surfing in the first place was to get away from these people. Now they're clogging up the waves. Light and shade, good and bad, the yin and yang... continuing to seek balance.

Sunday, 24 July 2016


The kids have always been beach babies - riding their first waves at the age of 4.

4yr old Cealan surfing
C 2004 ....

4yr old Tyde surfing
T 2004 ....

And we've all done maximum beach-time every summer since.

But despite [or maybe because of] me kind of pushing them both to paddle out the back they were only ever really interested in playing in the surf on their own terms; ie for fun!

Which, of-course is the way it should always be & ultimately I was totally happy with that. But a small part of me wondered if they would ever get 'into' surfing..

Over the next few years we all continued to hit the beach regularly; swimming, surfing, boogie-boarding etc and always having great fun. And T & C both found their own buzz - playing all kinds of sports and enjoying tons of activities with Tyde becoming a top 4X & MTB rider and Cealan playing rugby at County level.

Tyde 4x
T 2014 ....

Then at the beginning of this year as we kicked off with a run of perfect S Coast swell for a week over Xmas & New Year, Cealan suddenly found his groove in the water.

Cealan surfing Swanpool
C 2016 .... (Photo - Rob P)

Now he's totally up for it - if there's any hint of a wave, he's there.

No need to rush, what will be will be.

Sunday, 3 July 2016


Sometimes (most of the time) I don't have much to say, but just feel like saying something anyway...

Got in for a nice dawny this morning - after about a week of onshore slop. Had a few smooth lefts. I think I've finally overcome my mental stutter on steep backside drops. 'Crouching tiger' style seems to work for me - probably looks like shit but at least I'm making 'em.

I think I'm numerically dyslexic - I just can't get my head around exchange rates. Every time I try and figure it out my little brain goes cloudy. In reality I never leave my locale anyway so it doesn't come up that often.

I know it's not good for me but I really like toast - eat way too much of it. And as soon as I'm done with the condiments (most popular being Marmite, followed by Peanut Butter then Jam - never Marmalade) they go immediately back in the cupboard. Immediately. I'm quite tidy in the kitchen.

Are rabbits vermin? For the first time ever we have rabbits in the garden. They look harmless enough nibbling the grass at dusk, but I know for a fact they'll soon start making little bunny hops towards my lettuce and then it'll be all out war. So I'm trialling some scent repellents for now, but I'm seriously considering getting an owl.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

REMEMBERING CONCRETE... a personal list

Playing Place
Plymouth Zoo
St Newlyn East
Dean Lane
St George
OG Meanwhile Gardens
OG Meanwhile II
Skate City, Tooley St
Mad Dog Bowl, Old Kent Road
Rolling Thunder
Spandrel, Uxbridge

Sunday, 29 May 2016



It was a dream come true when Skane asked me if I wanted to be Art Director for Skateboard! magazine in 1989. I packed up my Renault 5 with all my possessions and moved up to London to join Skane (editor), Meany (deputy editor) and Steve (ad sales) at Advanced Publishing, an independent magazine publisher founded by journalist Mark Williams.

On my very first deadline, only 3 weeks into the job, the printers were hassling for the finished layouts and I had to go back into the office over the weekend to finish the cover. So I was the only one in the building, frantically working away on a Saturday morning, when a bloke came striding through the front door.

"Ere mate, where is everybody?" he asked, scanning the empty offices beyond my desk.
"Only me today" I chirped.
"Well, I've come to collect your old fax - new one coming Monday innit." He said moving towards the big, sturdy fax machine in the hall.
So I hopped off my stool and crawled under the desk it was on to pull out the plug and help him lift it. It was after all quite a lump.
"D'ya want a hand out with that?" I offered.
"Nah, you're alright mate - I can manage." And off he went.

I went back to my drawing board and spent the rest of the day on my own finalising the magazine and getting it all ready for the printers.

On Monday morning I strolled into the office, feeling upbeat about having got ahead of the deadline with the intention of delivering the artwork to the repro guys within the hour.

But I was greeted by the sight of a crowd of editors and production managers alongside the boss all standing by the empty space where the fax machine usually was. I quickly gathered that there was some confusion and concern - after all this was pre-internet, pre-computer and the fax machine was at the very heart of communications in those days. And here was a busy publishing company producing a handful of different magazines who all relied on that fax for virtually every word that came into the building.

"Oh, if you're wondering about the old fax machine," I helpfully piped up, "the bloke took it away on Saturday."

Everybody stopped talking and all heads swivelled to face me.

I started to explain about being here on my own and helping to hand over the fax. But before I got any further with my little speech everybody suddenly started talking again. Only this time they were using lots of swear words accompanied by furious glares in my direction.

Luckily Mark Williams ushered me into his office and away from the wrath of a company full of people suddenly facing a shitload of extra hassle first thing on a Monday morning. "Which 'bloke' took it on Saturday, Sqeez?" he asked.

Somehow as I began to repeat the story of the random man wandering into an empty office on a Saturday morning and then waltzing out with an expensive piece of technology, it became clearer to me that perhaps I had been a touch naive..

"Oh shit! - Mark I'm really sorry, I'll pay for a new one, you can take it out of my wages." I blurted.

Luckily for me he was a very cool cat and just said that I should perhaps be a tad less trusting in future as he called out to his secretary to firstly organise a new fax machine and then get the insurers on the line.

For the next few days there would be repeated calls to me from the hallway outside the studio..

"Fax coming in for Sqeez!"

Saturday, 9 April 2016


meat puppets - bucket and a mop
... but a bucket and a mop

Many a hand has scaled the grand old face of the plateau
Some belong to strangers and some to folks you know
Holy ghosts and talk show hosts are planted in the sand
To beautify the foothills and shake the many hands

There's nothing on the top but a bucket and a mop
And an illustrated book about birds
You see a lot up there but don't be scared
Who needs action when you got words

When you've finished with the mop then you can stop
And look at what you've done
The plateau is clean, no dirt to be seen
And the work it took was fun

There's nothing on the top but a bucket and a mop
And an illustrated book about birds
You see a lot up there but don't be scared
Who needs action when you got words

Well the many hands began to scan around for the next plateau
Some said it was Greenland and some said Mexico
Others decided it was nowhere except for where they stood
But those were all just guesses, wouldn't help you if they could

(Followed by the most amazing outro... click here to listen)

© Curt Kirkwood

Saturday, 26 March 2016


sound of the shining
The Sound of the Shining

I once worked in a small graphic studio in Falmouth, run by a guy called Norman. Not only was Norman a great creative thinker, he was also a muso and a tech wizard. He'd installed a really good quadrophonic sound system in the studio and we'd take turns choosing what to play during the day.

One day we had a big project to finalise on a tight deadline - Norm went over to the sound system and loaded up a high quality recording he'd made the night before and cranked it up really loud.

It was the complete soundtrack to 'The Shining'. From start to finish, everything... The dialogue, the sound effects, the atmospherics as well as all the music.

Holy shit! It was intense. The film had already become a classic by this time so we were all familiar with it, but actually listening to it without the visuals added a whole new layer.

You could easily watch the film with the sound muted and it would quite possibly be amusing and maybe even a little silly in places, but I dare you to 'listen' to the film with the pictures only in your mind's eye and not be impressed by Kubrick's skill in creating a vivid sonic horror story. Kubrick himself, created a working edit for the soundtrack before engaging various composers to produce the final score.

the shining vinyl LP
The Sound of the Shining

Apparently there was a soundtrack LP produced in 1980, but was subject to legal wranglings when the composers complained of Kubrick's editing of their material and is very hard to find. It also only has the main musical pieces and is by no means the complete soundtrack that Norman created for our studio pleasure.

ps: Needless to say, we got the job done on time.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016


What a year!

Meat Puppets / Meat Puppets II - Best band in the fuckin universe.

Minutemen-Double nickels
Minutemen / Double Nickels on the Dime - Just perfection...

Husker Du Zen Arcade
Husker Du / Zen Arcade - Blitz!

REM Reckoning
REM / Reckoning - The good years.

Lloyd Cole rattlesnakes
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions / Rattlesnakes - Studenty soundtrack.

Talking Heads / Stop Making Sense - Masterclass.

Prince purple rain
Prince / Purple Rain - Cinematic, melodrama.

Sade-Diamond_Life' border=
Sade / Diamond Life - Lovers groove.

Monday, 29 February 2016


"Where the grass is always greener and the tubes are always deeper"

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to go for a surf and actually get barrelled. Utterly and totally tubed, thoroughly pitted, properly shacked, locked deep within the green room.

Watching some footage of Mick Fanning trotting across the sand at Snapper on a summer’s day bought this into sharp focus recently. The shore break and whitewater were heaving with beachgoers and swimmers whilst throaty aqua-green, headhigh barrels spun insanely past just a few metres away. Each perfect keg threaded by a gleeful boardshorted blur.

My own surfing experience is somewhat different.

Not that I don’t wholeheartedly enjoy surfing In Cornwall, I absolutely love it. I haven’t yet had a surf that didn’t bring a smile to my dial. But I can’t help daydream about how it must feel to come in after a surf buzzing from the memory of just having sliced through a couple of sweet tubes.

I try so hard not to succumb to surf envy, yet once again I imagine how amazing it must be to live with barrels on your doorstep and I even begin to question if what I’m doing can even be called ‘surfing’.

Anyway, later that evening I visit my friend Andy and we catch up over a cup of tea. Inevitably talk turns to the sea and a run of great swell we just had. Andy is a really good surfer with a lovely smooth style who hasn’t been out on his surfboard for over a year. Yet he has probably spent more time getting covered up than anyone I know. He told me of a deep tube ride he recently got at Aggie where he even had time inside the barrel to look up and watch the light refracting through the wave above his head before he got spat out cleanly at the end.

And that’s when it hit me. Andy has been getting so many tubes on his bellyboard and handplane that he hasn’t even bothered to wax up his board more than a handful of times in the last 3 years. And he’s a bloody good surfer who always gets what I consider really good waves whenever we’ve surfed together.

Of-course there are barrels in Cornwall - I’ve just been on the wrong equipment for riding ‘em.

Saturday, 20 February 2016


s coast scope
Just checking for future reference...

Wednesday, 10 February 2016


- - - -
I wrote this in July 2012 and posted it on 'The Inertia'.
Decided it was time to re-home it here on Kernowkalling.

- - - -

Surf Bathing at Perranporth c.1925 - courtesy: Francis Frith Collection

The other day I was having a leisurely chat with my neighbour – we had thoroughly dissected the local surf scene, discussed our fantasy boards (yet again) and bemoaned the recent weather as English people always do. The conversation then took a slight swerve when he asked if I’d done much surf travel.

Although by no means could I be considered an accomplished adventurer it turned out that compared to him I’d visited a lot more countries and surfed a few of the known hot spots around the world. He immediately asked where I thought the best place for surf was. It’s a good question and I imagine he was expecting me to rave about Indo or Fiji or Australia. But despite never having really given it much thought before, it took me only a moment or two to come up with an answer.

“Here.” I said, smiling when his laughter morphed into a look of bewilderment as he realized I actually wasn’t joking.

In fact, I’m quite serious when I say that the waves I get here in Cornwall are better than those I got in Indo or Fiji.

“What!” I can almost hear you cry, “How can surf in England ever be compared with Bali?” Hard to believe I know, but bear with me as there is a certain logic to my argument. Basically it all boils down to the numbers. I’ve surfed thousands of waves at home compared to the few dozen or so I scored on trips to Indo or the Canaries for example. As enjoyable & memorable as those trips were, the sheer volume of waves I ride at my local beaches tips the probability of scoring those occasional primo stand-out sessions heavily in favour of doing so right here at home.

From my house I can be in the water and paddling out within 20 minutes of noticing that the wind has suddenly dropped off. Such reasonably instant access combined with a little local knowledge has rewarded me with some of the best sessions I’ve ever had. Anywhere. OK, it may not be crystal-clear, overhead barrels in warm tropical waters, but compared to the few times when I was lucky enough to actually score waves like that – I’ve had countless other sessions that offered just as much stoke within a few miles of my front door… Glassy sunset surfs with just a friend and I swapping waves. Long peeling walls running for a hundred metres shared with dolphins and seals. Perfect turquoise peaks zippering across soft sand bars on a pushing tide. Big & bouncy, swooping faces that got the adrenalin well and truly fizzing. Classic windless dawnys with nobody else even on the beach, etc, etc. The list goes on and on.

Significantly I haven’t had to spend loads of cash or leave my family behind to trek half way around the world with no guarantee that there will be waves waiting for me at journeys end either. Plus, I’ve also been surprised so many times by seemingly borderline conditions turning out to be great sessions that I’ve learned to never discount those times as opportunities to score some fun either.

So, all things considered, maybe the notion that sometimes the best surf in the world is right on our own doorstep isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds.

Saturday, 30 January 2016


- - - -
I wrote this in September 2012 and posted it on 'The Inertia'. Decided it was time to re-home it here on Kernowkalling.
- - - -

Sheep Dip, Gwithian c.1955 - courtesy: Francis Frith Collection

It was such a beautiful Saturday – another of those perfect September days that we seem to be blessed with every year after the tourists have all left and the kids have finished their summer break and are back in school.

We were up early and loading the van with boards and and an icebox full of grub. A quick coffee for me and some cereal for the kids and we headed straight for the beach. Roisin had a morning appointment, so would cycle to the coast and join us there after lunch.

By 9.30am I was clambering down the goat path following our twin 12yr olds and looking out at perfect, clean little waves spinning across the beach. We paddled out and joined a handful of other surfers picking off sparkling waves under the already warming sun with barely a puff of wind. It was truly blissful.

The kids were like happy seals, bobbing about in the waves and I paddled across to a right-hand peak that I knew usually started to turn on as the tide pushed up. Sure enough, luck was on my side, and the next set produced a zippy right that lifted me up before catapaulting me down the line. Even as I was racing across the smooth aqua face I was holding onto the moment, burning it into my memory, knowing that it was a gift of a wave on a near perfect Cornish morning.

It was afterwards, as I waded back in through the rockpools with my wetsuit peeled down to my waist, enjoying the sun on my back that I thought of him. Ray always loved this beach, he’d been a regular here for decades – one of the locals since the early 80s, always happy to chat between sets. I’d heard that they’d discovered a tumour at the beginning of the year and it was about as bad as it could be. The doctors had given him just a few months to live.

Why did I think of Ray on that particular morning? I hadn’t actually heard any news of him for a while. Perhaps, my subconscious was reminding me, as I was counting my own blessings to be out surfing with my children on such a beautiful day, that others were not so lucky. Maybe that’s why I’d thought of Ray, who in all probability would never surf this beach again. So right there and then I silently wrote his name upon the memory of the wave I’d enjoyed so much. It felt right. It felt like we’d shared that wave. I joined up with the children and we headed back to the van to scoff sandwiches and glug down some cold juice. Not long after Roisin arrived and soon we were all back in the water catching waves and enjoying the rest of the afternoon.

The next morning brought an altogether different day – Sunday dawned cloudy and damp with a gusty west wind that would have ripped the small surf to shreds – not a beach day at all. In the afternoon I got a phone call to say that Ray had passed away on Saturday morning at about 9.30am.

(Ray Tovey – RIP)

Thursday, 28 January 2016


Dawn Penn - You don't love me (No, No, No)

Yes, Yes, Yes. This one is definitely in my all-time Top Ten.

Thursday, 29 October 2015



I've been meaning to get these old dogs hanging on the wall for years..

From left: Dogtown - Jay Adams Longboard, Lazy Dog - Blood, Lazy Dog - Spiral, Dogtown - Jim Muir

Sunday, 25 October 2015


In hindsight 1981 was a bit of an in-betweener. Not much on offer at the time, and I was drifting away from the rock of previous years and yet still a couple of years shy of really latching onto American Indie. A few albums from the shelf that year included..

The Psychedelic Furs / Talk Talk Talk - Good for parties.

Grace Jones / Nightclubbing - Good for dark rooms.

Japan / Tin Drum - Good for smokey rooms.

Brian Eno and David Byrne / My Life in the Bush of Ghosts - Good for headphones.

rickieleejones' border=
Rickie Lee Jones / Pirates - Good for very, very late at night.

Saturday, 3 October 2015


In our house we still like to keep it analog style in a digital world...

miss us states clock

orient mako blue bezel

stripey swiss clock

Sunday, 27 September 2015



Bladderwrack by Jenny Butt

Kerry 2004
Kerry, 2004


Wooden waves

my skateboards
(Useless) Wooden Toys

blue and fluffy
Fluffy clouds

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Sunday, 16 August 2015


I went for an early one today. Couple of feet, clean, virtually no wind apart from a very light offshore. It was lovely.

A handful of old guys on mals (I guess that includes me) were taking turns on some nice lefts. I took off on a soft-ish one and a much older guy dropped in on me down the line.

It was fine though, a wave of no consequence, he apologised and I told him not to worry about it.

Over the next 20 minutes the waves got a little better, another foot or so in size and a bit steeper as they jacked up over the mid-tide banks.

I swung into a really nice left, a chest high drop with a smooth wall that stayed open as I came off the bottom.

But, lo and behold, my older friend had decided that he liked the look of this one too and dropped in a few yards ahead of me. It was kind of ok, he pulled down a bit of a section but the wave had enough juice in it to keep going and we managed a bit of a 'doubles' routine, cutting back and forth in front of each other as we cruised along to the shorebreak.

He was stoked; "Nothing wrong with that one!" he yelled at me as we paddled back out to the line up.

He was right there was nothing wrong with the wave. Apart from the fact that he'd dropped in on me, again... But, so what. We'd both had a good ride and shared a really nice wave, the lesson I learnt was that maybe sharing is caring, even when the choice is not your own.

Nothing wrong with that one, indeed.

Sunday, 28 June 2015


PT June) title=
PT, blustery WNW, June sunshine - take a hike (click to embiggen).

Sunday, 24 May 2015


Three things I learnt as a skateboarder from surfing in the olden days.

Lesson No 1: Surfing is primarily a solo activity - you're on your own buddy!

I remember when I first started surfing. At that time I'd already been skateboarding for a few years and it was natural to try and catch a few waves as well. A few of the skateboarders I knew were also good surfers and they let me borrow a board. But that was as far as it went - no advice offered, no coaching tips, no helping hand. I was given an old board and left to get on with it while they paddled out the back. 'Every man for himself' was obviously the surfer's code. I loved it of-course, who wouldn't? It was fun and exhilarating and totally different to anything I'd tried before.

Lesson No 2: The whole surf/skateboard symbiosis is a myth, they're connected in theory only.

I'd always read that surfing was the original source and skateboarding was the dry land equivalent for when the waves were flat. Well I must have been doing it all wrong, because it was certainly nothing like skateboarding, couldn't be more different in fact. The only relevance was that you were either regular or goofy. Aside from that you're operating in two very different worlds.

Lesson No 3: Surfing is a lot harder than it looks.

Skateboarding can be harsh & gnarly, but if you really want to learn it's relatively easy. Buy a board, find a smooth dry surface and away you go - quite literally. Within a few months you'll be okay at skateboarding. If you've got good balance and some natural ability there's no reason why you can't be ripping within a year or two if you've really caught the bug.

Learning to surf is a lot more complicated. For a start you'll inevitably be on the wrong board (it takes years of riding to even begin to understand which board suits you). You'll need the right waves and conditions for learning, but unfortunately waves don't appear on demand - so this will infinitely lengthen the learning curve. The sea is also deceptive, it moves and changes constantly, no two waves are ever the same, and sometimes it'll be scary and you'll be out of your comfort zone. There's a lot going on that you can't see, currents and tides need to be understood. It's exhausting work, you need fitness and stamina just to catch a few waves sometimes, and of-course you'll be competing with others for the same waves too. You'll also have to learn to 'read' the waves, which will take a ton of time and experience. The list goes on and on.. To summarise - it takes a long, long time to learn to surf.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015


Andy Garner - Against the Grain Handplanes
Pic: Maria Cavalier

Andy Garner is amazing. He's been surfing for nearly 30 years and still retains the enthusiasm of a stoked grommet. He posesses a creative eye and a craftsmans hands, being an accomplished photographer, fine art painter and more recently the creator of fine handcrafted handplanes which he makes from his home in Cornwall.

These seemingly simple craft may appear humble in appearance, yet look a little deeper and you'll discover that these are quite possibly the best handplanes being made here in the UK currently, and with orders from folk in California, Australia and Hawaii who are now also enjoying the glide, they may well be some of the best internationally too.

The research and development that Andy puts into his products is quite phenomenal, hours and hours of water testing, refining and defining all providing direct feedback into the creation of his high quality watercraft.

He took a break from the workshop to answer some questions on skateboarding, surfing and the fun of handplaning.

- - -

Andy where did you grow up.
I grew up in Cornwall, primarily Playing Place.

I know you were a skateboarder, what turned you onto skateboarding?
During the 70s there was a big influx of American TV programmes and products like American football shirts and suddenly skateboards appeared on the scene. So we all started making our own with roller skates stuck onto a board. At the time there was a housing boom and all these housing estates went up with perfectly smooth new tarmac roads which were fantastic for skateboarding and my Dad saw that I was into it and even made us a little driveway ramp too. I remember getting a combined birthday & Christmas present, I went into my room and can clearly remember the urethane smell of brand new blue Kryptonics and in another box a pair of blue and red Vans and they had a really distinctive smell too, the smell was so unique like going into a surf shop and smelling the sex wax - it was just fantastic!

Andy Garner Flamingo Skatepark, Redruth Cornwall
Andy in the halfpipe at the Flamingo Skatepark with hand-painted hi-tops, late 70s.

Where did you used to skate in the early days?
In the early days we mainly skated in carparks. Hardy Carpets in Truro was a known spot, with loads of people doing slalom on Sunday mornings & Essjay turning up in his van with OJ wheels and California Slalom trucks for sale.

My Dad was keen to encourage me and the other kids and he actually pushed for the little skatepark in Playing Place. I’ve actually still got the original plans for how it was designed, those designs were changed unfortunately. There were trees that couldn’t be removed and it had to cater for other users including roller skaters which was big at the time too. The continuous wall that we wanted so you could carve all the way around the bowl had to go and the flat area was introduced too. But a lot of people put a lot of hard work into it and it was a good project and it’s still being used today.

Andy Garner at Playing Place
Andy Garner with the original plans for the Playing Place bowl... at Playing Place.

original Playing Place skatebowl plans
Originally the 'skate board rink' had included a bowl with extended hip - click pic for enlargement.