Friday, 14 October 2016


Good friend Johnny Stingray has lent us a Fender Telecaster for the darkening nights.

Sunday, 2 October 2016


Been thinking about family lines a bit lately...

My paternal Grandfather - Always wore a suit, nearly always with a bow-tie (unless he was just staying indoors for the afternoon, in which case he'd forgo the bow). He didn't like shaving so carried a modified bulldog clip and would pluck out his whiskers at spare moments throughout the day.

My paternal Grandmother - She would swear at us kids in Swahili when we got on her nerves.

My paternal Grandfather - He used to write to me in Morse Code - long hand-written pages of dots and dashes. It takes dozens of pages to write a letter in Morse. -... . .-.. .. . ...- . / -- .

My maternal Grandmother - She would always correct my pronunciation.
"Not 'Yeah"... the word is pronounced 'YESsss!".
But she still had baked beans in her cupboard from about 1950 so I didn't take her that seriously.

My maternal Grandfather - A brown Rover 3500 was his pride and joy - if we were good he'd let us sit in the front, at all other times we were strictly backseat citizens.

Thursday, 15 September 2016



wet hangs
Family hang

Kynance sparkle


Big sky

Saturday, 3 September 2016

GOIN' LEFT - the story of a wave

..go very left.

Me and Stu went for an early one - it was a decent sized swell, coupled with very strong southerly winds. Which left us with only a couple of sheltered options. We scoped a spot and decided to go for it.

The paddle out was the usual Cornish-beachy-at-size slog, and there was a sweeping rip to the north, so any loitering in the line-up resulted in a drift up the beach requiring another head-down, salty-eyed paddle against the wind to get back in position.

The waves were overhead, but it soon became apparent that only one or two waves in each set were actually peaking & peeling while the rest of the them were top-to-bottom closeouts.

We both snagged a couple of good ones and then as the tide dropped out and the waves got even steeper we noticed a particular bank start firing - the wave was jacking up in exactly the same spot each time and doing as good an impression of a left-hand reef break as you'll see on our local beaches. The shoulder lurching up, spitting out a crest of whitewater and then scooping out into a rapid, peeling left across the sandbank.

The wind was a challenge though, because unless you were right under the lip and right on the peak, it would gust up the wave face so hard that it lifted the nose of the board, stalling you in the lip - frustrating...

The only option was to sit deeper and have faith that the offshore would hold up the wave and allow enough time to get in.

A set rolled through, the lip already feathering as I decided to go for it. Luck was on my side as this one stayed open, and I stroked down the face feeling the momentum shift as the wave folded over and knew I was in.

Then it got interesting. It was really steep, and as I looked down the line all I could see was a near vertical wall of dark green water ahead of my left shoulder with no sign of any tapering wall beyond it. (Note: I'm a regular foot) But it didn't feel like a close-out somehow, and I certainly didn't have time to straighten out. So the only option was to drive on.

I'm definitely not confident on my backhand when it gets steep, so I dropped the back knee, grabbed my outside rail and leaned down on the nose to try and accelerate around the corner before that thing dumped on my head. But the wave was still lifting itself up on the bank and I had a long way to go before I was anywhere near a bottom turn. So I just held fast and hoped for a good outcome.

Because I'd thrown my weight forward and the wave face was now going beyond vertical I felt the fins break free and the tail started slipping and skipping about... This was where a facet of board design that I've always believed to be absolutely key really came into play - it was the rail that was now doing the bulk of the work keeping me and the board going across the face. If you need visual proof, watch Ben Thouard's beautiful underwater footage here. Clearly shows how important your rails are.

Luckily, despite the fins slipping out, the rail bit in and I managed to hold on until the wave caught up with itself and I made it out onto the face.

Beginning to really enjoy goin' left these days.

Friday, 2 September 2016


end of summer
Bye bye, see y'all next year. Safe trip home...

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.