Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends – Sailing at Eight Bells

Becky has been reading the Fisherman’s Friends book given to her recently by friends for her Birthday. Here is her book review!

Some of you may of heard of this group of friends (and some of them are indeed fishermen) from Port Isaac on the north coast not far from Padstow. They have been singing together each Friday evening on the Platt in the middle of the village at (about) 8pm, hence the books title – sailing at eight bells. Some of you may even have been privileged enough to see them singing in person, though I’ve heard it can be standing room only since they took the world by storm.

This fantastic book tells the truly engaging story of ten Cornishmen who have been singing together for years but have only recently found national and international success. It weaves together the lives of all ten members and their lives growing up in a small coastal fishing village. It also records how their lives changed when a record producer heard their dulcet tones and signed them to a major record label. The thing I most loved is the story of the 11th character in this book, Port Isaac itself. Wonderful to hear the history of such a familiar village, not exactly on the frontline when it comes to international or come to that international news but the really interesting stuff of day to day life.

Particularly interesting to hear how life has changed in the village over the years. Very familiar to me growing up in a village in Wiltshire was the story how as new houses were built on the outskirts the local people decided to move from the dark damp cottages into the light, warm new builds. Unfortunately in Port Isaac that has meant that many of the cottages have been purchased as holiday cottages rendering the village almost empty during the winter months. From reading the book though, it is clear to see that Port Isaac has managed to retain a fabulous community despite the onslaught of television crews – only sometimes there to film the FF’s – and Emmets

I really enjoyed the ‘information’ sections within the book too. Who new (well, apart from locals!) that Padstow people call Port Isaac people Town Crows and in return the Port Isaac people are called Yarnigoats? Great recipes are included for Hevva Cake and Pasties. In a county where everyone’s Mum’s have a slightly different recipe for the county’s famous dishes these are a slight variations on the recipes we have posted – just to confuse!

This is a fabulous book, I can’t remember the last book I read that made me laugh out loud so much. I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves Cornwall and if you love the Fishermen’s Friends why haven’t you bought it already?

I just wish that we had discovered this Cornish buoy band before everyone else. We may have been able to book them for our wedding in Cornwall next year. Somehow I’m sure we can’t compete with Glastonbury, for one Beyonce is definitely not appearing in St Mawes next year!!

If you love the Fisherman’s Friends don’t forget to check out their website follow them on Facebook, Twitter and follow their blog too, and if you are visiting Port Isaac you must go to the Fish counter near the Platt to sample some of their catch!

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