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A Cornish Tacker

When I moved up-country some 12 years ago I worked in a photographic portrait studio in Marlow, Bucks. The main part of the business was photographing families and most of those were what was described as a FG1, a family group where the oldest child was less than 6. Quite often, on going up stairs to the offices and digital rooms your colleagues would ask how the session went. They had more often than not heard children rampaging around the studio beneath screaming at the tops of their voices for the last hour whilst they sat there retouching images, drinking coffee and listening to music.  With the sweat dripping off my brow, I would calmly say ‘fine, got some good shots’ as I downloaded my images in the hope it was not a reshoot. ‘What did you have? they asked. ‘O just a couple of tackers’ I would say.

Oblivious to what I was on about eventually one day someone said ‘Tacker? What is that?’

‘Small child!’ I said. ‘Ive never heard you say that before’ came the response. Convinced I had being using the term ‘tacker’ for year I explained that I called a small child a tacker. It turns out this is a Cornish phrase and I didn’t realise it was not part of the Queens English. Surely Prince Charles has been refered to by his parents as a little tacker!?

So, in doing a bit of research for you I have learned that a Tacker is in fact a small boy up to the age of about 10. It is now a term I have dropped from my vocabulary due to many confused looks from those up-country folk.

A stormy Portmellon

I hear on the Cornish jungle vine that Mevagissey and Portmellon had severe rainfall yesterday as did we last night and as I write, I can hear the rain lashing against the windows outside.

It made me remember the stories of the waves at Portmellon coming up over the road and hitting the cottage we stay in on the harbour front. Large waves have been known to hit the harbour wall and crash over the row of cottages along the front with water coming down the chimney and putting the fires in the lounges out!

Here is a photo taken in 1931 of a Storm at Portmellon showing the tremendous waves. Thankfully the cottages are still standing and can still be enjoyed by holiday makers 80 years on.

Storm at Portmellon 1931

Special thanks to the photographer who took the picture, we don’t know how lucky we are in the digital age!

A more recent bit of footage can be seen on YouTube here

Frank Cock – Oyster Man

When I was at Falmouth College of Arts my passion was, and still is, photographing people. I shot various projects whilst studying photography but one of my favourites was photographing some old salty sea dogs. So over the next few weeks I will post some pictures.

So after the Oyster Festival I thought it was apt to show you some pictures of Frank Cock The Oyster Fisherman of Restronguet! I started photographing some gentlemen in Falmouth and one name lead to another and someone recommended Frank, he was in his 90’s at the time, had had a stroke and was now enjoying his retirement in his cottage overlooking the sea. He was an oyster man for most of his life and told me many tales of his working lives. Its time like these when you wished you recorded your conversation rather than relying on the grey matter, but  I do remember this…

Frank woke up one morning, drew back his curtains and looked out into the creek to see his boat. All he could see was a mast sticking up! His boat had been hit in the night and sunk. I’m afraid I can’t recall how it got hit, maybe a drunk local going home from the Pandora Inn?!

So, his boat was pulled up and taken to Mylor harbour where it appeared the damage was to great to repair and at the age of 80 something Frank decided it was time to hang up his nets and retire! He recovered the bowsprit ( the bit of wood that sticks out of the front of the boat!) and in his spare time he made the boat wheel which he is holding in the pictures below from the reclaimed wood. His boat, the Morning Star was bought and is now on display at Lands End museum – cut in half and attached to the wall I believe!

Here is a contact print of 3 pictures from my trusty Hasselblad – now sadly also retired!

These pictures are a real blast from the past for me as I have not looked at them in years. Good old Tri – X film rated at 1600 – you’ve got to love it!

And finally – something Frank said to me I will never forget

‘Ive caught hundreds of thousands of oysters in my time and only ever eaten one, and that got stuck in my throat!’

He was a dear man, I will never forget that misty old afternoon I met and photographed Frank.  If anyone has any more information or pictures of Frank I would love to add them to my blog. Please email me at Thank you.

‘aving a bit of croust today, are ‘e’?

Well, Ess I am….

Croust is the name given to a mid morning snack with the word mainly used in West Cornwall.  Up country they call it Elevenses (taken around 11am) and would consist of the same as Croust –  generally a slice of cake or a biscuit, although I have been known to have a homemade sausage roll for crouse, end of a pasty from the night before or one of mum’s meat patties (mini pie with beef and onion).

My best memories of Croust was going up to my Papa’s (Grandfathers) and having some of my Aunt’s heavy cake and a cuppa strong tea and playing with my Papa’s crutches in the back kitchen.

Here’s a slice of Saffron Cake from Warrens the bakers in Falmouth with a cuppa tea in my favourite mug – Cornish blue of course! Next week we will be at Mum and Dad’s and I can’t wait to be sitting in front of the Rayburn with a bit of cake and even a bit of pasty.

Cornish Is…

…a strange coincidence!

I was photographing a Sikh wedding in the middle of Milton Keynes earlier this year. Shortly before the ceremony I glanced across the crowd of wedding guests gathering and spotted a face. I double took, looked again and then thought to myself  ‘it can’t be’. I looked again and realised it can only be one person, someone who I have not seen for over 15 years, SOMEONE from my old village of Budock Water in Cornwall!

I made my way over to this chap, ‘Colin?’ I said. ‘Yes’ came the reply, he looked at me, the penny hadn’t dropped and then it did! ‘Oh, what are you doing here’ asked Colin. ‘Im the photographer’ came my reply ‘What are you doing here?’ I asked.

So there we were two Cornish men standing in a Sikh temple in Milton Keynes. Colin went to college with the groom and is now living in London. I’ve always wondered if this would ever happen and that day it did!

2 Weeks later Becky tells me I have to view a video on You Tube about Cornwall, ‘Its a spin on the Scottish is Radio 1 did for T in the park’. So I watched it laughing out loud at this brilliant video, I took a closer look at the author of this  creation – It was Colin Leggo again!

So with over 55,000 hits to his video you have to watch it. Please click here

Fond memories of waking up in Portmellon

Here are a few pictures of a memorable morning waking up to the sound of the waves lapping the shore and the cry of gulls as the sun appears over the horizon. When we stayed at Portmellon for Becky’s 30th we were lucky to have the top bedroom in the roof overlooking the sea. With large windows and  an old armchair, I sat there with a cuppa watching the world come alive and the warm sunlight reflecting off the waves. The sea gulls coming to, ready to get their breakfast!

I couldn’t resist grabbing my camera and taking some pictures as the light was just amazing…..

Holidays Cornwall, cuppa tea, sunrise,

Cornish waves, seagulls, Cornwall

…..and then I went and got my breakfast!

She always wanted to find a Cornishman

After moving ‘up country’ I eventually met my now fiancée in a picture framers, near Marlborough Wiltshire. She was working there as a picture framer believe it or not and I as a photographer walked through the door one day and several months later we became an item. Becky would have a Cornish holiday most years with her family and would generally stay near Mevagissey, Gorran Haven or Portmellon having a traditional seaside holiday. They would come down and eat FISH, ‘cos they couldn’t get it up there so fresh they tell me. There I am having my saffron bun stolen from the fishmongers every week as a child and poor Becky is having to have fish fingers for supper. Well that’s a bit of an exaggeration and I know my future in-laws fed Becky much better than that but when you live near the coast you do not know how lucky you are with all the wonderful fresh fish available daily.

Well, I digress, Mevagissey, Gorran Haven and places like that were like going abroad for me, you had to cross the river Fal! My parents would take me out every Sunday afternoon with my favourite tape playing in the car, generally  Paul Simon or Peter Gabriel with me singing inappropriately incorrect (and rude) lyrics before my mum telling me ‘I don’t think you mean to be singing that my love’. Anyhow, my point is we would rarely go across to St Mawes, Portscatho, Mevagissey and the Roseland Peninsula as you had to catch the King Harry Ferry or drive all the way around the Fal via Truro which made it a long drive. We would often go either to the North Coast or West towards Penzance.

So when Becky and I got together I had the joy of having a holiday in Portmellon with her family and it was…well like being on holiday for me! We now try to get to Cornwall a few times a year and will now generally stay with my folks near Falmouth and we always have a lovely time.

So, last year it was about time I got around to popping the question to Becky. Due to work we had to travel to Cornwall separately with me travelling a few days before.  So, eventually (10 minutes before Becky’s train arrived at Truro station) I plucked up the courage to call Becky’s Dad to ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Without any trepidation he said ‘of course!’. Phew!

Becky arrived at the station and off we went to Falmouth, me with a little twinkle in my eye.  Some days later after not getting around to popping the question we headed off toward

s the Lizard on a Cornish Lads whistle-stop tour of the Lizard Peninsula with a packed lunch including homemade fresh crab sandwiches. So eventually after visiting various villages and coves that morning we got to Cadgwith Cove for lunch. Out came the crisps and the sandwiches, Beckys busy chatting away, my heart is racing but it was now or err… now. Will you marry me i whispered in her ear? Her eyes welled up, ‘whats you answer’ I asked? ‘Yes’ Becky replied.

I had a good appetite since getting that one off my chest and Becky couldn’t eat a thing, so after finding a telephone box as there is no signal down in them parts of Cornwall Becky relayed the news to her delighted Mum and of course Dad already knew! Shortly after that our whistle-stop tour returned to Falmouth to tell my parents the good news.

And those crab sandwiches were delicious…. happy days!

Cadgwith and us after the crab sandwich!

and WHY my saffron bun I hear you cry…..

My first memory as a child growing up in Falmouth, Cornwall was every week I would go shopping with my Mum into Falmouth and she would buy me a saffron bun from Rowes the bakers, next to the Prince of Wales pier.  We would then head up the high street, mum pushing me in my pushchair to the fishmongers. More often than not Toby West, one of the most famous Cornish fishermen would be in the shop and would try to steal my saffron bun from me. Luckily I also carried a rubber hammer so he never got the bun!

This is a fond memory of my childhood and I can picture it like it was yesterday. Im also still a big fan of saffron buns so what better name to call my Cornish Blog but My Saffron Bun.

My Rubber Hammer was a close second place!

Why the cornish blog?

Since moving away from my home town of Falmouth in Cornwall some 10 years ago I seem to bump into my past on a regular basis. Working as a professional photographer living in South Oxfordshire the subject of Cornwall seems to always come up in conversation with the people I meet. I’m not one to say to someone ‘ hey i’m from Cornwall, have you ever been?’ Its more a case of people telling me they are going to Cornwall, they have just come back from Cornwall or they have family in Cornwall.

In the past people have asked me where they should visit or places to stay etc. For that reason some years ago a did produce a small homemade rough guide (it was pretty rough too!)  to Cornwall giving my friends enough to do for a few days whilst in Cornwall. I would always include those little gems of places that the average visitor would never seen along with my favourite places.

This blog is my effort at preserving and sharing my memories of growing up in Cornwall, its traditions, its history, great places to visit, cornish recipes, and dreckley a bit of proper cornish language!

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