Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hallowed Ground

As a tribe, we gather in unusual locations.  Our meeting places, where stories are shared and surf culture is perpetuated are not, I would argue, in the ocean - that is where we surf.  In the water our conversations are often stilted and broken, interrupted by the catching of waves or made difficult by wind or distance.  The ocean is where the stories occur and where legends are made, but it is often the parking lot that is the incubator of our culture. Almost anywhere where you can surf there is space nearby to park a car, whether it’s on the roadside, in a large tarmac lot, on a patch of dirt, or in a clearing in the sand dunes or forest.  Sometimes where everybody parks is a walk away from the waves, but quite often the spot where you pull up, check the waves and get changed has a pretty good view of the surf.  It’s where, in mid-winter, surfers hunch over their steering wheels with the windscreen wipers squeaking across the glass trying to keep warm whilst drumming up the motivation to pull on a wetsuit.  It’s where we talk about the best sand banks and surf forecasts through rolled down windows, where we compliment each other on sick waves and look back at the sea whilst towelling off in the hope that it’s getting worse, not better, and where we take phone-photos to show our friends what they missed today.  Most photos of waves aren’t taken by water-photographers swimming with a housing or stood on the sand with a zoom lens, they’re taken by surfers stood in the parking lot; how many surfers actually walk back down the beach to take a photo?
It’s in car parks where surfers stand with a coffee in the morning evaluating how accurate the forecast was and rescheduling their day around planned surfs, and where surfers lean on bonnets or sit on tailgates in the evening sharing beers and talking story.  It’s in car parks where wax is gifted, where the secret of where car keys are stashed is guarded, and sometimes it’s where water-borne scores are settled.

The ocean is where we ride waves, and this is a personal and solo pursuit.  The beach is, more often than not, just the thin band of sand that we run across to get to the water.  For so many though, the car par is where we congregate.  It’s where we are “surfers”, not just a surfer.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Outside Food: Bashed Crab

Last summer I published a couple of posts with recipes and suggestions for food to be cooked and eaten outside in the fresh air.  This summer (because of various weekend weddings and work commitments) I had to snatch outside opportunities as and when they arose and so we ended up going on a few mid-week overnight micro-adventures, sleeping out in bivvy bags or just heading to the beach to make dinner rather than doing it at home.  Smashed crab isn't a recipe; it's an assembly and it's perfect for when time is tight and the decision to eat al-fresco is pretty last minute.  There is one condition/requirement though, and that is that you can only really do it if you're on the coast.  Here goes:
  • Buy yourself a cooked crab, preferably from the small boat fisherman who hauled in the pot.  I picked one up for about £5 from the fisherman who's cold store is at the top of the hill coming up from Chapel Porth beach near St Agnes in Cornwall.  If you're near Port Isaac (Cornwall) then you'll be spoilt for choice.  You don't want a picked or dressed crab though, as that takes away most of the fun involved with this grown-up finger food.
  • Pack a camping bowl, fork and teaspoon for each person, nut-crackers (if you have any), an old newspaper, a jar of mayonnaise, the remains of a block of butter, a fish-grill rack and corn-on-the-cob (from your fridge at home, or stop by a shop on your way to the beach).  Go to your shed and grab a pin hammer or a small axe and some firewood.
  • On your way to the beach, stop at a fish&chip take-away and buy a large portion of chips to share.
  • Get to the beach and find your spot.  Light a small fire (we have a little fire pit that we take with us, the size of a large cake-tin) if it's possible to do so without ruining someone else's enjoyment of the beach, and spread out the newspaper using pebbles to stop it form blowing away in the wind.
  • Sandwich the sweetcorn cobs in the fish grill and cook them over the hot coals.
  • Open the chips and jar of mayonnaise.
  • Start pulling limbs off your cooked crab and use the pin hammer or the back of the axe to get at the meat inside, then get to work with the thin handle of your teaspoon to get all of the white meat out of the legs, claws and shoulders.
  • Make a mess.
  • Wipe you hands on a piece of newspaper then wrap all of the crab shells, greasy chip paper and other waste up in the newspaper to take home and put in the bin.
  • Throw a few more pieces of wood on the fire and enjoy the rest of your evening on the beach as the sun sinks into the sea.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Excuses, Excuses

I have an apology to make to those of you who are dedicated readers of this blog, because over the past couple of months the regularity of my posts (which for over five years went out almost every Sunday) has wobbled somewhat.  The reason is that for a little over a year now I have been transforming the way that I work and building a business beyond my freelance work, and for the past nine months or so this project has often taken precedence - resulting in the frequency of my postings to An Tor Orth An Mor becoming a little erratic.  So, without further ado, let me introduce you all to Hailer; you can hold Hailer entirely responsible for the disruption to your Sunday evening browsing.

Hailer is a difficult entity for me to label easily, but it is essentially in the business of storytelling.  You could pin such labels as "content marketing studio", "digital marketing agency" or "brand growth consultancy" on it, and all are equally valid definitions and yet each one on its own doesn't adequately describe what Hailer does.  What Hailer does is craft the stories and imagery that define brands, grow followings and improve performance.  If you're interested in a more concise explanation and taking a look at the various client case studies then please head over and check out, otherwise I'll just be repeating myself in this post.  

The development of Hailer isn't the death knell for An Tor Orth An Mor, just a separation of my personal and freelance photographic work from the content that I produce regularly for a number of brands and businesses.  I intend to return to producing regular posts for this blog and am developing a new home for it (watch this space), whilst Hailer's "notebook" blog will feature syndicated client work and news.  If you like what you see on the website then may I suggest you give Hailer a follow on your social media platform of choice (instagram, facebook or twitter) so that you can keep getting more of the same.

Here's just a tiny taster...

Sharing adventures on the Cornish Coast with Cornish Rock Tors

Ongoing brand management and development for wooden surfboard makers Otter Surfboards

 Building an online surf magazine with an international following for Surf Simply