Tag Archives: Bob Freshwater

Exciting News

Cover imageIt has been a little while since the last post mainly because I have been busy putting together a selection of these poems into a book “Pebbles on the Shore”, which is currently at the printers.

Poetry and Song have long been a traditional way of recording stories of people and events, as an alternative way of remembering.  So, with that in mind, each piece of verse in the book has a brief story attached to tie it in to its place in the shaping of Teignmouth and the surrounding area.  I have also worked with a local artist, Maureen Fayle, who has illustrated the various pieces.  Her superb pen and ink sketches lend so much more depth to the stories that unfold.

Fresh to Bleed 13-cropThe selection goes back almost 400 years but there are a few contemporary pieces as well so thanks to the ‘modern-day’ contributors for allowing me to include their work:  Ian Chamberlain (one of the co-founders of Poetry Teignmouth), Kim Edwards, Bob Freshwater (and the Back Beach Boyz), Deborah Harvey, Barbara Hine, Don Pearson and Tacy Rickard.

Teignmouth 27 - cropped1This project started just over two years ago with a thought and a question. Walking up the cliff path through the beautiful Mules Park in East Teignmouth I saw a poem, The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy, posted on the noticeboard. Who put it there I don’t know, but it struck a chord. My thoughts drifted to Keats. Teignmouth is proud of its association with John Keats even though he stayed here only three months whilst looking after his brother Tom who had come earlier in hope that the sea air would alleviate, if not cure, his consumption. Then came the random question – were there any other poems or poets associated with Teignmouth? And so this project was born.

The journey to this book has been like a walk along the beach, occasionally finding interesting pebbles whose shape, texture and colour define the shoreline like poems marking time in the history of Teignmouth.



Coming Back Home

Fishing for Cod off Newfoundland

Fishing for Cod off Newfoundland

The last post was about the poignant story of Donald Crowhurst, a sailor who left Teignmouth in 1968 on the Round the World race never to return home.

Today’s post is a song by Bob Freshwater of the Back Beach Boyz about Teignmouth’s cod fishermen of the 19th century who did return home.

After fishing for cod in the North Atlantic off Newfoundland for many months in the 1850s the crew are thinking about coming home to Teignmouth and having a tankard or two of ale to rinse away the salt ….. maybe more than a couple ….. at some of the pubs on and around the River Beach and Quays.

Coming Back Home
(Bob Freshwater)

What will you have when we’re on dry land?
I’ll have a pint of porter
Why not start in The Bird in the Hand
It’s away from the saltwater.

For better or worse we’ll quench our thirst
With a tun or butt or hogshead
Kilderkin, firkin or pin
Maybe just a pint and see Jack next door
                   (Last Verse) Before we hit the floor

What will you have now we’re home from sea?
I’ll have a pint of Porter
In The Newfoundland Fishery
And drink to the Cod Importer

What will you have to rinse your throat?
I’ll have a pint of Porter
Let’s go down The Ferryboat
And stand in bricks and mortar

What will you have, when your heads in a spin?
I’ll have a pint of Porter
Let’s go down to The Old Quay Inn
Beside the tall transporter

What will you have in the smoke and gloom?
I’ll have a pint of Porter
Let’s go along to The Horse and Groom
The walk is slightly shorter

What will you have when you’ve had the five?
I’ll have a pint of Porter
Let’s go along to the old Beehive
And toast the Captain’s daughter

What will you have; cos I forgot?
I’ll have a pint of porter
Let’s call into the old Pilot
Have you had more than you ought to?

What will you have before we leave?
I’ll have a pint of porter
Then ‘tis time for the Back Beach Weave
Before the final slaughter

Want to know more? Check out:

Old pubs of Teignmouth …..
The Back-Beach Boyz …..
One family’s history of Newfoundland …..

Ode to an Oyster

Pacific Oysters

Pacific Oysters

Oyster farming has been part of the life of the River Teign since the seventies and records show that 350,000 oysters were harvested in 1987.

Ode to an oyster was written by Bob Freshwater to celebrate the Teignmouth Oyster and some of the characters, past and present, who earn a living on/from the river. Bob has included local characters, some who are no longer with us (Jack the Hat) but others well known on the river.

It is one of the repertoire of the Back Beach Boyz.

Ode to an Oyster
(Bob Freshwater)

I’m Sid the Pacific Oyster and I live up on the Teign
I get a good soak twice a day which helps to keep me clean
Along comes Barry Sessions with his sea boots rolled and rank
He picks up a couple of my mates and bungs them in a tank

I’m Sid the Pacific Oyster, not common French or Pearl
Some days I’m feeling blokey, some days more like a girl
I used to live at Arch Brook, now I live on Gasworks Bank
It’s safe from Pilot Flemming when you sit out on the flank

I’m Sid the Pacific Oyster, some folk call me a spat
I’m smaller than Bill Hook’s thumb, or slightly more than that
I’m bundled in a plastic pouch and laid out on the trestle
We have to keep our shells closed to every powered vessel.

I’m Sid the Pacific Oyster, not liking months with Rs
I lounge about on a pallet, watching trains and cars
As Jack the Hat rakes cockles or picks mussels in his pot
And Pete Full lifts his boulders to see what crabs he’s got.

I’m Sid the Pacific Oyster, some folk think we taste weird
Just like Old Wes Highgate, he with the long grey beard
We watch him on the Salty, dragging up a hefty seine
And pulling on yellow oilers as it lashes down with rain

I’m Sid the Pacific Oyster, I’m pretty self-contained
My organs hold both eggs and sperm, I have to be restrained
I spew my eggs into the tide and wave and watch them go
Thousands of Pacific Oyst’lets, for River Teign Shellfish Co


Three years on the river Teign, pure quality of life
‘Til along comes Crabshack Simmonds with a Shucking knife
With ice and a slice of lemon or a squirt of Tabasco sauce
Sid the Pacific Oyster’s life was nature’s tour de force

Want to know more?  Check out:

Oyster farming on the Teign …..
Back Beach Boyz …..
The Oystercatchers Cafe …..