There is something exciting and magical about the start of the day. The light is different, the sky glows, the air is still and on warm days the heat of the morning is different. The people I see on my walks to the fish market are regulars in my life, almost the same hellos at the same place every day on my way in; early mornings become a habit for those of us who see the magic of it.
All is peaceful until I get to the other side of the Quay and the hustle and bustle of the fish auction. Work has been going on all night in preparation for it, boats landing, fish being iced and graded and the auctioneer getting prepared for the negotiations that will take place over the next few hours. The fish buyers are wonderful characters who create the market banter as they out bid each and run each other up on price to secure the fish they want or price others out of their market, it’s a fascinating place.
I am always amazed when I walk on the market and see the fish before me, I feel a huge excitement and I just want to buy it all! A chat with Nigel and Josh our buyers and they calmly secure the best of the fish for our restaurants and I manage to get a fish or two for breakfast that morning. Next stop for me is the Rockfish cafe to say hi to Lynn our fish cutter and Monica who runs the café. She cooks fish breakfasts for us all with a good strong coffee and pours a brandy or two which we usually toast to someone passed like my dad or Jock.
It’s a close community on the quay, everyone needs each other and the friendships are strong, there are days when the fishermen win when prices are high and when the buyers win when the prices are low and over breakfast this is when the banter starts again. By 11am the fish is sold and the buyers head off leaving the skilled filleters to prepare and pack the fish and send it on its way around the world. Boats are in port having repairs and refits and getting ready for sea so there is always plenty of activity as crews and boats come and go. It never stops and I like to be able to hear the sounds of the market from my house, the crash of a fish box in the night or the sound of an outboard at sunrise as fishermen head out on their tenders to the mornings for a day at sea. I find it comforting to know it’s all going on out there and the noise is far from an intrusion. For me there is nothing like the seafood here on England’s seafood coast and the rhythm of life it drives.
Photograph by Chris Terry