Cottage-in-the clouds

Welcome to our magical cottage which overlooks Lamorna Cove in mystical,wonderful West Penwith,Cornwall.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Nude Magazine

Our epic journey began on that fateful,momentous late  Sunday afternoon in October 2008 when a voice whispered in my ear,"Turn Around For One More Look" as I trudged up the coastal path out of Lamorna Cove.

I did so and,peering through the mist and gloom I espied that lonely cliffside cottage,overgrown,neglected,forgotten and forlorn. The For Sale sign itself green with moss and decay like the rest of the cottage and hanging drunkenly amidst the blackthorn.

I hadn't noticed it on my walk through the cove two hours before on my way to Dorminack,so why had I now?

It was my "There It Is" moment. A split second that I had been waiting for all of of my life that has forever changed the future.

In 1945 when Monica Baldwin,former Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin's niece saw her "Cottage In The Clouds" in person(she had seen it originally in an amazingly accurate vision that she had seen years before) it was just a one roomed building having existed for over a hundred years as a massively-walled granite blockhouse used to safely store the dynamite used for blasting in the granite nearby granite quarry-hence the name Magazine.

Moulded by nature and the elements with the natural constraints of the cliffside itself it has over time sent it's own granite roots deep into the bedrock fromed by cataclysmic earth movements over 350 million years ago. It had evolved,expanded and reformed to become part of the geology,as one with the enveloping rock,guarded and nurtured by the very granite it is bounded by and made from.

Many room have been added by natural selection. The cottage has gradually grown and sits snugly'perfectly allied with nature on it's granitic ledge high above Lamorna Cove,truly a "Cottage In The Clouds",it's windows like clear far-seeing eyes forever gazing benevolently over the restless ocean,lashed by wind- flung spray,battered by salty rain or bathed in warm sunshine,unceasing and immoveable.

Three years ago it was difficult to even see the cottage,overgrown as it was with Sycamore,briar,blackthorn and miles and miles of ivy entwining all.Abandoned and derelict,green and damp,falling apart,branches hung over the roof and poked through cracks,blackthorn sent it's fingers probing under roof tiles and huge vines of ivy writhed like giant pythons over moss-covered,flaking and grey masonry.

I knew there had to be a cottage that could be saved somewhere amid the chaos. I knew there had to be a heart-stopping view in there somewhere!

Yes I had a vision and like a man possessed(which I was-still am)I grabbed a machete,saw,axe,secateurs,anything and everything and with religious zeal set about slashing,cutting,sawing digging,tearing away decades of decay and overgrowth,unclothing the cottage and gardens.From dawn until dark every day I cleared all away.

Our Lost Gardens Of Lamorna were being reclaimed as was the cottage. The builder doing the renovations had spent three months at The Magazine before I arrived never realising that such a wondrous vista as I uncovered awaited discovery!As the cove and expanse of Atlantic Ocean opened up before us we were all stunned by its closness and its magnificence!

I set my sights upon a delapidated greenhouse on a ledge above the cottage.It was encircled by a girdle of monstrous ivy,vines thicker than my arm.I hacked and smashed for days!Hundreds of old plant pots and seed containers littlered the floor.Coloured glass bottles and mysterious rusted tools,moss-covered and decayed were everywhere.Much sweat,bruises and cursing later I had cleared the area,laid down gravel and installed the terrace and seating; The Owls nest we call it.It enjoys spectacular views over the cove towards Carn Dhu and The Lizard beyond and become a favourite spot to sit and wonder and enjoy the magnificent view in the afternoon sunshine.

The next target was a truly ancient shed halfway up the cliffside. Collapsed upon itself it's long-decayed boards green and rotten. What a treasure house it was! Old chocolate-brown bottles of ginger beer(full,but of what I did not taste to see),bright blue bottle of methylated spirits,empty(sadly)gin and brandy bottles,even a magnum of champagne lodged in a perfectly-contoured rock,old saucers,cups and crockery,rusty tools and galvanised buckets. A cornucopia of delights.
It is said that The Magazine once hosted very gay and well-attended parites. I believe it!

Eventually I salvaged what I could and cleared the area. We call it The Outlook.We can sit there for morning coffee,another magnificent view before us as the sun rises like a giant red orb out of the sea and over the black bulk of Carn Dhu and spreads fingers of yellow and red into the sky and casts it's glowing rays over the glistening sea.

The cliffside gardens are now walled,tired and relatively naked,too,bared for all to see their beauty. I have crawled through murky dark and earthy tunnels,whose inhabitants scuttled away as I advanced with my machete to bring light and air to their hidden dusky homes. I followed such long-hidden pathways for days.The garden is now full of ancient walkways,of granite drystone walls,of secret nooks and crannies and millenia-old caves.Who laboured so long and lovingly to hoist all the rocks and so skillfully create I have no idea but eveident that it was a labour of love as re-discovering them was for me and I would like to shake his hand. Work is difficult at The Magazine. The terrain is both difficuly and unforgiving and comforting and sublime all at the same time. When struggling up the cliff or perched upon a precarious outcrop one is lured into slothfullness and all work must stop to drink in the enchanting vista.

Early one morning I was down in the lane doing a little weeding.It was around 8am. By 6pm I had,little-by-little unearthed and exposed several immense granite walls-a series of towering rock buttresses rising steeply from the lane to the cottage garden above. All of a sudden the place had been transformed,metamorphosed into a French Chateau or some medieval fortress.I had no idea that beneath all the ivy and weeds those walls had existed! Who manhandled those vast granite blocks and skillfully formed those ramparts I do not know either.

I have hauled myself to dizzying heights up the cliff,slashing,burning building,reclaiming;extreme gardening some have called it,my back to the sea and always surprised and awed-anew by the panorma before and below me as I turn for a rest.

We have owned The Magazine for just bthree short years now.Perhaps own is not the right word as we are only temporary residents,guardians of a place that will endure long after we are gone.Eventually it will be reclaimed by the cliff that spawned and has nutured it.

We have added a "Bridge" an area almost directly over the water where we can sit and sail away to distant lands or see who comes a-calling on our earthly paradise. We have also added a conservatory where seascape and sky merge and fill our eyes and hearts with wonder as we sit and ponder our great good fortune..How lucky we are!

We have peeled away the layers leaving the cottage naked but re-invigorated and refreshed,ready to face the world boldly and proudly again. It has been a wonderful journey so far,full of a deep satisfaction,of awe and excitement and of contentment. To sit in the conservatory or in the garden on a sunny day gazing rapturously at the ebb and flow of the azure sea,perhaps watching Sammy the seal cavort in his watery home or to see a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins gliding effortlessly through the swell out in the bay is Heaven!

On stormy days we sit inside while the wind howls around the cottage and lashes the gunmetal foam-flecked sea into a frenzy as rank upon rank of shaggy-headed monstrous combers plough into the cove,rising like grey-green giants before smashing in a madness of spary and foam onto the rocks with the sound of giant boulders clacking together on the submerged slipway,the air full of spume and sea fret.

At dusk when visiors have gone and the cove is ours we can see the Pipistrelle Bats darting and flitting like miniature fighter planes hunting in the gloaming. If we are very lucky the haunting call of a Tawny Owl reverberates off the ancient quarry face and around the bay and gradually the eastern sky above the black bulk of Carn Dhu glows whitely as,like a magic golden orb the moon ascends mystically from the sea and the cove is bathed in a brilliant light and the sea becomes afire,a dancing glistening ocean.

We hope our journey with The Magazine will last a long time yet.Life without our Cottage In The Clouds is impossible to imagine.

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