Trip Start Dec 31, 2010
24Trip End Jan 31, 2011
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Where I stayed
Bar Lodge, Penrose Estate
The footpath below the terrace that runs from Helston to Porthleven is already busy with early morning traffic passing just a few feet from my windows, people walking their dogs, jogging, or just taking in the view.
A lazy start to the day. Hard to leave this house at all, but I want to explore the path to Porthleven, pick up more fire starters and matches (more on that later), see if I can locate a WiFi spot and have lunch.
The trail runs along the top of the bluffs above the beach, past two open mine shafts, a WWII pillbox and signs warning of crumbling cliffs. Approaching Porthleven, about a mile from the house, steps lead down a steep slope to a narrow street lined with small summer cottages, all with their names on signs by the door -- Grandad's Net Loft, Sea Breeze Cottage, Harbour House -- and eventually along the sea wall of the thimble sized harbor of Porthleven itself, a small Cornish fishing village. Much like Whitby, access to the inner harbor is through a chute of twin piers and when the tide is out, all the boats moored inside sit high and dry in the mud.
It's Ian, my cab driver out for a walk with his wife.
"He's the American I was telling you about," he explains, and then reminds me to call when I have my exit strategy figured out, as he's likely the only driver able to find the place.
The Harbour Inn is serving lunch and WiFi and I grab a table for a plate of fish and chips, a pint of bitter and go online while the locals line up for the car very buffet as the sound system plays an endless stream of Beatles songs.
Back at the house, I make a pot of tea and light a fire. The latter is a challenge, as I found out the night before. The Trust again provides pressed wood logs and fire starters, but in this case they are something called "Ecologs" which a card on the mantle notes emit less CO2, don't send sparks up the chimney and save trees (as they are made from wood scraps only). I discover that they emit less CO2 because they don't burn. Ditto for the sparks up the chimney. nd they save trees because all but the most persistent will give up trying to build a fire altogether after the fifth or sixth attempt. No kindling is provided and no newspaper, both of which I had in ample supply in Yorkshire, so the trick is to break the logs in half strike the self-lighting fire starters and tuck them in next to the Ecologs. The fire starters burn hot and furiously. The Ecologs char and go out as soon as the fire starters do. Add more fire starters. Ecologs singe. After a good half hour and half a box of fire starters the logs finally catch -- and once they do, it's easy to keep the fire going by adding more logs, just as tenure is obtained through frequent publishing -- but if I ever decide to spring for a custom-built home, I will have it constructed entirely of Ecologs and skip the fire insurance.
The Trust charges £4 per bag of 8 fireproof logs.
They'd be better off charging £4 per box of fire starters and throwing the logs in for free.
Making dinner is much easier. Some egg noodles, chicken, broccoli, roasted peppers, mushrooms, milk and grated cheddar bakes into something filling, if not strictly Cordon Bleu.
Then a whisky by the fire. Okay, two. I'll be damned if I'm going to go to bed before I get my money's worth out of the Ecologs. Blessed is the wee dram that squares all things at the end of each day.