As the sun creeps slowly into view over Mevagissey Habour in Cornwall bringing with it the promise of another splendidly sunny day, I stand, leaning on the ancient harbour wall opposite the front door of The SeaHoss, just as its occupants must have done for the last 300 years, with mug of tea in one hand and feeling I have the whole world in the palm of the other.
Turning away from the extraordinary view of the golden, sunlit fishing boats, I lean on the lichen covered stone wall with my back to the sea and take in the remarkable facade of the old house. As I run my hand over the sea-gnarled ancient wood I still, even after a couple of years, can find a new date or working boat carved deep into the timber which reminds me that of all of the work we have done to this iconic house over the last 24 months, this incredible facade was the most challenging, the most revealing and the most satisfying of all.
Who would have guessed that the secrets of the working boats leaving the harbour since the 1700’s were diligently recorded here, hidden beneath years of modern paint finishes and carved deeply into the timbers, recording dates, beautiful etchings and initials of the fisherman. As I stand here now, I run my hand over a tall mast, a bowsprit and an inscription dated 1872 and wonder about the lives of the people who had carved this and supposed that, like me, they would have stood back to admire their work, maybe with a mug of tea in hand and then would have most probably have turned to lean on the wall, resting their hot mug of tea precociously on an uneven piece of jagged stone to watch the world go by.
Of course, some of the timber was too rotten to keep, years of being smothered in thick paint, trapping the moisture and not being able to breathe had taken its toll. It was replaced with rare, reclaimed 8 inch wide larch from a 300 year old farm house in the Lake District. This allowed us to replace the rotten wood and also to replace some of the rotten and damaged floor boards in the house also. The “new” reclaimed timbers are obvious, but we quite like it that way, it is a record of the changes in the ‘Hoss’s history.
Now, beautifully preserved with several coats of special UVA protection eco friendly oil, the timber frontage is an open history book, there, like a museum, for every passer by to see, for the local fishermen, who’s families have lived in the village for generations to search while they lean on the harbour wall to talk about their day.
Restoring the timber frontage of the property was only a small part of the massive rescue operation involved in saving this gorgeous old house but it the one we are most proud of. It was extremely hard work, it may have been the building firm who stripped off the years of paint finishes with their specialist equipment, but it was myself and my partner who painstakingly removed the remaining paint and the filler from the etchings, piece by piece, initial by initial, boat by boat and oiled the entire frontage. It is something the whole village and visitors can now enjoy – true, it looks a little shabby, but it’s genuine and quite the “in” thing at the moment apparently, one passer by even asked me how I had achieved the look as he wanted to copy it on the front of his cottage!
The SeaHoss, a 300 year old Grade 2 listed cottage, known locally as The ‘Hoss, built from the timbers of an ancient shipwreck as a pilchard cellar in the 1700s has taken over the last two years of my life. Renovations of this cottage, purchased in 2014 in a dire state of repair, nearly broke me, both financially and emotionally, but here I am, two years on and having just completed our first year of successful trading as a Cornish holiday cottage. The wonderful reviews and comments this old lady has received have made it all worth while. One guest has even penned a remarkable poem in honour of her.
Leaning on the ancient stone wall with the splendid views over the harbour and the lighthouse towards the far reaches of the ocean, I somehow still constantly find myself with my back to the water, admiring the old, shabby timbers of The SeaHoss instead. She is truly beautiful and I am so proud to be her guardian.
The SeaHoss is available for short breaks and holidays. www.theseahoss.com