Why winter in Port is IT. (A few survival tips)

No question – winter’s in Port are superb. The weather outside is often insane – Ok, I have some snow in this picture but most of the time it’s just raging storms, fog, mist and well, real weather.










The streams race down the hillsides bulging with water. Bogs are deep in moss, lichen and fringed with heavy heather. The sheep stay out all year round, extra woolly now and admirably tough. The ocean goes mental: some days are spookily flat and steely grey – others, more likely, the chop and swell rises and the sea dashes against the harbour wall. Nothing better than scavenging kindling on the beach – driftwood and gnarled ancient ravellings of heather – hearing that surf bashing the rocks and dragging itself through a million rounded stones – and knowing youll soon head in to light that fire.  Tip one: Have faith in the flame – it will do for you what its done for us for millions of years.










I say Irish weather is nearly always beautiful – even wintertime.  Softness of light, the ease of the rain, the whip of the wind. At Port, you get a year of weather in a day, and almost every single day, the sun breaks through as Atlantic winds break up the cloud mass – even if its just a redeeming, almost holy shaft of lemon sun rays over a storm cloud at the day’s end. Tip 2: Always go out.  The weather is always worse from the inside – and makes the coming in all the better.

This baby (oct 2012) wouldn't be seen dead indoors















The electrics weren’t working in the cottage when we went down last week. We were there to fix up a new improved wind turbine to create more power, and – the batteries seem to be dead flat, probably worn out – and spent the three days in candle power, and seriously contemplating taking away any vestige of electricity that we have spent months and hours of brain power creating . Tip 3: Live without power. The sweetness of lighting lamps and candles as dusk draws in, and its complete and utter simplicity and beauty along with the firelight, is without compare.













Bowing happily to suggestion, we have made a delicious new corner in the cottage. God knows where we found the space, but there is now a rich, deep sheepskin settle to the left of the stove , replacing the working desk/kids corner. Cushioned, cosy, and the warmest spot in the cottage, we’re calling it the love snug – soon to be extended a little further,  so two can actually lie down there, all night by the fire even.  Tip 4: Worship the LOVE SNUG










Sometimes, the cold can get into your bones. When you’ve walked miles and your boots have leaked, or on a lashing, lashing day, but no bother, there are ways of extra warmth. Irish whiskeys with a nip of warmed peat water straight from the stream; a full bodied red, breathy from above the stove with steaming bowls of chowder; and warmer beyond all warmers – the Port Kelp Bath. Always reap the kelp at low tide, that way you get the fresh stuff. One plant will do, but more is fun. Run the bath to the limit, light the candles, lie back and listen to the pelting rain or wind whipping round the tin roof. For the full-on traditional, take down the tin bath from the second bathroom and fill it in front of a stove full of glowing turf  Tip 5: Embrace the chill. Its all the better to cosy up in!



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