Fish House - Achingly beautiful and it makes you smile.
I have been to Ireland many times in the last few yew years. And many times I have drifted over internet presentations of the rural cottage. Hopes, dreams and reality seldom seamlessly collide, but the Fish House in Skibbereen was everything the owners promised; everything the photographs hinted; and more even than I had hoped.
Rural cottages are many and various. There is the cottage on a farm, next to the corrugated iron barn and full of the seventies furniture the owners don't want. Cluttered and drab. Then there is the wholly stripped and white designer creation with leather and chrome with walk in showers and granite kitchen transposed from the Dublin D4 developers wife's magazine dream.
The Fish House is a different sort of thing. It is the result of a thoughtful and clever person imagining peace and tranquillity as real and achievable things then reconstructing a cottage that makes that be so. It is not actually a typical Irish anything. It is not a farm labourers home for wife and 7 children re-born as designer chic.
What it is is a stone building, naturally secluded and on the edge of an estuary and representing a thousand decisions and choices to make it beautiful. For example, you enter the courtyard though an old stone wall with door like a children's story book. The house is warm. The sofas are worn but comfortable. Upstairs the there is a low double bed overlooking the river estuary and better still a cushion mattress up against the long low windows to read, snooze and gaze at birds, the moving water and the odd boat or scull moving up and down.
Back downstairs and the front door is an opening to the world of rural Cork. Green trees, green grass and water and all literally at your doorstep.
Then there is a wet room. Whatever happens, whatever the weather, whatever the day brings, there is a place to wash and more importantly dry clothes boots and children. The bunks are Scandinavian nautical style with little shuttered window views. I would have slept in each and every one if I had more time to try everything. Everything works and every is full of practical beauty.
There is a little office in a sunny room with maps and books and view towards the distant town and boatyard. Broadband ? Yes and fast enough. A pond.
I am a New Zealander. A traveller from Bhutan in the Himalayas to South Pacific resorts and villages. I don't mind simple but don't like broken. Don't mind expensive but don't enjoy extravagance for the sake of it. Don't mind crowds but not scared of remoteness.
And so if you look at the photos of Fish House and you imagine a little country house of England, Ireland, France, perhaps northern Italy, that makes the tension of your life fall away as you walk through the door - Fish House will do that.
The only problem was leaving after a week. So when I win Lotto and stop working; or when I stop working anyway, without waiting; when I write the book and love the love of my life; we will go back there for a month next time, a season maybe or a year, and I will be smiling.
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|Overall condition of the property||Bedding & mattresses|
|Kitchen & utensils||Bathroom cleanliness|
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