Port Isaac

aka PORT WENN!!

Today we trekked down to Port Isaac, a lovely little historic fishing village that also serves as a backdrop and setting (as Port Wenn) for the fabulous Doc Martin. Mum and Dad were here a couple of years ago while they were filming, but it no such luck today unfortunately. We parked up in the main carpark, and it’s a long, steep walk down to the village, with tiny streets and cottages piled higgledy-piggledy along the way. It was a grey, overcast day again, but the only rain was very light, and it didn’t spoil our enjoyment. We walked up and down taking pictures of familiar locations (Large’s restaurant, the Doc’s house and practice, Mrs Tishell’s pharmacy, Louisa’s cottage and the school), but a lot of the places function differently to their portrayal in the show. The pharmacy is actually a sweet shop, the school is actually the ‘old’ school and is now a hotel and restaurant and the Doc’s practice is a private residence. I imagine the occupants get super annoyed by the tourists taking pics outside their place…

Muahahahahaha

We had tea in the Stowaway Tea Shoppe which sells a bunch of show merchandise, and looked around a few galleries and gift shops. Then it was finally time for a traditional Cornish pasty (steak, and amazing btw) and we walked all the way back up the hill to our car.

Port Isaac

 

Large’s restaurant and the Doc’s place

 

Port Isaac

 

MRS TISHELL!

 

The School

 

Louisa’s cottage

 

Traditional Cornish steak pasty and it’s chocolate fudge equivalent

The plan was to drive back to St Austell so I could do some homework and Marnie and Mum could go and do something nice for the afternoon. But just after we’d stopped to take pictures in the tiny, beautiful village of St Kew, Mum had the great idea to check if the Smuggler’s Museum at Jamaica Inn was open today and it WAS. So we drove back to Bodmin Moor, actually able to see the moor in the clear, fogless afternoon, and went to Jamaica Inn again. (Just a note, if you are at Jamaica Inn at either end of the season, it is worth asking if the museum is open because it certainly didn’t look open, but when we asked at the bar, they took us through the back to let us in). There’s a ten minute film on the history of smuggling in Cornwall and the history of Jamaica Inn itself, and then you go through to see the Daphne du Maurier room! It has a beautiful writing desk set up with a typewriter, a bowl of her favourite sweets, and dozens of pieces of paraphernalia from her life and work (including plenty of signed copies of her works). It was a really special thing to see, for literary nerds such as myself, but also for anyone interested in history. Daphne du Maurier only died in 1989, so her children, grandchildren and friends and still alive and able to donate things and give lots of interviews about her. I also didn’t realise she had written 38 novels. Better get reading. The rest of the museum has some interesting literature and artefacts related to Cornish smuggling, including plenty of examples of how contraband was smuggled. Hollow books, Bibles made of wood, drugged exotic birds stuffed into stockings, hashish woven into hairpieces…smuggling is a very creative profession. It was only 3 or 4 pounds each to get into the museum, and if you’re at the inn for a meal or to stay, then it’s definitely something you should put on your list to do.

 

 

 

THEN we drove back to St Austell, and I did a wee bit of homework and some packing. Mum and Marnie went for a walk into town, but now we’re all back, nearly ready for dinner, and looking at all our photos. Torquay and Weymouth tomorrow!

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Minack Theatre and St Michael’s Mount

After another wonderful breakfast (I tell you, we’re getting really spoiled in these B&Bs), we got into the car and headed into a wet, windy fog to Porthcurno, home of the fabulous Minack Theatre. Mum and Dad had been to the theatre before and were determined to show me. It has surpassed my every expectation. It was built by Rowena Cade, who lugged sand and granite up from the beach to the cliffside of her property. She began construction when she was around 40, and continued working every winter, in all weathers, until her death just short of her 90th birthday. I think she was part mountain goat. It is a stunning open-air amphitheatre with a thriving theatre season through the warmer months, though there was a company rehearsing a performance of Grease that we could watch which was hilarious in this weather.

 

 

 

We sat in the cafe for a bit and then kept driving, through the tiny town of Mousehole (apparently pronounced ‘Mow-zle’). It was terrifying, with it’s teeny-tiny Cornwall-sized streets, which are only wide enough for a small car to drive through. If you meet someone coming the opposite way, you need to back up, or wait for them to move. One little old man nearly ran us off the road. We were terrified he would damage the car, but he squeezed through by the breadth of a hair and stressed us out proper. But Mousehole was still beautiful, and provided some nice photo ops.

 

 

Then we continued onto St Michael’s Mount. It is an island situated off the coast of Cornwall and the town of Marazion. A castle and a tiny village sit on top of it, and the castle is still lived in today, by the St Aubyn family who have owned it since the 17th century. You can visit the castle and gardens but we didn’t do that today – maybe next time. The really exciting bit is walking across the Causeway. At low tide, it is possible to walk from the mainland to the island, and depending on your patience depends how wet you get. We dashed across and only got our shoes wet, because we don’t exactly have the luxury of a regular washing/dry-cleaning schedule, but there were a few people content to wade through earlier, despite the freezing water.

 

 

 

 

 

On the Mount, we took a bunch of photos and visited the gift shop, but were a bit too cold for anything else, so we headed back over the (much drier) Causeway and got back in the car. We drove back to St Austell and I fell asleep while navigating, but we managed. Back home now, fed and watered, ready for bed, but I should really try and do some homework. We’ll see.

Through the Cotwolds and onto Cornwall!

After a huge breakfast this morning (as usual, we were up too early and breakfast wasn’t served until 8.30, so we packed the car and twiddled our thumbs for a bit) we headed out of Cirencester and down to Tetbury, for a spot of antique/book/market browsing. Today was odd, changing weather again, very much like Melbourne, but we only had a few drizzles of rain that didn’t affect us too badly.

 

We kept driving to Lacock, but along the way Marnie spotted a sign for Castle Combe, where she had been with Grandpa in 1998. We took a quick detour to see it, and it was the best decision we made all day. We drove through the eight-cottage hamlet of Tiddleywink and parked near the river in Castle Combe. Forty minutes later, our purses considerably lighter and loaded up with cakes, scones, scarves and other souvenirs from the village market and shops, we climbed back in the car. Castle Combe is definitely the prettiest village we’ve seen, and Marnie had fond memories of it. Also, a bunch of movies were filmed there. Apparently the church features prominently in War Horse, but I have not seen that movie because emotions.

 

 

 

 

Then we continued to Lacock, another place that has been used for plenty of filming because it is pretty much entirely owned by the National Trust. Pride and Prejudice, Robin of Sherwood, Moll Flanders, Emma, Tess of the D’ubervilles plus more have all featured Lacock, and the Abbey was used for the Harry Potter films (though I didn’t go into the Abbey today). We had tartlets and tea for lunch, said hi to the bakery cat, and walked up and down the streets wearing out our cameras. I tell you, I’m almost getting blasé with the amount of cute, tiny, preserved villages I’ve seen. The Cotswolds is a really gorgeous corner of the earth.

Lacock Abbey

 

 

 

We got back in the car and settled in for a long trip to Cornwall. It took about 3 hours to drive from Lacock down to Bolventor, which we were stopping at to see Jamaica Inn. The inn was the inspiration for a fantastic novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier which I read in preparation for this trip. Marnie and Grandpa stayed at the inn years ago, but sadly it was booked out for our visit. The inn has a long history of hauntings, piracy and smuggling, and it was very fitting that the most dense and spooky fog descended on Cornwall as we drove towards the inn. We could barely see the cars in front, but Mum did an excellent job navigating the unfamiliar roads. We had hot chocolates and bought souvenirs, and in a cruel twist of fate, the Smuggler’s Museum, which includes the Daphne du Maurier Room, is closed until Easter. However, I took lots of photos of the inside of the pub, which has all manner of artwork and artefacts relating to the inn’s history and culture. I’ll definitely be back to stay there one day.

 

 

 

Cornwall fog

 

Outside our B&B

Then we drove through the fog to St Austell, and our home for the next three days, The Arches B&B. We are in a beautiful attic with two rooms plus a bathroom, gorgeous decor and comfy beds. We walked into St Austell to a Wetherspoon’s for dinner and are now back in our attic, getting ready for bed. At some point in the next few days I really need to do some homework, but we’ve got a busy program planned for Cornwall, so we’ll see…