Thursday, 5 November 2015

Port Isaac - The Home Of The Doc

The first thing that struck me about Port Isaac was how, almost to a person, everyone stopped on the curve of the hill leading down to the harbour to lean on the grey stone wall and scan the corresponding hill on the far side of the beach before pointing excitedly to the Doctors house.

See the small grey house with the 3 windows?  That's the Doc's house!

I say almost to a person as SD strode on obliviously down the hill as I jumped up and down excitedly shouting 'look, look, there it is!!' to the empty space where SD should have been.

Port Isaac is the location for Port Wenn, a fictional town in Cornwall where the drama series about the curmudgeonly country Doc Martin is set.

I've long badgered SD to take me but until now he had resisted.  There have always been other beaches to explore, cliff paths to walk, coves to discover and towns to while away the hours.

I suspect the slightly inverted snobbery I sometimes get a whiff of in SD.

EVERYONE wants to visit Port Isaac therefore SD shies away.

Partly I think it might have something to do with my rather odd crush on Martin Clunes who plays Doc Martin.

It's ok, I get it that you don't get it - to be honest, I don't get it either ...

I know, Martin Clunes .... A rather odd choice with his big ears and his big lips and his big hands, in fact EVERYTHING about him is a bit over sized and slightly clumsy but he has a certain charm that I find very attractive for some reason ...

The second thing to strike me how everything felt slightly out of place.   I felt like I should know this place, this Port Wenn, this place that I hang out in with the Doc, Louisa, PC Penhale and Miss Tishall on a weekly basis but everything was just a little different.  It was like someone had taken the town I know, put it in a snow globe and given it a good shake so that everything, once the swirling snow had settled, was still there but slightly differently to how it had been before ...

This house is the setting for Bert Large's restaurant.  I don't know why but I thought it was on the OTHER side of the harbour ...:

The first recognisable building you pass as you descend the hill is the school.  The entrance to which is the setting for many a tense exchange between the Doc and Louisa.

It clearly WAS a school but is now a rather prim and proper looking hotel and restaurant.  Although we didn't go in I suspect you would find linen napkins, lots of silver wear and an air of gentility inside.

At the bottom of the hill lies the harbour and a larger than expected beach.  I guess on a bright sunny day in August it would have looked a lot more welcoming but it didn't have the pure white sand you often find on beaches in Cornwall, it didn't even have the fine golden shale of Port Curnow.  It was a combination of grey sand, pebbles and LOTS of seaweed.

The harbour area has a lot of charm with narrow streets and pretty cottages.  It reminds me in many ways of St Ives or even Clovelly and only a foolish person would venture to drive down there in anything bigger than a micro car.

That point was proved when an unsuspecting lady drove her huge 4x4 right down the hill and then realised that there was nowhere for her to go.  We watched the ensuing argument as her husband and young son tried to direct her as she attempted a 57 point turn to go back up the hill.  After a very heated and stressful exchange she eventually managed to turn that monster with bull bars - and seriously, WHY would anyone NEED bull bars on their car in England?  Are they frightened of being attacked by a really pissed off pheasant or something?? She was in such a rage by that point having been the centre of considerable interest that she roared off up the hill leaving her poor husband and son behind.

Reassuringly similar was the Chemist's where Miss Tishall spend much of her time looking out for the Doc on whom she has an unrequited crush (you would think that would make mine more acceptable had you never watched the series but to be honest, Miss Tishall is barking mad ...)

This is how it looked when we were there

And this is how it looks in the series.

Of course I had to have my photo taken outside the Doc's house:

How I wish I could manage NOT to look constipated in photos ...

 I'm rarely disappointed in Cornwall and, to be honest, I think I'm probably being a little unfair in expecting everything to be the way I feel I know it but I was left feeling slightly flat after my visit to Port Isaac.  It is undoubtedly a pretty place and, as I've said before, full of charm but something has been lost.

Maybe it's the fact that visiting in October meant that we didn't have brilliant blue skies (although it was very warm, see, I'm wearing shorts still!).  Maybe it was that the harbour area was almost devoid of locals and many of the cottages were clearly holiday lets and would stand empty for half the year.

Maybe is was the class of visitor (and yes, this is probably MY inverted snobbery making an appearance ...).  Everyone seemed to be freshly pressed.  The children were called Tobias or Constantine and wore Hunter wellies that matched Mummies.  All the Daddies wore cable knit sweaters knotted around their shoulders and no one went onto the beach because, well, SAND!!!

Maybe it was that they charged the nearly 3 quid for a fairly insipid cup of coffee at the Harbour Inn ...

Who knows.

I AM glad I went and I wouldn't discourage anyone else from going.  It was great to see the Doc's house and, despite my grumbles I DID have a nice day.

My favourite photo of the day was just as we were leaving.  The sun was setting beyond the hill and I took this one looking out to sea:


Brighton Pensioner said...

Yes, well, you're welcome to the Doc - just give me Louisa any day!

Val said...

Okay. So we both love a pair of shoes! You and your Doc Martin, me and my Crocs. WAIT! You mean Doc Martin is a MAN? I thought maybe you had a different way of spelling Doc Martens. Like aluminum and aluminium. Favorite and favourite. Emergency room and casualty.

All the pictures are great. But that last one is fantastic.

Mike @ A Bit About Britain said...

I have a lot of sympathy for BP's view. Quite a bit, in fact. Thanks for this, though - interesting. I guess reality never is as good as the fairy tale. I was going to say, "He's got big ears, anyway" - but you already know that. It's still on the list for A Bit About Britain to visit sometime...

Sarah said...

You and SD both BP!

Ha ha, I DO love my Doc Martens probably more than I love the Doc Val (but you'll never catch me in Crocs :-). I love that last photo although it could be anywhere in Cornwall.

Like I said Mike, so does SD! I think I expected too much. The truth is that Port Isaac IS a lovely place, it just isn't Port Wenn. I really do know how odd my crush is and I can't explain it ... Hope you do make it down there, I'd love to read your account of the place.