The second segment of our visit to Cornwall includes stops along the way on our drive from Penzance to Port Isaac, a bit about Port Isaac itself, and the drive to our first housesitting adventure in Bretforton.
We left Penzance around 10am and decided on a fairly direct route to Port Isaac with a couple of stops planned along the way. Originally, we had wanted to go to St Ives, but we’d heard stories about more traffic gridlock caused by a man with a bunch of wives, sacks, cats, and kittens….. no seriously, it was just another touristy town with no place to park so we didn’t even try.
And so our first stop was at Holywell Bay with its pair of small rocky islands just off-shore, and where some of the Poldark beach scenes are filmed. As luck would have it, the NTS manages the property so we saved the £6 parking fee. As we walked down to the beach, there was a huge dune where kids were sliding down on boogie boards as if it were snow. They were having a blast!
The tide was out so we walked the width of the beach and back, and then found a shady spot to sit for awhile. There were lots of families there, and again, many of them had the windbreak tarps set up. Some sat near the dunes, some by the shore, and others by the stream that wound down to the sea. Happy kids were everywhere on this sunny day.
We stayed for about an hour and a half and then drove the last 90 minutes to Port Isaac. Again, we skipped a stop we’d considered earlier – the beautiful beaches of Padstow – but we knew it would be busy, and we really wanted to have enough time to spend in Port Isaac since it was just an overnight visit.
We arrived in Port Isaac around 1pm and found our B&B, which was about 1km out of town, and much more affordable than the in-town spots. We had a nice room with a lots of space, access to a fridge, washer and dryer, and pretty outdoor patio. Although we were an hour early, we saw our host, Roy, out working in the garden and we asked if we could leave the car as we were hungry and wanted to walk into the town to eat.
He let us check in right away, and then gave us a ride into town, dropping us off at the school where “Louisa” works, on the show “Doc Martin” – and yes, you aren’t imagining things, there does seem to be a theme to this trip – we are often visiting film locations for many of the British TV shows Erik and I enjoy watching all winter. First Poldark, now Doc Martin, and then later we will go to Blockley where Father Brown is filmed.
We went straight to the Chapel Cafe that we’d read about on Trip Advisor, and seconded by our hosts, and had a delicious lunch – I had fresh crab sandwich and Erik had the fish fingers sandwich. I highly recommend the restaurant which is housed in the same building as an art gallery/store.
After lunch, we wandered around the pretty village. We picked up a Doc Martin guidebook map and checked out the Doc’s house/surgery, Louisa’s house and workplace, Bert Large’s restaurant, and a few other spots. We climbed up the hill to get a wonderful view of the town and surrounding area and took lots of photos. It was so much fun!
Around 4pm, we walked uphill all the way back to the B&B – I think it was closer to a mile than a kilometre – and then sat out in the sunshine on our patio and read and chatted with our hosts – Roy and Christine. We were both full from our big lunch, and too lazy to walk all the way back into town for dinner, so we pulled out all the random leftover snack food that we had kicking around, and ate it out on the patio. Then Christine brought us our Cornish scones with strawberry preserves and clotted cream – yum! By the way, in Cornwall, you must put the preserves on first, and THEN the cream on top.
The next day, we had an excellent breakfast in the dining room of the main house that was filled with antique treasures, then we packed up, said our goodbyes, and headed out by 10am.
We had seven hours to do a four hour drive to our first house sit in the village of Bretforton in the Cotswolds, so we figured we’d make at least one stop along the way. We could have taken the A30 to Exeter and driven the big M5 freeway to save an hour of driving, but we decided to take the quieter A39 that hugged the coast and passed through Barnstaple before finally connecting to the M5.
When we saw the road got close to the sea, we turned off and spent an hour at Widemouth Bay. It was another pretty beach with the tide out and loads of families spending their last weekend at the seashore. Gradually the clouds crept in as we enjoyed our last walk along the beach for this trip to the UK and so it was time to get back on the road.
We continued our drive toward Barnstaple where we briefly stopped for gas and decided to have a sandwich and use the washrooms since we didn’t know what lay ahead. It turned out to be an excellent decision because an hour later we were stuck on the parking lot that they call the M5 on the Friday of the busiest bank holiday weekend of the year. We had expected to be in Bretforton about 4pm, which would have been an hour early, but the traffic was so bad, that we finally turned off the M5 and took smaller roads a few hours later in Cirencester. We eventually arrived at our housesit accommodation at 5:45pm. What a long day!
The family was all ready for their trip to Spain and eager to show us around their beautiful home. We were excited and trying to take in all of the information – how to use the stove, what to feed the dog and rabbits, where the vacuum was located, how to use the skeleton key locks, where to go for walks and groceries – the list was endless.
At 7, we went to the pub next door for supper and had an animated and enjoyable meal with the couple and their two daughters, who are aged 10 and 11. We got back to the house by 8:30, and the family went straight to bed as they had to get up at 2:30 am (!) in order to get to the airport for their 4:30am flight (gotta love Ryanair).
Erik and I brought in our luggage and got settled into our own room to read for a little while before sleep, and Pom, our lovely, gentle, female black lab, came right into our room with us and slept on the floor. It’s as if she already knew we’d be her caretakers for the week!
As we settled in for the night, we wondered what the next week was going to be like, but we both had a feeling it was going to great!
Next up: Our First House Sit