Thursday, March 17, 2011

Doc Martin

I've arrived in Port Isaac in beautiful North Cornwall. It's a little fishing village that's well known by fans of the TV show Doc Martin as Port Wenn. Last night, sitting in an old smuggler pub with oak beams and a roaring fire with a pint of local cider and a plate of fresh haddock, it felt like i was in heaven :-)
There's lot of fans of the TV show wandering around taking photos and with filming for the new series about to commence in 2 weeks time its going to get very busy.
Today it was the quest for the holy grail and following in the footsteps of King Arthur we visited Tintagel Castle - legend has it that this is Arthur's birthplace.
The castle is perched right on the edge of the cliff and archeological evidence has shown that a celtic encampment was here in 500AD - about the time that Arthur ruled and fought against the Saxons.
I'm nipping around in a little Peugot 308 diesel but would love to be on these roads on Trumpy - they are absolutely fantastic bike roads. I've seen quite a few Street Triples flying past having fun on the twisty, winding roads. Instead of kangaroos to watch out for its deer - they wander wild and there's warning signs that they're on the roads. There's also badgers - they're about the size of a wombat.
There's ice cream with clotted cream on top, cornish pasties the size of dinner plates and everywhere has fish & chips with mushy peas on the menu - a very healthy diet!
This is definitely cider drinking country - one pub I went into asked me if I wanted a normal cider or the one that would ensure I couldn't stand up after I drank a pint!
It's a beautiful part of the world & the only regret is not having a bike to ride on these awesome roads - even the guy that owns the B&B I'm staying in is an old sportbike rider & tells me the roads are sensational on a bike.
Next stop is St Austell in the south and maybe a visit to the Eden Project or the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Not long & we'll be back in Australia - first thing I'll do is plan my next trip back to this beautiful island.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Life in the ole blighty

Well it's just over a week now that we've been back in sunny England. The weather's been chilly but beautiful blue skies & sunshine every day - just like the Spring days I remember.
The little country lane ways in the Cotswolds have come to life with daffodils, snowdrops & crocus flowers. I just wish I had Trumpy over here - the roads are unbelievable. Twisty & hilly with great surface and no speed cameras!
They've even taken speed cameras off the motorways as they reckon they were too dangerous - people were too busy watching out for speed cameras instead of concentrating on the road. Driving down the M5 doing 150 km/h its a regular occurrence to have cars pass us in the outside lane.
One thing you wont see over here is beaten up old cars - the government provided a grant for people to scrap their old polluting cars & buy newer emission reduced vehicles. For years the UK has had a policy whereby every car has a roadworthy conducted annually - called an MOT. It's another level of safety that makes sure vehicles on the road are safe.
I've started looking into buying a bike over here & letting a friend keep it for me until I can come back again - might be good for riding up to the Liverpool ferry to the Isle of Man. A bloke mentioned to me today that an old bloke he knows is selling a BSA Goldstar that he's had for years - might be going for a good price.
Bikes are generally cheaper than Australia - especially Trumpy's. I saw a 2005 Speed Triple with all the extras for $7k - it was a lovely bike & would be awesome on these roads. A Ducati 848 costs about $550 for the week to hire - that includes tax and fully comprehensive insurance - not bad!
It's definitely the best time to come over to the UK for a visit - the weather is warming up, the days are getting longer and the seaside towns are still free of the holiday crowds they get in the summer months. Over the course of the week we've visited Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Avon and Gloucestershire - every one of them providing a history lesson going back to the 14th & 15th century, after all, this is the land of King Arthur & the knights of the round table.
Today we had a beautiful 12c day in Weston Super Mare - sitting on the pier eating cod & chips is hard to beat. Then a clotted cream ice cream - all very healthy I'm sure :-)
Next week it's off to Cornwall and the home of Doc Martin - Port Issac. I've also had a tip to stop at an old pub on the way - a place called the Highwayman on Dartmoor - apparently it'll give us an experience I wont forget!
I'm looking forward to a few local ales when I get into Cornwall - I've tested a few scrumpy ciders and they definitely hit the spot...
So, this week Bristol, then Cornwall and back to Hong Kong next Sunday.