A Magical Cornish Village
Doc Martin is IN
|Salisbury & London Aug 27-Sep 3
Day 24 - I had the car all packed up and ready to leave Port Isaac at 10AM. A little tricky getting out of
the drive - I had to back the car down the long drive with walls on either side that just fit the car.
Then get out of the car to open the gate, but of course, I didn't leave quite enough room, so into the
car to edge it up a couple of feet. Then after I backed into the road I had to get out again to close the
gate - and of course a car had to wait for me to get back in and get going. As I was driving up the hill I
thought the car was noisy but thought it was just the steep hill. After I turned the corner and
continued up the steep hill, a man waved to me to roll down my passenger window. "You've got a
flat tire, luv! It's really very flat." Of course I did. And there was no chance of just stopping there - I
would have brought the entire village to a standstill.
So, I continued up the hill and planned to find a spot to pull the car over when I remembered that
there is a garage right at the top of the hill (it's been featured a few times in DM). I pulled in, it wasn't
busy, and the owner was able to change the tire for me right then. He checked the tire out and said I
would need a new one. When he found out where I was headed, told me to go into Launceston and
there were 3 tire shops there. He was very nice and just charged me a fiver. So I went to Launceston
and drove around the town and found one of them. Before going in I decided I'd better call the car
rental to make sure how to handle it. That's when I found out I had to go to one authorized by them
and the closest was Plymouth - 20 miles away. It took me somewhat out of my way, but not too bad. I
decided to put the address into my sat-nav or I would never find it. I did have some fun with it
because while driving me around Launceston trying to get to the road to Plymouth, it had me turn
into a housing estate - this would be like driving into a condominium or apartment complex in the
states. I didn't think it was right, but I followed directions. It was driving me around and around (I kept
turning where it told me to, but I think it was confused) and one time into a dead end (that I had to
back out of). I finally stopped a couple of young people for directions out of the estate. They laughed
and said that sat-nav is rubbish. Once I got back on the road the sat-nav lady and I got along pretty
well. The gentleman at the tire place - a large place almost like a Belle Tire at home - was very nice
and they got it all taken care of quickly. He teased me about all the seagull poop on my car but
understood when I told him I had been in Port Isaac. As I was leaving, he said, "See you again!" I
stopped in the doorway, turned around, and said laughingly, "I certainly hope not!" He laughed and
said, "Oh, true. Well, if you're ever in town again, stop and say hi." I just laughed and shook my head.
The rest of the drive to Salisbury was pretty good, although I ran into a big traffic jam about 10 miles
from here. I've been amazed at how much stop and go traffic I've encountered both in Ireland and
England - far more than I ever see at home. I don't remember the roads being so crowded the other
times I was here. The roads are funny. Sometimes you will be driving on a dual carriage way (two
lanes in each direction with the divider in between - similar to our freeways) at 70 mph and all of a
sudden it turns into a narrow two lane road for 5 miles or so. Then back to a dual carriage way. I think
this happened 4 or 5 times on my way to Salisbury - and this is the main road to London from the
southwest of England. Oh, and in Ireland & England they use Celsius instead of Fahrenheit, but in
Ireland they use kilometers and in England they use miles. It's surprising because Canada has
adopted so many things from Britain but they use kilometers instead of miles.
I'm enjoying driving the Peugeot, but I've still not figured out how to use the cruise control (I had no
problems with the car I had in Ireland). The main problem is that the stick for it is on the left of the
steering wheel, below the turn signal, but it's hidden behind the steering wheel. I've examined it
while stopped, but it's not very intuitive - I can't figure it out.
The place I'm staying here in Salisbury is very cute. It's called the Cricket Field House B&B and is
right next door to the cricket field. There is a lovely looking garden that I will explore after breakfast.
I'm sure I heard some ducks in the garden last night - my room looks out to the garden, but there is a
lot of foliage next to the window. When I was checking in I asked the young woman if there was any
place in town that delivered food since I was too tired to go back out. She asked if I wanted Chinese,
Indian, pizza? Pizza! Yes! She said, "Do you want Dominoes or Pizza Hut?" I almost sputtered. So I
had a pizza and a side order of nachos delivered. Oh, and two bottles of water - but they weren't at all
chilled. Oh man, do I miss ice cold water! And ice!
I'm going to chill most of the day and then go out exploring a bit and getting some dinner later.
Oh, and the mission I sent a couple of people on in Port Isaac was accomplished! I hid the names to
shield the culprit and the accomplice photographer.
Day 25 - I decided to take it easy because my knee is pretty sore. I think I strained the ligament
slightly on that last day on Rose Hill. In fact, I suspect it was the walking down the steep hill that did
it. I'm hoping I might be able to ice it at the large hotel where I'm headed, but if not it will have to wait
till I get home. So I took my time at breakfast and when I was the only one left in the breakfast room,
Chester, the owner's Yorkie wandered in looking for a handout. I was talking to the nice young
woman clearing up - she was the one who checked me in and gave me the phone number to Pizza
Hut. Then the other dog (not sure of the breed), Snoopy wandered in. Snoopy is actually the more
friendly of the pair and he rubbed up against my leg while I scratched behind his ears.
I had heard that the thing to see in Salisbury is the Cathedral so I checked and saw that they were
doing Evensong on late Sunday afternoon. I got in the car about 90 minutes before and headed into
town. I caught a few glimpses of the tower (it's the tallest church tower in England) but I couldn't
seem to get to it. Streets either turned off in another direction or became one way or became
pedestrian only - I just couldn't get there. But I did see quite a bit of the city and it looks very nice,
but a bit crowded because it's a holiday weekend. I finally found a place to pull over, consulted my
phone and GPS, but still couldn't figure it out (it's on the edge of the town). I finally looked up the
streets surrounding it and kept trying to put them into the GPS but it wasn't recognizing any of them -
grrrrr. I finally found one it recognized and set the destination. It drove me around town but suddenly
I found myself driving out of town. I considered that maybe it was taking me a long way around, but I
was concerned because I was on the road to Swindon - and there was no way I was risking finding
myself in that roundabout from hell! Finally, it had me turn into a small road leading to a small
housing estate (it felt like a sketchy neighborhood) and announced that I had arrived at my
destination. Sheesh! So I stopped and put Wilton as a destination. It's the next town just a few miles
from Salisbury and I had found good recommendations for the Greyhound Inn there. Forget the
Cathedral - I was going for dinner!
It safely got me to Wilton, I pretty quickly found the Inn (yay!) and the small parking area next to it
and found a good space to park. I was a little concerned walking up to it because there was no one
around on the patio, and sure enough. They had stopped serving lunch 30 minutes before and dinner
wasn't served for another 2 1/2 hours. But they told me that the Pembroke Arms, which I had passed
on the way in, served Sunday dinner all day. So I drove a few blocks there, they had a nice parking
area, and they were serving Sunday Roast! My 4th Sunday over here and I finally got one. To be
honest, all I cared about was the Yorkshire Pudding and I wasn't disappointed.
Oh - and this is good. Before heading out, I was looking on Trip Advisor at reviews from the place I'm
staying. Most reviews were really good, but a couple mentioned an attitude from the wife of the
couple that run it. I had seen the husband in the kitchen after he finished breakfast and he seemed
pleasant. The young woman who works for them was very nice, but the woman who took my
breakfast order must have been the wife. I didn't want the full English - just sausage, bacon &
tomato. I asked if I could also have some porridge. I've never had an issue asking for that. But she
said sorry - it's one or the other: full English or porridge. Never mind that I was asking to hold the
egg, mushrooms & beans. Most B&B owners are much more accommodating. But here's the kicker.
While getting lost in Salisbury, I found myself on a very short dual carriageway in town. It was
backed up for a roundabout ahead and so I took an exit thinking it might get me to the Cathedral. It
turns out the exit was only into a multilevel parking garage, so I turned around and had to merge
back onto the carriageway. This was the first time I've encountered rude drivers here. It was stop
and go traffic and no one would let me in. They would get right on the other car bumper. I kept trying
to make eye contact, but they were all so rude. Then, one of the vehicles was a small van and I saw
that it was from this little B&B (the name all over it). Even IT wouldn't let me in! Guess who was
driving? Yep, the lady who wouldn't give me porridge! I had to laugh - I've got HER number!
The traffic lights here have a neat feature that I really like. When you are sitting at a red light, a few
seconds before it is about to turn green the yellow light comes back on - so the light is red and
yellow. It's nice because you know when the light is about to turn green and can be ready to move!
On to London today and I turn the car in. Will be glad to be off the road and let other people shuttle
Day 26 - When I went to check out of the B&B, it was the wife who was at the desk. And she was as
sweet as could be. I'm thinking she might be one of those people who is nice most of the time, but
turns into a super bitch on occasion. Oh well, on to London. I had thought about going to Stonehenge
because I was staying quite close to it, but decided against it because of it being the holiday
weekend. I did visit there 22 years ago, although I didn't get inside because they were just closing
for the day. It happened to be on the day of the summer solstice, and as they closed they allowed a
group of Druids in and they were able to walk right up to the stones. It used to be that anyone could
do that and could touch the stones, but sometime before my visit in 1994 they had roped them off
and you had to walk around them. But I was able to park the car and walk right up to the low fence
surrounding the site and take a few pictures. Back then, there was a small parking lot across the side
road and you paid to get in, walked through a tunnel under the road and you were inside the fence.
From what I understand now, the visitor center is two miles away and they bus you to the site.
Apparently that side road is now closed, so you wouldn't be able to stand by the fence like I did back
then. But I did know that by driving on the 303 that I would be able to see them from the road. I
wasn't surprised that the traffic slowed down considerably as we passed by, so I put down the
passenger window and clicked off several shots hoping to get a couple decent ones. And there were
lots of people there, so I think I made the right decision. Can't imagine how long the wait would be to
get on those buses.
It was a fairly quick drive to Heathrow - and a pretty easy way to return the car. I went inside the
Europcar offices and they called about a taxi for me. The taxi company gave a cost of £62 and I said
that was fine, but could they take a credit card? The response was an additional £3. I said that I was
okay with that, but then they said they couldn't take the credit card because it's a bank holiday.
What??? I began to wonder what kind of taxi this might be. She said the driver could take me to an
ATM, but I said it was okay because I had the cash - but I only had £80 and wanted to reserve some
cash for the last few days in London. The guy showed up and it wasn't anything sketchy at all - it was
a big, black Mercedes van with leather seats for 6 (face to face) in the back. So it was a very pleasant
ride into the city.
This hotel is beautiful - and my room is SO nice. Big king bed - I swear it's bigger than my king bed at
home. A really cushy pillow top on the bed - it's like a dream. And the most beautiful pillows on the
bed - I counted - 13 (!!!) pillows! When I went to sleep I had to pile them all up on the small sofa. Huge
window looking out to the side of the hotel onto Victoria Station - but it's all under construction so
the station itself isn't very visible. I'm including a pic I took from the Internet and circled my window
and the station next door. I'm being lazy this morning and will be checking out the fabulous looking
shower in just a little while.
Last night I ordered room service - all I had to eat was my porridge and some fruit for breakfast. So I
ordered lemon thyme chicken, nachos and a bottle of wine. Mmmmm.
Not sure how much I will do in London - I'm really tired and looking forward to getting home on
Friday. I'll head out later and explore the neighborhood - there's a small park just across the street.
My knee is still giving me a little trouble but it's only certain things that give me pain - I'm still
thinking its a slightly strained ligament. Too bad that my friend Janice is still in Toronto and not back
in London to show me around.
I put together the pics of me with Martin Clunes. I know many of you have never heard of him, but
he's a fairly big deal over here. The reason he has so many loyal fans is that he's a real down to
earth guy. He and his wife used to live in London for their careers (she's a producer - she was the
producer of "Sliding Doors" with Gwyneth Paltrow), but when their daughter was getting near school
age they decided they wanted to move to the country. They now have this big farm with 14 horses, 4
dogs, a couple of cats, chickens, sheep, and small cattle.
If you want to see a little more of what he's about, on Netflix there are 5 of his documentaries. The
one on dogs reveals the most about him because some was shot at his home and it includes his
dogs. Also, the one on Heavy Horses is mostly about his two Clydesdales, Ronnie & Brucie. And, of
course, if you want to see what a good actor he is, check out Doc Martin. The character he plays is
the exact opposite of the actor.
Day 27 - Embarrassing issue of the day - I couldn't figure out how to turn the shower on! It has the
beautiful big rain shower thingy coming from the ceiling and a hand held wand type thing attached to
the wall. Every time I turned it on, all that would come on was the wand - I fiddled with both handles,
pressed the buttons on both handles and couldn't get the water to come out from the rain shower
thingy. The bathtub has the same configuration so I tried there too, but nada. So, I had to put some
clothes back on and call the front desk to ask if there was a secret to it (I even stopped to google it
but nothing doing). She sent up someone from maintenance - SO embarrassing. But - he seemed to
struggle with it too. But after a minute or so, he figured it out. I was turning the handle clockwise, but
never thought to try turning it counterclockwise (or anti clockwise as they say here). So,
clockwise turns on the hand held and counterclockwise turns on the rain shower. Just a handy tip if
you ever stay here! (I never did figure out what the bottom handle did or what the buttons on both
handles were for!)
I had a nice lunch in the restaurant downstairs - ribs (not quite Famous Dave's quality, but it partially
satisfied my withdrawal - still haven't been able to get an ice tea though). And finished off with
creme brulee - yum, yum! I wandered outside and walked over to the park across the street, but
soon realized that my knee was not going to allow me to do much walking - even using my cane. I
wandered around the park and sat and people watched for awhile. I'm not sure if it's because my
hotel is right next to Victoria Station, but the people, the noise, the bustle is just not my cup of tea
anymore. I enjoyed it when I was younger, but having to fight through crowds just to walk on the
sidewalk is just not that much fun. And the fumes from the buses and all the people in that tiny park,
lots of litter, lots of pigeons, lots of smells (some good, some not so much). Even though there were
a lot of people around in Port Isaac during my trip, it was a different kind of crowded. It's funny how
you think you desire different ways of life as you go through your life. There were times I wanted to
move to the big city. Times I wanted to buy an old farmhouse in the country and restore it. But you
know, I'm happy with the way life turned out. I'm not living in a cookie-cutter type suburb, not living
in the country, not living in the city, but in an old, historic suburb that is slightly more urban than
most and I'm incredibly happy with my life. I have friends who love living in the country and friends
who love living in big city urban environments. It's good that people are so different or we would all
want to live the exact same place.
Okay, let's get back to vacation-land. So, I'm about to go downstairs and take one of the tour buses to
get around and see all of the sites. This will be the best way to experience the city without testing
my knee too much. On with my day!
Day 28 - I decided to take one of the bus rides - they all stop right outside my hotel so it was an easy
day. Got to sit up top in the glorious sunshine and just enjoyed sitting and snapping away for 2 1/2
hours. I actually considered going around for a second time but as we were nearing my hotel it had
clouded over so I hopped off.
I really enjoyed the tour - I'm just going to inundate you with pics this morning.
Day 29 - I left my hotel in central London to move to one across from Heathrow for my Friday flight
home. I took a taxi out to the airport and had a nice conversation with the driver who is a lifelong
London resident. It was in what's considered a "London Taxi" but it was grey, not black and more
boxy instead of the rounded shape of the black ones. But it was really comfortable - easy to get in
and out of. Not like the back seat of a regular car like our taxis. We did have a problem finding my
hotel because it turns out there are two Premier Inn hotels on Bath Road by the airport. We passed
mine by at first because he didn't think it was the correct address and then discovered it was when
we got to the second one. But I found out when I got inside that it was 3 1/2 hours till check-in. It
does have a nice lobby with a restaurant, bar and coffee shop with lots of seating, so I settled in and
almost fell asleep at my table. While the lobby area is very nice, the rooms are really bare bones -
huge difference from where I stayed the last 3 nights. How spoiled am I, eh?
The lobby area was full of people all afternoon and evening and lots of luggage all over the place. I'm
sure everyone here had just arrived on a flight or was leaving on one the next day. I saw a lot of
people (mostly young men) wearing a type of uniform that said "UK Sport" and most of them said
"British Canoeing". After then seeing several men in performance style wheelchairs, I realized that
these are the British athletes and coaches headed to the Paralympics. I asked my waiter at dinner (a
lovely, charming young man named Pedro) if that was the case and he confirmed that they were
staying there on their way to Rio. While eating, I saw a very nice looking young man in one of the
uniforms walking past my table, and as he went by I noticed that he had TWO artificial legs. Watching
him walking toward me from the waist up, I would have never guessed.
So - my knee hurts and my shoulder hurts (the shoulder is an on/off thing and it's on today), so I can't
wait to get over and navigate Heathrow (did you catch the sarcasm?). I really CAN'T WAIT to get
home! See you tonight Suzy!
Just a couple of pictures - my luggage next to the door of my London room ready to head home, the
cab ride to Heathrow, and one of the lobby of the Heathrow hotel.
Day 30 - Welcome to Zombieland! Well, Zombieland is actually the day AFTER Day 30, but who's
counting? (I don't think I could count to 5 today) I woke up at 6AM Friday in London, hoped to get a
nap on the flight - but it didn't happen, and finally got to sleep in my nice, comfortable bed at 1AM. So
that meant I was up for 24 hours and I figured I would have a nice long sleep. Yeah, right. I got 4
hours and was up at 5AM. And not just my knee, but my whole body is sore this morning. So, today
will be a lost day. I will elevate and ice the knee, nap as much as possible, and have Chinese food
But Day 30 was lovely, despite the fact that I was on flights and in huge airports the whole day. I had
so many nice people helping me out and I carried on conversations with all of them. From the
restaurant manager who took me to a table and said, "Here's the closest one to the breakfast bar to
make it easier for you." To the taxi driver who took me to the terminal who talked about his recent
trip home to India, to the two women and the man who helped me when I arrived in the Heathrow
terminal, to all of the people who either drove the carts or wheeled me in wheelchairs between the
cart stops, the flight attendants who already knew that I needed help because of what the woman
attached to my tickets when I first walked into Heathrow, and finally to my dear sister Suzy, who
crossed the border, got there way early in case she ran into backups at the border, handled all my
luggage and stopped to get a bag of ice on the way home so I could start icing down the knee. ❤
When I walked into the terminal at Heathrow with my luggage on a cart, there were a couple of
people standing there just to help you figure out where you needed to be. She noticed my cane on
top of the luggage cart and said they would help me through the terminal. She took me to the other
lovely woman at the opening to Air Canada and we spent quite a bit of time getting everything
straightened out. When I said I had decided to check two bags on my way home she said only one
bag was free. So the two women and an older male employee who walked up discussed what my
options would be. He took the two suitcases over to the scales to weigh them and then they decided
that I should take them just around the corner to this place where they ship or wrap luggage. They
put the two suitcases on a machine and shrink wrapped them together (cost me £11) and my two
bags magically became one bag! No extra charges! It was funny because when I cut them apart after
getting home and opened the main suitcase I had to laugh. All of my clothes were in space bags, but
there is only so much air you can get out of them. After the bags were shrink wrapped, I could see
that the larger bag didn't look as overstuffed as before. Taking the bags of clothes out last night they
looked like freeze dried food packs - there was not a bit of air left in the bags - LOL!
But they have these little holding pens all over Heathrow for people who need assistance. You are
taken there either by wheelchair or cart, they hold onto your boarding pass, and have a computer
that alerts them when your gate is announced. I sat in one of them for quite awhile because I got
there very early and asked if there was anywhere nearby where I could pick up some snacks for the
long flight. He had one of the wheelchair walkers take me over to the area with the shops. They have
quite a few people whose only function is to move people who need help around the airport. They
have a similar system in Toronto. On my trip over, I managed to get myself around the airports with
one short trip on a cart when I saw one available. But on the way back I really needed it and was SO
happy I didn't try to gut it out. They put it into the computer so that flight attendants on both flights
knew that I needed assistance. As I boarded the flight to Windsor, the flight attendant asked if I would
need a wheelchair in Windsor but I told her it wasn't necessary because it is so small. They had a
couple of people with wheelchairs waiting on the tarmac (no jetways in Windsor), but I said it wasn't
necessary, so she just took my bag as I negotiated the steps out of the plane. Oh - and the other nice
thing about Windsor is that it's like the old days in airports. When I walked into the terminal, there
was a whole group of friends and relatives standing there to greet the passengers. You have to go
through security for departures, but for arrival gates there's no security checkpoint.
One of the other great things was that at every security line and every immigration line, your
wheelchair walker walks you right up and you don't have to do any waiting. My favorite "walker" was
a young guy in Toronto. He was walking me up to an large two story area with a lot of shops and we
came to a glass elevator. A woman with a stroller had just gotten into the left door so he wheeled me
up to the right door. The elevator was on the first floor, so it was just all glass with nothing there. I
turned slightly and said, "You're not going to push me over that are you?" He let out a gasp and then
started laughing. Then the guard standing there started laughing too. He laughed for almost a minute
- the whole time we were in the elevator. The rest of the way we had a discussion about how much
weight he's lost since taking the airport job and how much he loves it. Also in Toronto, I got into one
of the carts and told the man driving it how grateful I was for all the assistance. In a heavy Caribbean
accent (and with a huge grin on his face) he said, "Where have you been? I've been waiting here for
you since yesterday!"
So, it was a really great trip. I'm not sure that I would go for 4 weeks like that again - it might have
been a week too long, but I'm still glad that I got to go everywhere I did. Thanks everyone for going
on the journey with me. I'm glad I spent some time every morning sitting and going over the
previous day and going through which pictures to send. I'm sure by the time I got home I would have
forgotten many of the things I experienced and you wouldn't want to read a novel from me plus go
through 500 pictures! It's like the old kid's joke - How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
Till the next adventure!
(Just a couple of last pictures. A couple at Heathrow, before and after shrink wrapped luggage, and
Toronto during takeoff.
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