Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Quest for Doc Martin - Part 2

The set of "Port Wenn's Cobbler" in Port Isaac
Young actresses waiting for the next scene
At the close of the blog post, The Quest for Doc Martin - Part 1, lunch was finished and the cast was moving along the streets of Port Isaac, Cornwall onto the set of the "Port Wenn Cobbler" for Series 5. A pram containing a lovely baby "doll" was strategically parked outside the cobbler's door as the director blocked in the scene with the extras. While waiting, I noticed textiles in the window of the small shop next door to the set which pulled me away from the activities.  When I finally emerged without purchasing the lime green wool jumper that fit perfectly, Peter nodded towards a man sitting with his ruck sack a few feet from the shop door. It was Ian McNeice, better known as Bert, who was talking to a woman and signing an autograph. With a little encouragement from my husband, I grabbed a pen and postcard from by backpack before gingerly approaching. Taking a deep breath, I asked if I might have his autograph for my friend, Pat Vivod, who is a big fan in the States. 

Ian McNeice (Bert on the show) signing his autograph
Having the scarf in my hand, I quickly explained why we were visiting Port Isaac - to take photos of the scarf which had been created by my friend who is a textile artist - not realizing the crew was actually filming until we arrived. What a lovely man! Not only did he sign his autograph, he wrote a comment about the scarf before asking if there was a camera somewhere in the crowd that was now loosely gathering. I pointed to Peter; and Mr. McNeice took it from there. 

Hi Pat, Lovely scarf!!!

What a sweet man! He and I shook hands just as he was called to act in the next scene, leaving his rucksack tucked carefully behind the stone where he had been sitting.  As more people stopped to watch the filming, Peter and I climbed up a few steps of the garden wall across the street just as Martin Clunes arrived. 

Martin Clunes as Doc Martin

Although we would have liked to have stayed longer, dark clouds loomed on the horizon. The mizzle set in before we reached the car, blending the sea and sky together, bringing our Doc Martin quest in Port Isaac to a close.

But we could not leave the west of Cornwall without a visit to St. Wenn. We don't know if the creators of Doc Martin were inspired by the name of this little town, but we chose to take one more photo, just in case.  Thanks for inspiring our journey, Ms. Vivod. I have a little something tucked away in my backpack with your name on it!

The Quest for Doc Martin - Part 1

Since the ITV television show, Doc Martin is filmed in Port Isaac, Cornwall, we decided to drive along the north coast to the 14th c. village to take a few photos on location. What we discovered when we arrived was the cast and crew shooting Series Five!

Television crew's vehicles on the beach in the harbor in Port Isaac
Port Isaac, known as Port Wenn on the TV show, is a working fishing village on the northern, Atlantic coast of Cornwall. We arrived before lunch with plans to take a few photos for Pat Vivod, who is not only an amazing textile artist through organic printing and dyeing (see her blog Sentimental Pentimento), she is a devoted Doc Martin fan. While Pat was in a workshop in St. Louis with India Flint learning even more about the chemistry of organic dyeing, we decided to travel on a quest for Doc Martin on Pat's behalf with one of her silk scarves in the starring role. Since much of my work in handmade paper is influenced by the textures and colors of Cornwall, it is easy to see why I purchased this scarf (below) from Pat's collection. See if you can find it in the photos as it travelled through the village.

 The Pat Vivod silk scarf on beach pebbles
It was obvious that Port Isaac residents and guests knew that the television crew was shooting all week, yet the mood was very laid back about the experience. For example, the crew had prepared three or four small vignettes outside businesses which included a handwritten sign informing us that the leeks, beautifully displayed outside the green grocer's (actually an art gallery), were not for sale. As people walked by the display, we repeatedly saw women reach for the leeks, read the sign, then tell their friends, "Too bad it's for filming, they are such lovely leeks!"

Film set of "green grocer" outside a real art gallery (scarf in basket)
Film set of "green grocer" looking down street towards harbor
By the time we walked through very narrow streets and reached the harbor wall, we learned that the crew was currently shooting outside the "Large Restaurant" (actually a private home) above the cliffs along the harbor wall. 

"Large Restaurant,"center home above rock cliffs along harbor wall
Lunch scene from Series Five (Martin Clunes and Caroline Catz sitting at table; 
Ian McNeice standing)
Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) , Caroline Catz (Louisa Glasson) and Ian McNeice (Bert Large), along with a variety of extras were in the scene. Since it actually was lunchtime, filming stopped for everyone to eat, which gave us the chance to pop into the Golden Lion, often used as a set during Series One, for a pint and a ploughman for Peter and a zucchini & stilton pastie for me. 

After lunch, we walked the cliff path above where the filming had resumed to get a closer look at the crew through the garden gate. This also gave us the opportunity to photograph "Doc Martin's house" on the show - the third cottage up the path on the left.

While the show's audio tech could probably eliminate most background sounds from the beach below the "restaurant" set, each time a fishing boat returned, all production ceased until the boats had put down anchor and off loaded their cargo.

Filming the lunch scene took more than three hours before the director called cut and gave a thumbs up to the crew waiting on the harbor beach below. Because Doc Martin is not a period piece, it was almost impossible to tell the locals from the actors as they walked through the village to the next location at the "Port Wenn Cobbler."

Caroline Catz (Louisa Glasson on show) and Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) finished with lunch scene
Caroline Catz (Louisa Glasson on show) walking past Aquarium

Having no idea how long it might take to prepare the next scene, we walked back up the hill towards our car, past the Cobbler set. Suddenly, we realized the teenage girls and the gentleman pushing the pram surrounding us were not locals or tourists, but extras in the next scene. Not knowing how long it might take before filming began again, I decided to pop into a shop while the director talked to the crew and extras. Little did we know we would soon have the chance to meet one of the main actors.

Read Quest for Doc Martin - Part 2 for the next in the Series!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mevagissey Feast Week 2011 Begins

Clouds that traipsed across the cliffs all morning lifted and the sun appeared for the opening of Feast Week in Mevagissey with fishing boat races beyond the quay; a fresh catch of sea food displayed on ice; pints of favorite beverages; hot pasties or fish and chips sold from shop front windows; the Fish Parade of children and adults carrying paper fish and sea creatures high on sticks while marching through the village to drums; flower arranging contests at the church; music and dancing to 50's and 60's rock-n-roll on the quay in the afternoon moving on through the decades as the festivities progressed; face painting to please the littlest mermaid - and piskies! What is a feast in Cornwall without Cornish piskies??!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mid-Summer's Eve in Cornwall

The sun has returned to the West Country just in time for the longest day of the year!  When we drove through walls of mizzle and rain laden clouds sweeping across the moors past Stonehenge yesterday on our journey from Sussex to Cornwall, we thought the sun may never shine again.

But today as we carefully made our way on foot through the very narrow lanes of Mevagissey, we greatly appreciated the sun's rays warming our backs as we watched the fishing boats returning with their morning's catch. Peter's younger sister Jo and her husband Paul live on School Hill above the village;  while older sister Wendy and her husband Michael who live in West Sussex also own one of the stone cottages in the photo below overlooking Mevagissey's quay.

Foot path to Wendy and Michael's cottage (left)
View from Wendy and Michael's Cottage

This zig-zag series of roof tops cover the boat workshop tucked into the edge of the sea wall - one of my favorite views from the cliff path. From here one can see the light house, Chapel Point and the English Channel beyond the outer walls of Meva's quay. 

Down on the Farm in West Sussex - The Celebration Continues

While visiting family in West Sussex last week, we were privileged to stay with Peter's oldest sister, Wendy, and her husband, Michael, in their 18th c. restored barn home. The barn is one of many buildings on the property to include the main house where daughter Jackie's family lives, stables and a cottage, plus a pool, gardens, fields, woods, horses, chickens, dogs and a cat. There must always be a cat!

The gardens were the perfect location for the final event of the week long celebration of Michael's 80th birthday. While everyone pitched in to set up party tents and move tables, my donation to the garden party was deadheading and tidying the garden beds and hanging baskets the day before with a cup of coffee and a quiet sense of peacefulness amidst the flurry. It was a wonderful celebration, thanks to Jackie and her family for all of their hard work, love and laughter. Despite a brief shower, the event was a huge success.

Sister Jo (standing) speaking to dear family friend Brenda
Peter (right) speaking to his youngest brother Nigel and cousins
Many happy returns, Michael! (left)