Walking with alpacas in the Hamsphire countryside…

Who knew you could do such a thing as walk with alpacas in England? When I opened up a gold shiny envelope from my brother and his girlfriend on Christmas Day I didn't know such a thing existed! So on a typically overcast for Britain type of day in April, Matt and I set off in search of Hensting Alpacas in Otterbourne. Found in a gorgeous spot in Hampshire by the chalk streams of the River Itchen the alpacas have 12 acres to roam freely on. We had tickets for a two hour morning walk and couldn't wait to try out this very different adventure!

Hensting are a family run business with 40 alpacas, one llama, a New Forest Pony and some sheep. The morning began with an interesting talk all about the alpacas. I loved hearing about their quirky habits and learnt some facts that I didn't know. We were also given instructions on how to safely walk with the alpacas.

Next it was time to meet them, there must have been about 15 alpacas all together on our walk. The first alpaca Matt and I got to walk was Walter, white and fluffy he was a picture perfect alpaca. Strolling along the riverbank with him was a very relaxing experience. He was best buddies with the alpaca in front of him so spent a lot of time keeping close to his back legs! There is apparently always one or two alpacas who are happy to go in front of the others and lead the way while the rest feel more comfortable following on behind. Half way through we all switched up and had the opportunity to walk with another alpaca. Our next noble steed was Whiskey Joe. He wasn't particularly photogenic, bless him, but he was a very friendly chap. Further into the stroll we discovered if one poos then they all tend to poo, which turned into an amusingly lengthy poo stop! Alpacas do this in the wild so their eating and toilet areas are kept separate and explains why they all go at the same time.

If you like being outdoors and are looking for something completely different or a unique gift for someone then this is it. Morning walks start at 10am, plan to be there at 9.30am to park, you don't want to be late as the walk takes places a long way across the meadow from the parking area. I'd recommend walking boots or wellies if the weather isn't so great. Anyone from the age of 8 and above can participate making it the perfect thing to do for a family day out. If like Matt and I you want an escape from the kids it's good for that too! It was the perfect opportunity to take a quiet few minutes away from our hectic lifestyle!

I wonder if I can plan a walk with an alpaca on my next trip to Peru?!

A lovely long weekend in Cheddar, Somerset….

Hollies Cottage, Somerset
There’s nothing better than sitting by an open fire in a cosy cottage while the weather outside is cold and grey, that was made even better with a glass of champagne on New Years Eve! Matt, Emily and I spent a long weekend in Cheddar over the New Year, Hollies Cottage; our very cosy cottage was our bolthole for a lovely mini break.  Located in the village of Draycott five minutes drive from Cheddar it was in a perfect spot for exploring the area and was well equipped with everything we needed including a travel cot and high chair. Cheddar is famous for Cheddar Cheese and also Cheddar Gorge, the UK’s largest gorge, the chocolate box town is nestled in between a steep valley. The gorge itself is very impressive to drive through, the huge imposing rocky cliffs looked even more impressive on a grey day. The village has some nice coffee shops, cafes and restaurants along with shops selling as you can probably guess, cheese and a handful of touristy type shops. There are also two caves in Cheddar which are open to the public, both are really interesting. For £19 you get entry into Gough’s Cave and Cox’s Cave, The Museum of Prehistory, The Lookout Tower, The Cliff Top Gorge Walk and an open top bus tour during the summer.  If you buy tickets online prior to the day you are going you can get a 15% discount. Gough’s Cave is the larger and my favourite of the two, learn all about the history of the cave with a personal audio guide and see cheese maturing inside. We loved the cliff top gorge walk; the three-mile loop has stunning views of the Mendips and goats grazing on the cliff edges, we bumped into friends here too! After our day in Cheddar we headed back to Draycott and stopped off at the Cider Barn. This quirky ‘pub’ is a must visit, local ciders, homemade pork pies on the bar, a simple menu and log burner made it our venue of choice most afternoons on the way back to our cottage. Not one to be landlocked we also explored the coast; Weston-super-Mare was a 25 minute drive. Huge stretches of sand you can drive on and neat beach huts all lined up in a row was a lovely surprise, it was just a shame about the weather!
I loved Cheddar, the perfect place for a cosy winter getaway and a nice way to see in 2017.


Dessert at The Dorchester…

On 25th May 2015 I attended a fantastic wedding in London, the ceremony took place in Westminster followed by a beautiful reception at The Dorchester.  Guests were transported between venues on an old London bus and arrived to a glittering welcome of champagne and canapés.  I’d not been to London for a very long time and loved being back in this beautiful city.  Getting to visit The Dorchester was so exciting and definitely not an everyday occurrence, so I just had to share it!  The food was divine and was complemented with impeccable service.  The menu went something like this…To start: oven baked tomato puff pastry, herb oil and goats’ cheese.  The main: pressed shoulder of lamb, black olive jus, mashed potato.  Dessert: chocolate caramel tart, salted caramel ice cream and honeycomb….



A weekend in Poole, Dorset…

I squealed with excitement as we opened the door to our very plush room at Hotel du Vin in Poole, I was definitely not expecting a freestanding roll top bath in the middle of the room!  I had booked a night away for Matt’s birthday (last year I organised a surprise weekend away in a beach hut in Shaldon, read more on this here: Beach Hut Living) and I’m pretty certain this room was an upgrade from our original, what a lovely surprise.  Huge sash windows, a king size bed, chez long, a very smart coffee maker (which kept Matt happy for hours) not to mention the lovely Miller Harris toiletries.  I’m a sucker for hotel toiletries and Hotel du Vin did not disappoint in this department!  Along with the freestanding bath there was also a monsoon shower, which by the way was huge plus a separate bathroom.  It was a very luxurious room and I just had to have a G & T in the bath while I was getting ready for dinner…it just felt right!  Anyway, enough about the bath!  We booked a dinner, bed and breakfast package, which came with a three course set meal.  I booked our table at the same time as the room, I’m glad I did as the restaurant was very busy on the Saturday night that we ate there.
The service throughout the hotel was fantastic, including the restaurant.  I loved the extra touches like the Sommelier who recommended wine to go with our meal.  On that note, although wines weren’t cheap, we chose a very tasty New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc; you’ve got to treat yourself once in a while!  I had a gorgeous starter of Bayonne ham, salmon for my main and tarte au citron for dessert.  It was all deliciously French!  Breakfast was equally delicious, freshly squeezed orange juice, toast on demand, a continental spread to help yourself to and a menu to order cooked from, including a full English, crepes and eggs Benedict.  I went for the full English and was not disappointed.
Hotel Du Vin is located in the old town; the waterfront is literally a two-minute stroll along a tiny street past lovely old buildings.  The shops, bars and restaurants are also all within walking distance.  I absolutely loved the interior of the Georgian style building.  The grand staircase, with a very cool chandelier made from wine glasses gave a boutique feel and the bistro and bar with its cosy snug area all made for a wonderful stay.  It is worth mentioning that the hotel has very limited parking, we parked in a multi storey car park a few minutes walk away which was fine.  The hotel charges £10 for parking on site or at one of the car parks they recommend, we just kept our ticket and reception validated it for us.  We wanted to stay on in Poole after checking out so the staff kindly validated the ticket later on in the afternoon which meant we didn’t have to pay any extra for parking.
Poole is a picture perfect seaside harbour town in Dorset.  Famous for its pottery, Sunseeker motor yachts and Sandbanks, one of the most expensive places to live in the world.  Eager to make the most of Matt’s sunny birthday weekend we arrived a few hours before check in to explore.  After a stroll along the quay and a browse in the shops we were in need of some birthday refreshments.  A cool looking bar called Drift caught our eye; I loved the quirky vibe Alex the owner had created with such a tiny space.  The micro bar has its own cider ‘Devil’s Drift’ created with the help of Bournemouth Brewing Company and tables made from surfboards; right up my street and the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon!
On Sunday after checking out we jumped on a boat trip around Brownsea Island, it cost £10 for a one hour round trip.  It is possible to get off on Brownsea but there is a £6.50 charge to go on the island, a nature reserve owned by the National Trust. (If you are a member of the National Trust entry is free.) Brownsea Island is 1.5 miles long, 0.75 miles wide and famous for being home to the red squirrel.  Poole harbour is the second largest in the world stretching along the coast for around 99 miles, the largest is Sydney harbour.  It was such a sunny day to be on the water and having never really explored Poole it was interesting to see it from a different angle.
If you are planning a trip in the UK, don’t miss this beautiful part of the world.  The Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is just on the doorstep too.  There is so much to explore in the area, especially if you love the outdoors…I will definitely be heading there again soon.

Cheers 2014….you’ve been a good’un!

It feels like this year has gone by very quickly so I thought I would take a look back and jot down all my trips and travel highlights from 2014.  As well as travelling further afield this year it’s been wonderful to have done some trips within the UK.  It might sound strange but exploring closer to home without jumping on a plane has felt like such a novelty, especially as I am on an aircraft most days when I am working.  Many of these trips have also been with friends, I have loved sharing adventures with those closet to me.
If you would like to read more on each trip click on the links within the text to see the full blog posts….


Port Isaac, Cornwall:
The year started off with a long weekend away in Cornwall with friends.  We stayed in the tiny seaside village of Port Isaac and hired a cottage right on the harbour front.  I loved waking up to the smell of salty sea air and watching the waves roll in with a cup of tea in hand.  The weekend consisted of blustery cliff top walks, cosy cups of tea by the fire in our cottage, cream teas, Cornish pasties and plenty of cider….bliss!


The Big Green Bus, Sussex:
2014 is the year I turned thirty, to celebrate I stayed on a bus in the Sussex countryside.  On the face of it I know that might sound slightly odd but this was no ordinary bus.  The Big Green Bus featured on Channel 4 television series George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces and is fully converted with two double bedrooms, bunk beds, lounge, galley kitchen and bathroom with hot water. Adam the owner has turned this old double-decker workhorse into the most amazing glamping retreat and has kept lots of the original features of the bus such as the drivers cab.  At the same time he has turned it into a cosy and unique space to relax in.  The log burner added marvellously to this!


Beach Hut 1, Shaldon:
Matt also turned thirty in April and as a surprise I booked a stay in a beach hut.  Just like our stay on the bus this was no ordinary beach hut and also featured on George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces.  The compact, bijou hut found on the shoreline in the quaint seaside village of Shaldon in Devon is one of a kind.  It screamed luxury from all its tiny corners.  Under floor heating, bi-folding doors opening up on to a private terrace with beach access and the cosy bedroom up in the roof completed this quirky little abode.  Glamping in style!


Work Trips:
I am so lucky that I get to incorporate my passion for travel in to my day job working as cabin crew for a British airline.  This year on work trips I have bought souvenirs in the markets of Mauritius and cycled along the Bermuda railway trail.  I’ve shopped in Orlando, been on a road trip and visited a shooting range.  I have paddle boarded, surfed and watched the sunset in Barbados, canoed in Antigua and sunbathed in St Lucia.  I’ve shopped in the south of France for sparkling cider, fresh bread and smelly cheese and explored the tiny streets of the old town in Nice.  I have blogged from a hotel roof top with a freshly squeezed orange juice and incredible views of the Mediterranean below.  Closer to home I have eaten ice cream on the beach in Jersey and cycled along the shoreline from St Helier to St Aubin, eaten a Scottish breakfast in Glasgow with my brother and walked along the Royal Mile up to the castle in Edinburgh….


Camping trips in the UK:
A trip in our campervan to Polzeath in Cornwall in July meant surfing, sunset barbeques and cider drinking at a beach pub.  (I think I have a theme running here!)  Closer to home Matt and I discovered that we could camp on the beach front on Hayling Island, a seaside town 10 minutes drive from us.  We have not had the opportunity to go away in our campervan as much as we would have liked this year due to work commitments so we grabbed this idea with open arms.  One sunny Friday we spent the day on the beach swimming, followed by a barbeque and camping under the stars listening to the waves roll in.  It was such a novelty to be able to do this so close to home!


Centre Parcs, Longleat:
Following on with the thirty theme my best friend organised a trip for her big day to Centre Parcs in Longleat Forest.  It was a fantastic weekend and a very active one, we cycled, played tennis, jogged around the lake, walked in the woods, ate pancakes and went mad in the rapids.  I love trips away with friends.


Australia, New Zealand and Bangkok:
Matt and I flew to Australia at the end of August to see two of our dearest friends get married, in between fighting jet lag we paddle boarded in Noosa and ate breakfast on the beach, took photos of incredible views in the Glass House Mountains and admired waterfalls.  We drank prosecco in Sydney harbour with magnificent views of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House too. While in Sydney I met up with Jayne Gorman, a fantastic travel blogger who recently moved down under.  Jayne has a wonderful way with words and really inspires me.  I love reading her posts on Girl Tweets World, check it out, you won’t be disappointed!
From Australia we flew to New Zealand where we hired a campervan and crammed all sorts of adventures into a ten-day road trip.  This included snowboarding, camping by crystal clear lakes and a helicopter tour over the west coast glaciers.  We drove for miles without coming across another person, ate porridge to warm up in the mornings, and became mesmerised by Milford Sound.  Another highlight was seeing glow worms shining brightly deep underground in a cave by Lake Te Anau.  We were perched in a small boat in the pitch black on an underground lake, amazing!  New Zealand has the most incredible scenery I have ever come across from lakes, to mountains, glaciers to rainforest, ocean and miles of open road, it was a stunning!  For more New Zealand adventures click on the link here: 10 day road trip itinerary South Island New Zealand.
Leaving New Zealand behind we celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary in the air en route to Bangkok.  This was our third visit to this buzzing city, I just love it!  We climbed up a temple, drank beer while watching the world go by on Koh San Road, sipped coconut water through straws, bought souvenirs on Rambuttri Street and most randomly of all did a wheelie in a tuk tuk, something I have never experienced before!  But, that’s a whole other story in itself!


I have been lucky enough to work with some great brands and companies through my freelance work this year, I am hoping to expand even more in 2015.  My new years resolution is to also write more of my own personal blogs, this is something I love doing but with a full-time job I often struggle to keep up with it.  On that note one of my favourite posts this year was my interview with author Lucy Clarke.  Her two books The Sea Sisters and A Single Breath have gripping storylines and include themes of travel and the ocean.  I can’t recommend them enough, they are the perfect holiday companions.  I’m really looking forward to her third book in 2015.
My travel plans so far for 2015 include a cosy winter break in Fowey in Cornwall, a road trip on the west coast of America, and hopefully a trip to Iceland.  Matt and I are also in the process of moving house so I’m sure that will keep us busy for the first few months of the year.  Who knows what the rest of the 2015 will bring, but I am looking forward to it.
What have been your favourite travel moments of 2014 and what are your travel plans for 2015?  I would love to hear them…
Happy New Year and I hope 2015 brings you lots of exciting travel opportunities….

Gone Glamping…

Somewhere in the middle of the Sussex Downs in the rolling countryside sits a glamping field and in that field sits The Big Green Bus…that’s where I’m heading tomorrow for my 30th birthday celebrations!
Turning 30 is pretty exciting and I wanted to do something different, so celebrating with my best friends and husband Matt, combined with a stay on this quirky bus seemed to be the perfect answer!  The bus has three bedrooms upstairs, a lounge area, kitchen and bathroom, very cool!  It was featured on Channel 4’s TV series George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces.  The same program I saw the beach hut on which I booked as a surprise earlier this year for Matt’s 30th.  This is proper glamping and I’m so excited!  I will report back in full and tell you all about it next week…
Here’s the full write up of my birthday trip: All aboard the big green bus….


Beach Hut Living…

Shaldon Beach Hut No.1 - one of my favourite unique places to stay in the UK
This year I’m really trying to make the most of what the UK has to offer. As well as continuing to explore the rest of the world I’m enjoying visiting new places in my own country.  (My last trip was a lovely long weekend in Cornwall.)  A trip to the tiny seaside town of Shaldon in Devon a few weekends ago was my next UK break, and a very special one at that as it was a surprise trip for my husbands 30th birthday!
Matt's birthday clues!Six months ago I booked ‘Beach Hut number 1’ after watching a programme on Channel 4 called George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces.  The series focused on the use of small buildings and spaces including boats, buses and everything in between and followed the progress of turning them into unusual dwellings and holiday homes.  The beach huts in Shaldon featured on the programme and stood out for me, as I’m a big fan of all things to do with the sea.  I instantly fell in love with it and thought it would be a fantastic place to take Matt to celebrate turning 30.  The hardest part was keeping it a secret for so long!  I gave Matt three envelopes containing clues about where we were going.  He guessed on clue three; so I think I did a pretty good job!  We excitedly set off on a sunny Saturday morning and arrived three hours later.  Pulling up outside Beach Hut One, sun shining and seagulls soaring high in the sky I knew we were in for a great weekend.  As we opened the door we were greeted with a glow of white washed walls and nautical décor.  A modern twist to a traditional beach hut this one came with everything including the kitchen sink!  A galley kitchen, light and airy living space, a mezzanine level with a cosy bedroom complete with comfy futon mattress and a compact bathroom under the stairs.  Bi-folding doors which opened up along the full width of the building onto our own private terrace and under floor heating (I love little touches like these!) completed this small but perfectly formed beach dwelling.  The beach hut also had a TV and wi-fi, but I tried to leave the wi-fi alone as I wanted to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.  This tiny space is so cleverly thought out and elegantly designed, it’s amazing that so much can fit into such a small area.  Overlooking the Teign estuary, Teignmouth and the beach this was definitely the ultimate glamping weekend and we were very excited!  With the champagne chilling ready for a birthday cheers we headed out to explore the village.  Shaldon is full of West Country charm; it has a few pubs, a bakery, The Yummy Shop, (love this name!) a coffee shop full of local treats, a few great shabby chic style gift shops and some good-looking restaurants.  We had dinner at The Ness a lovely hotel and gastro pub with fantastic views overlooking the estuary and Teignmouth.  I had steak and ale pie washed down with a large glass of red and finished off with a salted caramel sundae, it was just what I wanted!
The following day we explored the area in more detail, taking the passenger ferry from the beach at Shaldon over to Teignmouth.  The journey takes about 5 minutes and cost £1.50 each way!  We had some lunch and a stroll along the promenade and then headed back over to Sheldon.  Don’t miss Ness Cove; this lovely beach is accessed by a smugglers tunnel, very cool!  Also follow the South West Coast Path up to Ness Point; there is a nice view through the trees at the top of the hill looking towards Teignmouth and the rest of the coastline. I loved taking photos and capturing the essence of the lovely English seaside in the sunshine.  After this we retired back to our beach hut and chilled out on the terrace.  Reading and drinking wine, while watching the changing tide and boats bobbing on the water were the main items on the agenda!  We were only there for two nights but it felt like a lot longer, it was such a great place to unwind.  Living in England knowing how changeable the weather can be we were very lucky that the sun shone all weekend too.  I loved nothing more than opening up the doors onto the terrace first thing in the morning and seeing the golden sunlight shimmering on the water.  It felt like I was letting the beach right into the hut and so relaxing to read my book in bed listening to the waves lapping at the shore while admiring the lovely view.  Time seemed to slow down, making me appreciate the simple things in life.  I love beach hut living!

Surfing, cider and bacon sarnies in the UK…

Now that spring is on its way in the UK the days are getting longer and the sun is starting to shine, which means that it’s time to come out of hibernation and head to the coast.  I for one cannot wait to pack up my surfboard and wetsuit in the campervan and embrace the chilly British waters.  This time of year is perfect for hitting the surf especially as the days are getting brighter and right now the beaches aren’t so crowded.  This can mean only one thing: you have those waves all to yourself!  Plus with all the crazy weather the UK has been experiencing there has been some great swell pushing in.  So much so that during the storms in February top surfers from all over the world headed to the UK to catch some monster waves on the Cornish coast.
Being able to surf in just a bikini in warmer climates is great, nothing can beat it and I am lucky that I get my fix by surfing in Barbados every couple of months.  But there’s something I love about warming up in a campervan with a post surf hot chocolate and bacon butty on a crisp spring morning in England.  My top tip for warming up after a chilly surf is to wrap a hot water bottle in your towel; perfect after you’ve peeled off your cold wetsuit!  Throw on your hoody, jeans and uggs and hey presto you can start to feel your toes again.
Make sure you’ve got the right gear for colder waters; a winter wetsuit, booties, gloves and hood should keep you nice and toasty in the water.  My wetsuit is a 5mm and came with a hood, my gloves are 3mm and my boots are 6.5mm, they keep my feet so warm and the split toe design means there are really comfortable and easy to surf in.
If you have never surfed before, I thoroughly recommend giving it a try.  It is a great way to keep fit and have fun at the same time.  It may take a while to get the hang of it and can involve a lot of falling in and getting rolled around in the waves, but this is all part of the fun and is confidence building!  It is also a great way to make new friends.  After you’ve had a few lessons hire or buy your own board and just keep practising.  It’s addictive!
Some of my favourite surfing beaches in the UK are:
Putsborough – This beach in Devon is a real treat!  There are fab views of the water from the car park making it perfect for checking the surf and for picnics.  There is a small campsite here too and you can hire surfboards and wetsuits if you don’t have your own.  The nearby village of Georgeham has a lovely pub called the Kings Arms, it’s a good place to stop for a pint or two after a surf.  You can also walk along the beach to Woolacombe from Putsborough.  Which leads me onto my next beach…
Woolacombe – Great beach for beginners and long boarders.  There are plenty of surf schools in the area, so do a web search before you go.  If the surfs not so great the small town is a nice place to grab a pasty and do some shopping.  SaltRock, and a few other surf shops will keep you busy on a flat day along with some nice arty and jewellery shops.  Failing that, the Red Barn is a great stop for a cider.
Saunton Sands – Six miles down the road from Woolacombe this beautiful beach has around three miles of uninterrupted shoreline so you can spread out.  Surf wise if the conditions are right there can be lots of nice long, clean sets; perfect for beginners.  There is a good surf school and hire shop on the beach too.
Fistral – Cornwall’s answer to Byron Bay, this beach is split in to North and South.  Fistral is world famous for its surf and holds lots of big surf competitions and festivals such as Boardmasters and the English National Surfing Championships.  North Fistral has mostly right hand breaks and is usually slightly bigger than South.  Fistral Beach Surf School is found right on the beach and provides lessons and board rental.
Rhossili – This beautiful beach in Wales has recently been awarded the number one spot on the TripAdvisor Travellers Choice Awards 2014 – top 25 UK beaches.  I can understand why this 5km stretch of beach was voted as one of the best, it really shows off Britain’s beauty and its consistent beach breaks make it a great place to surf.
Closer to home I am pretty spoilt with some half decent beaches to surf at; these include the Witterings, Highcliffe and Bournemouth.  East Wittering, West Wittering and Bracklesham Bay are all nearby one another, if the surfs no good at one you can head to one of the others.  There are two great surf shops in East Wittering: Shore and Witterings Surf Shop.  Drift In coffee shop is part of Witterings Surf Shop and is a nice place to head to after a surf or beach walk.  Both Shore and Witterings surf shop provide board, wetsuit hire and lessons.
I am so lucky to live near the sea but I definitely do not make the most of it!  My plan this summer is to surf closer to home and use these lovely beaches nearby, aswell as the odd trip to Barbados for some bikini surfing!

Port Isaac, the ultimate Cornish retreat…

Beautiful views of Port Isaac from White House Cottage. This is one of my favourites in my blog on unique places to stay in the UK
View from White House Cottage, Port Isaac
There has been so many storms and flooding in Britain lately I was worried that it might affect our winter break away.  The drive down to Cornwall was quite unpleasant with a lot of water on the roads, trees down and very high winds.  But once we arrived the weather was glorious.  We only had one day of rain, which lent itself well to lounging by our log burner and scoffing afternoon tea!  Staying in the quaint fishing village of Port Isaac found on the North Cornish coast it was the perfect escape from everyday life.  With no phone signal in most areas of the village you have no choice but to relax and forget about all your daily worries.  (I cheated slightly when I started this blog as the cottage I was staying in had wi-fi, but I did limit my daily usage!)
If you stay down in the village a lot of cottages don’t have parking.  The roads in the village are also extremely narrow and can be a bit nerve-racking to drive along especially if you meet another car!  The closest place to park is the car park at the top of the hill.   A ten-minute stroll will take you down into the village centre.  Pasty shops, cafes serving cream teas, the Golden Lion pub, a few restaurants, (The Moat is my favourite) and some lovely shabby chic shops await.  Exploring the village doesn’t take long follow the narrow streets as they wind past quaint white washed cottages. Look out for Squeeze – ee -Belly Alley, as the name describes it is a very narrow walkway built-in between the cottages.  How very Cornish!  The harbour is good for an adventure when the tide is out, rock pools and caves appear and you can climb up onto the harbour wall.  For a scrummy dinner after all that activity head to the fishmongers right on the Platt.
For such a small village with a population of only about 700 people, Port Isaac is quite famous.  Home to the TV series ‘Doc Martin’ many tourists are attracted to this quaint part of the UK.  On that note one of the reasons why I prefer visiting in the winter months is that there is hardly anyone around, compared to the summertime.  ‘Keeping Mum’ starring Maggie Smith and Rowan Atkinson was also filmed in the community.  The sea shanty group Fisherman’s Friends have all lived and worked in Port Isaac, many are fishermen, and members of the lifeboat and coastguard.  They can be heard performing to huge crowds on the Platt every Friday night throughout the summer.  I would love to see them live, their powerful a cappella tones send shivers up my spine!
I love heading down to the south-west of the UK for surfing in the summer but there’s nothing like braving the elements and staying in a cosy cottage, log burner roaring, watching the winter swell roll in through the harbour.  Staying with our friends at White House Cottage this is exactly what we did.  Situated on Roscarrock Hill with magnificent three doors down from Doc Martin’s surgery and a stones throw from the village centre, harbour and the South West Coast Path at the top of Roscarrock hill.  There is a great viewpoint at the top by the way; from here you can look back down to Port Isaac and the surrounding rugged coastline, it is breathtaking and great for photos.  Don’t try walking up the hill with a hangover though, believe me it’s not fun!  The cottage itself had uninterrupted views across the harbour and village.  In fact you could see the beautiful view from every room, including the bathroom.  The novelty of brushing your teeth while watching the gulls soaring, waves crashing and fisherman in the harbour never got boring!  I loved lying in bed with the window open in the morning listening to the waves rolling softly into the harbour, utter bliss!  White House cottage also came with not one but two gardens.  One in front of the building and an upper garden, almost like a secret garden, set higher up above the cottage.  It was the perfect place to have the view all to yourself.
The nearby fishing village of Padstow is well worth a visit.  Colourful fishing boats are lined up in the harbour and the cobbled streets are filled with gift shops and pasty stops.  There is a lovely walk along the beach; you can also jump on a passenger ferry just over the water to Rock.  Padstow is home to the National Lobster Hatchery which I would thoroughly recommend visiting.  This charitable organisation focuses on marine conservation.  The work and aim of the hatchery is to protect and support local fishing communities by rearing and releasing these beautiful crustaceans into the wild.  The lobster population has declined over the years due to over fishing and poor survival rates.  An interesting fact that I learnt via the hatchery website is that a female lobster can hold up to 20,000 eggs, with only one of those expected to survive in the wild!  The hatchery has lots of information and you can see the laboratories and baby lobsters at different stages before release.
While in Cornwall there are a few must dos on the food and drink front.  First and foremost you must have a pasty.  This very traditional Cornish delight is a savoury pastry typically filled with beef, potato, suede and onion, seasoned with salt and pepper and crimped on the edge to hold it all together.  There are some tasty alternatives such as steak and Stilton and you can even get sweet pasties.  Be careful if you are eating your pasty in a seaside town such as Padstow though as the cheeky seagulls have become wise to tourists and will dive bomb you for your lunch, keep that pasty protected!  A cream tea is another west country treat, scones accompanied with jam, cream and a pot of tea.  There is much debate around which way you should put the jam and cream on the scone.  Jam before cream is apparently the Cornish way, cream before jam is the Devon way.  I prefer spreading the jam first and then putting the cream on top.  Our favourite Cornish beverages include, Rattler, cloudy cyder and Doom Bar, an ale brewed in the small village of Rock close to Port Isaac.  Back in Port Isaac The Golden Lion is the perfect place to warm up with a local beverage; the tiny public house is the centre of village life, has a lovely open fire and a friendly atmosphere.
It always amazes how time passes so quickly when you are on holiday, our days centred on lovely walks, food, drink, afternoon naps and cups of tea by the log burner.  Port Isaac is my ultimate Cornish retreat and I can’t wait to visit again soon…