If you picked me up today and plucked me in the picturesque and intimate village of Portwenn, the fictional Cornish fishing town depicted in the British television series Doc Martin, I would be able to converse with the locals, know where to eat, visit Mrs. Tishell to purchase my vitamins, and, if I ever fell ill, be in the good hands of Doctor Martin Ellingham. I would wind my way up and down the streets and descend the hills to the waterfront area, replete with fishing boats, restaurants, and benches to catch a glimpse of the sunset.
Admittedly, I was hesitant to begin this quirky series that takes several episodes to sink your teeth into, but by Episode 4, I was hooked, and am now halfway through Season 3. The characters are fun, odd, and although some are stereotypical, there are those who are quite unique and original. But perhaps the most engaging part of the show, now in its eighth season, is the feeling you get from the village itself. I absolutely adore everything about it: its vistas, its fisherman cottages, its rolling hills where Aunt Joan’s farm is set, and its curvy and hilly streets. In fact, it’s so charming and welcoming, you want it to be real.
And luckily, it is.
The name of the actual town, located in the middle of the North Cornwall coast, is Port Isaac. Watching this television drama/comedy makes me want to board a plane right now and drive along the Cornwall coast. Years ago, when I discovered writer Rosamunde Pilcher and her fantastic novels, I got a sense of Cornwall’s personality through her descriptive books, specifically The Shell Seekers. And while Doc Martin seems to be filmed mostly on days filled with sunshine, I’m quite sure the coast has a different personality in the throes of winter when it becomes cold and dark and the winds violently whip along the coastline.
I’m enamored with the idea of small villages and small towns. My favorite getaway weekends are when my husband and I steal away and get to know a place by staying in a bed and breakfast or small inn, talking to the people who live in the town—many of whom are born and raised there—and getting a sense of the makeup of the place. Portwenn, as depicted in Doc Martin, allows us to feel that sense of community, not only through its talented cast, but also through the scenery that directors offer us as viewers of what it looks like from many different, yet always appealing, angles.
Last year, my son chose California as his high school graduation trip, and our family spent two weeks traveling the California coast, staying in both large cities and smaller towns. I’m hoping my daughter chooses the United Kingdom when she graduates next year. It would be delightful to stumble upon Portwenn—Port Isaac—and commiserate with the locals who continue to call that charming place their home.
And maybe bump into a Doc Martin of our own.