Doc Martin’s Portwenn: Port Isaac, Cornwall

Doc Martin is a popular British TV dramedy series that features a grouchy, socially awkward surgeon who is afraid of blood.

Doc Martin's Martin Clunes posing with a chicken.

Doc Martin’s Martin Clunes posing with a chicken.

The show’s fictional location of Portwenn is filmed in the supremely beautiful and tiny village of Port Isaac, Cornwall.

lil' bro "looking ill" in front of the building used for Doc Martin's medical practice.

lil’ bro “looking ill” in front of the building used for Doc Martin’s medical practice.
An actor he will not be.


Port Isaac


I couldn't believe how green the ocean was here!

I couldn’t believe how green the ocean was here!

Low tide in the harbour.

Low tide in the harbour.


To get an idea of how small the town is, here’s a (bad) picture of how the buildings are shaped to fit into every cranny of the space between ‘roads’:

Look especially at the building fitting into a narrow corner in the background!

Look especially at the building fitting into a narrow corner in the background!

The village is also home to the very talented and locally-well-known group, the Fisherman’s Friends. The Fisherman’s Friends sing primarily sea-shanties featuring haunting harmonies, and often perform on the beach in Port Isaac’s harbour:

Cornish fishing villages are some of my favourite places to visit. Port Isaac’s ‘fame’ does nothing to detract from it’s quaint beauty.



Budget Travel Tips: 8 Desperate Ways to Finally Afford that Trip

Times are tight. I know it, you know it, we ALL feel it. Many people are opting out of travel altogether. So the question looms: is it still possible to travel on a tight budget?

I would argue that it is almost not.

It isn’t uncommon to see tips on travelling on a budget such as these from Reader’s Digest. Even though these can be valuable for a novice, comfortable traveller to cut down a bit on the overall cost of vacationing, they do not remedy the fact that travel is too expensive for most people these days.

So there’s nothing to do but give up, lock yourself in a dark room, sit in a corner, listen to Coldplay and sulk about your immobilizing debt that prevents you from experiencing life, right?


That completely depends – how badly do you want it?

If you want it bad enough here are 8 things to consider to maybe, actually, potentially make travel a possibility for those with the dark cloud of financial hardship raining overhead.


1. Convenience and Comfort? Ha!:

If you have the luxury of being time-and-place-flexible, there are sometimes affordable deals to be had!


Flying to cool places

Do your research. Look at multiple airlines and their options, check out the budget airlines and where they fly. What time of year is cheapest? Peak-season travel is sickeningly expensive, so look at off-peak flights.

Try Skyscanner– they will give you a good idea of what the cheapest available options are, but do your own poking around too!

Bring only carry-on luggage (preferably a backpack!! For the reasons, see this post). There are many budget airlines in Europe and the UK, but they often charge a significant fee for checked baggage.

IMPORTANT– Speaking of budget airlines: be wary of them! Some do not have assigned seating and will OVERBOOK their flights ON PURPOSE in order to make more money (*cough* Ryan Air *cough*), and they count on the fact that someone won’t show up or will be late. ARRIVE EARLY, and be aggressive when boarding. You’re welcome.

One of the biggest expenses when travelling is food. The best way to cut down your food budget is to grocery shop rather than eat at restaurants or pubs. In the UK, for example, many shops have a £3 “meal deal” where you get a sandwich, bag of chips and a drink. Not the healthiest way to sustain yourself abroad, but certainly one of the cheapest!

2. Scrap Your List of Destinations:

If you have considered travel, ever, you probably have a mental list of the top places you’d like to visit. Murphy’s Law demands that these will likely be the most expensive places to get to. Throw it out. Embrace the possibility of new places!

For example, Brussels is somewhere I never expected to go, but I enjoyed it! (Not exactly a dirt cheap example, but the best personal one I have!)


If I hadn’t gone to Brussels, I wouldn’t have seen street art like this:



Or this:



If, during your travels, you are lucky enough to find yourself nearby a more expensive destination that you MUST see (for example, Paris is a popular and pricey place to lust after), then spend as little time there as possible. 2-3 days is sufficient to explore a city-centre by foot.

3. Terrible Transportation:

Direct flights are lovely, but awful meandering ones are generally cheaper. Decide how much savings your time and physical comfort is worth (if you can’t bare the thought of embarking on a 1-2 day flight-hopping spree when the direct flight is 8-hours or less, you don’t want it badly enough).

Also, flights that leave at horrible times like 4am are generally cheaper than pleasantly-timed flights.

"Friends Fare" is a thing in the UK... if you have 3 friends. No more, no less.

A “Friends Fare” discount is a thing on UK trains… if you have 3 friends. No more, no less.

If you are ‘on the road’ and travelling from city to city, there are multiple options available to you (especially in Europe). There are flights, trains, coaches and…. BUSSES. Pick the bus that takes about ten times longer to get to your destination than any other method of transportation, and it’s likely the cheapest.

I once took a city-style bus in England from Exeter to Poole (a distance that should take less than 2 hours by car, but took over 5 hours by bus – with no stops!!! How is that even possible?!). City-style bus means NO TOILET… again, with no stops. It was an excruciating journey. This should be illegal – but at a fraction of the cost of the train, it was the only option in my range of affordability.

When in a location, WALK EVERYWHERE. Transportation within cities is so expensive, especially to and from airports. Use it as little as possible.

You can find some of the most beautiful places just by walking!

You can find some of the most beautiful places just by walking!
Arthur’s Seat Summit, Edinburgh

4. Travel with a Buddy:

Try to find a friend to go with that is in the same situation (or at least very open minded). This can be a challenge, but in the end you can both save money than if you were alone. Of course, the simplest reason for this is room-sharing, but also watching each other’s backs.

The biggest savings when travelling with a buddy (and I hate to say this) is HITCHHIKING. As a woman, I would never hitchhike alone. As a snobby person, I would never hitchhike at all. If you play it safe, however, you can get far on very little money. A friend of mine recently admitted their travels included a lot of hitchhiking, and this warmed me to the idea. Use common sense and be picky – don’t put yourself in a situation where you feel unsafe, and don’t hitch at night! Check out these tips.

5. Consider Long-Term Travel:

Find work, meet people, couch surf, move on.

For positive and real-life tales of SUCCESSFUL long-term EXTREME budget travel, check out the supremely cool Wandering Earl! He’s much more experienced at all of this than I am!

Earl, wandering.

Earl, wandering. My lil’ bro met up with him on his travels and he’s apparently a really cool guy 🙂

6. No Partying OR Partying for Board:

Choose one of these things. If you have all of your accommodation booked in advance, no alcohol, no partying. If not, choose bars and clubs with no cover fee, and then meet as many people as possible to find an available couch!!

I have never partied to find a place to crash... it sounds dangerous.

I have never partied to find a place to crash… it sounds dangerous.

7. Forfeit the Tourist Attractions:

CN Tower, Toronto: $32- $89cnd


Eiffel Tower, Paris: €15

I thought seeing it from the ground was good enough!

I thought seeing it from the ground was good enough!

Big Ben, London: £15

This is not the tower of London, but it's a nice picture.

Maybe that doesn’t seem like much, but these admission prices could also be your food budget for a day or two! Save it for when you’re rich.

8. Hostels vs. Hotels:

Hostels can be hit or miss. Again, do you research! I use and have never been disappointed. Look the cheapest available of course, but use the Internet to check where the hostels are located so you aren’t booking something in the middle of nowhere.

A small but very good hostel.

A small but very good hostel.

Normally the more beds in a dorm the cheaper it will be per night… so mentally prepare for 12 other people ruining your sleep schedule, coming to bed at 4am, getting up at 6am etc. Bring earplugs.

Don’t assume hostels will be cheaper than hotels. Of course, they normally are, but when my lil’bro and I recently went to Paris, we booked a one-star hotel, as it was cheaper than Parisian hostels. There’s an option on Hostelworld for hotels.

It’s very important before booking a hostel to read some of the customer reviews. Hostelworld is great for accurate reviews! If the reviews terrify you, don’t book the hotel. It’s usually fairly obvious when someone has just had a bad experience, ie. noisy streets on a weekend (duh), people drunkenly having sex or masturbating in the same dorm, loud snoring – these things aren’t the hostel’s fault. Bring earplugs. BRING EARPLUGS.

Check for bedbugs when you arrive, then forget about how awful the rest of it is.


Does thinking about these things give you a tingle of excitement? Or does it inject fear and bitterness into your beautiful dreams of travel?

Do YOU have what it takes to be an extreme-budget traveller?

Enjoy your travels, be they desperately budget or gloriously comfortable, because travel is the best and most enjoyable education.

Clovelly: A Glimpse Into the Past

You'd think England had excellent weather all the time!

You’d think England had excellent weather all the time!

Ever wondered what an old fashioned English fishing village looked like? Then you need to go to Clovelly in Devon. Clovelly was a functioning fishing village until the early 1900’s, and then someone thought, “Hey! The world is changing, but let’s keep Clovelly exactly the same!” (I’m sure that’s exactly how it happened).


Old drainage method! Yay history!

Old drainage method! Yay history!

Clovelly exists now primarily as a tourist attraction, but it’s certainly worth a visit.

Tourists, tourists, tourists, tourists rockin' everywhere.

Tourists, tourists, tourists, tourists rockin’ everywhere.

The Harbour

The Harbour

Looking up at Clovelly from the harbour

Looking up at Clovelly from the harbour

Clovelly, located right on the ocean of course, also scales a very steep hill. All the buildings are listed, and residents of the wee village must keep their dwellings as historically accurate as possible.


Hallo dawgy!



P1070545Cars are not allowed, so everyone who lives there has to be extremely fit, or never leave their house. Supplies, garbage, and other large loads are brought up and down the town’s slope on wooden skids by skinny, muscly, eighteen-year-old man-boys (the only age and fitness group with the energy to do this job day in and day out).

When the village was still functioning, they used donkeys for this job. When the transition was made to tourist town, the donkeys ferried children up and down the hill.




Nowadays, however, the donkeys are not subjected to this torture. They are just there for tradition’s sake behind this very secure fence:

Excuse me, I'm not sure if anyone's told you this before, but, that's not a real fence.

I’m fairly certain string doesn’t conduct electricity.

Also, CATS!


Clovelly has a lot of cats – these aren’t just random cat pictures!


Also, LOL

I enjoy hilariously-named British roads.

I enjoy hilariously-named British roads.

Read my Mum’s blog about Clovelly and other English gems!

Penzance and Marazion: Home of St. Michael’s Mount

In Cornwall, England, you can find the most wondrous places.


At the Southwestern most tip of the island that is Britain resides a town called Penzance. Larger than most seaside towns, Penzance lacks the dated and tacky tourist arcades and pseudo show-gardens like its smaller counterparts (for example, Exmouth, Dawlish and Teignmouth – more on them another time!).

Penzance High Street

Penzance High Street

It has a more actually-lived-in feel, which I prefer to the ghosts of seaside towns past. Penzance is a strange blend of English and ‘tropical’. There are palm trees everywhere! It’s an odd phenomenon. It felt wrong, but somehow right.


And of course the beach was fantastic. Long and sandy, very characteristic of Southern England.

High tide, so no beach at the moment!

High tide, so no beach at the moment!

There is, however, something that makes Penzance extra-special. The next town over, called Marazion, is the home of the fantastic St. Michael’s Mount. Marazion is within walking distance of Penzance – though I would recommend taking the bus if you are on a schedule!


The Mount is another plateau (somewhat similar to Tintagel) that rises from the sea just off shore. It is accessible on foot at low tide via causeway. At high tide the only way out is by boat. Why would you want to go out there? Because there’s a castle on it!


Due to its unusualness and its stark beauty, the Mount has been used for myriad things dating back to the 5th century, including army barracks, a monastery, and a wonderfully defendable castle.

The castle on the Mount

The castle on the Mount





The views from atop the castle were stunning.

You can see the submerged causeway!

You can see the submerged causeway!

The gate.

The gate.

The gardens have a separate entry fee, which we skipped.

The gardens have a separate entry fee, which we skipped.

When I visited the Mount in the spring of 2012, they were setting up to film a movie called Mariah Mundi and the Midas Box which is due to be released in 2013….


The old-time style set.

The old-time style set.


The coolest part about the filming was watching the amphibious bus/terrestrial boat ferry cast and crew back and forth from the set to the mainland.


We were blessed with excellent weather for our day trip to Penzance, but I think that even with grey skies, this spot should be on the list for anyone travelling in the UK!

On the train-ride back to our home base, a man was playing harmonica and his dogs were singing along. Oh, Cornwall!!


King Arthur at Tintagel, Cornwall

Tintagel is a small Cornish coastal village with one very important claim: it is the alleged birthplace of King Arthur (or according to some sources, the site of his conception – lol).

Not to be mistaken as the mysterious “Camelot,” Tintagel boasts an old castle ruin that mostly dates back to the 13th century, with evidence of Roman habitation as early as the 6th century (

Arthur or no Arthur, the most spectacular thing about Tintagel Castle is its location.


The Cornish coastline is some of the most beautiful and dramatic scenery I’ve ever seen. The castle is perched atop a plateau that juts out into the ocean. I imagine this being a perfect spot for a castle, as it would be terribly difficult to besiege.


So many narrow steps! It would be impossible for an army to make an effective attack.

So many narrow steps! It would be impossible for an an effective attack by an army.

So high up!!

So high up!!


Not much of the castle remains, mostly just foundations. Some of the newer sections of the castle still stand, and are still, in every sense of the word, old.



More foundations

More foundations.

Newer section of the castle.

Newer section of the castle.

It's not terrifying at all walking under a broken wall...

It’s not terrifying at all walking under a broken wall…

Slightly scary broken wall.

Slightly scary broken wall.

This hotel is often mistaken as Tintagel Castle by North American tourists who don't understand what 'old' means!

This hotel is often mistaken as Tintagel Castle by North American tourists who don’t understand what ‘old’ means.

Like all good castles, Tintagel had it’s own church. The church was not located on the plateau like the rest of the castle, but on the mainland. That meant if you wanted to go pray, you had to walk all the way down the steps and up again to the church. You had to really want it!

View of the church ruin from the castle.

View of the church ruin from the castle.

View of the castle from the church.

View of the castle from the church.

Inside the church.

Inside the church.

This was my second trip to Tintagel, and I will never, ever get tired of it!

Lil'bro pretending to jump off the cliff.

Lil’bro pretending to jump off the cliff.