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Life Thursday Doors

Thursday Doors with Doc Martin

Not Doc Martin’s famous boots, but the TV character who practises in Port Wen (actually Port Isaac) in Cornwall. The actor, Martin Clunes, plays a surgeon who suffers from panic attacks when he sees blood. He leaves London to work as a family doctor in rural Cornwall, where there is less blood being shed. The village is swamped by tourists coming to the location which they will have seen on television.

Doc Martin’s front door

The village is very photogenic, with white houses clustered on the hillside around a small sheltered harbour. It would have been more sheltered if they had built the harbour wall in the right place.

Port Isaac, a fishing village established early in the 14th century

Nathan Outlaw is a two-star Michelin chef who has a restaurant in one of the oldest houses on the seafront, dating back to the 15th century. Only £80 for a superb tasting menu, with another £65 for the recommended bottle of wine to accompany the meal. And £3 donation for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute. Sample menu

Breaded Lemon Sole, Crispy Anchovies, Tandoori Mayonnaise

Cured Monkfish, Broad Beans, Ginger & Spring Onion Dressing

Red Gurnard, Sea Buckthorn, Chilli, Apple & Mint

Grey Mullet, Courgette & Cashew Nut Salad, Coriander Yoghurt

Bass, Smoked Hollandaise Sauce

Honey Ice Cream, Peanut, Rhubarb & Raspberries

Door to the fish market, known as the Pilchard Palace

Two hundred years ago, Port Isaac was famous for pilchards – oily fish like large sardines. The fish fed on plankton in the summer and autumn and could be netted in vast shoals.

In the fish cellars, men would pack layers of fish, separated by layers of salt, into barrels. Over the next month, the fish would be compressed to extract oil which was sent to be burned in London street lights. The pilchards would then be washed and packed in new barrels for export to Europe.

A barrel, or “hogshead”, could hold 3,000 fish. In a bumper year, the fishermen could fill 40,000 hogsheads. But stocks of pilchards dried up, so the fishermen switched to herrings. These were smoked on the quayside and sold as kippers or “fairmaids” (a corruption of “fumades”, Spanish for smoked fish).

Other doors in Port Isaac include:

The parish council building, 1911
Shelter from the rain outside this door
The Gallery or The Studio
Stable door, half open, half closed
Stable door, both halves closed
I love the slab of slate at the entrance to the Anchorage

The south west coastal path winds along the cliffs – Lobber, Pinehaven, Varley Head, Scarnor, Greengarden Cove and Kellan Head, westward to Port Quin. There are a few interesting doors in this tiny hamlet.

Acknowledgement – most of the information in this blog was taken from information boards in Port Isaac.