Thursday, January 15, 2015

I Heart Doc Martin

Apparently a lot of other people do, too.  When we were in Cornwall visiting our daughter Zoe we HAD to make a pilgrimage to Port Isaac -- Port Wenn in the series. When I asked our guide, County and Parish Councillor Andy Penny for figures on tourists, he couldn't give me precise information. He did tell me that there were 800 people in the village and, last August, the public toilets in the middle of the town were flushed an average of 1000 times a day. Unknown factors: who used their own toilets --  or toilets in local restaurants or hostelries -- and whether some visitors needed the facilities more than once!  The influx of tourists based on the popularity of the TV show "Doc Martin" was, however, probably responsible for the necessity of creating another parking area outside of the historic district.
This shot, taken from the west side of the harbor looks across to Fern Cottage, the building used for Doc Martin's surgery in the show. It's the smaller of the two gray buildings between the white ones.

Here's a close-up -- thanks to my telephoto lens. We didn't walk to it -- it's on a steep hill and my legs were about to give out by the time we got to the other side of the harbor. Wish I had!

The school house where Louisa (supposedly) teaches is on the cliffs on the west side of the harbor. It served as the village school until 1976. Now it's a hotel and restaurant and is used in exterior school shots in "Doc Martin."
They weren't filming while we were there -- they only film every other year -- so the closest we came to seeing one of the actors was this van!
Now that we're back home, we love the program even more having been to the filming location. And I have great respect for the actors, particularly Martin Clunes, when I see them striding rapidly up and down the hills!

After an initial look around, we climbed the steep street back to the top of town to Fresh from the Sea, an absolutely delightful little family-owned, family-run eatery.

The late September day was overcast, but the weather pleasant enough to sit outside. Tracy Greenhalgh and her mom Enid run the tiny restaurant and fish market while Tracy's husband Calum catches the merchandise! While we were eating, Calum came in with the day's catch and visited with me as he put bands on the lobster claws.

You can see why that's a good idea!

Calum catches lobsters and crabs -- and the Greenhalgh ladies turn them in to attractive and tasty entrees like this crab salad served in its own shell.

Later, overlooking the harbor, Andy pointed out Calum's boat -- it's the small one on the far right.

Andy showed us a number of other sites in the village -- there are lots of interesting little nooks and corners you don't see on TV. He also told us the local boys, his son included, love to hide around corners and stick their hands out during filming. I think they get points if the camera-people don't catch them at it!
Councillor Penny is talking to Zoe and both are standing in front of one of the oldest structures in Port Isaac.
I don't have an exact date for the building but there's a good chance it dates back to the 1700s. One of the places Andy showed us was Squeeze-ee-belly Alley, said to be the narrowest public thoroughfare in England.
The harbor is a working harbor, complete with crab and lobster traps
but is also a prime attraction for tourists and artists.
There are a number of shops and galleries in the town but Port Isaac Pottery on the far side of the harbor was one of our very favorites. The designs were unique and beautifully done.
As is so typical in England, we'd spent hours in Port Isaac under a gray sky. Of course, when we walked to the car park, the clouds lifted. This is the view from the coastal path looking toward Tintagel.Ah, well, I guarantee this won't be our last visit and maybe we'll catch the sun the next time.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Welcome back, me!

I can't believe it!  After being locked out of my blog for over a year.....I'm back.  And now I don't have time to catch up.  So here are some  teaser photos that will show up in the future when I start filling in my adventures.  I chose one from each of the nine trips out of state that I've taken so far this year.  Can you match the photos to the locations?  Your choices are:  Louisville, KY; Galveston, TX; Healdsburg, CA; Cornwall, UK; Door County, WI: Dallas, TX; Shreveport, LA; Adairsville, GA; and St. Louis, MO -- that's an easy one!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Little Rock Through My Lens

When the Central States Chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers met in Little Rock in June, several of us competed  in a photo shoot-out.  We began at about 5 in the afternoon and went until after dark.  We started out early the next morning and shot until late afternoon.  We then had to pick ten photos for competition.  The categories were: Bridges, People, Architecture, Action and Sense of Place.

I'm having difficulty moving these around on the page, so they'll show up rather haphazardly but these are my ten entries.  The top picture was taken in a beautiful sculpture garden along the Arkansas River.  The sunset shots were all taken of and from Little Rock's Big Dam Bridge.  Yes, that's its name.  It's a marvelous pedestrian bridge over a dam on the Arkansas.  Little kids (and I) enjoy talking about the bridge because it sounds naughty!

How quickly the light changes!  This shot, of another bridge was taken the same day.

This shot was taken shortly before the last bridge shot.  You can see the clouds gathering.

More of that Big Dam Bridge!

The farmers' market provided colorful subjects -- and they tasted good, too.

I loved this shot of this beautiful mother and daughter at the market.  It was the winner in the "People" category.

I caught this gorilla at the zoo -- animals were entered under "Adventure" -- and I think this could have been an action shot if I hadn't been on the other side of a wall.  I believe if you click on the picture, you can make it bigger.  If you do, you'll see the whites of his eyes.

There were a lot of obvious shots in Little Rock, particularly in architecture -- the Old State House, the Clinton Center, the state capitol -- so we all tried to get different pictures.  This is a detail of the little Victorian home which was used as the exterior of the Sugerbaker sisters' house in "Designing Women."

Another sunset on the Big Dam Bridge.  You can see how the ramp on the left leads up to the major portion of the bridge.  This is the longest pedestrian and bicycle bridge in the world -- and that's damn big!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Motawi Tileworks -- Nothing Square Here

My recent visit to Ann Arbor included a trip to Motawi Tileworks -- a business founded by Nawal Motawi, who is also the principal designer  The company creates beautiful hand-crafted tiles with monochrome and polychrome designs.  I was immediately taken by the gorgeous designs and colors.  In addition to Nawal's designs, the company also has associations with other artists and organizations including the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.  Pictures can say more than my words, so......

The four designs on the left originated with artist Cary Phillips.

 Charley Harper's "Cool Cardinal"

Though several of the processes involved in creating the tiles can be done mechanically, every tile gets the hands-on treatment at least ten times during its evolution.  Some of these call for low-tech tools like the simple band-aid which protects the worker's finger as he smooths sharp edges.  Colored glazes are applied using bulb syringes.

"Boy Reading" mural

These tiles are based on block prints by artist Yoshiko Yamamoto.

Nawal Motawi is a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Art and Design where she studied ceramics and sculpture.  She started her own business making tiles in her garage and selling them at a local farmers' market.  Today the tileworks, now  in its own large studio, employs over two-dozen people.

When we (a group of journalists) visited, Nawal arranged for us to make our own tiles.   Even though all we did was use a variety of stamps to press designs into the clay (they glazed and fired the tiles and mailed them to us) we still felt pretty creative.  Funny, she didn't ask to use any of our designs!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hitting the Road in Arizona

Jack and I started our big adventure in Phoenix but didn't stop in the city.  We were headed north  for the Verde Valley and Cottonwood.  Our itinerary was planned by the Arizona Department of Tourism and our first day was an exploration of the Verde Valley Wine Trail.

We started at Alcantara, the largest producer of estate wines in central Arizona.  Located on the Verde River, its lush setting complements the wines.  Owner Barbara Predmore invites visitors to taste, stay and enjoy the scenery and the wines.

Our next stop was Javelina Leap where owners Rod and Cynthia Snapp specialize in rich, red wines.  They grow Zinfandel on four and a half of their 10 acres and get grapes for other varietals from Southern Arizona.  (Their white wines are made in California.)  They provided us with a lovely picnic lunch -- far more than we could eat in one sitting, so they boxed the left-overs for another day's picnic!

We were at the airport at 7 this morning for our 8:20 flight.  Between the getting up early -- which Jack doesn't usually do -- and the wine, this was Jack at the third winery -- Oak Creek Vineyards.  Owner Deb Wahl grows Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah and almonds on her 10 acres.

By the fourth winery, I was ready to join Jack!  The deck at Page Springs Cellars, overlooking Oak Creek, was particularly appealing.  And, by appointment, you can get a massage in the vineyard!  That sounded great.  Page Springs touts its Rhone-style wines and gourmet snack selections -- they'll even pack you a picnic basket.
 Lana Tolleson, president of the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce met us in town and took us on a tasting room tour.  We hit Burning Tree Cellars, Pillsbury Wine Co. Tasting Room and Arizona Stronghold Tasting Room.  By this time, about the only thing I could tell you was if the wine was red or white!  I'm glad I got to see all these facilities -- but travelers intent on enjoying the wine and the ambiance would take it a lot slower!
 After a great Italian dinner at Nic's Italian Steak and Crab House, we were ready to turn in.  We stayed two nights at the Tavern Hotel, a neat boutique property with cool decor and uber-comfy rooms.

 On our way into town, we passed through "modern" Cottonwood but if you keep driving -- and we did -- you'll come to "historic" Cottonwood.  This is a place where it seems as if time stopped a couple of decades ago -- and you should, too.
 We had breakfast at Crema, a cute little restaurant with a great menu.  This was my breakfast, the Crema signature breakfast sandwich -- red-chile-glazed bacon, egg, tomato and cheddar on a croissant.  We enjoyed this spot so much, we detoured on our way back to Phoenix a week later to sample more of the menu.
 Not far from Cottonwood is the little town of Jerome.  Once a bustling mining community, it died when the copper played out.  People left and the buildings stood empty.  Some of them simply slid down the mountainside to structural suicide.  Today it's experiencing resurrection as an arts destination.  Restaurants and shops cater to tourists.  My favorite shop -- the world's largest kaleidoscope store. 

 Visitors to the Jerome State Historic Park can learn about the town's history and the mining industry in the museum -- the former mansion of mine owner James S. Douglas.  Here you get a good view of Cleopatra Hill and the town site.
 One of the many highlights of our trip was an excursion on the Verde Valley Railroad.  The scenery was 
spectacular on the four-hour trip from Clarkdale to Perkinsville and back.  

Traveling through Verde Canyon, the train was dwarfed by towering red cliffs.  Although we were seated in a first-class car with plush, living-room-style seating, I spent most of the trip in one of the open cars, crossing from one side to the other and back, for the best photographic views.

Dinner that night was back in Cottonwood, this time at the Schoolhouse Restaurant, which is housed in what used to be the Upper Verde Valley Grade School.  Chef Christopher Dobrowolski is big on earth-friendly, local products.  His version of Chile Relleno involves a smoked poblano chile covered with an egg wash and stuffed with several varieties of cheese.  The tomato sauce on the side had quite a bit of heat which was nicely ameliorated by the slices of cool avocado.  The dish was topped with fresh pico de gallo made with heirloom tomatoes.  And with that, we were ready to call it quits!