Highlight for this morning was to be the Kinnane sisters meeting for brunch in London. Beyond that we were headed for Doc Martin territory, Port Isaac (aka Port Wenn) in Cornwall. That required driving about 380 km so we needed to be on the road as soon as we could manage.

We were awake and ready for breakfast when it started at 7:30 am. Consistent with the minimalist nature of our accommodation it was cereal with milk, toast with jam, and coffee from a self-operated machine. That was not very different from our regular breakfast and we were going for brunch so did not want much in any case. After breakfast we packed and prepared for the day. We never did find the bathroom (toilet was separate) in that hotel but Majella met a man wearing a towel in a corridor so we assume there was one tucked behind a door we never found.

We were out just before 8:30 am and ready to feed the machine for parking. The maximum 4 hours (£14) gave us until 12:30 pm which we were sure would be enough to go to the Orangery at Kensington Palace, meet the sisters for brunch at 10:00 am, and return.

My research last night had established that using a touch enabled credit card to access the Underground should be more cost effective than buying single or return tickets. At Earls Court Underground station my first attempt using my NAB Travelcard loaded with GB pounds failed but my regular NAB VISA worked. Majella used hers too and we were on our way once we worked out which platform had the train we needed.

DSC_6139Our excursion yesterday had established that Notting Hill Gate station was our best option so we rode past High Street Kensington and exited at Notting Hill Gate. From there it was an easy walk along the street and down through the park. We were very early so we sat for a while watching people in the park and then watched the swans on the Round Pool for a bit. While we were waiting I exchanged messages with Jane who was with Virginia and Margot at the bottom of the park. They walked up to join us and we then wandered across toward the palace and the White Garden, which Majella had wanted to see.

DSC_6145We were not there long before Judith and Angela appeared from the direction of the nearby Orangery. By the time greetings and group photographs were done it was still too early to go to the restaurant so we wandered down to the gate where people have placed flowers and pictures in memory of Diana. There were just a few people there at that hour but they included a man wearing a Union Jack shirt and hat, with a Union Jack draped around his waist like a long skirt. There are some enthusiasts for royalty.

Brunch in the Orangery was very pleasant. Waffles with caramel apples and cinnamon cream or Eggs Royale were popular choices. Cappucinos came with the chocolate powder dusted through a stencil that left a royal crest on the milk foam. I’m not sure why I was the only male there, other husbands were in town but missing, but I enjoyed my fresh berries with yoghurt, granola and London bee honey and double espresso.

sistersAfter brunch we walked back to the palace store where some of us waited outside while others ventured through security bag checks to look or buy. Shopping done, Jane led us off across Kensington Gardens to Hyde Park and the Seniors Playground she had found in a Google search for activities. Along the way we enjoyed watching some squirrels and birds. We also wondered out loud about the large monumental structure we passed until a man walking by informed us that it was the Albert Memorial, commissioned by Queen Victoria after his death. The Seniors Playground was a hit but the activity did not last for long beyond the photo session.

By then it was fast approaching midday and we were conscious of our need to get back to the car before our parking expired at 12:30 pm. We bade farewells, until Thursday, and headed off. I was not confident enough to chance unfamiliar public transport that required changes so we walked as far as High Street Kensington Underground station and took the tube from there to Earls Court. We had to wait for a train which was further delayed by a red light so when we arrived I sprinted for the car and made it with a couple of minutes to spare. Majella arrived at 12:29 pm and we set off as quickly as we could.

Majella drove out of the city with me navigating. As we approached the M25 intersection at Sunbury we stopped for fuel and to change drivers. I drove from there to Port Isaac with one stop for coffee at Starbucks at West Knoyle where we were pleased to find they served real coffee in real cups. The drive past Stonehenge was the other notable event on the trip. The road varies between divided highway with 2 lanes each way and single highway with one lane each way. Around Stonehenge it is the latter and the merging of 2 lanes combined with local traffic made for bad congestion.

DSC_6168Our B&B, The Gallery, in Port Isaac (Port Wenn of Doc Martin) is very comfortable. It is in the main street and entry is through the gallery where our artist host (Martyn) displays his creations for sale. The view from our window and the garden behind and above the building is across the bay to the surgery as seen in the series. Majella was very pleased with our choice though parking is up the hill and will require a walk back in the morning to feed the machine. We arrived late enough to avoid the charge for today but £5 for 24 hours is a better rate than we had in London.

We had dinner at the Slipway Hotel, which is where our host has outsourced breakfasts. We both had the crab linguini, with just a hint of chili, and ciders. The adventure continues tomorrow with the walking tour of Port Wenn. The warm weather that we have experienced in London has deserted us.  It is quite chilly in Cornwall and rain is predicted for tomorrow.