Wednesday, 12 June 2019

The Greenway Literary Festival trip



June 4 saw the tenth anniversary of the National Trust coming into possession of Greenway House, the house in south Devon which was the home of Agatha Christie and her family from the late 30s onwards. When I was invited to take part in a literary festival there, and to talk about crime fiction on the anniversary date, I was delighted, and the pleasure was doubled when I was offered the opportunity to stay overnight in Greenway itself. No Christie fan would think twice about accepting, and I certainly didn't hesitate to say yes.




I first visited Greenway back in 1990, when Rosalind Hicks, Agatha's daughter, hosted a small visiting party of crime writers at the time of her mother's centenary. I returned many years later in the company of John Curran, but this time I had the wonderful experience of roaming the lovely grounds when all the crowds had gone on a delightful June evening as well as of staying in the house. The National Trust people looked after us very well, I must say. It was truly memorable and I acquired a couple of Greenway plants for my garden as souvenirs...






After I'd given my talk the following morning, we headed off on the ferry to Dartmouth, along the river Dart, and then did the short hop across to Dittisham and back (I now know where Agatha found the name for Lady Dittisham, of Five Little Pigs....) Because south Devon is a very long way from Cheshire, I decided to turn the trip into a tour of the south west. It seems to me to make sense, whenever possible, to turn event appearances into touring experiences, a chance to see a different part of the world as well as to meet crime fans. And it makes one feel better when sitting in endless traffic on the motorway when finally heading back home...






We had the chance to catch up with some friends who now live in the delightful cathedral city of Wells, and also stayed for a night in the resort of Paignton. The prospect of a return journey on the steam train that runs from Paignton to Kingswear, across the water from Dartmouth, which passes by Greenway, proved irresistible. I suspect the train was the original of the train which provides a clue in Taken at the Flood. A visit to Brixham, which I last saw as a child, surprised me: I had no idea it was a place of such historical importance. And it's very pretty too. Nearby Churston Manor, which proved to be an atmospheric lunch venue, is in the village of Churston, which features in The ABC Murders.





Among other highlights in Somerset were a climb up to the top of Glastonbury Tor, a trip around Glastonbury Abbey (said to be the burial place of King Arthur, among much else), and a visit to Bath, a city I've long been fond of, as well as to Totnes and Dartmouth (the original of Kate Ellis' Tradmouth) in Devon. All in all, a terrific experience. I just need to get a bit of writing done before I set off again...







2 comments:

Fiona said...

[whisper...Glastonbury is said to be the *burial place* of Arthur, not the birthplace - you'll be hounded by all the inhabitants of Tintagel if you leave that!}

Lovely photos Martin, they brought back very happy memories as we had friends who lived at Stoke Gabriel, not far from Churston, and spent many holidays with them.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Fiona, always desirable to get it right! Hope all is well with you.