A day at Greenway

My mum and dad are visiting at the moment and on friday they took me out for the day to Greenway House, where the great Agatha Christie lived and penned her finest works. Little bear went to the child minders, (we have to pay even if she doesn’t go so I thought it would be good for her to get used to it) Mr bear was at work and I had my first day out without them since November 2012! I had a splendid time.

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Greenway is a great Georgian pile built high on the banks of the river Dart, in south Devon. This is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful parts of Britain. We really are lucky to live in such stunning surroundings and England is never more picturesque than on a sunny summer’s day.

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From the car park ~with your space booked in advance~ there is a lovely walk through the vast estate to the house. Every so often there is a glimpse through the trees to the river, which is wide and filled with little boats. The breeze carries that lovely watery freshness to us on the high path. Along behind us comes trundling a fabulous green bus filled with people doing the Agatha Christie Tour.

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As with most National Trust properties, admission is around £10 per person, unless you own a sacred, oak emblazoned National Trust Membership Card, with which you may enter free of charge.

It is quiet when we arrive, the cafes are empty and with some imagination I can picture the converted stable block in its original state, horses munching lazily in the golden air.

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Through further gardens and then round the side of the house to the most breathtaking views over the treetops to the river. This place really is something special. The house a monumental white queen presiding from her hillside throne. Although Greenway is most synonymous with Agatha Christie it pre-dates her by a good few hundred years. The writer and her family have certainly left their mark, something that the National Trust have no doubt cultivated to maximise appeal. The final episodes of ‘Poirot’ were filmed here the day before we visited.  The wardrobes are filled with Agatha’s clothes, the bookshelves with her books. There are recordings of her voice playing in various rooms, childhood portraits on the walls and sheet music composed by her atop the piano. I have a feeling though that stored away are the vestiges of other families that have lived at Greenway. Agatha Christie only being only one of a hundred people that these walls could whisper about. The house was requisitioned by the American coastguard during the second world war and still surviving in the library is a huge mural painted by one of the soldiers, depicting various scenes throughout the  war.

We aren’t allowed to take photographs inside the house, which is filled with lovely old furniture and a lot of exquisite chinese ornaments. I wouldn’t be able to describe the place to you in photographs accurately anyway, it has more of a sense than a look. I have been to quite a few National Trust properties and sometimes they have a sort of sterility to them. That ‘dead behind the windows ‘look of a house that’s not been lived in for a very long time. Whatever history is held within is only played out for tourists, there is no sense left of the life that once thrived there.

Greenway is still alive. I can’t really put it any better than that. I’m not talking ghosts and whispers here, I mean that the house has not forgotten what it is to be lived in and you feel it as you walk around. It is such a happy house, it made me want to live there.

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Next we take a stroll through the gardens and down the wooded slopes to the boat house. Now, with it’s crumbling walls and dusty floors it looks more like a storage shed, but once it would have been decked out as lavishly as the house. It still has the most spectacular views.

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It is such a perfect day to be near the water, the sun shining serenely in the blue sky and the soothing murmur of the river. We really could have stayed there forever if our tummies hadn’t started to rumble. So we wind our way back up the cliffs in search of sustenance.

At the Cafe we order a proper ploughman’s lunch and apple juice all round, Yarde cider for my dad and virgin for mum and I.

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We really could have stayed all day I think, the atmosphere was just so lovely. I will definitely be going again, maybe in the autumn when the leaves are turning. I’m sure Greenway is beautiful whatever the season but it really did surpass itself for us on this summers day. I can highly recommend a visit, so can these guys.

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Love Susie xxx