England 2014 (5) – Agatha Christi’s Greenway, Devon

I once saw a list of bestselling author of all times and all languages in the fictional category; number one on the list is the proverbial William Shakespeare, number 2, Agatha Christi and number 3, Barbara Cartland. In addition, 9 of the top 10 authors are either English or American (USA). Moreover, most on the list are English or American writers. It is fascinating; why English and American writers sell so much more? I’d like to think that I’ve worked out a few points on the subject but it is another piece altogether.

Agatha Christi published more than 90 books and 80 something of those are crime detective novels. I was first introduced to her through BBC’s most recent series of adaptations of her Mr. Poirot and Miss Marple series. I am in general not a crime novel fan. Agatha Christi is the exceptional exception. She is a brilliant story teller who stimulates not sensationalizes. Her attention to details is amazing; besides the gripping mystery, she is extremely talented in crafting myriads of characters and plots and each and every one of them is original in its own. Despite the dark murderous mystery, she is able to make her premises shine by capturing and presenting beauty of the landscape and charms and idiosyncrasy of the English way of life.

So there we were leaving Exmouth to journey towards Greenway. As I checked my cheat sheet, I realized I hadn’t call to reserve a parking spot. It is recommended that one books a parking space ahead of time. Alas, when I called I was told the car park was fully booked for that day, and it was the same answer for arriving in the afternoon. The other options: going to Torquay (9 miles away) and catch a bus from there or going to Dartmout and take the ferry to Greenway from Dartmouth. We deiced on the later.

However, since they are not far from each other, I, instead of going to Dartmouth directly, couldn’t resist going to Greenway first and see what it might be. As we drove through the narrow and long gravel road, it became clear there was no other alternative for parking outside of Greenway. We reached Greenway’s gate and try we did, but had to turn away. Dartmouth it was. And Dartmouth turned out to be a delightful detour that came with a twist.

We arrived just in the nick of time for the car ferry, which plies the short distance frequently. Dartmouth soon revealed itself to be a charming little town at the estuary of River Dart. We drove around and finally found a car park right by the lovely garden in the town center which allowed parking longer than 2 hours, the limit of most street parking. Having secured passes for ferry to Greenway leaving in15 minutes, we stayed close to the quay where the ferry boat was to take off. While keeping an eye on the boats in and out, we got some Chips, i.e. French fries.

Boats came and gone. 20 minutes past the departure time, there was no sign of our boat. Back at the ticket booth, we were told we had missed it. Bumped out, but we couldn’t figure out how we had missed it. Oh well, it was not important anymore. I had to hatch a contingent plan. Taking the next ferry would get us to Greenway a bit too late. So I decided to ferry out of Dartmouth and drive back to Greenway. Luckily we were allowed to return the ferry tickets.

Back at Greenway, it was the same polite man who was at the gate. I told him our story, pleaded to be let in and held my breath. He said “Yes” and saved the day.

The car park is right by the gate. From there you walk about a quarter mile to the admission office at the former stable and it is a delightful, easy walk on a paved road lined by trees, hydrangeas and other flowering plants. After a quick lunch on sandwiches, scones and tea, it was two hours to closing time, but we were told we could linger a bit, like half past. Besides the house, we made it to the boat house in the nick of time, and the garden on the way out.

Greenway is located right on the eastern bank of River Dart, opposite of Dittisham. The ground is hilly and green. The house, situated high on the hill, is private in its woodland and enjoys a lovely river view. The house is much richer and more elegant than its modest exterior would suggest, and abundantly comfortable. Agatha Christi’s collection of art, crafts and China, including quite a few of Asian and Oriental arts, fill the house. In her bedroom, her walk in wardrobe is still full of her clothe. All these little things are fascinating for they give insight about her life the person that she was. The library has a collection of her works.

While the boat house is easy to be spotted from the river, it is not the case from the ground. The woods around the path leading to it are so thick, we could not see what the path would yield till we came to the very end of it and found ourselves right at the river’s edge, quite a drop from the hill top where the house is situated. The boat house has a lounge on the upper level but it is not accessible from the lower level. You have to use a separate path, which is as unrevealing as the one leading to the lower level. We would have missed it if it wasn’t pointed out to us by a staff member who was actually going up there to lock it up. Quiet and almost secretive, it is where Agatha Christi used to revise her novels.

When we left, there were a few other cars on the park still. The gate wasn’t closed up yet but the man at the gate earlier was gone.

Dartmouth Town Center

Dartmouth Town Center


Dartmouth Town Center

Dartmouth Town Center


Greenway - House

Greenway – House


Greenway – Boat House

Greenway – Boat House


Greenway – Fascinating flowers I could not name

Greenway – Fascinating flowers I could not name


Greenway – House

Greenway – House


Greenway - House

Greenway – House

It is about 66 miles from Greenway to Fowey. While most of it was on paved highways, our GPS had us going through a 4 mile long tiny gravel road coming out of Greenway, one of those hedge lined narrow one car lanes, literally, and the longest we encountered on this trip. While on it, we had close encounters several times, when there was a car coming from the other direction, both had to stop and one of us had to reverse to a spot that was wide enough for both to pass. Quite a road to drive on.

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