Memo from Devon – 10

A visit this week, with friends, to Greenway, the ex-home of Agatha Christie, now owned and operated by the National Trust.  The house is a fascinating period piece, beautifully appointed and furnished, which contains vast collections of books, china and archaeological objects – the man Agatha married after she divorced Mr. Christie was an archaeologist. We were able to have lunch in Agatha Christie’s own kitchen, which can be done if pre-booked, and I only hope Agatha doesn’t mind!

Both the house and the grounds are carefully maintained and, while the parking also needs to be pre-booked, the whole site is available for as long as it takes the visitor to look at it, and there are helpful guides all over the house especially, who clearly have knowledge and enthusiasm for what they’re doing.

While I don’t want to sound too much like a mouthpiece for the Devon Tourist Board, I think it’s fair to say that Devon is very good at tourism, having had long experience in that department, and relying on it for a good slice of its income and employment. Sites do tend to be visitor-friendly, and while they are not always particularly cheap – the entrance fee to Greenway is £9.40 per adult, or £10.40 if you add on ‘Gift Aid’ – it is easy to see what vast amounts of money must be needed to maintain such immense stores of both land and possessions, not to mention provide them with adequate guide and catering staff, and I would personally prefer to pay an extra quid or two to ensure someone is there who knows what they’re talking about if I have questions to ask, and catering which doesn’t mean a large proportion of the visit has to be spent standing in queues. Greenway knows what it’s doing, and gave us a very worthwhile day.

One more Devon item from my Raised Voices poetry collection – see It’s the romantically entitled ‘A Crab Boat in the Moonlight’, describing some of the more difficult ways Devon supports its tourist trade, with boats going out in the dark, and sometimes very much the cold too, to gather foodstuffs for the local tables, both tourist and otherwise. A crab boat makes a strange sight in the middle of Lyme Bay –

‘a drunken Christmas tree in anarchic dissent,

making burlesque of the full moon spectacle’.

Birds and people react:

‘the puzzled gulls hover, hope and go;

the tourists wonder how much to hire it’.

Crab is a treat to me, but I know it isn’t to everyone;

‘food to let kids pull noses and faces

dressed up alike for dieters and gourmets’.

But the guys on the boats know their reward will come:

‘they clap hands and rub them, and not just for warmth,

as the M5 summer multitude approaches’.

If anyone would like to check out my writing on rather a different subject, go to the home page of the extremely useful writers’ advice and listing site Writer’s Reign –

because I’m right there!



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