The crane flies in the part of Devon we’re staying in, are big and numerous. More than once I have mistaken one of them for a sparrow as it flew into a lamp. Then, this morning, I was surprised in the shower.
The light switch in the bathroom also turns on the exhaust fan which is a great idea unless you are a cane fly and your spindly legs keep getting sucked into the one you are sleeping on. That happened this morning.
I had no idea I was about to share my shower with an insect but found out rather quickly when, with a sudden burst of super insect strength, this one managed to drag itself away from the pull of the fan and flew straight at my head.
I was unprepared for such an assault. As it struck me between the eyes, I instinctively brushed it away in a similar vein to Wonder Woman deflecting bullets with her bracelets though a bit late to avoid a collision.
The cottage has a problem with damp so we have been instructed to keep the windows open to air it. Obviously, being the type of people we are, the windows would be open anyway but it’s nice to know one has right on one’s side in these situations. For this reason, the bathroom window which is above the shower stall, was wide open.
The flick of my wrist sent the crane fly straight through the open window. It landed, teetering on the edge of the window frame before wobbling a few times. It then appeared to go back to sleep. Perhaps it thought it was a dream.
Insects aside, today was a most entertaining one. Not only did we manage to visit somewhere we’ve been wanting to see for years, but we also met Abby, Becky, Ben and Delilah. We also journeyed across a misty Dartmoor National Park, dodging livestock and admiring spectacular views.
But first today it was a big treat for Mirinda as we visited Greenway, Agatha Christie’s summer and holiday house. Years ago, when we stayed at Dittisham, we took a tourist ferry down the River Dart. While enjoying the views, we were told two things which have stuck with us.
Firstly, that some scenes for the African Queen were filmed along the route we were taking at the time and, secondly, that Agatha Christie’s house, Greenway, could be seen through the trees.
Greenway was gifted to the National Trust by Agatha’s family in 2000, and restoration work was begun there in 2007. While the gardens had been open to the public since 2005, the house wasn’t ready until February 2009.
It was a long drive from the cottage, but it was well worth it.
Greenway is an amazing place. The grounds, the house, the boat house (where a body is found in Dead Man’s Folly) it’s all exactly as she left it. Unlike a lot of National Trust places we visit, we could imagine living at Greenway.
I think the deckchairs were a bit optimistic. The day was rarely without clouds and quite often drizzly wet. Still, they did make it look like we had stepped back in time.
Agatha and her family were great collectors. Boxes, walking sticks, tiny embroidered pictures. If they bought one, they had to buy a hundred. They were sort of like Nicktor only super charged. In fact, when the National Trust catalogued everything the list came to over 20,000 objects.
Of course, we also took the long, sometimes steep, sometimes staired walk down to the boathouse. We didn’t see the boat because the bottom half of the building isn’t open but we did walk around the saloon which is a lovely space. It looks out over the Dart from a small verandah while, inside, lounge chairs and a fire are there to welcome visitors.
Our visit was lovely and comprehensive. In fact, the only thing missing, was the fact that Mirinda didn’t tell anyone that she used to live in the block of flats where Hercule Poirot had his office.
On the drive back, we intended to visit the Merrivale prehistoric settlement. We parked up at the Seven Winds car park but figured it was too far away. We then drove to the next car park but then realised there was a very steep hill between us and the remains. It was also very foggy and the sun had gone somewhere sunnier. There was a light drizzle.
Then, faintly in the distance, we heard the siren song of the Dartmoor Inn. Obviously, our dinner booking was calling us.
We exchanged a look, stepped back into Max and drove to Lydford.
Of course, our meal was once more superb. As was the bottle of rioja we had with it. As was the lovely long chat we had in the front bar. It was accidental, the chat. As I stood at the bar to pay, Delilah came over for a pat. She was a beautiful golden retriever and her owner, Ben, said she loved the attention.
And that was enough for us to have a long, lovely conversation. Ben, for instance, had worked in Australia and New Zealand and told a very funny story about killing kangaroos. Abby was the daughter of the pub owner and, although it was her night off, she’d decided to sit in the bar. Becky was the lively and lovely bar maid.
It was a wonderful end to an all round wonderful day.