Sharon recently wrote a guest blog for me, a story written as a tribute to Agatha Christie inspired by my photos of her garden, Greenway, now a National trust property on the River Dart. In that post I said that there is very little parking there and they encourage you to arrive by public transport. When I went I got a ferry up from Dartmouth, a very relaxed way to travel. There are other choices though and this is one, a 1947 Leyland Tiger!
A few months ago I had my 25000th blog hit and I asked the person that ‘hit it’ to write a guest post for me. It was a busy time for her, but she has kept it in her mind and then recently she was inspired by a post here at Lucid gypsy. She is Sharon, or New Pillow Book, and her blog A Number of Things is an eclectic mix of poetry, photography, writing and just good fun. She takes part in several of the challenges and is a regular and supportive visitor. She made me laugh with Pie of Newt and I love her travel themes. She blogs most days, but not in a flashy way, she has a quiet unassuming style but also a strong voice.
When I posted about Agatha Christie’s Home recently, she said `Dittisham is a perfect name for a village in a Christie mystery! Aside from that, your photos are so lovely. For some reason, I especially like the one of the moored sailboats dotting the river.’ So I challenged her again and she came up with this very clever and thought provoking flash fiction. Enjoy, and she would love to read any comments
Death in Dittisham
Enid checked to be sure that her stocking seams made a straight dark line up the backs of her legs. She peeked through the curtained doorway. There were only a few customers at the tables in the tearoom. “It’s quiet for now,” Mavis said. “Just as well you’re here, though. We’re expecting two busses of trippers today.”
“Shame they won’t have a chance to talk to Mrs. Mallowan.”
Everyone who worked in Dittisham knew who Mrs. Mallowan was: Agatha Christie, the famous writer. Of course, many of the trippers thought she was “Miss Christie” or, sometimes, “Mrs. Christie”. They all knew that the big house across from Dittisham was hers, though. That was part of the reason they visited, and their visits were what kept the Pink Petunia Tearoom open and kept Enid and Mavis employed.
Not that Dittisham was really the placid English village it seemed at first glance. But wasn’t that how any good Christie story started out, with a world that wasn’t at all what it seemed to be?
“Mrs. Mallowan? Oh, lots of them don’t want to see her,” Mavis said. “A nice chat with old Miss Marple, or a glimpse of that funny Belgian fellow, and they go home happy.”
But just then the first wave of trippers poured into the tearoom. It was hours before Enid and Mavis had another chance to catch their breath. “Regularly run off my feet,” Enid remarked as they leaned against the wall in the back room, tables emptying at last.
“It’s better than Micky D’s.”
“One party asked me where they could stay the night. I recommended Bertram’s Hotel.”
“Oh, get on with you, do.” The two girls wiped down the tables and tidied up before setting off in opposite directions for home. Enid liked walking through this silent Dittisham by herself. It seemed so real. She wondered if she and “Mavis” would convince the characters in a real Christie story. The light was fading, but she knew all the back streets and shortcuts. Sweet-smelling flowers, a friendly cat on its nightly prowl, a huddle of – something – under a bush. She crossed the lane and bent over the crumpled object.
And then she was running, running, all the way to the police station on the green. PC Jackson looked up in surprise as she burst in. “Now then, Enid, what’s all this?”
“Oh, Jim!” she panted. “It’s Miss Marple!” He gaped at her. Stupid, I’m being stupid, she thought. He wasn’t PC James Jackson any more than she was Enid Green. He wasn’t a policeman at all. This wasn’t England, and the 1930′s were eighty years gone. This was only a sham Dittisham, ChristieWorld, nothing but a specially built tourist attraction filled with actors working on their English accents. She loved it, and now she had to destroy it.
“Look, Matt, phone the real cops. It’s Miss Marple. I mean Mrs. Milewski. She’s dead.”
* * *
Agatha Christie, perhaps the most famous crime writer ever, was born twenty miles away in Torquay. After her first marriage failed (she discovered her husband was having an affair) she met and married Max Mallowan and moved to Greenway in 1938. The gardens are now part of the National Trust, and because of the lack of parking space they encourage you to arrive there by public transport. With a choice of the bus or a ferry up the river Dart from Dartmouth, you can guess what I did on a glorious summer day!
The ferry calls at Dittisham on the west side of the river, a pretty little village in itself, and like Dartmouth, home to many wealthy yachty types. When you disembark at Greenway, you walk up towards the house with the view of the river unfolding, and I’m sure it must have been the most perfect place for Dame Agatha to write. She used several Devon locations in her books, including Burgh Island, for Ten ittle Indians. They have murder mystery weekends there in the 1930′s art deco hotel, just a few miles down the coast.
The house at Greenway is still in the family, and is not open to the public, her daughter lives there. I was there for the garden and was a little disappointed, it was high summer but it isn’t a flower garden. It may have changed now, as the National Trust have been involved a bit longer. The beauty lies in the view, the journey, and of course if you are a fan, the knowledge that you walk in Agatha’s footsteps.
Click any picture for a slide show.