Posts Tagged ‘hercule poirot’

In the air, there are plots of murder as well as the odd flurry of snow.

Winter is here! It is far too cold to be even contemplating venturing outside, but you’ll hear no cry of complaint from these quarters. What more could I wish for than a Hercule Poirot adventure on the Orient Express. But there is more to Tea with Mary Kate’s Tale of Tea & Agatha Christie, so do join me on an adventure of Agatha Christie inspired idea’s at Christmas.

Agatha Christie’s Poirot in a snowy scene in front of the Orient Express

Read a Agatha Christie Christmas themed Book

Reading is such a distracting, indulgent pleasure, and often one we only make time for at holidays. Choose one of her books with a Christmas theme to keep you in the festive mood or just reread your favourite one!  A few that immediately spring to mind are:

The adventure of the Christmas Pudding

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas

A Christmas Tragedy

And while you are reading your book, a spot of Agatha Christie Inspired Afternoon Tea wouldn’t go amiss

I can think of no more perfect an afternoon than sitting by a roaring fire, sipping freshly brewed leaf tea from a beautiful vintage tea cup, with the most difficult decision being whether to start with a gorgeous sandwich, or go straight for the delicious cakes.

If you are feeling Adventurous, Investigate where you can see one of her plays

I love An Unexpected Guest, marvelously inventive, it keeps you guessing right until the last moment.

Dream of visiting Greenway

Or better still, plot how you are actually going to visit as this gem of a National Trust property is currently shut. It is an amazing place to imagine having afternoon Tea with Agatha Christie. Agatha’s is often quoted  in saying that Greenway “is the loveliest place in the world”, and it is very hard to disagree with her.

Agatha Christie – Afternoon Tea in the kitchen at Greenway

Finally, Grab your dancing shoes & dress to kill for an amazing Agatha Christie Tea Dance

If you happen to be in London on 27th December,  put on your most gorgeous vintage frock, and head for the Clore Ballroom where a free Agatha Christie tea dance is being held to celebrate her 120th birthday. With 1930s and 1940s live vintage music, who could resist the abundance of vintage glamour!

A rather glamorous Agatha Christie - Afternoon Tea dance

A rather glamorous Agatha Christie – Afternoon Tea dance


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Ever since the National Trust announced that it was opening Greenway, I have been plotting a visit. Who could resist a glimpse of the home that inspired Agatha Christie, the Queen of Crime ?

The famous Torquay girl, author of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, was known locally by her married name Mrs Mallowan. When Agatha was a child, her mother used to point out Greenway as the best house on the River Dart. And it is, without doubt, an absolutely gorgeous house, with its wonderful Georgian proportions, and a perfect vista across the River.

Greenway – The loveliest place in the world

As a child, I never read Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five, I read Agatha. My absolute favourite character was Hercule Poirot, his logic, his little grey cells that inspired his genius!

Agatha Chrisites famouse detective Hercule Poirot

More than the Hercule’s genius though, although I loved trying to guess who dunnit,  I adored the era in which her books were set, the glamorous society that she described, while her clever murders were being committed. Her own mysterious disappearance that sparked a national search. Digs in Mesopotamia, of which she had first hand knowledge, having accompanied her second husband, the Oxford professor of archaeology Max Mallowan.

agatha christie

Agatha Christie

When Greenway came up for sale, Agatha could not resist, and in 1936 bought it for the princely sum of £6000

But war was looming, and in October 1942, the Admiralty requisitioned Greenway for accommodation for officers of an American Flotilla. An artist amongst the American officers painted a blue and white frieze in the library to capture their war time journey. Rumour has it that when the American dance music that drifted out of the windows across Greenway’s garden stopped, the locals took cover. In the lead up to the D-Day landings, this area of the coast was hiding a secret. Troops were massing in Southern England for the assault on the Normandy beaches.

October 1942 Greenway is requisitioned – the lasting momento is the frieze painted in the library

Just before Agatha returned to the house, the commander asked if she wanted the pictures to be painted over – Agatha’s rapid reply was no.

Agatha Christie in the library at Greenway

And, thank goodness Agatha thought that, as the frieze in the library captures a unique moment in time. A recording of Agatha’s grandson is played, and as you listen to his description of spending time with his grandmother at Greenway, his recollections of Agatha’s occupation in that room, reading the papers first thing in the morning, you find yourself transported back to that era that surrounded the war. The library is by far the most atmospheric room in an amazingly atmospheric house. Sitting down on the sofa opposite the beautiful fire, boxes of old fashioned chocolates are on the table, surrounded by family photographs, this is the room where you feel as if you are quite frankly, trespassing, intruding in a very private home. But that is how her daughter, Rosalind, wanted it. Not some mausoleum or theme park for her books, but an insight into Agatha’s home, and her life while she continued to write at a prolific rate. 

Agatha Christie described Greenway as “The loveliest place in the world”

Sitting in the chairs perfectly placed just outside the front door, the sun is high in the cobalt blue sky, light sparkling and glinting off the river dart. The first beautiful flush of summer blossom is in the trees, and with the wild flowers on the steep path to the river dart, this is a quintessential vista of British summer time. The rustling of the trees in the warm gentle breeze, it’s hard to disagree with Agatha Christie description of Greenway as “the loveliest place in al the world”.

Agatha Christie’s Greenway – “The loveliest place in the world”

Although the library is the most atmospheric, it is the drawing room that holds the ghosts

Music was always being played at Greenway. Agatha was an accomplished pianist and opera singer, although too painfully shy to display her talent, she would play in secret when she thought no one was listening.  Rachmaninovs piano concerto No 2 is playing as you enter this room, apparently a favourite piece of her husband Max’s and with this evocative melody, the emotional ghosts of the past flood in.

It is a military style operation to see Greenway. It  has limited days when it is open, with restrictions on  cars and numbers able to view the house at one time, as it is relatively small, but it is so worth a visit!

Tea with Mary Kate adored having lunch in the kitchen at the back of the house. It was just lovely – traditional salads, smoked fish, and puddings with custard, all of which I am sure Agatha would approve. Of course, finished off with a lovely cup of tea. Very much, Greenway still feels like a home. One wonderful story is when Agatha apparently asked after her looks just before popping to see “Liz Bud”, which later, the maid found out was Agatha visiting Queen Elizabeth II.

Greenway provides a magical glimpse into the life of Agatha Christie, and captures a fleeting portrait of a unique moment in British society. A time of bravery, of sorrow, of pride, of imagination, when Britain stood alone. It was just how I had imagined it would be – the loveliest place in the world.

oh to have been sitting with Agatha Chrisite having afternoon Tea in her kitchen at Greenway

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A vital clue is missing, urgent news that has to be communicated without delay………………

For sheer nostalgia and quintessential elegance, nothing can quite replace the charming ring of a GPO bakelite telephone. This always makes me think of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, the famous Belgian detective, who often receives news of the latest crime, or facts that support the theory of his “little grey cells” that are busy solving the latest mystery.

Poirot receiving vital news on the beautiful bakelite telephone

I adore these Bakelite telephones, the sound of the bell ringing, the feel and weight of the receiver, the flex cord.

Quite honestly, they look beautiful, sound beautiful, and are beautiful! On my hunt for a vintage telephone of my own, I discovered Antique telephones, run by the very helpful Neil and Alison Carpenter. The passion for the restoration of these lovely telephone is palpably expressed on their web site, the admiration for the art and elegance of these lovingly restored telephones – it emanates from every description, and the quality shines through.

Perhaps you’re thinking that these telephones are now unpractical, redundant, as you have to sit when you are speaking to someone.

I would argue that this renders the case to be quite the opposite – it’s why we need more of these beautiful telephones back in service. The sheer joy of using these antique telephones renders you unable to do other things, the mere act of being required to sit, and ahem, shock, listen to the caller……means that you’re having a genuine interaction, one where you are focussing all of your attention on the discussion, creating an authentic conversation that is meaningful, that’s a gift indeed.

Top of the list for my next purchase is this is a very beautiful ivory GPO 1/232 with drawer.

I have purchased several of these telephones. Neil creates your own personalised dial label if you wish, with your number and town location that is just so lovely.  Ivory is Neil’s favourite colour, and I have to confess, mine too. The model is just pure elegance. Each restored phone is fitted with an electronic microphone for perfect modern use. This model has no internal bell and was designed for an external bell. I just love that fact – designed for an external bell!

And Neil and Alison Carpenter give you a lifetime guarantee, it’s difficult to better that offer. Do mention Tea with Mary Kate if this is how you were inspired to contact antique telephones. They are a wonderful and original gift for any occasion.

Beautiful and practical original GPO bakelite Ivory telephone

Now here’s a bit of history and the original Bakelite technological innovation……

Ericsson’s bakelite telephone, launched in 1931, was primarily known for its trend-setting design, but it also contained an important technical innovation called anti-side tone coupling – for the first time, a differentially coupled speech transformer was used that reduced interference from the microphone, resulting in a significant improvement in speech quality. In addition, the dial, the microphone and the earpiece were of a new design.The bakelite phone was also produced as an extension phone, which had a smaller case, since it did not include a bell. The extension phone was very popular in offices, two-story homes and bedrooms, where people did not want to be disturbed when the telephone rang but still wanted to be able to make calls.

Engage in listening on your bakelite telephone

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