Friday, 14 November 2008

Christmas Wishes, Mistletoe Kisses - Settings 1

My father loves sailing and when I was about 12 he bought a boat and moored it on the River Dart in Devon. Many weekends and holidays were then spent on the yacht. I can’t say I always appreciated the wet weather, anything above a force 5 wave, or some of the chores, but hey, I was a teenager, it was my job to whine about these things.

I did, however, love the scenery, the feeling of freedom that comes from sailing and getting to see things you never normally see from the road. Up the Dart, just above Greenway quay was one of these places. Just through the trees, you can see a lonely white mansion – just a glimpse, before the boat motored on and it disappeared from view. I always used to look out for the house, every time we came back to the mooring from a sailing trip, and wonder who owned the house and what it would be like to live there.

Years later I discovered the house was called Greenway and had belonged to Agatha Christie. That just made me even more intrigued. Then, a couple of years ago, I learned the National Trust had acquired the house and that the public could go and view the gardens. Next time we visited Devon, I was there like a shot, camera in hand. I knew I wanted to use this mysterious white house as a setting in a book – I just didn’t know which one yet.

The house was old and crumbling, when I visited in May 2007, although there are plans afoot to renovate the house and provide holiday accommodation in some of the upper floors! So I had to guess what it might be like inside and take some of my inspiration from the surroundings.

This was the perfect place for my WAG heroine, Louise, to come and hide out from the world when she’d finally ditched her cheating husband. The loneliness, the beauty, all seemed to match her mood. I knew at once that she would love to live there and I based her fictional home of Whitehaven on Greenway, although I did take a little license here and there. Not only is the house stunning, but the gardens and views across the river are wonderful too. Here are just a few of my favourites:

The hilly woods of 'Whitehaven'

The greenhouse where Louise and Ben first meet.

Inside the greenhouse.

View from Greenway looking towards Dartmouth & Kingswear


Jessica Raymond said...

It looks beautiful! I'd love to live somewhere like that one day.

Jan Jones said...

That is so beautiful!

And it looks so - Regency.

Oh no, I can feel myself stealing it...

Barb said...

Gorgeous setting, Fiona. I'm a setting "freak" too. Happy Christmas to you and your family.

India said...

Happy Christmas Fiona-- and thanks for the perfect festive read!

Hope all is good with you and yours, and that you have a fabulous time over the holidays. Looking forward to seeing you in the new year!