West February 4, 2017

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All weekends should be like this... Relaxing by the sea, complete with hot tub, pool and Prince Charles' chef? Sounds good to us! By Chris McGuire kept coming back to Agatha. Although I’m sure, if I’d ever met her, she would have been “Dame Agatha” to me. Either way, I found myself thinking of the great mystery writer as I took this trip. It was so like a plot from one of her books. “You’ll be met at the station,” was my only instruction. Suitably cryptic. As foretold, I was greeted by a smiling guide who ushered me onto a luxury charabanc (if that’s not an oxymoron) populated with four perfect strangers. So far, so Christie. After a brief journey of well-rehearsed small talk, we came to a halt. Stepping from the coach onto an ocean of gleaming gravel, I surveyed what was to be our overnight dwelling: The Beach House. Such a pleasing, quintessentially English façade. The type of place where Miss

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Marple would have lived, if she’d won the lottery. It had been a short journey, but it seemed we’d travelled back in time to an age of opulence, which pleased me greatly. The paintwork on the quirky windows and doors was as fresh as the sea air. A well-oiled, front door swung open and our gregarious host swept onto the driveway. “You’re here, you’re here. So glad you could make it.” As I took in The Beach House, beautifully finished in the Arts and Crafts style, I had to conclude that so was I. Inside, the building was immaculate: the decoration, the furniture, the juxtaposition of the magazines placed on an occasional table. It was all set out by someone with Hercule Poirot’s eye for detail. The Beach House was clearly run by someone for whom "almost" was a dirty word. I could easily visualise Christie’s bright young

things weekending here, escaping the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. As I fruitlessly attempted to unravel the connection between our eclectic bunch and the host, we were informed canapes would be served at 7.45pm – our time, until then, was our own. So, my co-guests and I mounted the many staircases that peppered the building to find our own particular nooks in this cranny-filled establishment. My room was both elegant and fresh – like the set of a fabric conditioner commercial. It managed the tricky balancing act of being rustic and contemporary at the same time. I was pleased to see there was no television, a detail that would surely have pleased Agatha. A refreshingly cool breeze flowed from a pair of windows perfectly placed to frame the idyllic coastal scene beyond. Everything was just so. Poirot’s little grey cells

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