Jim and I were trying to decide where we should go for next year’s main holiday. One suggestion that hit the shortlist was a Nile Cruise. I know my daughter Kate would love this, she would probably envisage herself swanning around in a long floaty dress and huge hat reminiscent of someone from Death on the Nile.
With this picture in mind I remembered reading that the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie had spent some time in Tenerife. Not those famous 11 days when she disappeared, claiming that she’d suffered a bout of amnesia and eventually turned up in a hotel in Harrogate. Her visited to Tenerife was a couple of months after her reappearance, to escape media attention.
Agatha, her secretary Charlotte Fischer and Agatha’s twelve-year-old daughter decided to leave England and holiday in the Canary Islands in February 1927. They arrived by steamship in Santa Cruz and from there travelled on to Puerto de la Cruz. At that time, Puerto was little more than a fishing village that because of the climate had started to attract tourists called ‘invalids’ because the majority came to recover from illnesses. The only accommodation in the centre of the village was the hotels Martinez, and Monopol, however the British community favoured the Gran Hotel Taora built on the hill and surrounded by English style gardens with croquet lawns and golf and tennis courts.
During her time in Tenerife Agatha continued to work on her long overdue book The Mystery of the Blue Train but she never felt proud of it, as it was only written to pay off her debts. On the other hand, it was while walking around the gardens of Sitio Litre and Martinez that she began taking notes that are claimed to be the inspiration for her favourite characters the enigma that is Harley Quin and Mr. Satterthwaite an elderly man who is Poirot without the little grey cells, in the ‘The Mysterious Mr Quin’.
Sadly, overall, Agatha was not enamoured with Puerto de la Cruz as can be seen in her Autobiography
….. The big mountain towered up: there were glorious flowers in the hotel grounds – but two things about it were wrong. After early morning, mists and fog came down from the mountain at noon, and the rest of the day was grey. Sometimes it even rained. And the bathing, to keen bathers, was terrible. ….
so on 27 February she decided to take the boat to the neighbouring island of Gran Canaria.
Following her stay in Tenerife and Gran Canaria Agatha slowly rebuilt her life and in 1930 visited Baghdad where she met Max Mallowan and three years later she married the archaeologist. She never returned to the Canary Islands, hardly surprising because she once said, “never go back to a place where you were happy, if you do you will ruin it”.
So back to holidays, Jim and I have been to Egypt several years ago but not on a cruise, however with the latest news and the foreign office advising everyone to stay away, perhaps it is an omen that we were not meant to go back we just might not enjoy it.
Ah well back to the drawing board!