Life­styles of the rich and recog­nised

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

What fun to visit one-time homes of fa­mous peo­ple that have been rein­vented as mu­se­ums. You can poo­tle about the liv­ing spa­ces and gar­dens, imag­in­ing the fash­ion­able par­ties and daily lives, surely never as pro­saic as our own.

This pic was taken last Au­gust at Shangri-La, the ex­tra­or­di­nary Honolulu hide­away of Doris Duke, heiress, phi­lan­thropist, so­cialite and avid col­lec­tor of art and arte­facts from the Is­lamic world. She died in 1993 and Shangri-La is now run as a foun­da­tion, with guided tours of about 90 min­utes, which must be pre-booked and take place Wed­nes­days to Satur­days. In­te­rior pho­tog­ra­phy is for­bid­den but the emer­ald lawns, fac­ing Di­a­mond Head, pro­vide snap-happy op­por­tu­ni­ties of columned breeze­ways, dec­o­ra­tive tiling and Mughal-style gar­dens.

But the best such sticky-beaking is at writ­ers’ homes, of which Agatha Christie’s Green­way in Devon has to be the pin­na­cle. It is now ad­min­is­tered by the Na­tional Trust, its large, comfy rooms filled with the so-called Count­ess of Crime’s trea­sures, book­shelves are stacked (I spy a John Le Carre shoul­der-to-shoul­der with an early Paul Th­er­oux) and dis­played ob­jects range from framed pho­tos of pets to frankly ugly paint­ings made with shells. It feels alive, as if Christie has just stepped out, and were Miss Marple to wan­der in to take up her knit­ting, it would hardly sur­prise.

Else­where in Bri­tain, the Bronte Par­son­age Mu­seum at Haworth in west York­shire is a pil­grim­age site for fans of the lit­er­ary sis­ters; at Thomas Hardy’s birth cot­tage at Higher Bock­hamp­ton in Dorset, it’s riv­et­ing to learn he was al­most pro­nounced still-born. It was in this dwelling that he penned Un­der the Green­wood Tree and Far from the Madding Crowd, but not Tess of the d’Ur­bervilles, which mad­dened my mind dur­ing HSC stud­ies.

In Key West, Florida, Ernest Hem­ing­way’s house is a shrine of sorts and you peer through the roped-off door­way of his writ­ing room where he bashed away on a por­ta­ble type­writer. My visit to this pop­u­lar port co­in­cided with the an­nual Papa Hem­ing­way looka­like com­pe­ti­tion, and it was dis­con­cert­ing to see so many chaps with iden­ti­cal big white mous­taches and beards. But I did rather like the cheek of the bar owner who’d put up a sign: “Papa didn’t drink here”.

Fol­low on In­sta­gram: @su­sankuro­sawa

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