On Saturday Evan and I headed to Ayr, Ontario (a village not far from Cambridge) with a bunch of friends for a murder mystery dinner at The Swan and the Peacock Bed and Breakfast. We had an unforgettable experience and the entire evening completely exceeded my expectations.
It was amazing.
A couple months ago my friend Lisa brought up the idea of doing a murder mystery dinner party for her boyfriend Brad’s birthday, and we were all immediately excited. A murder mystery party is a lot to plan if you are hosting though, so Lisa did some research and found the Swan and the Peacock, a bed a breakfast that also happens to host group murder mystery dinners. When she brought that idea up to us we were even more excited. It sounded awesome.
The Swan and the Peacock is run by our new friends Gail and Ralph in their beautifully renovated home built in 1924.
Also beautifully decorated. Their home is so charming and filled with antiques and interesting knick-knacks. I loved exploring it. Serious style goals.
You can find more pictures on their photo gallery. The only other bed and breakfast I have ever stayed in was my uncle Donny’s house (I’ve posted about his before), so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Gail and Ralph were so warm and welcoming, I felt at home immediately. They were happy to field our endless questions about every item in their house.
We all arrived around 4pm and had a few cocktails while we got into our costumes. A few weeks in advance we were each given a character and a description of the type of costume we should wear. Gail and Ralph completely facilitated the murder mystery for us, so we could all play without knowing who the killer was, which was a huge plus because if you host your own party typically the hosts know who the killer is. This way, we were all surprised!
The game we played was Murder in Casablanca – Brie, the Bullet and the Black Cat. It’s a popular one so be careful if you’re googling and actually plan on playing it one day, you don’t want to spoil it for yourself! I won’t give anything away here, but I’ll tell you the overview and about our characters.
The year was October 1942, and we were invited to the official residence of the Deputy Mayor of Casablanca, Monsieur Le Grandbutte, for a dinner where the guest of honour was to have been France’s greatest living mime artist, The Black Cat. But the greatest living mime artist was no longer living. He had been murdered. And we were all suspects.
Evan and I were the hosts, Hughes and Edith Grandbutte.
Evan’s moustache killed me. Evan is the Deputy Mayor of Casablanca and highly respected. He is married to Edith (me), but we are not happily married. He’s in his mid-40s and has a French accent (which was pretty fantastic as he had been practicing all last week).
I used to be a dancer on the Parisian stage, and still clearly yearn for the glamour of my former life. I love the spotlight. I also have a French accent, except I’m terrible at accents so sometimes I would accidentally switch to Russian. Whoops.
The above picture because we are unhappily married.
We also have an 18-year-old daughter, Nicole Grandbutte (Joanna).
Joanna would rather be in Paris than Casablanca and she doesn’t approve of her father working with the Germans.
And here we have Dawn and Mark, or Kirk Ramson II and Ingrid Pith.
Mark is an American romantic hero, nursing a broken heart. He’s in his late 30’s, with an American accent (which made me laugh hard, he was the perfect American). Dawn is a Danish art-dealer specializing in finding paintings from all over occupied Europe. She is very seductive, busty, and flirtatious (accurate ;)).
Brad and Lisa were Otto von Pinkelwurst and Countess Bogov.
Brad is a German Officer with a strong German accent (which also made me laugh hard). His character is funny and mad/crazy (he played that well).
Lisa is a Russian aristocrat in exile, glamorous and mysterious. She is a passionate anti-communist and has sympathy towards the Germans.
When we were looking up the costume suggestions for Brad, a lot of the people who dressed as his character wore a Swastika armband. Brad decided against that since if there are any pictures of him floating around with such an armband they may be taken way out of context and would not be a great professional image. No Swastika was a good call I think.
And finally we have Emily and Corey, or Cherie Boot and Monsieur Oily-Carte.
Emily is a Frenchwoman in her mid 20’s with a husky-voiced French accent. She is a sultry, exotic and decadent cabaret singer.
Corey is a booking agent for the Moulin Bleu nightclub in Paris. He is educated in England with a strong English accent, and very proper with impeccable manners. And super suave hair.
I was already laughing when we got our descriptions. Seeing everyone in character was probably a life highlight for me.
Our hosts Gail and Ralph were each a character as well. Pierre (Ralph) was Nicole’s (Joanna) boyfriend, and he was donning quite the attractive smoking jacket. Gail was some sort of Spanish siren.
After we were dressed, we hung out together in the sitting room eating Moroccan appetizers prepared by our hosts, drinking cocktails, and taking a bunch of pics.
Since our murder mystery was set in Casablanca, Morocco (because we had all fled German-occupied Europe), Gail and Ralph had set out appropriate props which really added to the atmosphere. It was a nice touch.
After cocktail hour, it was time for dinner. The table was set so beautifully.
And our dinner absolutely blew me away. Our hosts had quite the Moroccan menu planned for us.
I was just saying when I ate Iran for my eat the world challenge that I didn’t love lamb, but I tell you that soup was delicious.
After that it was onto (mock) pigeon pie (with chicken!), carrot and orange salad, and red pepper, lemon, and mint couscous.
It was all good, but I LOVED the pigeon pie. It had like a glazed brown sugar in there and the combination was so interesting and good. That Gail is an amazing cook.
We finished with orange cake with orange rum cream sauce and whipped cream, elephant ear cookies, and Turkish Delights.
Again, I loved it all. Orange cake is not usually my first pick but I enjoyed it a lot. I didn’t think I liked Turkish Delights either (they taste like perfume) but this one was actually good, we all agreed.
During dinner we played the game. Gail made scripts for each of us and we recited our lines between each course. It was HYSTERICAL. The characters were hilarious, and seeing everyone acting in character was even more funny. I got to say things to Evan like “You impotent drunken fool!” and all the accents just killed me.
The dinner went until about 10pm, and at the end, after all the clues had been discovered, we each had to guess who we thought murdered the Black Cat, the world’s greatest mime artist. We all had motives, it could have been any one of us. I think only Dawn and Lisa got it right. I was way off with my guess, I had no idea. I don’t want to give it away in case you decide to do this murder mystery, but it was quel surprise. And it was so incredibly well done and well organized. Our hosts thought of everything and they made it such a great experience for all of us.
After dinner we all changed back into our regular clothes and headed out to the barn.
The bottom of the barn is Ralph’s woodworking shop, but they have renovated the top floor into an elaborate games room, complete with a pool table, darts, and a poker table.
It was awesome in there. A dream games room, or rumpus room, as Evan would say. They had so many old games.
It was my favourite area to explore because there were so many different things in there. I didn’t know where to look! Little old school treasures all over the place.
Joanna and I found Crochinole hanging on the wall so we busted that out and discovered that we were the only two who had ever played it before. Luckily our friends are quick learners.
And just after midnight we brought out the cake for the birthday boy.
I was still stuffed from dinner, but I had some of Evan’s and it was pretty awesome.
In the morning we all headed back to the dining room for a group breakfast, again prepared by our wonderful hosts.
Gail made us an egg scramble with salsa and cheese in a pie and it was absolutely fantastic.
Also a wide selection of toast with watermelon and pear jam that she had made! J’adore. I loved the watermelon jam the most. I didn’t even know that existed. So good.
We had the best time and I am pretty sure we’re going to have to make it an annual event. Our hosts went above and beyond. I highly recommend you check out The Swan and the Peacock, even if you are just looking for somewhere to stay. You don’t have to do a murder mystery but I think they might be the only bed and breakfast that does murder mysteries in our area of the province. They do a bunch of different ones, not just the one we chose. If you have a group of six there are something like 30 scenarios to choose from! We paid an extremely reasonable price (like, ridiculously reasonable) and it included our appetizers and dinner, the game, our rooms, breakfast AND we each got a CD with all the pictures. It was such a good deal. It’s probably one of the coolest things I’ve done.
Thank you Lisa for planning, and thank you so much for having us Gail and Ralph! I hope you liked us, ’cause we’re coming back!