Tag Archives: bed and breakfast

Murder in Casablanca at The Swan and the Peacock

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.

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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.

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Also beautifully decorated. Their home is so charming and filled with antiques and interesting knick-knacks. I loved exploring it. Serious style goals.

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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.

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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.

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The above picture because we are unhappily married.

We also have an 18-year-old daughter, Nicole Grandbutte (Joanna).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Ze ladies.

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Ze men.

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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.

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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.

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After cocktail hour, it was time for dinner. The table was set so beautifully.

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And our dinner absolutely blew me away. Our hosts had quite the Moroccan menu planned for us.

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We started with Moroccan soup with lamb and vegetables.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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It was awesome in there. A dream games room, or rumpus room, as Evan would say. They had so many old games.

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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.

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And just after midnight we brought out the cake for the birthday boy.

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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.

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Gail made us an egg scramble with salsa and cheese in a pie and it was absolutely fantastic.

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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!

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Uncle Donkey’s House

I have a favourite uncle. His name is uncle Donny.

Fine, he is my only blood-related uncle, but still. Even if I had a thousand uncles, uncle Donny would still probably be my favourite.

I was very close with him when I was just a little kitty, and I even went camping once with just him when I was about six (I also wet my sleeping bag…on purpose...). I remember he made friends with the people who were camping across from us and we sat at their campfire one evening, and I told everyone a ghost story I made up on the spot about this family of chipmunks who lived in a haunted tree. I raved on and on about the chipmunks for probably an hour, and I’m sure my story made absolutely no sense and had no ending. And although I suspect uncle Donny was probably embarrassed to know me while I was ranting on about the stupid chipmunks, he never interrupted me.

He has always had a really cheesy hilarious sense of humour that makes me laugh really hard. He will talk and joke with just about everyone. And I do mean everyone. Even recently when I saw him in BC, we were buying ice cream and he started joking around with the vendor. My aunt Barb complains that when they go somewhere and he runs in “quickly” while she waits in the car, he takes a million years, because he just talks to everyone!

When I was younger, he was really the only grown-up who would actually hang out and play with us kids.

Don’t mind my attractive glasses. I am pretty sure uncle Donny is about to get attacked by about five little girls in this picture.

I used to call him uncle Donkey (I actually still sometimes call him this), and I convinced all my friends to call him this as well. My childhood friend Amanda still refers to him as uncle Donkey whenever she asks about him.

He also had mad beard-growing skills.

Right?! That beard alone makes him the coolest person on the planet, I’m pretty sure.

He truly is just the nicest guy.

Look how happy he is, even with my grandpa (or D-Dad as I used to call him) about to ash his cigarette on his birthday cake. And this is a really old pic, by the way. No one smokes inside anymore.

So I think I’ve probably convinced you all by now that my uncle Donny is seriously cool, and I haven’t even gotten to the coolest part yet.

His house. One thing that I will always remember loving about uncle Donny is his house. He always had the most interesting things kicking around. He was really into art, and also music, so when I was growing up his apartment was littered with random bongo drums, harmonicas, guitars (he even built his own guitars!), and even an organ. He played them all, and is exceptionally skilled at the piano.

He backpacked New Zealand (also supremely cool) when I was younger, and he brought back a ton of amazing things from his journey that I remember being obsessed with. Like one of those…I don’t even know what to call it…sand picture frame things. Like a picture frame with sand in it. I’m probably not making any sense (not unlike the chipmunk ghost story). Here’s a pic of the closest thing I could google.

I don’t know, I remember being captivated by it.

He also was the first person in my family to own a computer, and he had that old school Wheel of Fortune game on it, which I would play for hours and hours.

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Remember that?

AND he kept my favourite cereal over there.

Don’t even tell me you don’t remember the Cabbage Patch Kids cereal. That stuff was dynamite. I can specifically remember eating it at his kitchen table.

Anyway, this post does have a point. My uncle Donny now lives in Salmon Arm near my mom and Eric, so I was lucky enough to get to see him on my recent trip…

And I stayed over at his gorgeous house in the mountains.

Where I was reminded of all the little things I love about Uncle Donny’s house.

The random things I love to look at and explore…

Like that giant sailboat that he has had since I was a kid.

And his music!

My dad plays the keyboards also, and would be seriously impressed with my uncle’s sweet setup here.

When I was falling asleep I could hear him playing the piano from my room, and I just got this familiar feeling of comfy and warm.

And of course he has bongo drums.

His collection of records, tapes, and CD’s is crazy.

He has always been super into music, especially local Canadian bands, and gave me the Spirit of the West tape when I was in Grade 4. The single Home For A Rest wasn’t released until at least five years later, and I remember absolutely dying when I heard that song for the first time on the radio, because I already knew it! I had grown up listening to it! Nevermind that I was 10 singing about being drunk for a month… It’s a fun song.

And do you know what the best thing about my uncle Donny’s house is? You can stay there! My uncle and his wife Barb run a bed and breakfast out of their house in Salmon Arm, called the Tamarack Villa Bed & Breakfast, and if you are ever in the Shuswap area in BC, I highly suggest hitting it up. Their guest rooms are gorgeous, and they have an amazing view from their back wraparound porch.

They are also on about 25 acres of land, and a lot of it is forest, so my uncle has made trails for hiking and cross country skiing all through it. I went on a little hike with my uncle and his awesome poodle Einstein when I first got there.

He is cute.

Here is the website if you want to check it out.

I’m so excited that people from all over the world (they really have had people stay there from all over the world) can enjoy my uncle Donny’s house, just like I always have!

So go hit up my fun uncle Donkey, and tell him his favourite niece sent you!

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