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Haddon Hall - A Glorious Country Manor House

Visiting historic houses is one of my favorite things to do in England and Derbyshire is a county that  offers an  extraordinary triumvirate of sites; Hardwick's Elizabethan glamour, the palatial splendors of Chatsworth and Haddon Hall, described by Simon Jenkins as "the most perfect English house to survive from the Middle Ages."  The joy of a visit to Derbyshire is that in visiting all three you can see the English country house through a variety of lenses and periods. 
In his definitive tome, England's1000 Best Houses Jenkins goes on to say of Haddon, "It has none of Hardwick's promiscuity or Chatsworth's bombast. It has not changed because it never needed to change". 
Indeed the house has remains in the hands of the Manners family since 1563 and is currently occupied by the Duke of Rutland's brother and his family. As they say on the website it has avoided, " fire; warfare;  family misfortune and changing fashions" and as such provid…

Spring Markets

The sun may be weak but the produce in the markets screams spring! These purple artichokes were the size of a cantaloupes. We haven't seen  artichokes  on many menus, but most restaurants are featuring the first crop of asparagus. The white asparagus below have a wonderfully subtle flavor and I think of them as a quintessentially French vegetable. A few weeks ago the New York Times described them as "France's Spring Treat". They're fabulous but expensive, even at the market, a real spring treat.
The markets are also full of a changing display of flowers with peonies and lilacs coming into their short season.
We caught the tail end of the market in the provincial town of Beaune when we visited Burgundy. I loved the care they take to display all their vegetables in baskets, the displays alone tell you this is a wealthy area.
The vegetable seedlings below reminded me of Annie's Annuals in California, though it's much cheaper to buy your tomato plants and annuals at the markets here.
Who could resist these peonies? They'll be even more gorgeous when they come out....

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