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Walking Over Haddon in The Peak District

I confess I'm a fair weather walker, which means I often want to walk on our holidays, but whether we go is always dependent on the weather. I have a Goretex jacket but it's like a talisman. I own it, but I don't want to wear it and I hope vainly that just by having spent so much on it an schlepping it with me that it's going to ward off the rain! As you can see my travel planning involves a good deal of "magical thinking!" In California our cultural exuberance (paired with low standards) means we shamelessly call anything a "hike"  - as if we've scaled Everest in an afternoon. Here in England I'm not sure I even qualify as a "walker" because that denotes a level of seriousness I've failed at previously. Minimally it means you're wearing boots  and have an Ordnance Survey map (and possibly a compass) in your back pocket. I guess I'm more of stroller to be honest and I've blogged about my strolls all over the world; m…

Josephine Baker's Chateau Milandes

I first read about Josephine Baker in an African American Studies class at Berkeley and was delighted to stumble upon Chateau Milandes in the Dordogne which was her home from 1940. If you're not familiar with Baker she was a dancer, singer and cabaret star best known for  dancing in a banana skirt and as an outspoken advocate for Civil Rights, world peace  and cultural understanding.
Baker was a huge cabaret star in the 1920's, but worked on the stage for her entire life. The museum at the Chateau chronicles her career, and while  I was well aware of her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in the US, I was not aware of her work with the French Resistance  for which she was awarded the Croix du Guerre.
What is great about visiting Chateau Milandes is that they've ensured there's plenty for everyone. There are so many Chateaus in the Dordogne the question is which ones to visit? Consequently they all lay on additional entertainments to lure you and Milandes offers more than most. 
In addition to the gardens and castle, which in this case was mostly rebuilt, they have  the museum of Baker's life, a nice outdoor cafe and a fascinating falconry/raptor show which has no apparent  link to either the building or Baker but is nonetheless popular with the tourists and most entertaining! You're not allowed to take photos inside the building so I can't show you the collection of Baker's stage costumes but I couldn't resist an illicit photo of her bathroom which could be in a design magazine today!

After touring the museum and learning about Baker's children who she adopted from all over the world we had a quick lunch...
and headed to the bird show. It  was quite extraordinary and included an enormous eagle owl and an even larger bald eagle, both of which you can see below.
Overall it's an interesting place and I would highly recommended it for anyone with an interest in cabaret or the intersections between French and African American history. 
PS There are so many castles in the area, not all of them open to the public. Here are a few more photos I can't resist including!

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