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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…

Planning Our Trip to Egypt, 2014

We are off again and this time we're heading to Egypt, so the obvious question is why Egypt, why now and what are we going to call the trip? My parents lived in Egypt when I was a child and I visited in the school holidays. Here's a vintage shoot with my mother and brother, probably take around 1980. Who wears a skirt on a camel, what were we thinking?!!Despite the fact that they were there for three years we never made it down from Alexandria to Upper Egypt.

I've always wanted to see the temples at Luxor, Karnak and Abu Simbel. We've considered a trip on several occasions but were put off over and over again by the thought of the crushing number of  tourists following the same beaten path. But with tourism numbers down in Egypt  and a couple of weeks between a family wedding in Ireland and Christmas in the UK, it seems like  an ideal time to visit. 
As you can see we are preparing with a little light reading! 

When we went to Paris I took an online course on Masterpieces of the Louvre which helped shape and inform my visits and I blogged about it quite a bit here! This time we are both watching  a series on The History of Ancient Egypt from the Great Courses. It's mesmerizing stuff, really! Surely you knew we were geeks by now but did you know Napoleon brought one hundred and fifty scholars and academics with him when he conquered Egypt? And, that they completed the first comprehensive survey of the cultural and geography of the country in the years before he left. There are 48 lectures and we are eagerly awaiting each one, it's a great introduction and the lecturer, Bob Brier  repeats the core points and builds the discussion as he goes. It's a survey course so don't expect too much depth but it's building our enthusiasm and helping frame our understanding. I'm hoping it will mean we absorb more of the history when we get there because it's not all new information. Highly recommended.

Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

In terms of the itinerary we are planning two nights out at the pyramids staying at Mena House which I remember vividly. My parents lived there at the same time as the ex King of Libya - who was under guard by British former SAS officers. Anyway, enough of the trip down memory lane here's the itinerary in full.

Two nights at The Mena House at Giza Cairo.
One night at The Cecil in Alexandria.
Three nights at Le Riad in  Cairo.
Four nights in Luxor, (three at the Al Moudira  and one at the Sofitel Pavillion).
Four nights on Dahabiya Louila (from Luxor to Aswan).
One night in Abu Simbel.
Three nights in Aswan at the Old Cataracts.

I spoke to a number of different people about the trip but we decided to book with Djed Egypt. They operate their own Dahabiyas and were able to offer a competitive price and a good understanding of what we wanted as independent travelers. Mr Simman, who I've been dealing with has been responsive, incredibly helpful and very patient in working out the details of our itinerary. 

We are really looking forward to the trip and  of course I'll be blogging all about it!