Doddington Hall, Lincolnshire. Breakfast, Cows and Peace

The glory days of Doddington Hall have been documented here on two occasions: firstly, when the cherry blossom was out and, second, earlier in the year, as snowdrops, crocus and winter shrubs vie for attention in the well stocked gardens. Today was a quieter time, as the early bulbs die back and colour is provided by fresh green foliage and the striking rhododendron and azalea. But first was breakfast in the incredibly popular cafe and restaurant. So for the first time on the blog I'll feature food. We had a vegetarian and a conventional breakfast. I'll leave the reader to decide who ate which.

Fortified, we toured the garden. The kitchen, walled garden is splendid in season but it is the ancient chestnut trees under-planted with erythronium that normally captivate me. Sadly the flowers were spent albeit bluebells offered some consolation together with the odd pheasant eye narcissus. (I shall have to provide advice on late flowering varieties.) There is a lushness to the growth and an overall peace about the gardens that pleases eye and ear.

I'm a mug for garden statues and that above would find a place in our garden any day of the week. The more formal gardens behind the great house have beds framed immaculately by box and in late May the iris plantings are quite stunning.

I must not omit the rare and richly coloured Lincoln Red herd of cattle that graze the estate. They make a real spectacle and I would keep them for their visual appeal alone though they make for tasty delights in the restaurant and flourishing farm shop.

And so to the rest of the estate where we walked by the small lake and visited the Art Barn where the local arts society were exhibiting their wares. One of the pieces of glassware almost made me part with my money. As I type this I still believe I should have treated myself. (I photographed it in situation, on the windowsill.)

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And remembering .....

Galanthus 'Mighty Atom'