sandringham july 2018 1

On a hot July morning a coach load of intrepid explorers, more used to venturing in to London, travelled to North Norfolk and the Queen’s Sandringham estate. As one who has not been before, I can well understand why she likes it!

On arrival, we were greeted with coffee and yummy biscuits in our own ‘Private Function’ area of the restaurant, where we were supplied with our tickets and thence left to our own devices, with the instruction to return for lunch at 2:00.

Some chose to travel in golf buggies, others strolled.

It was a glorious day, not too hot to wander around the grounds, enjoying some magnificent trees, open spaces, avenues, flower beds, a horse, a Buddha  and, inevitably, acres of parched grass. I particularly enjoyed the pretty Woodland Walk wherein I found some welcome shade and The Royal Dogs memorial wall.

The House itself is, of course, grand, but one could imagine family meals, pianos being played at Christmas, charades in the drawing room and small royals and dogs chasing around the place. Like most homes, there are family photographs everywhere. The stewards and guides were most helpful, informative and unobtrusive.

Passing by the equine statue of Estimate, a winner of the Ascot Gold Cup and one of the Queen’s favourite horses, I searched out the Museum, where one can view carriages, carts, cars and more cars, along with many photographs, family trees, knick-knacks and other memorabilia, all with their own little bit of history, displayed on numerous boards, giving a comprehensive account of Sandringham’s royal past up to the 21st century.

Returning to the main visitors area for lunch, I strolled by beautifully planted lakes, complete with carp, through wooded shades, where fuchsias hid from the sun, and everywhere superb views of the house, from a variety of angles. I was a tad camera happy!

Back to the Private Function area, our pre-booked two course lunch took much longer than anticipated, thanks to a simple choice, but of exceptional quality and over-whelming quantity. The table service was excellent and nothing was too much trouble. We lingered over coffee.

There was just enough time to sprint (!) across to the church, (you know…the one the Queen goes to at Christmas). This is a very pretty little church, with interesting brickwork and inside a beautiful roof, but I think we were all stunned by the silver altar and pulpit.

Inside the gift shops, our Explorers could be found purchasing a variety of plants, jams, pickles, pens, books, magnets, mugs, frocks and tops, all at surprisingly reasonable prices, before a final loo visit and a soporific journey back to Hertford.

As ever, Golden Boy coach and driver were magnificent, but a huge vote of thanks goes to the wonderful Mo Askew for organising a terrific

GRAND DAY OUT

Liz Cooper

For photos of the outing, see GALLERY