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Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.
I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps. See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Tractor but no queen

Pete, Nicola, Lola, 9, and Nell, 6, spent three happy months during the summer of 2007 traveling around Britain. Now we’re home but the travel bug is still there. Join us for occasional sightseeing plus tips on how to shrink your carbon footprint… This post is from Nicola, Lola and Nell

Nicola: Sandringham - the Queen's Christmas & New Year bolt hole designed to be cosy rather than stately - is near where we are staying in Norfolk. It was about the first country park to be opened to the public (600 acres), back in 1968 and also broke ground in 1994 when the visitor centre, which is covered in cedar wood tiles and diamond-shaped windows, was opened to extract cash from the crowds. The Queen still has huge numbers of staff (see what looks like adult school photo groups) and clearly many are equally adept at looking after visitors from Easter to the last weekend in October when Sandringham House and Garden are open. We spent a full day at Sandringham which included a quick walk in the woods (there's a sawmill where you can buy kitchen counters etc), a tractor ride past the house where Princess Diana was born and a tour of the house and gardens.

Nell: I nearly lost my bandana at Sandringham but my dad found it again 20m from the big oak tree that Lola and I were climbing. There was a playground with a boat in it (Sandringham is only three miles from the sea although this is impossible to tell when the leaves are on the trees) and I found a 50p which I gave to Lola.

Lola: I really liked the tractor ride because the man who was driving it told you lots of interesting things about Queen Alexandra (the Queen's great grandmother) who built it with her husband in 1870. And I got to take my Silvanians on the tour which they liked. I climbed up a big oak tree, I went so high it was a bit scary! Inside the house there were lots of posh things, like full size paintings of Alexandra. I was a bit upset that we didn't get to see the Queen or the Queen's bedroom - she can look at mine if she likes!

Nicola: I spent enough on our visit for the Queen to buy a few luxury Christmas presents, and tip a few pheasant beaters, thanks to the temptations in the excellent craft and local food shop (eg, Norfolk honey, walnut liqueur, Norfolk apple juice, Norfolk lavender oil) in addition to the #20 house and garden entry fee for the four of us. But you could go to Sandringham and spend nothing as much of the woodland on the other side of the road is all year open access. When Pete's parents were alive they often went up to these woods with a flask of tea and a biscuit tin and had a quiet walk between the larch and silver birch trees. If we lived this way I feel certain we'd do that too - hopefully reaching Sandringham by bike rather than our borrowed purple car.

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