We filled up with fresh water and left Ray’s campsite at about 11.30 and started the drive up towards the Sandringham site.  Suffolk is a really pretty county and our journey took us through so many lovely villages with the quintessential colour-washed cottages and thatched rooves aplenty.  Thatchers must make a good living in this area.

A windmill (the first I’ve seen since we have been on holiday) suddenly appeared on the horizon and looked beautiful in the sunlight.

We stopped at Ickworth House near Bury St Edmunds on the way, although found out that the actual house wasn’t open on a Wednesday.  The Italianate Garden sounded interesting however so we parked Bessie up in the large car park (surprisingly full) and walked towards the The Rotunda, built for the 4th Early of Bristol in the 18th century.

It’s a magnificent and imposing building with classical relief work beneath the dome but the Italianate Garden (the first to be created in England apparently) was a little disappointing, consisting mainly of grassed areas edged with box domed topiary.  What was missing, we felt, was statuary – there were only a very few containers for plants and no statues at all, even in the alcoves.

What was – or will be – interesting was the formation of a couple of “stumperies”, apparently something fashionable in Victorian times.  They were two small wooded areas in which had been placed old and intricate tree stumps, making eerie sculptures with their tortuous roots.  They have started planting them up with suitable plants and, given another year, the stumperies should look very attractive.

We spotted a sign to a walled vegetable garden and started walking down the long pathway past a lot of sheep under the trees – they certainly gave the parkland an 18th century air.  Further down the hill a church hove into view but unfortunately it turned out to be rather derelict, although a sign indicated that it had been given lottery funding for renovation.  By this time the sky behind us was leaden, making the church stand out in an extreme 3D sort of way.  We were hoping that we weren’t in for a severe downpour but, typically in this part of the world, it moved away without affecting us.

Below the church was a circular brick wall – presumably the walled garden?  But no, on approaching it we discovered that this was a vinery with a locked door – only open to the public once in a month.  No signs indicating a walled vegetable garden at all so, disappointed, we headed back up the hill.  We passed a couple coming down who had a map and it showed the garden as being behind the wall, complete with the old glasshouses!  They carried on but by this time we were near the top so didn’t feel like walking all the way down again to find out!

We left Ickworth and resumed our journey up to Sandringham, arriving by the late afternoon.  Peter reported at the reception building and we were shown around the site by a chap on a bicycle so we could choose our spot.  We decided on a place near the edge of the wooded area.  Although there are plenty of caravans/motorhomes/tents here (mostly motorhomes interestingly) the site is by no means crowded and yet it feels quite spacious.

The early evening sun was quite hot and we erected the windbreak to give a little privacy, and sat outside in our new comfy chairs for the first time, with a glass of Pimms.  Lovely.