If you’ve made it to this post, congratulations! And thank you for sticking with me through my 21-day camping and road-trip adventure!
If this is the first post you’ve jump in at, then you’re cheating! Here’s what you’ve missed.
- My UK South Coast Circular Camping Adventure (Part 1)
- Camping at Devizes, Wiltshire (Part 2)
- Camping at Veryan, Cornwall (Part 3)
- Camping at Verwood, Dorset (Part 4)
- Camping at Normans Bay, East Sussex (Part 5)
The final stop of my roundtrip was in Sandringham, Norfolk, East Anglia (affectionately known as the bum of the UK).
To Sandringham, via London?
My drive from Norman’s Bay on the East Sussex coast up to Sandringham was the longest one of my trip; over 170-miles and almost 4-hours on the road.
I made sure to leave nice and early to give myself plenty of time to get there and get my tent pitched.
Google Maps informed me that the route I was taking had a toll. I was ok with this and put my debit card in an easy-to-reach place so I could pay when needed.
We were making good time and it seemed as though we would reach the campsite 15-minutes before we were allowed to check-in. No big deal, I thought, I could just park up and wait.
Then, when looking at the map, Google showed me an alternative route that would take 20-minutes longer but had no tolls. This seemed like a good alternative option! I would arrive at the campsite just after check-in had opened and I would avoid having to pay to go over a toll road.
I tapped and switched to the alternative route.
I thought I had done a good swap, but the next thing I knew, I was seeing road signs alerting me that I was entering an Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ)!!
Turns out, Google’s alternative route was via friggin’ London!!
By this point, I was on a multiple-lane road surrounded by other cars, vans, and HGV lorries traveling at about 50mph. I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t turn around, and I couldn’t look for an alternative route on my phone. I had to simply go with the flow of traffic.
Then I passed trough the cameras. Dang it!! That’s me receiving a fine through the post.
I went so far into London that I could see The Shard, I passed The O2 Arena, and I went underneath the Thames.
I dislike London at the best of times. I certainly didn’t want to be driving through it, let alone getting fined for doing so. ?
The life of luxury
After my little sight-seeing detour, I finally made it to my destination.
Sandringham House is the Queen’s private residence and it’s set in 20,000 acres, most of which is open to the public, including the campsite which I stayed at.
I had booked 4-nights from the 28th April to the 2nd May 2021.
I was given a snug pitch in between two trees.
After setting up, I realized that this might not have been the best spot and kept my fingers crossed that no birds would leave their white paint all over the top of my tent and roof box.
After a busy morning, a long drive, and setting up my stuff for the fifth time on this adventure, I was pancaked!
I had zero energy to prepare or cook any food.
I spent my evening sprawled over my airbed eating cold cheese ravioli from a tin whilst watching a rather weak and predictable chick-flick on Amazon Prime with my dog laid next to me (who just wanted some cold cheese ravioli).
Just what camping dreams are made of!! ?? …or maybe not!
From the campsite, it was a short walk through the woods and across a quiet road to the official Sandringham Estate.
We first explored the main paths, which were ok, but, as expected, were taken up by runners and push-chairs. So, after we got a vague lay of the land, we went off-roading and followed some quieter tracks through the trees.
LOVE the “stick and flick”
You probably don’t want to know about my dog’s pooping, but I’m going to tell you anyway because this bothers me. (Feel free to skip it if you want to.)
I have no shame in admitting that if my dog poops in some bushes, I just leave it. I will only pick up his poo if he fouls on a walkway, on a playing field, or anywhere where someone may step in it.
The thought of picking up poo – which breaks down naturally by nature – and wrapping it in plastic seems a bit crazy to me at times.
Anyway, why am I telling you this? Because it seems that the Queen may feel the same way since Sandringham has adopted the ‘stick and flick’ method.
I was far too happy when I saw these signs!
To me, this is a much better option.
[That’s my little side note deviation finished]
Sandringham had a lovely little cafe and coffee shop.
In these situations, I would jump at the chance to spoil myself with a piece of cake or some other sort of sweet treat, but for the first time in my life, I didn’t want any.
At this point in my adventure, I was now craving fresh fruits and vegetables! The thought of a banana or a jacket potato with coleslaw and salad was what had my taste buds tingling.
I went back to my tent and rummaged through my tinned food supply looking for which had the highest supply of vegetables. I thought I’d hit the jackpot when I found a tin of Tesco’s Beef and Chunky Veg Soup!
In hindsight, I think I was just craving freshly prepared and cooked food because that tin of soup did not hit the spot.
Thankfully, the campsite had a regular visit from a fish and chip van. They would place a sign out front noting what day and time they would be arriving. Luckily for me, they were due that very evening.
My last experience of fish and chips (whilst in Verwood) was disappointing. I was keeping my fingers crossed these would be better.
This time I ordered scampi, onion rings, chips, mushy peas, and, of course, a sausage for Winston.
Although I wouldn’t say they were the best I’ve ever had, they certainly hit the spot and I wolfed them down!
Cutting it short
I had two days left of my adventure. My plan was to spend one day (the Friday) back at the tent relaxing, and the other day (the Saturday) I was meeting up with a friend – who I’m pretty sure was more interested in meeting my dog than me ?.
Little did I know, it was a 4-day bank holiday weekend, the first one since the UK COVID-19 lockdown restrictions started to ease, and the place was about to get busy!
On the Friday morning, I had the place pretty much to myself. Being a person that loves tranquility, this was perfect.
However, as soon as check-in came at 1pm, the place started filling up.
I was laid in my tent quietly reading when I heard my new neighbors rock up. They were a family of 6 (two adults and four children) with two cars, a small caravan, and a tent. They had booked two pitches, both of which were only a few meters away from me.
I understand that there’s going to be some noise and commotion when setting up, but screaming kids I can not cope with (I don’t have a single maternal bone in my body), and once I heard the father try to bribe his children with money in order to keep the noise down (which failed) I knew that I was never going to get my tranquility back.
In light of this, I messaged my friend asking if he would mind if we postponed. He understood and I packed away my tent and cut our adventure short by two days.
On the drive out, there was a ridiculously long queue of caravans and motorhomes waiting to pitch up. At this point, I knew I had made the right decision to leave.
I usually don’t book anything on a bank holiday for this very reason, however, I had booked so far in advance that this was a complete oversight on my behalf. Lesson learned!
Home time!! ?
After camping for 19-days and road-tripping for over 1000-miles, I came home in style.
The first thing I did was order a Dominoes Texas Chicken BBQ pizza, with cheesy garlic bread, and Dominoes warm and gooey cookies. ?
Whilst talking to my housemate and catching up on what I’d missed whilst being away, I mentioned that I was due to receive a fine from driving through an Ultra Low Emission Zone in London. He said that you can pay the ULEZ daily charge online a few days after and not receive a fine.
I quickly jumped online and saw that he was right! I had less than 24-hours left on the clock to pay the charge or receive a fine of up to £160.
I paid the fee of £30, which was significantly better than the fine. (…although, the fee for using the toll road would have probably been even better still! ?)
The end of another adventure
It’s funny, looking back on it now, it seems as though my adventure was over in a blink of an eye, but at the time, those three weeks seemed like a long time to be away.
I’ve got one more post coming which answers some of the questions I’ve been receiving, along with sharing some of the lessons I have learned from my mini-expedition.
The adventure is now officially over.
…time to plan the next one! ?
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