Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Royal Visit

This morning when I awoke, I wished my wife a happy birthday, and before she could get out of bed I lavished lots of really nice presents on her. I don’t do this sort of thing every morning, only on those which happen to be her birthday, otherwise she’d get very confused – you understand.

After I had walked the dog and my wife had spring cleaned the whole house, practiced her Kung Fu and said goodbye to the milkman, we jumped into the car and set off to Sandringham House to see Liz and Phil. We arrived to find that Liz and Phil must have got wind of our surprise visit, and decided to surprise us themselves by not being there!

I have driven through, around and by Sandringham many times in the past, but never actually stopped to get out and see how the other side live. As my wife and I are manic photographers and we had both taken the day off work to have a birthday day out, Sandringham seemed an obvious choice, as well as a place where people of our refined breeding and high standing in society would feel naturally at home.

After parking the car – a Kia Carens – (I believe the Queen is thinking of getting one herself soon), the first port of call was the bog. My wife reported to the throne room, while I made my way to the House of Lords – where all the big knobs hang out. Feeling suitably relieved and flushed, we made a bee line to the hise ………….errrr………I mean the house. Before entering in, we amused ourselves frolicking in the gardens and wondering at the fat golden statue of the Buddha, and seeing how many ways we could photograph Old Father Time – his statue, that is.

The SS Guard at the entrance to the house ordered us to put our cameras away, or at least switch them off, as well as our mobile phones. He assured us that if we didn’t we would not be shot, but did not tell us what fate would really befall us if we disobeyed.

The house was full, as you would expect, of very old and highly ornate furniture. It was clear the Queen doesn’t go to Ikea. As well as all the other paraphernalia, there were lots of weapons – guns, swords, spears, knives etc. It was apparent that the house had a dark side apart from making money from the visiting peasants, and that was killing poor, unsuspecting animals. One of the attendants assured me that the Royals would be up before Christmas to bag a few more. Great fun for them, though their prey might see it differently.

I took a close look, donning my reading glasses, at a shell from the Boer War which had been adapted and transformed into a clock, which stood pointing proudly to the ceiling. The attendant leaned over to me and said that it was actually an unexploded shell, and implied it could still explode. I suggested it was just biding its time, awaiting the right moment…………

Being a bit of a bookworm, I paid particular interest to the very sumptuous ancient books adorning the shelves of the glass fronted book cabinets. There were amongst others, history books, political books, and books of speeches by people now made obscure by the mists of antiquity.

“I wonder if they ever open any of the books and actually read them”, an old man asked rhetorically. I commented to my wife that maybe the Queen was a member of the “Folio Society” – but maybe not.

Leaving the house behind, we continued our wonderings around the grounds, taking in the museum while we were at it.

I have got to say that the gardens are absolutely beautiful, amongst the most lovely gardens I have ever visited anywhere in the world. It was a real pleasure walking by the lake and smelling the aromas from all the flowers which were everywhere.

We did laugh at one point – oh how we laughed – when we came across an old dear having a conversation on her mobile phone. She was speaking very loudly, so we couldn’t miss her. What made us titter was just how sickeningly posh she was verbeaging across the network. “Yes” was replaced by “yaah” – she wasn’t German. Maybe she was affected by where she was. Maybe that once she got outside of the wire, she would revert to a more “Gore blimey guvner” sort of way……or maybe not.

We concluded our exploration of the estate in visiting the Church – you know, the one the Royals are always seen on the telly walking into on Christmas Day. It’s called the Church of St Mary Magdalene. To look at from the outside it looks like a perfectly ordinary Parish Church. However, once you step inside you are confronted by one of the most beautiful and ornate alters I have seen in such a church. Clearly, the Royal connection has benefitted it well.

It cost us £9 each to visit the Royal Estate, and in my opinion it was worth every penny.
We polished off what had been a perfect day with a large soft ice cream cornet each, and a plate of fish and chips at a restaurant in Hunstanton. The sun shone all day, and set - surrounded by a pink horizon.

1 comment:

Ian said...

Hi there,

Sorry to be a bit off topic here, but I am the author of a book called 'A Place in My Country: In Search of a Rural Dream.'

A blogger (Katyboo1’s Weblog) recently posted a review of my book on and on her own blog.

I hope you don't mind but I thought it might therefore appeal to you too, as she has you on her blogroll.

Here's the Amazon reference but it is published by Phoenix in paperback and was published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson last year.

Anyway, there it is. Again, hope you don't object to this shameless self-promotion.

Kind regards,
P.S If you like photography check out I got a camera, my very first, for Christmas, a little Sony thing, and I've gone mad with it.