Christmas in our caravan: Norfolk
Caravan Ambassador, Stuart Alexander and his wife, Margaret, head off to celebrate the festive season in their tourer
We thought we'd have a 'Right Royal Christmas' this year, pitching our beloved tourer not too far from Sandringham House. After all, if it's good enough for QEII, it'll do for us.
Sandringham Camping & Caravanning Club site was our choice of locations. This site is a beautiful place for Christmas caravanning, with its flat pitches set amid a scenic woodland setting. With a frost on the ground and fairy lights in abundance, there's nothing like it.
Christmas caravanning is surprisingly popular, so book your pitch early if you're heading to a small site, and, of course, you have a full gas bottle(s), as you may struggle to get refills if you run out during the festive period.
We arrived on 22 December. The stewards were friendly and took us to our pitch. We had requested a specific area on the site as we were meeting friends, and we knew this spot would accommodate us comfortably. By the time we had pitched and set up, it was 4 pm and getting dark. As the Christmas lights came on the Christmas-spirit levels were almost off the scale!
Getting ready for Christmas
On Fridays and Mondays, a fish & chip van visits the site. We recommend it. We'd arrived on a Friday, and were busy setting up, so this delicious supper was welcome, especially as we didn't have to start cooking or clear up afterwards.
This woodland site, set in acres of wooded glades, has plenty of delightfully secluded spots, right in the grounds of the royal estate.
A group of us (seven caravans and motorhomes) got together, and, once we had all pitched, we set about the Christmas decorations.
We take a Christmas flag, an illuminated tree, bunting and a Santa stick with us. We have lights around the caravan, and I have laser lights which I point into the trees. These make it look like the trees have lights on. Inside the caravan, we have Christmas candles and take our cards with us. Not that we go overboard or anything!
The night before Christmas
On Christmas Eve, we met with friends in their awning for an evening BBQ and drinks. Other caravanners stopped by to chat and have a drink; it was so festive and friendly.
Back at the van, it's so warm and cosy, even better than home. They are great places to relax and chill out.
The Big Day
On Christmas Day, we started by taking the dogs for a walk; then we opened our presents. A delicious cooked breakfast is a must at Christmas, so we have the works: bacon, eggs, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes and toast.
Afterwards, my wife prepared for our dinner, then, at noon we met up with friends for pre-dinner drinks. The Prosecco was flowing and went down rather well.
We all headed back to our vans at 3 pm, where we cooked a full Christmas dinner. Our preference is for roast beef with Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, vegetables and gravy, followed, of course, by Christmas pudding. It's so easy to cook a fabulous meal like this in a modern caravan. Just make sure you organise it well.
We had the best Christmas at Sandringham, and we're planning to do it again in December. This time we're heading to Kingsbury Water Park, and we'll be staying right through to the New Year. We can't wait!
We would recommend Christmas caravanning to anyone. Go on, give it a try.
Sandringham Village and Visitor Centre
Sandringham is a small village near the Sandringham estate, which has a few shops, a restaurant and several country pubs, which serve good food and ale.
From the Camping & Caravanning Club site, the Sandringham Estate Visitor Centre is about a 1½-mile walk, or you can drive there and pay a small parking fee. The centre offers information about the estate, a restaurant, gift shop, plant centre and an 'Everything Outdoor' store.
Sandringham House is the private home of Queen Elizabeth II and stands within a stunning 200-acre estate. Christmas time is when the royal family spend time here and attend church on Christmas Day.
There are many walks around the estate, which are lovely at any time of the year; plus, there are other places to visit, like the Royal Racing Stables and Stud Farm, and Anmer Hall where Prince William and Catherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are tenants.
Hunstanton is a small, traditional, Victorian seaside town, renowned for its unique striped cliffs. It's the only place on the east coast where the sun sets over the sea, due to its position on a bit of west-facing coastline. Hunstanton town was purpose-built in 1846 and retains its Victorian charm and character to this day.
Lovely beaches offer ideal conditions for playing in the sand and sea, though we'd recommend wetsuits on all but the hottest summer days!
Old Hunstanton Lighthouse dates to 1840 and featured the world's first parabolic reflector. Dogs are allowed on the beach, too. We parked on the main road and then walked up to the lighthouse. Just past it is a dog-friendly café, and from there you can get straight onto the beach.