We're big fans of Norfolk and have reported back from holidays there - including one weekend together - a number of times (see here, here, here and here for examples!)

So it's no real surprise that I found myself back in the eastern county just a few weeks ago, when Paul and myself gatecrashed my parents' summer holiday.

Most of our break was spent in and around our beach-side cottage and nearby Hunstanton - playing the 2p machines, eating our weight in fish and chips, taking short walks with the dog, playing board games and watching Wimbledon on the telly.

However, within this busy schedule, we (that is me, mum and Paul - dad took the opportunity to enjoy some time without us!) did find time for a day trip to the Queen's Norfolk retreat.

I'd visited Sandringham once before as a child, but only had a hazy recollection of standing by neatly trimmed hedges with my Granny, on a hot summer day. I'll definitely remember it clearly the second time round.

First stop was the museum, which contained a number of interesting displays on the history of the house and the Royals' relationship with it since 1862, plus a selection of vintage vehicles and gifted objects from all around the world. I was particularly amazed by a mini replica of a James Bond car, made for one of the princes, which took three months to make - who knows how much that's worth!

After refuelling at the stable cafe (one of the best cheese scones I've ever had) we headed into the house itself. Only a section of the downstairs is open, but as someone who can quickly develop "museum lethargy" I actually preferred this  - not to say I wouldn't have jumped at the opportunity to peek inside the Queen's bedroom given half the chance!

Dear old Sandringham, the place I love better than anywhere in the world.”
— King George V

The thing that really made the house visit special was the attitude and the knowledge of the museum guides, who were dotted around each room. Not only did they know their stuff, but they delivered interesting nuggets of information with humour and energy which really got across the history of the house, but how the rooms are still used today. I'm not sure I entirely believe that Prince Philip himself uses a ride on mower to trim the grass, as one guide suggested...!

However the star attraction, particularly on a sunny day, has to be the 24 hectares of gardens. They're a mixture of highly manicured and more natural landscaping, dotted with sculptures, and overall stunningly beautiful. We took in the beautiful view looking back at the house, as we strolled over to the estate church, and wished we were floating in a boat on the lake.

Altogether we spent around four hours exploring the house and grounds, which felt a good length of time, before making our way back to our home-away-from-home on the coast. A fully recommended trip out.

Have you visited Sandringham - what were your impressions? What's your tip for a sunny day trip out in your neck of the woods?