Sunday was the first Farmers Market of the year at Sandringham, and I thought I'd go along. January markets are normally small (and some places don't open in January at all) but it's not that far, and I thought I could combine this with a walk in Sandringham Park.
As I approached the Visitors Centre I was amazed at how many vehicles there were parked on the grass verges, and outside the church. Turning into the Visitor Centre parking, the first lot of bays were all full, but there was plenty of space in the second, and I parked, got out, and then realised that I really should have brought some other shoes with me - the ground was squelchy after the rains of the last few days, and my walking boots will be getting muddy!
I went first to the Farmers Market - as expected it was quite small - maybe 10 or so stalls, and there were only a few people at the stalls themselves. Having said that, there were plenty of people around and I would not be surprised if there was a steady flow of people getting food on the way back to their cars.
Although only few in number, there was a nice selection of items on sale: pies from Mr Kew, Venison products from Fen Farm, hand made cheeses from Lymn Bank Farm. local vegetables, fudge, another pie maker, and a couple of other stalls.
Having made my purchases and stored them in the car, I set off for a walk in the Park. This is a popular spot with dog walkers, young families and cyclists, but even so it is easy to get away from people noise when one walks into the wood.
I followed a path through the trees which was springy underfoot from pine needles - this part of the park is planted with firs. Especially at this time of year, when there is little undergrowth, it actually looks and feels very regimented - very like a plantation. Coming out of this area I cross a wide area cleared of all trees, possible a fire break, and then I go back into the forest on the other side, and the pines give way to a more mixed woodland.
Here and there are places where people have collected bracken and made "dens", and there are paths leading in every direction. There are also signs of new planting - one area had a number of tubes sticking out of the ground, each one of them protecting a new young tree. Also among the undergrowth there is the occasional holly bush, bright green against the surrounding brown.
I complete a circular walk of maybe 2 miles, and then back to the visitor centre, where I go into the shop, just to look around. It's also warm in the shop! I go on to look at the small plant shop they have here, and think about buying one of their pots planted with spring plants and bulbs, but in the end decide against.
And so back to the car and home - a short trip, but a productive one:)