Before having kids I saw National Trust membership as something grandparents had. Something about it all seemed a bit old fogey-ish to me.
Old houses, gardens, woodland walks. It wasn’t really where my head was at. These were the days when I spent a lot of my Sunday mornings hungover in bed binge watching telly before finally rolling out from under the sheets to order pizza.
Now I’m up by 6am and when I’m faced with a long, long, long day with the kids I need to get out the house. And this is where National Trust comes in.
After having my first baby I realised most of my other mummy pals had National Trust membership. A look on their website and you can see why. They’re gearing their facilities and activities up for young families more and more these days.
Most properties have a restaurant or cafe, baby change facilities, pushchair-friendly walks and features such as mazes that will delight small children. They also run planned activities like storytimes and games.
So I surrendered to the National Trust. At £108 a year for a joint membership (under 5s go free) it seems like a lot to fork out all in one go. But you’re opening up a whole world of opportunities for fun days out.
Now we’re in our second year of membership and have definitely got our money’s worth. We use it at weekends to go out for a picnic somewhere beautiful as a family and I frequently use it in the week when I’m meeting friends or to just get out the house myself for a walk with thin children.
We’ve had some fab times at properties such as Polesden Lacey in Surrey. Here my toddler has climbed trees and chased after her friends on the big lawn outside the stunning property which enjoys lovely views over the countryside.
At Cliveden in Buckinghamshire we’ve got lost in the maze, spotted a heron and marvelled at the incredible water fountain. The storybook play den features wooden sculptures of favourite book characters such as Captain Hook and a Wind in the Willows-inspired boat.
At Basildon Park in Berkshire, which is in my 25 things to do in Berkshire, we’ve strolled by a herd of cows on a pretty countryside walk. This huge mansion is a very familiar one to visit as it’s been used as the setting for lots of period films and TV shows such as Pride and Prejudice. Mr Darcy does not come as part of the package I’m afraid.
I have several other National Trust destinations recommended in my 25 family days out in Hampshire post.
Some properties, beaches or woodlands are very large and some are a lot smaller. You get a good flavour for what to expect at the National Trust website so you can plan your day out.
The National Trust has 500 historic houses, castles, monuments, gardens, parks and nature reserves all over the UK. So with the current trend for staycations you can take your membership away with you and explore different National Trust locations far away from home.
So if you’re finding yourself doing the same old things week in and week out then give National Trust a go. There’s always somewhere new to explore.
I still have to laugh at myself a bit for giving in to National Trust. See this gem from the Daily Mash to confirm it still has a bit of the fuddy duddy to its reputation.
But I’m so glad I’m a member and know we will make many more memories with family and friends thanks to the National Trust.