When I first suggested getting National Trust memberships a few weeks ago I could tell that Mr T was a bit half-hearted about it. If I'm honest, I felt a bit the same, I knew Milly would LOVE it (she might be 17, but she's actually middle-aged in spirit!) and I thought it would be ok for Tinker and Totsy as we could let them run around in lots of beautiful gardens, have the odd picnic and maybe we'd even occasionally manage to have a hurried nosey around a stately home to see how the other half lived (albeit whilst feeling a little bit stressed, keeping an iron grip on the girls and moving on quickly to ensure they didn't smash any priceless antiques, escape under the ropes to restricted areas or announce 'This is BORING' in loud voices to the lovely assistants who love to chat to everyone). It sounds a bit daft but to be honest I just wasn't sure the National Trust was really 'us'.
However, on a whim I signed us up after a conversation with Milly in which her face lit up at the very idea and after I had looked into how much it would cost (practically nothing to be honest when paying by monthly direct debit, it only costs us £9.55 a month for a family which is two adults and up to seven children – seven kids, who on earth would have that many, how ridiculous….oh, no wait, that'll be me then!)
Even though we have now been (ever so slightly reluctant at first) National Trust members for less than a month, we are already unexpectedly hooked! A couple of weeks ago for our first adventure as fully fledged members we visited Calke Abbey. The girls ran around in the grounds, we had a car picnic (as it was really windy and a bit chilly!) and Milly loved looking around the house which interestingly has been left mainly unrestored. There was a park, lots of open space to explore and it felt like a really relaxed afternoon. We declared it a success!
Last Sunday we spent the afternoon at Sudbury Hall Museum of Childhood. The weather was gorgeous, it's a beautiful setting and we took a picnic which we ate in the gardens in the sunshine.
The girls had a great time exploring the woodland park which has lots of activities amongst the trees and then we headed into the museum. There was plenty to keep the girls busy, toys to try out in every section, a Victorian schoolroom complete with school mistress, a chimney for kids to go into (though it was pitch black and Tinker decided she didn't fancy it – can't say I blame her) and lots to see on display. When we headed back out into the sunshine there was a giant Connect 4 and oversized Lego to play with on the lawn which kept the girls occupied with Mr T while Milly and me had a nosey around the gift shop. We couldn't resist heading to the tearoom for treats so the girls had ice creams while Milly, Mr T and me enjoyed cherry and almond scones (I think scones are becoming my pregnancy craving, I'm a bit obsessed!) We headed back to the woodland park, played with the ball on the grass, attempted a few photos of Mr T, Tinker, Totsy and me (took about a hundred photos and I don't think there is a single one where we are all looking and smiling!) and then headed back to the car, tired but all happy and smiling.
Considering that we were so half-hearted about joining National Trust we have quickly changed our minds. There are definitely worse ways to spend our weekends than visiting beautiful, tranquil settings where the kids can run around, Milly can join us to indulge her love of history and heritage and we can eat scones. To be honest it's not often that a day out with the kids ends with me feeling calmer than when we left (usually I'm more likely to be totally knackered, with a faint headache and desperate for a glass of wine!) but somehow I've felt so relaxed after our recent NT visits. We will definitely be making the most of our memberships and it will certainly motivate us to visit more inspiring places than our local parks every weekend and hopefully make lots of happy memories (I have even downloaded the National Trust app, I don't even know who I am anymore!)