National Trust - not just for wrinklies...
Tuesday, 10 May 2011 | Admin
Until a couple of years ago, the last time I'd been to a National Trust property was in childhood and all I could really remember was lots of boring flowers and a big house that echoed a lot, where I wasn't allowed to touch anything.
© NTPL / Andrew Butler
Fast forward 30 years. Last March we took advantage of a free entry day to visit Bodiam Castle, a medieval stronghold which dates back to 1385. It was a great day out, being about an hours drive with lots for the kids to clamber over and see (although they liked the moat just a little too much!) As part of the free entry day they were offering Family membership for about £70 which seemed like a good deal as entry to Bodiam Castle itself would have cost us £15.
One year on, and we're certainly getting our moneys worth from our membership. Most Sundays, if we've got nothing else planned, we'll pack a picnic and head off to one of the local properties. Sheffield Park is a firm favourite as it's just 35 minutes away and offers plenty of opportunity for the kids to run around in the fresh air, climbing trees and having fun. Any leftover crusts from our picnic go towards feeding the ducks and we were all very excited to see 2 Canadian Geese, plus 6 cute fluffy yellow Goslings (or Goblins as my 2 year old called them...) last weekend.
For families with small children, the National Trust is brilliant. Although we've got the South Downs on our doorstep, the kids aren't old enough to take 'off-road' as we still need to use the buggy when their wee legs get tired (or for carrying our picnic!). There's always lots of good clean toilet facilities on hand plus most of the properties have cafe's or restaurants if you can't be bothered to pack a picnic.
There's also quite a lot of family-friendly events held there, particularly over school holiday periods. At Easter we all took part in the Easter Egg trail, where for an extra £2 per child we had to find the clues and answer questions on our walk round the garden - the reward was a Cadburys Easter egg at the end. Over summer, most of the properties have kids activities planned for recurring days of the week, so I'm already planning what we'll visit and when in an attempt to keep them entertained and myself sane!