I have developed a serious love for The National Trust. I never thought that is something I would say, or even admit.
We were lucky enough to be bought membership as a Christmas present from my father in law, and I have to say it is probably one of the best presents we have received. I used to think The National Trust was just for retired people, but I was soon proved wrong. I was amazed by the number of families there. Most National Trust sites have baby changing facilities, picnic areas (if you don’t want to buy from their cafes) and even playgrounds at some of their sites. Families are really well catered for.
James has very little interest in walking around manor houses, or you could say he has too much interest, wanting to touch everything and go in forbidden areas. To be fair, we have very little interest in constantly telling James not to touch or no you can’t go there. We will leave exploring the houses until he is a bit older. What we currently love about The National Trust is the gardens. They are often vast areas of fields, woodland, or beautiful flowers, perfect for James to run around in and explore nature.
These gardens are beautifully maintained, full or bright colours, insects and wildlife. Some of the animals we have encountered so far are pheasants, deer, peacocks, chickens, fish, ducks and sheep. James was particularly fascinated by some mating pheasants at Chedworth Roman Villa. He found it hilarious and decided to chase them. The pheasants did not find it hilarious.
The dedicated staff at the sites we have visited have always been very friendly, knowledgable and brilliant with James. He can often be seen having a tantrum as we go through the entrances, but then when he sees he can run around he soon cheers up.
I haven’t always been keen on the outdoors, but living in Norway and Lithuania I developed more of an enjoyment for it. In Norway they really appreciate the outdoors and even leave their babies outside to nap in the fresh air. They always say there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. In both countries we would still go out if it was -20, we would just wear more clothes and dress appropriately. In Lithuania I used to take James for walks in – 10. I think the fresh air is good for us and I really want James to be brought up enjoying being outside and appreciating nature and the countryside.
The National Trust membership means we always have something to do at the weekends (or in the week if I take James by myself). We don’t have to worry about entrance fees to places because the sites are all included in our membership. They have a fantastic app that shows us all the sites local to where we are, making it easy to plan where we are going. It’s even worth downloading the app if you aren’t a member as lots of the countryside sites are free to everyone, and the app shows the prices for non members. I am now trying to convince my husband that we should also become members of Historic Houses so we have even more places we can visit.