Since October 2016 I have been a member of the National Trust and, until roughly four weeks ago, had been to only one National Trust place; A La Ronde, Exmouth.
Dan and I have pondered between getting a National Trust membership or an English Heritage membership for the last few years but they just seemed so expensive and we couldn’t decide between the two, so never bothered.
But when we went to Exmouth in October for a family holiday and had a few hours to kill before the rest turned up and we could get into our caravan, we thought we’d see what this A La Ronde was on the brown signs.
Basically it’s a round house with a nice view, but as we were paying for entry tickets to this place that is run by the National Trust, the lady behind the desk explained to us about the costing and how we’d only have to go to five National Trust places to make our money back on our investment into the membership. She gave us a map to show us what was around our area and what was around the rest of the country and we found loads that we thought would be really interesting to see.
Why not, we thought. And paid for a full year’s membership there and then.
We go to the Lake District every October and I’m sad to say that I’ve never gone into either Beatrix Potter’s house or the museum. I’ve been outside both of these places but it’s just been that bit too expensive for us all to go in. But this October – with my new membership – I’ll be able to step inside Hilltop and the Beatrix Potter museum as my payment has already been made.
But…four months on and we still hadn’t visited any more National Trust places.
Next weekend, we would say. Next weekend.
Then four weeks ago we took the plunge, got out the book of places to visit and found Cliveden House, a little way down the road, perfect. And jumped in the car on our way. The grounds were stunning with woodland, a river walk and a lovely house, although at this time of year it is a hotel so there were no viewings for inside the house, just the outside. We had great weather too and completed the visit with a trip to the cafe for a cream tea. Yum.
Three weeks ago we got out the book again and headed to Basildon Park, which, we found out, is where some of Downton Abbey was filmed. We could go in this building so we went for a nosey and then for another cream tea (can you sense where our weaknesses lie?), and we were going to go for a walk around the grounds…but it was so cold, sooo cold, that we practically sprinted back to the car instead.
Then two weekends ago we headed for Grey’s Court, a time capsule of a house from when the last owners lived there before leaving it to the National Trust (or something like that, possibly their kids gave it to the National Trust, I can’t remember). We had a tour around the house which was fascinating…it was, I just can’t remember much from it now, and a walk around the immediate gardens. They’re divided into ‘rooms’ so you’ve got something new to look at as you make your way through the stone walled areas, stunning. The wisteria is something else. We were going to go for a proper walk around the grounds but Dan’s been working his little socks off and was exhausted, so we went home. After a brownie in the cafe that is. They had cream tea but we thought we’d try something new. I can report that the brownie was just as good as the cream tea.
We’re now going to hold off for a couple of weeks before we venture any where else, as the one thing we said about each place was that we’d love to come back when there’s flowers everywhere too. So we’re going to wait for spring to get under way but I’m pretty sure The Vyne will be the next stop on our National Trust tour.
Until next time. x
Images are not my own are from the National Trust sites.