There were so many beautiful places within a stone's throw of where we lived, and we could easily pop over to Chartwell for an afternoon, or wander round Knole, or Ightham Mote.
Then we moved to Leicester and there was nothing in that fine county. For 20 years we didn't go to NT properties.
But Dorset and the surrounding counties are full of them, as is Norfolk, where we spend 99% of our holidays.
So we were delighted when the lovely people at Kirby Muxloe gave us a year's membership as a leaving gift in early 2015.
We seemed to be getting good value from it - so this time last year we decided to renew membership for another year.
It costs us £105 a year - less than £2 a week - one cuppa per week in an average coffee shop. Has it been worth it? Well I did some calculations and in the past 12 months, had we been paying entry fees each time, we would have spent in excess of £150. So yes - we have saved a fair bit of money.
And I have loved the opportunity to walk often in the grounds of Kingston Lacy, less than 10 miles away or to make repeat visits to Oxburgh and marvel at the embroideries of Mary, Queen of Scots. And then there's the benefit of free parking at various spots along the North Norfolk coast.
Yes it is a luxury - but I think it is money well spent.
It is not obligatory to have a fancy cream tea in the restaurants, or buy jars of chutney in the gift shop [delicious though these things are] Spreading out a picnic blanket and eating our own food in the sunshine is just as much fun, especially when we have other friends and family with us. If we continue as members for 5 years out of the next 10, we will then qualify for 'seniors discount' [it is not automatic for people in their 60s]
NT places are beautifully maintained, competently staffed - by paid employees and enthusiastic volunteers [thank you Peter and Jenny and all your colleagues] I hope my subs help to preserve these parts of our heritage for future generations. Watch out Rosie, Gran is going to be taking you to all sorts of places!
And of course, it is transferable - next time I get to Belfast, I can use my card for Mount Steward Gardens, the Giant's Causeway...I may even risk the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge again. Watch out Mags!
Do you belong to the NT?
What's your favourite place to visit? What's the thing you study most?
- The big old houses
- The architecture?
- The artworks?
- The gardens?
- The second hand bookshop?
- The tea rooms and giftshops?
- The outdoor locations - beaches, nature reserves, seal colonies...
In 2017 I'd like to see the primroses and bluebells at Kingston Lacy, and visit Brownsea Island
Thank you Octavia Hill - did you ever imagine your vision would grow into a movement like this?