It’s that time of the year again when we try and counter the excesses of Christmas and prove that our National Trust Membership is still worth having. This is year six and you can see the previous entries here: 2014/5, 2015/6, 2016/7 (either didn’t do it or forgot to write about it that year), 2017/18 and 2018/19.
The rules are very simple: get out of the house to a local National Trust property, do a walk, have a cream tea (I know!) and come home.
Once again I have included the price for the two of us had we not had annual membership.
Grey’s Court, Oxfordshire
There is a standard patter on arriving at any National Trust property which goes something like this:
NT: Hello, welcome to <insert property name here>. Have you been here before?
Me: (almost always) Yes
NT: Great, would you like a map?
Me: No thanks
NT: Ok, would you like to visit the house? It’s timed tickets today.
Me: No thanks (subtext absolutely, definitely not).
Helen and I are more interested in the outside than the insides of properties and so don’t often bother with the interiors. However, we have been brining our parents with us this time and they aren’t up to a trek through the woods and so the house makes a good time filler (along with the tea room, shop and toilets). Speaking of the toilets the ones at Grey’s Court have just been refurbished and look as good as our main bathroom but I digress.
Inside the house this year each room had been themed around a somewhat tenuous thread of giving. There was interest in a coupe of rooms. In one a large Christmas tree was covered in origami birds folded by prisoners – that’ll teach them to behave, and in another lots of paper houses which had been lit (see above).
Friday 27th December
The Vyne, Hampshire
One thing that we have learnt over the years is that you have to get to these properties early if you want to bag a place in the car park. So it was with some trepidation that we arrived at the Vyne much later than I would have ideally liked having visited that other great Christmas destination first – IKEA.
We did get a parking space but there were long queues to both get in to the grounds and to purchase the obligatory cream tea. What was really strange was that the tea room seating was almost empty – where did everybody go?
As we were leaving and crossing the bridge to the exit you could see where two bodies of water merged and never more had it been so obvious.
Saturday 28th December
Hinton Ampner, Hampshire
When we last went to Hinton Ampner we arrived at opening time and wondered if it was actually open as we were the only people in the car park. That was not the case this time as already the main car park was pretty full and people were parking in the overspill. By the time we left an hour or so later it was absolutely rammed.
We actually thought that we might struggle to get even an hour there as when we reached the start of the walk it looked pretty muddy so we decided to try the garden only to find much of that roped off. After a bit of head scratching we found a route onto a nice walk that wasn’t knee deep in mud. As ever once you are away from the house it was almost completely empty. It was great and we had earned our cream tea.
Tuesday 31st December
Basildon Park, Berkshire
This one very nearly didn’t happen at all. When I woke up and looked at the clock I found that it said 9:50am. Given that we had intended to get there for opening time that clearly wasn’t going to happen. We did manage 10:45 though which I thought was pretty good going.
It has been months since our last visit to Basildon and I don’t know why that is as it is a great walk around the grounds and incredibly quiet. Given how tired we felt we did the middle length walk today but even that was enough to blow away the cobwebs. Still feeling full from last nights excesses we skipped the cream tea which is probably a good thing too.
Wednesday 1st January
And what was the cost?
For reasons that I can’t quite understand National Trust have stopped publishing prices for many properties on their website which I think is a little bit naughty. Therefore, a number of the prices shown here are for last year. Keeping that in mind the total cost if we had paid on the door would have been £104.80 compared to our membership fee of £120 a year. Given that we have made much use of it during the year too I think that’s pretty good value for money.