The National Trust.

As a family we love the National Trust.  We have been members for many years.  Here in the provence it gives us free access to one of our best beaches Portstewart Strand and also our most popular tourist attraction, The Giant’s Causeway, as well as many other great sites.

The real advantage of National Trust membership though has to be when we cross the water to the mainland.  The number of houses to visit, gardens to examine and things to do are endless, especially in the summer months.

One of the best things we have found about the National Trust is how family orientated they are, there are almost always things to do for the kids at all the properties we visit, which make the visit to say a large house much more exciting for younger members of the party.

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We normally plan the route we take on our journey round which properties we want to visit, even if you don’t spend the whole day at a property they are some of the best spots for a picnic.

You can get details of all properties from the National Trust website, they have extensive information on opening times, disabled access etc.  Here I am just going to highlight those we visited this year and what we particularly enjoyed about each.

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On the way to Devon we stopped for our picnic at Knightshayes Court, we had visited this property a couple of years ago and it’s impressive kitchen garden made us keen to return.  We had our picnic on the lawn and watched Chef from the local college make soup.  There was also live music, the weather was so hot we chose not to go inside the property but just took  a slow walk round the walled kitchen garden.   We love to see the kitchen gardens at NT properties and Knightshayes would certainly be one of the best we’ve come across.  The best would probably be at Tyntesfield.

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En route from Devon to London we stopped for our picnic at Dyrham Park on another very hot day.  We had our picnic near the car so we wouldn’t have to carry it, then we visited this lovely deer park and saw quite a few deer.  The house itself was amazing though again because of the weather and time constraints we didn’t go inside.  The chapel, gardens to the rear and ponds were worthy of many pictures, we were thankful for the courtesy bus back to the car park.  There is also an excellent play area in the woods at this property.  This one would be a definite to return to one day to see the inside of the house.

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We didn’t visit any more properties until our London stay was over and we were heading out of London on the way home.  Joel and I had visited Osterley Park a few years ago when he won a competition with the National Trust and he had to attend Osterley Park for a photoshoot.  We were keen to return and show the rest of the family these impressive grounds.  Again, it was warm, probably the warmest day of our trip.  There was much happening in Osterley Park as it was family fun day, endless games, crafts and things for the kids to try out.  Very well done to the National Trust on the organisation of these events, we were so glad we choose to stop there.

On Sunday afternoon we were always going to be at a loose end, we worshipped with Solihull Presbyterian Church  EPC and were keen to keep on the move, we had our picnic under the shade of another tree in Little Morton Hall, then went to explore.    Little Morton Hall is a Tudor property and just delightful!  There wasn’t a lot to see inside so we lay on the lawn and read books, again there were a few games scattered on the lawn for the kids and they entertained themselves in what I think we will all remember as a lovely afternoon.  There was a lady showing the kids how to make handmade soap so we ended up with 4 bars of soap for our trouble.

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The last day in England was Monday and again we had preplanned to visit Tatton Park.  The house here isn’t open on a Monday but it didn’t matter to us as the grounds were vast.  The gardens were beautiful, we had a lovely walk and the kids did the Peter Rabbit treasure trail.  It really was fun, on yet another hot day.  The picnic was courtesy of M&S, but the location was the same (a shady tree, National Trust property) right by the play area which the kids proceeded to play in for about 2 hours.

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These last few days of holiday were great to view the nice gardens and relax after the busyness of the London part of our trip.  We never fail to be impressed by what the National Trust are doing.

Have you a  favourite National Trust property?

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