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To be put off visiting National Trust properties because they are National Trust properties

(155 Posts)
Growlithe Sat 03-Aug-13 18:55:47

I can see that the National Trust have some great places, but it puts years on me whenever I visit one.

They always try to flog you the annual membership. When you suggest you may not get the value out of it (because believe it or not you have other things to do and places to visit of a weekend than just National Trust places) they look at you like you are stark raving mad. And people with National Trust memberships do the same. It's like a cult.

They have complicated pricing systems based on which bits of the place you want to visit. How do I know which bits I want to see, I've never been there before. confused

The cafes are always expensive.

Whilst you often go for days out to entertain/educate the DCs, and they often have activities/packs aimed at children, they seem to tolerate children rather than welcome them.

They must also think the children of today are some sort of alien species, judging from their '50 things to do before you are 11 3/4'. I mean, do we have to be told the DCs would enjoy making a daisy chain, climb a tree or run about in the rain? I know kids like to play computer games these days but do they think we are so so removed from doing this kind of thing with our DCS? It's condescending.

They are full of performance parents with massive great big picnic baskets (which is probably understandable given the prices in the cafes I suppose).

Although they are knowledgeable, they often just seem to sap the life out of the very things they want to show you, and could do with taking a leaf out of places like the Black Country Living Museum, which has amazingly enthusiastic staff.

So go on, National Trust members, do your worst. AIBU?

whatshallwedo Sat 03-Aug-13 18:58:42

I have to say I agree with you. I think they are all pretty much the same in that they all have a chinese room etc so once I've seen one I have seen them all.

<dons hard hat and awaits flaming>

soverylucky Sat 03-Aug-13 19:00:51

I have never had them try to flog me membership - I had to ask them about it.
The cafes are too expensive.
You do get a certain type of people at many places.
BUT if you have a number of properties local to you it is worth paying for membership. It is about 30 quid for a family to get in and do everything at a place so three visits a year and you have got your money back. I also find that with the membership and local places we just go for an afternoon or morning rather than the whole day thing.

Anthracite Sat 03-Aug-13 19:05:13

I bought membership this year so that I could take my dog for a walk while my DD was at a weekly activity nearby.

The cost of parking for non-members there is £6, so I easily get my money's worth with membership.

I have been perusing the guide book to decide where to go during this fine weather.

toobreathless Sat 03-Aug-13 19:05:41

We are members & LOVE our local one (Belton House, Lincolnshire)

It has:

- amazing wooden adventure playground, huge with 2 zip wires, fort, huge slides, toddler area & much more.
- mini train rides (£1)
- indoor cafe just for kids & soft play (free)

As well as usual house/formal gardens.

Beningborough Hall near York also had a selection if ride on toys/trikes for children to borrow.

They also loan out (free) child hip seat thingies to go round the house with.

Personally I think that's pretty child friendly!

<off to buy a massive picnic hamper smile >

Sirzy Sat 03-Aug-13 19:05:42

Most tourist places have expensive cafes.

They try to sell memberships because they want the guaranteed money. Say no thank you and walk off if you don't want it.

They have some spectacular buildings and gardens which are lovely to visit.

mmmuffins Sat 03-Aug-13 19:06:07

YABU. I have been a NT member through my twenties and gone on lots of romantic outings to NT properties over the years smile (I don't have kids yet so only go with boyfriends). Lots of wonderful ambles through unspoilt countryside as well.

I started volunteering for the trust which has helped me get a leg up in my new career field as well.

Food is overpriced but that is why you take a picnic!

HerculePoirotsTache Sat 03-Aug-13 19:07:28

I suppose you could say that if you've seen one stately home you've seen them all BUT the NT are trying to shake off their stuffy image. Gone are the rope partitions, you can go up to all the exhibits now and you can take photographs. Also there are more activities on offer. I have a friend who manages one of their properties and he introduced things like miniature versions of the rooms for children to play with and dressing up boxes. I've also been to murder mysteries in the grounds of one house before now which was great fun.

I guess it depends on the house/garden/lands and who caretakes them too.

Eyesunderarock Sat 03-Aug-13 19:08:01

We like the 'Certain kind of people' because they seem to be our sort of people. grin
We live very near a number of the properties and visit several of them on a regular basis, but partly because we love gardens and social history. We have also elevated picnicking to an art form worthy of Ratty.
Some of the evening events have been fascinating and the stuff of happy memories.
When DS got too old to be on a family membership, he requested a YP's one for his 18th birthday.
But YANBU OP, I'm quite prepared for us to toddle happily along without needing to convert anyone else.

GoEasyPudding Sat 03-Aug-13 19:08:55

We have quite a few locally and I really enjoy the gardens the most. No dogs allowed so we can have a nice long walk without random dog attacks and poo shoes.

Our membership has lapsed now but during the preschool years recently we were there a lot. Having 5 places locally made it very worthwhile.

I do agree with you though, overpriced café and shops. All the shops are the same where ever you go, selling the same things. I am always disappointed at the lack of information on display, it's all in the guide book which is a bit costly.

Performance parents? Not sure they are trying to upset you with picnic apparatus.

SunnyIntervals Sat 03-Aug-13 19:09:06

I agree about the irritating attempts to sell memberships and I am actually a member smile yes cafes are too pricey, but the food is now actually pretty good.

Belton House is our nearest, too.

We have family annual membership, and as we prefer t have holidays in Britain, we frequently get back more than the cost of our membership when on holiday.

But, OP, regardless of whatever I write, or others write, you seem determined to dislike it anyway so I'm not bothering any further.

VestandKnickers Sat 03-Aug-13 19:09:50

I am a National Trust member and we easily get our money's worth. My children love the gardens at NT properties - we never bother with the houses. I am also happy to support a charity that preserves some of our most beautiful properties for future generations. If you don't enjoy them, don't go. If you don't want to be a member say no thank you. Easy enough!

YANZbU. We have NT membership. We bought it as we like the grounds of our local property for walking in. We certainly don't get our money's worth. The nearest property has a farm that costs extra and is the most interesting bit for DD and for us. I find the houses quite dull, I think I have seen enough dead posh people's houses as I ever want to and the really interesting ones like Castle Howard aren't NT properties. We will probably cancel it this year. The only significant benefit for us is that having annual membership means you don't have the hard sell for annual membership when you go there.

I'm also puzzled about how they get so many volunteers. It is amazing to me that so many people want to spend their weekends wearing high vis jackets and directing traffic in a car park. I'm all for volunteering and have done some, but I just don't get the appeal.

Nottalotta Sat 03-Aug-13 19:12:38

YABU. Just say no to the membership and take a picnic! Although the membership IS good value (i'm not a member)

jacks365 Sat 03-Aug-13 19:13:10

For me it's worth it for the car parking alone. I have a few countryside sites near me and a couple of sites that have really brought history alive for my dc. The cafes are expensive but they offer a good range including gluten free bread so worth it as far as I'm concerned.

CokeFan Sat 03-Aug-13 19:14:19

We're members. There's lots of places near us that have events on for children, which is perfect for DD (age 4). We've also found that people at NT places, whether volunteers or other visitors, are very welcoming of small children.

However, my mum has only 1 NT place within 25 miles so it's certainly not great for everyone. I agree that the cafes and shops are very expensive. We don't tend to use them.

We're doing the 11 3/4 thing. Obviously you're going to pretty patronised by rolling down a hill or making a daisy chain if you're already 10 but there's also "go on a nature walk at night, camp out in the wild, try rock climbing and hunt for fossils and bones", which might be more appropriate for older children.

Eyesunderarock Sat 03-Aug-13 19:14:41

I wish that the '50 things' initiative was obvious to all parents and that they did try and let their children experience most of them, but many don't.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodiam-castle/
Still a favourite}
But spend your money on things that you and your family will enjoy OP, and if the NT isn't one of them, that's your choice.
We're also members of English Heritage. grin

Sleepyhead33 Sat 03-Aug-13 19:17:04

I love our nearest NT property-Cliveden and have been to many more. Think it is a great value family membership and agree with a previous poster who mentioned many happy memories made there.
loads of evening/family events and the seasonal stuff is great. obviously if you aren't particularly near a property then it would be of limited use but I wouldn't be without our family membership.

oh yes and the food is pricey-and yes that is why we all take picnics in large baskets!

Morgause Sat 03-Aug-13 19:18:13

I loathe the Black Country Museum.

Historically inaccurate and the guides make it up as they go along. I'm so glad I'm semi retired and no longer have to take school trips there. It's awful. I much prefer Blists Hill, A Victorian Town with the best guides ever.

www.artfund.org/what-to-see/museums-and-galleries/blists-hill-victorian-town

I'm in the NT and have usually found them really good with children. When our DCs were young they used to love going to NT places. They are both still members (as are their partners). You get performance parents everywhere these days, with or without picnic baskets. I encountered one today in Tescos today encouraging dear Ermintrude (name changed as it's one I see a lot on here) to select the best fruit for tomorrow's picnic.

NT places I've been to lately had costumes for children to try on which I think it a lovely idea. The restaurants are a bit pricey but the big places usually have a cheaper café as well.

So you being very unreasonable.

Voodika Sat 03-Aug-13 19:20:02

I've often thought that the houses feel quite sad. Family had to leave and hand it all over to the National Trust.
The grounds are usually lovely but the houses are full of guides who frown at my children and tell us we are going the wrong way round their one way system.

I see your point (well most of them) and I think it perhaps depends where you live but for us membership is good. Individual entrance prices are expensive and so you feel you have to go for the whole day to make worthwhile which isn't ideal with young kids. I didn't very much before and I wouldn't now visit properties without the membership.

We live within a 30 minute drive of 2 or 3 properties with really lovely grounds. We often go just for a picnic, explore the woods type trip and don't actually go in the houses. Family membership means you can take any kids (there is probably a limit on numbers!) but that means I can take DD and a friend. Grounds tend to be much quieter than theme parks but they usually have some kind of trial/activity for the kids or they just like exploring anyway.

IcedTeaOneSugar Sat 03-Aug-13 19:23:22

We're members and get our money's worth every year, we visit NT properties at home and on holiday so we've seem a wide variety of different types of property (they're not all stately homes).

The food is expensive (hence picnic basket) but national trust blend tea is lovely so we always use the café for hot drinks.

Not sure what the purpose of the thread is though, you don't have to go and you certainly don't have to join, free country.

Itsnotahoover Sat 03-Aug-13 19:23:49

I've been considering membership as I finally have some weekends free and membership for me and ds is about £45 - it costs £20 for us to get into one place near us, so membership seems worthwhile!

Viviennemary Sat 03-Aug-13 19:24:45

The cafes are mostly dire unless you go at a quiet time when there's nobody in them. We are members but probably don't get our money's worth.

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