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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?

PeppermintPasty Sat 03-Aug-13 19:27:54

YA so NBU.

We live in a place awash with NT properties and I was previously ok-ish about them.

BUT THEN....I had to apply to them for an easement to cross their land with a water pipe to get mains water to our home (long long story). This piece of land is farmed by my incredibly supportive old-school-farmer neighbour, and the land in question (the piece we needed to cross) is about 300 yards long.

We knew we'd have to pay some £££ for the privilege, plus costs of their surveyor and lawyer, and we know their argument is that they are a charity so must be seen to be whiter than white blah blah.

Anyhoo, we are not daft, neither is our neighbour. We knew that the market value for this operation (they had to consider the value added to OUR home by a mains water supply, plus the inconvenience (zero) to the tenant, our farmer friend) is around the 2-3k mark.

The grasping bastards wanted TEN GRAND from us plus all legals/surveying costs!!!!

Even my neighbour, who is their tenant, attended a meeting with their regional plonker representative at our house, and told them what he thought of them.

This man, to be fair, was pretty terrified of both of us.But this "negotiation" went on for over a year, during which time our well ran dry (huh, literally and figuratively), and as my farmer pointed out several times, we have very young children.

We eventually batted them down to 4k, it was a struggle,(but I was over the moon) plus costs.

To add insult to injury, once the agreement was there in theory, they took weeks of pushing to get it sorted.

Once it was completed, that same week I settled all the due invoices from them, only to receive a red letter from them the following month claiming I hadn't paid!!

As you might guess, I wish I had recorded the phone call that I made to their office after that smile

Sorry, just realised I might need therapy to properly get over this blush

wigglesrock Sat 03-Aug-13 19:27:58

We have a family membership, my Mum bought it for us when we had dd3 smile

We've really got our money's worth. The places we go to have great outdoor playgrounds, we don't do houses. Their cafes are terrible, expensive and not really what we are looking for. Our favourite beach is NT owned so saves us money parking.

I'm in NI, so to be honest not tripping over NT hotspots but the free entry into the Giants Causeway centre really works for us. I'm not overly fussed on National Trust as an organisation, but it is nice going to places the kids like without worrying about the entrance fee.

Bowlersarm Sat 03-Aug-13 19:28:05


We have made our money back time after time on our membership. Fantastic value for money. If you have small children they have space to run around. There is normally somewhere to picnic if you can't afford the cafe.

They need to make money or they won't survive. But what excellent value.


pussinwellyboots Sat 03-Aug-13 19:28:21

Today we've been to Arlington court in Devon. Our favourite part of the property is the wilderness area with stream - perfect for paddling and building dams - and mud slides down the steep banks! I wouldn't really know about the food prices as we take a picnic but from a quick glance they seem pretty similar to other touristy places with locally sourced nice food.
Earlier this week we visited a property near Birmingham where they had a visiting mini beasts roadshow - the ds's got to hold snakes, spiders etc all for free.
If its not your thing fair enough but for us membership is great value.

hiddenhome Sat 03-Aug-13 19:28:48

We go to the odd place when we're feeling posh, but prefer English Heritage because their places are more historic and interesting.

We visited Cragside Hall a few weeks ago and were quite bored blush

PeppermintPasty Sat 03-Aug-13 19:29:29

And English Heritage is miles better anyway so ner.

Caster8 Sat 03-Aug-13 19:30:06

I like them. They are nice and helpful too round here. My children are not so young now, so no problem that way! Like Eyesunderarock, if I wasnt a NT person when younger, I think I am turning into one now. smile

Caster8 Sat 03-Aug-13 19:31:16

I feel a NT clique coming on!

Caster8 Sat 03-Aug-13 19:31:44

Sorry quiche blush

Eyesunderarock Sat 03-Aug-13 19:32:27

I also like the way that we used to drop in for an hour's visit and then go.
No needing to do an entire day if we didn't feel like it, or if there was a specific thing we wanted to see or do.

pianodoodle Sat 03-Aug-13 19:32:45

We were always members growing up in N.Ireland as a lot of good places are NT also the beach we went to quite a lot.

In Gloucestershire now we got a membership this year as there was a deal on so we've got the money's worth already from not that many outings.

Don't go into the cafes either it's always a picnic.

A few of the stately homes I've been to round here weren't that great (I really just like nice gardens etc...) and it all felt a bit crusty but plenty of places have events for kids and Easter egg hunts etc...

We went to Warwick Castle (bloody expensive!) last year and it was the complete opposite. A happy medium between too crusty and too tacky would be nice smile

I did like the jousting though! And DD (then 1) bashed Dh's head in with a plastic mace.

BoffinMum Sat 03-Aug-13 19:33:54

If you dislike the NT just go to a stately home abroad to remind yourself how bloody boring and anti-child the whole experience used to be before our glorious UK heritage industry made it palatable. We visited the Residenz in Munich this summer, and despite the fact that I have lectured in history (briefly), and also run a stately home at one point, even I was bored to death and blinged out after half an hour, not to mention the rest of the family. And all those sour faced custodians barking at us if we so much as looked like we were going to lay a finger on the display cabinets! And having to surrender handbags even though there was nothing to nick as their room settings were about as basic as it was possible to be! And the absolute lack of context in the displays! And NO TEAS!! Seriously, enjoy the way it's all packaged up for us and the way we can saunter around these lovely places like we own them.

JollyHolidayGiant Sat 03-Aug-13 19:35:38

Scottish National Trust is definitely a bit different round here. The places are often pretty quiet. The grounds are amazing for walks and rarely charge entry, just parking. We have membership and it covers itself from parking alone.

We went to one today about 30 minutes away. There's another a 10 minute drive away that we go to at least monthly. We don't go in the houses often at the moment as we have a toddler and that's not really a good combination.

We went to a great property with amazing gardens in the Cotswolds when we were there on holiday. The fact that we get free entry to English national trust properties with our membership is lovely.

BeerTricksPotter Sat 03-Aug-13 19:36:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

capercaillie Sat 03-Aug-13 19:36:28

Membership is good value. We use them like service stations - some are v close to motorways and so much nicer to stop at for a run round and cup of coffee. I've been impressed recently with how welcoming some of the houses were for children and had things to keep them interested and amused.

The main reason I'm a member though is as a keen walker - they look after some really important and beautiful areas of thr country that I like to visit and walk round. Yes I could do that for free as many people do but I think it's important work that they're doing there.

Growlithe Sat 03-Aug-13 19:36:50

I suppose the point of the thread is more to gauge whether they are the same in terms of the attitudes of the staff/volunteers throughout the organisation, or have I just touched unlucky.

There aren't that many properties in our area, but when we pointed this out to one lady trying to sell us the membership she just wouldn't listen. She had such a hard sell I wouldn't be surprised if she ended up on The Apprentice, even though she could clearly see we had two DCs literally trying to drag us out to start exploring. Today's wasn't that bad, but the membership was still mentioned, even though we were using free tickets we got with our bank account.

guiltyconscience Sat 03-Aug-13 19:40:38

We went to Agatha Christie's house in Devon and had the misfortune to be
spoken 'at' by one horribly stuck up arsy woman who thought we were beneath her, she treated us like shit. So bad that I will never go back there and it's a real shame as we really liked the house and gardens and would have liked to become members, it has put us right off. Made me think the reputation the NT has for elitism is well deserved!

BeerTricksPotter Sat 03-Aug-13 19:40:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BadRoly Sat 03-Aug-13 19:42:09

Ok, I can't comment on the membership flogging and crazy pricing as my Dad bought us life family membership before he threw a 7. Flashing that little plastic card gets them curtsying and everything wink

Cafes - awful. Overpriced and the least child friendly lunch boxes I have ever found. But they do sell coffee and ice cream which is never a bad thing.

Picnics - well there are 6 of us so our picnics are always enormous and they are generally essential at NT because of the cafes...

Child friendliness - I cannot remember the last time I went into the actual house at a NT property, certainly with children. Mainly because I suspect they aren't ideal for children. We go to NT for a naice walk or a playground or parking (much of the coast here is NT carparking so free to members).

I'm on the phone so can't remember if there is anything else I need to answer from the op grin

Oh and I have English Heritage too (but not life sadly) because we live very near one of their castles and its good to go up there after school to blow the cobwebs away...

Caster8 Sat 03-Aug-13 19:43:57

Unlucky re staff.
The spread of properties is uneven. Where I live, we are inundated.
Hard sell - a bit mixed imo.
Membership does get mentioned a lot.

Procrastinating Sat 03-Aug-13 19:49:08

I just got back from Belton House. We are members but I still think YANBU.

I have three children and feel they are tolerated rather than welcomed in the houses. As we went in the gate today a volunteer person gave the middle aged couple in front of us a full range of choices of tours they could do, the volunteer then just gave me five stickers - no tours offered. I find this to be the general attitude of volunteers, who also wince when my children walk into a room, waiting for them to misbehave or touch something.

I don't like the activities they give children in the houses either, they stop children actually looking at things and talking about them. And yes OP, that their '50 things' is patronising rubbish, assuming that modern children just sit in front of screens.

I think membership is great though, we use the beach car parks & get practically free days out to different properties - we take our own food. The houses get me furious about inequality so I get the chance to rant on to the children, thus teaching them something(!) and we get to bond as a family because it is us against the miserable volunteers. Although some volunteers are actually nice I think we have more fun when they are not!

ShoeJunkie Sat 03-Aug-13 19:49:35

We're NT members and have been for many years. Now that DS is walking its great to take him to one of our local ones (we're lucky to have several nearby) as they have fantastic open spaces for him to charge around in. A couple of them also put out bats, balls etc too. We usually whizz round the house too.
As we're not paying for entry per se it doesn't matter if we only stay for an hour or so. And hopefully DS will come to appreciate the historical side in a few years too.

sweetestcup Sat 03-Aug-13 19:58:41

Well we don't do Stately homes or anything like that but are members of the NT Scotland and its worth it for Culzean country park alone, lovely park plus its right on the west coast Scotland so has a stunning small beach that we often picnic or BBQ on in the summer, never overcrowded like the main tourist beaches in Ayrshire because you obviously have to be a NT member or pay a lot of money to get into the park. Its so worth it and gorgeous. Plus we always take the boys at Easter to an Easter egg hunt.

specialsubject Sat 03-Aug-13 20:12:47

take a picnic.

most of the NT 'staff' are VOLUNTEERS. No excuse for rudeness but I think you may be being just a teeny-weeny bit oversensitive.

Membership usually worth it for five visits in a year. You don't go to a property with a garden just once - you visit regularly to see the seasonal changes. Obviously not much use to you if you don't have places nearby or have kids who aren't into any of the things you do at NT places.

happily it is a free country. Aren't we lucky?

Sparklingbrook Sat 03-Aug-13 20:16:41

I just think NT places are a bit 'crusty' for my two DC to be interested in. There's a lovely English heritage place locally, but the DC were more interested in the cake.

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