Five years ago we signed up to National Trust membership in a car park somewhere in Cornwall. We were swayed by the promise of days out and free car parking. Last year we let it lapse. Did we make the right decision?
We started off with great intentions. During our first year of membership we visited the properties local to us, and took advantage of free parking at a nearby beauty spot. However, over the years we realised we were forcing ourselves to visit places we wouldn’t normally go, just so that we could benefit from the NT membership. We’re not that keen on historic houses, so we’d tend to only visit the gardens or surrounding woodland, and quite often this would have free access via public footpaths.
Additionally I can’t help thinking we’ve either grown out of, or are too young, for their target markets. Last week I took advantage of the free NT entry offer and visited The Vyne, partly to see whether our decision was right. It was full of families with toddlers, all having a great time. The other visitors appeared to be retired. Our kids, being at primary school, still enjoyed themselves but we seemed a bit out of place amongst the other visitors.
So last year we didn’t renew. I still feel guilty about this. Primarily because I know the membership goes towards preserving these historic homes and and the countryside. As a lover of the great outdoors I feel almost obliged to support this cause. But with the family membership now costing almost £100 per year I think it’s the right decision. It’s a luxury we’re going to do without from now.
Maybe we’ll find ourselves strangely drawn to membership again in 20 years time!