Tuesday, 17 July 2012

National Treasures...

Ickworth, Suffolk
 When we were planning our Farne Islands trip (which we are having "take 2" at shortly) our research reminded us that the Islands are owned by the National Trust, and as a result you pay landing fees to the trust on each island on arrival. We're talked before about joining the Trust, but never got around to it - now though, with fees totalling over £24 for that one trip alone, and joint membership available for £66, it seemed as good a time as any to join up. Since then we have been on a mission to get our moneys worth, visiting Wimpole Estate in Cambridgeshire, Ickworth (Suffolk) and most recently Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk.

Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk
 The membership was a lot of money to spend out in one go, for us, but by the time we discounted the landing fees for the Farne Islands (which we would have been spending anyway) and then bought through Cashback site TopCashBack (of course!) for a further £6.70 in cashback. Net cost to us £34.87 - which is pretty darned good! The Trust has over 500 properties across the country, ranging from stretches of coastline to the big houses and estates like those pictured above. The trust themselves reckon that for a couple joining up, you only have to visit an average of 4 chargeable properties to get your money's worth.

  As well as the houses to look around, a lot of these places have fantastic gardens to look at as well - the planting at Oxburgh Hall (above) was just breathtaking, and this was just one small area. Another advantage if you're visiting places like the Lake District is that you can park for free in the Trust's car parks. They send you a car sticker for your windscreen, and you can simply ask to get another one for a second vehicle - easy! If we return to the Lakes next year this will save us a fortune in car parking fees as the car parks up there are fiercely expensive!

Another advantage of NT properties is that they tend to do mighty fine tea & cake! We often treat ourselves - but for occasions when the budget won't stretch most places provide picnic areas, either in the carpark or the grounds.

For further information on the trust, and the places I've mentioned, take a look at their website The National Trust - if you're looking for a source of entertainment, with added educational benefits for kids, then for around £5.50 per month, you can't got too far wrong!


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