In recent years, bank holidays have seen us pull up the drawbridge, hiding away at home to escape the hordes quite rightly out enjoying an extra day off.
It was different when the children were younger and we invariably set off to explore a new place or event.
But on Monday we turned back the clock after being summoned north . . . our daughter had the day off and was at a loose end; we were required to attend and entertain.
We headed off into the Yorkshire countryside and ended up at a very pretty National Trust property. However, we were quickly reminded why we now generally stay at home – it was just a few minutes after opening time when we arrived and already the main car park was full and the overflow car park was filling fast. Specially laid on Easter events had done their job and attracted lots of people. Unfortunately, that meant queues to get in, queues for the restaurant and a bit of a procession looking around the garden.
We joined the National Trust about 25 years ago, at St Michael’s Mount, in Cornwall; memorable because our toddler daughter managed to sit down fully clothed in the sea, filling her little red wellie boots with water.
Since then we’ve visited many splendid properties, but year on year we seem to have shared them with more and more people – a great success story for the NT, but not so for selfish folk like us who like to wander in relative solitude.
We love our local NT property but we do tend to avoid it on bank holidays and when it stages special events. We also rather resent the way it’s gradually being turned into a bit of a theme park with signs and information boards instructing us on how we should be enjoying the place.
But I suppose that’s part of the dichotomy faced by the National Trust – preserving and conserving properties and countryside while also allowing public access so they can be enjoyed, and attracting them in greater and greater numbers to pay for the upkeep.
Having had my moan, I have to say we’re still happy to pay our annual membership – what great value – and, as is usually the case, the NT still came up trumps on Monday and we were able to leave the Easter egg-hunting crowds behind by setting off to explore the lovely parkland around the house. Luckily, it seems bank holiday crowds don’t want to walk too far.