We have been members of the National Trust for years and years now and it is the best money we have ever spent as a family. Too many days out to possibly count as we go back to local places time and time again so it really is astonishingly good value especially for a big family like ours. I honestly can’t recommend it enough. We visited one of our very favourite places Beningbrough Hall yesterday and in between dodging the rain clouds, we had such a lovely day. It’s just outside York so not too far for us and a great way to spend an afternoon.
The play park had a bit of an overhaul a couple of years back and since then it has become really popular (which isn’t at all surprising!) but I have to say that busy parks are not my idea of fun. There always seems to be big groups of people taking over with their monster prams who are too busy gossiping to notice that their little darlings are waging war over the rope swings (sorry but you know the type!) Anyway we had a slow walk through while the little ones went on as many things as they possibly could and they were happy enough with that. The sprawling gardens at Beningbrough Hall are much quieter though and are looking amazing at the moment. Now they are definitely worth a long wander. Everything seems to be in full bloom right now and it was just beautiful.
The house itself is a large red brick Georgian mansion and it is one of those houses where I mentally move my furniture in. It’s basically my perfect house. Delusions of grandeur? Moi? Never. Ahem. There is lots to see and do though with many rooms restored to their former glory and bursting with history but lots of interactive stuff to get involved with too. For the children up in the attic rooms there is a play room and other rooms where you can dress up and create your own portraits. It’s really good fun and one of those places where I think the National Trust have got that balance of old and new just right.
Beningbrough Hall is home to over 100 portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery which is the bit that interests me the most. They have an amazing exhibition called Royals: Then and Now which is now in its final year but I’m so glad that I have got to see so many of the portraits while I can. I think we have visited maybe three of four times since the exhibition started last year and every time there has been a new portrait to see. (Mr Mostly has the patience of a saint taking me back time and again! Ha!) It was the Annie Leibowitz portrait of Queen Elizabeth that really blew me away on this visit though. Seeing it in person was really quite something. Even my teenager was awestruck. Not that she would admit it of course.
There was a time when I thought that our days out as a family were numbered as my teenagers were going through shall we say trickier years but actually, they still enjoy these days too. I think the secret is not dragging them on too many days out. Oh and the promise of an ice-cream. That still works on my sixteen and seventeen year old as well as it does on my seven and nine year old. Nothing like a Magnum to bridge that age gap.