We visited beaches, towns, woods, parks, pools, rivers... and it felt like we were doing our own mini gap year inter-railing; venturing to far flung places - but making sure we were back in time for tea.
Many of the places we visited - and continue to visit - are owned by The National Trust. Let me start by saying this; I am so proud of The National Trust, that I am feeling a tiny bit teary as I write. This, I know, is pathetic. Stupid woman. But they deserve so much praise. They need people to shout from the (Lakeland) hills about them because what they do is so EFFINGLY GOOD.
See if these facts make you eye leak a bit:
1. Gravity was discovered ON THEIR LAND! The apple tree is RIGHT HERE!
2. They are the Nation's largest farmers, owning over 600,000 acres of land.
3. They are HUGE. The only organisation to have a larger membership in the UK is the AA. (I know! Weird!)
4. They have over 60,000 volunteers, including firefighters, pilots, bee keepers and shepherds. Pilots!
5. They do fabulous conservation projects - including re-introducing the Large Blue butterfly to the UK, which was pronounced extinct in 1979.
6. One of their wardens LIVES IN A CAVE!
And 7. On a personal note, they offer a 'single parent family' membership. Now most organisations will offer a 2 adults, 2 children type deal - which is great. But ironically, when you're a single parent and money is tight, it is very rare to be offered any sort of money-saving deal. The National Trust do this, and by gum by jimminy, it really means a lot.
So thank you.
I am lucky enough to live in The West Country, a National Trust stronghold. On my doorstep are the lovely Lacock, where some of the Harry Potter films were shot;
You know when you watch a film that works on many levels, and can keep adults and children transfixed at the same time? National Trust properties are like that. They are the Despicable Me of the 'day trip' world. They provide the perfect antidote to playing with lego and trains and Sylvanian families; you all have a good time. Adults can admire the architecture, the planting, the views, the culture, the history - kids can run around and eat ice cream. And fall asleep in the car on the way home, dribbling.
Well done, The National Trust. We are lucky to have you.