Am growing to love the National Trust

What is it in the head of a 60 years-old man that makes them want to join The National Trust? I’ve been aware of the Trust’s existence for as long as I can remember but only ever considered joining for the odd fleeting moment until I turned 60.

Is there a Government-controlled microchip in your head, perhaps a more benign version of the one that lockdown and vaccine conspirators, complain about that switches on the day you hit your seventh decade.

To be honest I’ve had my doubts about the National Trust since joining. They seemed rather too keen to close everything in lockdown 1.  Then when things reopened it took too long, to my mind, for their gardens to reawaken from their enforced hibernation.

And when they did you couldn’t get tickets for love nor money, the long-standing members who knew the ropes, seemed able to snap them up as soon as they were released.  Then there was all the controversy about the woke review of their properties’ colonial links.

Slowly but surely though I’m beginning to warm to them.  With this lockdown a new mindset seems to have taken root – perhaps stung by the recent criticism – it seems  that all the gardens including the takeaway cafes have remained open.

To my pleasure I’m learning that not all the sites are big stately homes – some are small, quirky, homely even and I like the fact that I can wander pretty much where I like.  OK, the buildings are still shut, though pleasingly some are opening this side of Christmas

Yesterday we went to Calke Abbey in a very pretty part of South Derbyshire we’ve barely explored before. It bills itself as the “un-stately home”, quite clever really how they make a virtue out of the fact it’s been left to fall into wrack and ruin.  This is how they sell it on the website:

“When the house was handed to the National Trust in 1985, many of its rooms had been abandoned for decades and were in a state of rapid decline. We’ve decided not to restore these rooms, but rather preserve them as they were found. 

Calke Abbey is the house where time stood still, vividly portraying a period in the twentieth century when many country houses did not survive to tell their story.  Rather than restoring Calke to its former glory, we’ve undertaken necessary repairs to halt the decay of the house and its collections.

As you wander through the mansion, you’ll discover abandoned rooms, peeling wallpaper and a vast collection of strange and unique objects – presented exactly as we found them.”

Now I’m trying to get Mrs Jones – who’s more of an urban wanderer preferring precinct pavements to muddy tracks, choosing the galleries of high fashion over those of high art – to appreciate these historic homes.

She’s getting there but at the tender age of 57 still has some years to go.  In three years when that mind microchip kicks in she’ll be at one with me and we’ll be National Trust devotees together like the proper old couple we will be.

Published by brianjonesdiary

Dad, husband, brother and son. Interested in travel, politics, sport, health and much more. Semi-retired and aiming to making the most of life as I approach my sixth decade.

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