Since Christmas, we struggled with viral illness, my asthma got pretty out of control and most weekends and weeks were spent inside since one or all of us were in varying degrees of being under the weather. This was – to put it mildly – not much fun.
Yesterday was the first day this year that all of us felt well and we finally went outside. Not a big adventure, but as my daughter put it: The wind was blowing around our heads. And sometimes that is all that you need.
We went to Croome, a National Trust place in Worcestershire, mainly because the husband wanted to look at the landscape painting exhibition they have on and also, I quite like visiting Croome at various times in the year. I followed the development of Croome since the house was purchased in 2007 and became part of the National Trust. It has become interlinked with all the memories of the kid growing up (she was born at the end of 2006) and we have visited that place countless times over the last 12 years.
It has been fun to see how the National Trust develops a place for access. Now, I do know that a lot of criticism is thrown at the Trust in how they do things, but personally, I appreciate that they maintain these places and not everything becomes luxury flats for rich people. And yes, a lot more should and can be done in exhibits to show where the money for these houses (mostly slave trade) came from, after all: for some people to be idle in luxury, loads of people have to suffer. Still, I enjoyed witnessing the changes at Croome, the re-establishing of parkland, more access and longer walks opening, the house opening and different exhibitions being held.
As we walk through the grounds, my mind wanders back: Here at the Greenhouse, the kid and I had a picnic when she was three on a super blustery day when I just had to get out of the house (my motto for parenting has always been: if in doubt, go out) and it ended up with her not wanting to leave that greenhouse, we stayed ages in there and since it was an average autumn day, we were the only people pretty much on the entire estate, something that sadly never happens these days anymore. Croome has become super popular. I also think back to outings with friends that now live far away and how we shared chocolate cookies at the viewing bench and well, enjoyed the view. All those pinecones we collected and painted back home. How each year, there seem to be more snowdrops, multiplying like all the visitors that now flock to visit.
Still, there are still places where you can be almost alone, the longer walks are not done by the crowds, like most places, the car park and tea room are the busiest places here. In my mind, I split National Trust visitors into three categories. The ones who come for the tearoom (nothing wrong with that, we like cake, too). The ones who want to tick the house of a list and come in their Sunday best. And then those who make a day of it, bring a picnic and explore every inch.
We fall into the latter category. We no longer go as frequently as we did when the kid was younger, but we still like to go now and then and when we holiday somewhere in the UK (which we do a lot), we like to visit new to us places. But mostly, these days, the National Trust just makes me nostalgic. I can honestly say that the local to me National Trust places (Croome, Hanbury Hall, Clent Hills, Kinver Edge, Wightwick Manor etc. etc.) were brilliant for us when the kid was growing up. And I realise my privilege here, not everyone can afford membership or even have the means for getting to these places, which I acknowledge, but for me this was just brilliant. A day out to a National Trust place was always a good one for us, we came home mucky, tired, all picnicked out. Thanks to the fact that I can take additional children with us, many of the kid’s friends joined in the fun during school holidays over the years. Some of them had never been to a place like this. So many memories are linked to these places, memories of all seasons, in the rain, in the wind, in the glorious sunshine that we occasionally get. Making dens, exploring…
Now that the kid is 12, we explore differently for the most part, so going to a National Trust place is no longer the thing we think of first. She can hike longer distances and we like to find routes where we will encounter few people but lots of nature. Before you get jealous of the hiking kid though: She will complain, too. She is 12 and as much as she likes exploring, she also complains about the length, adverse weather, the wrong snacks, not enough breaks.
What a meandering ramble this post is. I think I shall leave it here, clearly our visit to Croome has got me thinking many thoughts. This is another reason why I like going outside: It gives my brain fodder and stops it from looping in the same spiral (which is usually only downward).