I’ve been a member of the National Trust for all my life, initially as part of my parents’ Family Membership, later as a Young Person in my own right and then as an Individual Adult member. When Ian and I moved in together, I added him to my membership and when Thomas is old enough to no longer be free, we’ll get our very own Family Membership. I have lots of fond memories of time spent in National Trust gardens and properties as a child, and it’s lovely to be able to start recreating those times with my own child, especially when we have so many wonderful places literally on our doorstep here in Kent. It’s a membership I’m happy to keep up no matter how much or how little we use it each year, as preserving the rich heritage of our country is something I believe passionately in. That said, we’ve already had a lot of value from this year’s membership, with trips to more than half a dozen places, and a saving of £7.50 on the cost of parking at the beautiful National Trust owned Mill Bay beach in Devon. It’s lovely to know that there are lots of fabulous days out within easy reach and with nothing further to pay for them once our annual direct debit payment has gone.
The weekends since we got back from our holiday in Devon (which I still haven’t written about, owing largely to my computer failure) have been chock full with garden renovations, visiting family and having family visit here and we hadn’t had a “family day out” for the three of us since we got back. So this weekend, with the weather looking good, we decided to make use of our membership and visit nearby Bodiam Castle.
Described on the National Trust Website as:
Archetypal 14th century moated castle with ruined interior – a glimpse of medieval splendour
Bodiam truly does look like the kind of castle your seven-year-old self would draw, with turrets, battlements and slit windows from which you can imagine arrows being fired at the enemy. You’re met at the entrance by “murder holes” through which boiling oil could be poured on to any intruders below. Sadly the original bridge and drawbridge are long gone, but there is a working trebuchet which is fired in to the moat daily.
Thomas had a huge amount of fun exploring all the nooks and crannies, windows, fireplaces and toilets within the castle walls, and unlike at a lot of National Trust stately homes, there is nothing which can be easily broken or damaged by curious little explorers (and not-so-little explorers too, as you’ll see in the bottom right photo, below), so it’s an ideal place to visit with inquisitive toddlers.
Of course, the trains came too!
We took a picnic to enjoy in the vast grounds, where there are plenty of trees for shade. Picnics seem to be a real hit with Thomas this summer, and he invariably eats a lot more, and is more likely to try new things, if we are all sitting on a rug in the great outdoors rather than sitting around a table at home. He also enjoyed chasing the ducks around and pushing his own pushchair!
Perhaps the biggest highlight of all for Thomas, however, was the proximity to the Kent and East Sussex Railway which has a station in Bodiam. For our train obsessed toddler, the frequent toots and chuffs of the trains across the countryside were mesmerising. It looks like one of our next family days out will have to be a trip along that line!