Parenting Fail at The National Trust

national trust 1So last week we went to Cornwall. This is how much I love Cornwall – when The Husband and I went to South Africa we climbed to the top of Table Mountain (yep, really climbed, stop snickering), stopped, caught our breath and looked around. ‘It’s gorgeous here.’ We said, ‘looks just like Cornwall.’

So it was with great excitement that I noticed that while we were there The National Trust were doing a free open weekend on their properties. Now obviously, being in possession of a toddler I was mildly concerned at exactly how much he would enjoy traipsing round an old building which contained neither balloons nor pictures of Batman, however I was reliably informed that The National Trust is now very family friendly. There was an adventure playground there. The advertising showed a picture of small children playing idyllically in the bluebells. The fact that the children were also wearing Victorian dress should have rung an alarm bell. It didn’t. Oops.


parenting fail at the National Trust

Because the thing is all families want to do Family Days Out. Where we all behave at least vaguely well, and we go and do something nice and our kids eat something other than chips and we manage not to have a heart attack over the cost of a cup of tea and a slice of Victoria sandwich. It means that we are doing parenting properly, right?! I even planned it properly. Checked the weather report, no rain until 12. So we would arrive at Lanhydrock at 10, go play on the adventure playground, take a wander through the gardens, taking some nice photos on the way, over priced lunch at 12 evened out by free entrance and then back in the car at 1 for the toddler to have his Bang On Time nap.

The Husband, being a preacher and all that, does like to remind me occasionally with a raised eyebrow that God loves a planner, by which I presume he means to add ‘and will also remind you politely never to plan anything sensibly ever again.’
national trust 3

So of course by the time we arrive The Toddler has just fallen asleep in the car and is not happy about the move into a buggy. And it’s starting to rain, two hours before planned, damn you BBC weather forecast.  So, like any sensible parents, we decide to go straight to the cafe, hide from the weather and try to calm The Toddler with some cake to share between the three of us. Have you spotted the stupid mistake there? Still, gotta love getting your child’s leftovers, eh?

The Toddler, still being a bit snoozy, decided that with his cake stuffed tummy he would then be happy to sit in his buggy for a bit while we looked at the house and avoided the rain. An unexpected result! So we make it to the front door and discover…a no buggys sign. Now, I appreciate that stately homes don’t really come with elevators but could not we be given the option of just wheeling round the ground floor? Or did the buggy park really need to be up a flight of steps, meaning we had to first evict The Toddler from aforementioned comfy buggy in the rain and then lug it up the steps? Is it really such an out there thought to put a ramp there?

But more joy was to come. I know. After making our way in The Toddler is handed a piece of paper in which he can ‘write’ down all the places he sees toy trains around the house. This, we are informed, will be fun for him.

national trust 2 Room one. We find the train. ‘Look lovely boy!’ We cry, ‘a toy train!’

‘Choo choo train!’ Replies The Toddler, reaching for it.

‘Oh, but you can’t touch it, sweetheart, it’s not ours. It’s just to look at.’

Reader, would you like to guess what happened next? Because in fairness, The Toddler is pretty well behaved, but imagine it this way. You are tired, your small child demands you go to soft play. You grump slightly but your child informs you that it’s ok, because if you climb up the bumpy steps, over the rope bridge and through the ball pool there will be a ruddy large glass of Shiraz and some chocolate biscuits from Waitrose. You get there, sniff the wine and oh no, your child says, their not for you to touch! You can just look at them, now lets go look at some Rioja that you can’t drink either.

I know how I’d react to that, and in fairness it’s not far off my child’s reaction. And I don’t have the excuse of being two.

The rest of Lanhydrock is somewhat a blur of trying to pacify a small child, small child sitting down to do drawings (you know, because he can’t actually write yet) in small rooms full of tourists who foolishly don’t appreciate his artistic genius, some tears and The Husband (you know, The Preacher) emitting a few choice phrases that I’m pretty certain aren’t in The Osbourne Book of First Words. We left before the end.

So that was our day out at The National Trust! As we left The Husband turned to me and said ‘let’s never come here again’ so we avoided the rainy adventure playground and set sail for somewhere else, preferably somewhere where The Toddler could be his normal super-hero self and not something out of a Victorian picture postcard ideal.


  1. Mel
    30th April 2013 / 8:20 pm

    Oh dear!! Poor you. We had this at Beaulieu. Poured down, epic tantrum in the oh so quiet cafe where I was fleeced 16 quid for a kids jacket and tuna, a sandwich, 2 coffees and a muffin that Jason and I shared then we had to abandon our buggy in the rain in the porch of the manor house. Adam ran wild throughout and across the roped off area where a very nice posh lady was singing Victorian carols!

    Lets stick to the fun factory eh lol!!

    • Kate
      1st May 2013 / 11:42 am

      Hey, lotta bad things said about soft play but at least no one complains if your child gets a bit loud or wild!! 🙂

  2. 30th April 2013 / 8:35 pm

    Oh that’s a pity. We have been members of National Trust since before our boys were born.


    Really. There’s no need.

    However you can have hours of fun walking through the grounds and they quite often have family trails outdoors.

    My eldest is now 7 and becoming more interested in the houses now. We went to one with priest holes last weekend.

    My four year old however ran around the garden with a large stick shouting ” I’m going to shoot everybody dead” which ruined the bourgeois idyll somewhat.

    • Kate
      1st May 2013 / 11:40 am

      That sounds pretty much like what would happen to me 😉 My plan was to stay far away from the house but I can’t do adventure playgrounds in the rain, sob… Hate to say it but it did make me appreciate soft play!!

    • Kate
      1st May 2013 / 11:39 am

      Lol, glad I’m not the only one! Makes me feel much better about it 🙂

  3. 1st May 2013 / 9:13 am

    I remember these times well!!, the boys are not much better now, they still get bored and who’d blame them but we did enjoy a trip to Sandringham last summer and the boys did take some interest but the price of tea and cake!! so there is some hope, you know in these last few years hubby and I have learnt that a picnic on the beach in Norfolk is great especially when as you get back to your accommodation the kids are whacked and sleep and you can hare the Waitrose chocolate biscuits and wine in a fairly civilized way 🙂

    • Kate
      1st May 2013 / 11:39 am

      It’s all about the waitrose biscuits these days 😉

  4. 2nd May 2013 / 9:32 am

    I had to read a bit of that out to the Hybrid Handmade Husband! The bit with the train! So funny….although, not at the time I’m sure.

    • Kate
      2nd May 2013 / 6:26 pm

      Aww, glad it made you smile 😀

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