National Trust Family Friendly feedback thread NOW CLOSED

(49 Posts)
AngelieMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 15-Oct-13 12:49:26

This thread is for the 44 Mumsnetters who visited a National Trust location with their families. As part of the National Trust's MN Family Friendly membership (for more info see: www.mumsnet.com/family-friendly/nt), we asked MN Insight panel members to visit these specific properties to report back on how Family Friendly they were.

Here's what National Trust say: "Were really keen that families visiting our places feel welcomed, and free to enjoy themselves. Thats why we have come up with our family friendly standards. Your feedback will help us to understand how were doing and whether were missing any opportunities. Thank you very much for taking the time to do this for us and we hope you enjoy your visit!"

Below are a few feedback questions for you to answer - if you have any more comments, please feel free to add them to your response.

- Which NT property did you visit? And who was in your group?

- What was the weather like when you visited?

- Were the whole family welcomed into the property?

- Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs?

- If you needed to use the baby changing facilities, was it possible for either a Mum or a Dad to change their child in at least one of the bathrooms/ changing stations on-site?

- Did you notice any breastfeeding friendly signs displayed around the property?

- Are there family friendly things the property could make more of?

- Do you have any suggestions for improvements?

- Overall what is your familys general impression of the NT offer for families?

All selected testers who adds a comment to this thread (and who complete the feedback form which was emailed to you) will be entered into a prize draw where one winner will receive a £100 National Trust gift voucher.

Thanks and good luck with the prize draw!

MNHQ

PS If you're not yet part of our Insight Panel you can sign up here

mummyofcutetwo Tue 15-Oct-13 16:01:41

- Which NT property did you visit?
Gibside

- Were the whole family welcomed into the property?
Yes, staff in the reception booth were great. Very welcoming and happy to talk with my chatty 5yo.

- Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs?
We went to an apple event and it was great. The volunteers running the stalls really got my 5yo DS involved. He loved just having the space and freedom to run around the grounds too.

- If you needed to use the baby changing facilities, was it possible for either a Mum or a Dad to change their child in at least one of the bathrooms/ changing stations on-site?
There was one toilet cubicle with a baby change table in the ladies toilets, and I believe there was one in the gents too, but I don't know for sure.
The changing table was far too low to use.

- Did you notice any breastfeeding friendly signs displayed around the property?
I didn't see any such signs at all, and I looked around the cafe to check. I did breastfeed in there about a year ago and didn't feel wholly comfortable doing it due to attitudes of other customers, but I can't say how it is now as DS2 is weaned.

- Are there family friendly things the property could make more of?
Higher changing tables. Parent and child parking spaces - or wider bays in general - as it was nigh on impossible getting DS2 out of the car. Trails or quiz sheets, as DS1 loves them!

- Do you have any suggestions for improvements?
There was one rude member of staff who almost ruined what had been an almost perfect visit. We could have done without that!

- Overall what is your familys general impression of the NT offer for families?
It's expensive to buy annual membership but once you've got it it makes for a number of great days out for the family with plenty of choice of places to visit.

- Which NT property did you visit?
Upton House

-Were the whole family welcomed into the property?
Yes and no. We arrived just as it opened and the staff seemed a bit surprised to see us.

- Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs?
No. There was a trail through the woods and some info on the house but my five year old was a bit old for the trail and the seven year old said it was 'boring, like being at school' (she's a precocious madam though!)

- If you needed to use the baby changing facilities, was it possible for either a Mum or a Dad to change their child in at least one of the bathrooms/ changing stations on-site?

Didn't need to - my daughter said the loos were very clean.

- Did you notice any breastfeeding friendly signs displayed around the property?

Nope

- Are there family friendly things the property could make more of?
A climbing frame outside in the grounds would make it very much more family friendly!

- Do you have any suggestions for improvements?

Nope.

- Overall what is your familys general impression of the NT offer for families?

It's great, but my kids are the wrong age. I'd wanted to try upton for ages but unless it's spring and the daffs are in flower there is little to stimulate my kids (or me actually). But the NT do have some other places which are really good for kids.

Hawkmoth Tue 15-Oct-13 18:48:29

- Which NT property did you visit?
Lyme Park

- Were the whole family welcomed into the property?
Absolutely. From the man on the car gate to the shop staff, everyone was friendly and chatty.

- Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs?
Yes, both inside and outside. However, we didn't make much use of the playground due to poor weather.

- If you needed to use the baby changing facilities, was it possible for either a Mum or a Dad to change their child in at least one of the bathrooms/ changing stations on-site?
They were separate to the toilet and very clean, used by DH with no complaints.

- Did you notice any breastfeeding friendly signs displayed around the property?
No, and I did look.
I breastfed my baby in the cafe with no problems, even though she was pretty shouty. I had a look in the feeding station which was a bit odd. A very small room with a sink, kettle, microwave and an uncomfortable-looking folding chair. This was quite close to the toilets and I detected a whiff of urine, but I wouldn't consider feeding my baby shut away from the rest of my family anyway.

- Are there family friendly things the property could make more of?
Maybe more treasure hunt type sheets for the children (I'm sure I saw a boy with one but we weren't offered).

- Do you have any suggestions for improvements?
The soft drinks in the cafe were eye-wateringly expensive and only one of our DC could be convinced to have a cup of tea at a lower price!

I asked DD and she said the indoor picnic area was too cold and dark, but couldn't think of anything else. She loves looking round old properties and at artefacts so she had a marvellous time.

- Overall what is your familys general impression of the NT offer for families?
It's fantastic. All the volunteers were friendly and very enthusiastic. Combine the house with the opportunity for the DC to run wild in the woods and grounds and you can't go wrong.

JimbosJetSet Tue 15-Oct-13 19:53:16

We visited Cliveden.

Yes we were made very welcome - every member if staff we encountered without exception was friendly, helpful and knowledgeable, and they were friendly towards the children too.

Yes, there were age appropriate activities for the children - what there was was geared more towards older children (mine are 3&1) but there was certainly enough to keep them entertained.

Yes, both the men's and women's toilets had baby change facilities.

I didn't notice any breast feeding signs but I would have felt comfortable feeding the baby had I needed to.

We were given an information leaflet/map when we arrived - which was great - but it wasn't obvious from looking at it initially which bits we should head for if looking for family friendly activities.

Children's cutlery and activities in the cafe would have been good. Something like a sand pit would have been a good addition to the playground for the younger visitors.

Overall we were very impressed. We went with some trepidation, as we didn't think there would be enough to keep the children entertained - I wouldn't have previously thought of NT properties as a good place to take small children. But we were happily surprised and would recommend this particular site to other families.

Which NT property did you visit?
Erddig

Were the whole family welcomed into the property?
Yes, me, my mum, and ds (2.6 years) felt welcomed and included. Staff were knowledgeable and had suggestions to keep ds amused.

Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs?
Yes - I assumed the main house would be boring for ds and a bit nerve wrecking ensuring he didn't run past ropes or touch things but he was engrossed in finding the teddy bear hidden in each room. The gardens were great to run around and I think the ducks enjoyed being chased hmm. There was a slightly hidden "wolf's den" which was probably aimed at older children (adventure course/wig wam building) but my ds loved it and even had a go at building a wigwam with MASSIVE tree branches! There was much more for him to enjoy than I was expecting.

If you needed to use the baby changing facilities, was it possible for either a Mum or a Dad to change their child in at least one of the bathrooms/ changing stations on-site?
I saw signs to changing facilities in disabled toilets but didn't need to use them

Did you notice any breastfeeding friendly signs displayed around the property? No, and I am always on the lookout for them as a bf peer supporter.

Are there family friendly things the property could make more of? Better advertise the "wolfs den" - none of my inlaws, who are local and all have age appropriate children knew about it.

Do you have any suggestions for improvements?
Staff/signs should make it clear that children can borrow the binoculars at the entrance. Not sure if there is enough warning to parent with tiny babies that they will need to bring a sling if going in the house? For older babies the staff offered hip seats for parents to use to carry their babies/toddlers around the house. I thought this was a nice touch.

I checked both cafe's but couldn't see any high chairs or baby/toddler cutlery etc... pots of crayons and paper also always welcome at a cafe.

Overall what is your familys general impression of the NT offer for families?
The costs is quite high but a good run around the property and grounds thoroughly wore my son out and gave us all a good nights sleep so in that sense i would be happy to pay anything! The site we visited had a lot more to offer children of all ages than I realised, and it wasn't even half term. Unfortunately there are very few NT properties near me so membership probably wouldn't be something I would consider.

Nigglenaggle Thu 17-Oct-13 20:29:41

- Which NT property did you visit? And who was in your group?
Hardwick Hall. Heavily pregnant mum, dad and 20month old son

- Were the whole family welcomed into the property?
Absolutely. We felt quite uncomfortable because we were clearly very disruptive to the other guests (DS has discovered echoes recently and there were lots of those to shout at!!), but the staff and volunteers really tried hard to make us feel welcome.

- Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs?
Not that many really. There were books and puppets in one room but most activities were aimed at older children. However in fairness, we remember the days before we had children and appreciate the needs of the people who want to go and study the history of the house - we don't expect the inside of a stately home to be massively toddler friendly - he's just at a difficult age. We did plan to go back again after the birth for a retest as will cross my due date before the 'mystery shop' is finished, but definitely won't brave the house again. Might pop back to the gardens if things are going well. DS enjoyed the autumn leaves in the gardens and just a general run around. Gardeners were friendly and fascinated him.

- If you needed to use the baby changing facilities, was it possible for either a Mum or a Dad to change their child in at least one of the bathrooms/ changing stations on-site?
We didn't need them and I forgot to look, although I meant to. The toilets were on the way out of the house and we were just keen to get him somewhere less disruptive!!

- Did you notice any breastfeeding friendly signs displayed around the property? No and I went into the cafe specifically to check. They do offer to puree any of the meals for babies though, which I thought was a nice gesture. Theres a stone gazebo in a corner of the garden with benches that would be a nice, secluded place to breastfeed.

- Are there family friendly things the property could make more of? I don't think making the house toddler friendly is necessarily a realisitc aim!! But theres loads of room outside and it would be nice to have some sort of outdoor adventure play area. That would probably tip us over into buying membership as we live really close. I've seen lovely areas in other NT properties. There were nature activity sheets available in the entry that would be great if he was older, and I know they run plenty of activities, again, for older children.

- Do you have any suggestions for improvements? The car park is a long, long walk from the house if you are heavily pregnant! There are disabled spaces closer but maybe some family spaces would be nice. There is also a shuttle car running to the house but it wasn't clear how you requested this.

- Overall what is your familys general impression of the NT offer for families? It sounds good. We have several friends who are NT family members and understand the appeal. LOVE the 50 things - brilliant idea for older children. For us, there aren't currently properties we would visit regularly enough locally to make it worthwhile.

Nigglenaggle Thu 17-Oct-13 20:33:24

Oh, and also second prettyprudence above - some sort of paper and pens or activity packs would be welcome in the cafe, even if there was a small charge. Didn't see any although we didn't stop to eat.

treaclesoda Sat 19-Oct-13 16:27:47

Which NT property did you visit? And who was in your group?
Castle Ward. Group consisted of mum, dad, a seven year old and a one year old

Were the whole family welcomed into the property?
Yes, we were all made to feel welcome.

Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs?
Yes, we visited on one of the days of the Scarecrow and Pumpkinfest. There were trails around the grounds for the older children to find scarecrows in various places. Our seven year old would have enjoyed it, but actually there was so much else to see and do that we didn't actually have time to do it. Loads of other children were enjoying it though. If the event had not been on, there were still things of interest in the courtyard area, the Victorian playroom for example.

If you needed to use the baby changing facilities, was it possible for either a Mum or a Dad to change their child in at least one of the bathrooms/ changing stations on-site?
This was the low point of our visit. We were unable to find baby changing facilities anywhere on site. I'm sure they exist somewhere, but we just couldn't find them. We even stopped some other parents of small children (there were hundreds of people there that day, large numbers of whom were pushing buggies) and asked if they knew where they were, but no one that we asked could find them either. Very poor.

Did you notice any breastfeeding friendly signs displayed around the property?
We didn't notice anything like this at all.

Are there family friendly things the property could make more of?
Its a really good property because it has so much to offer, its much more than just a big house. It was lovely because on this particular day we were able to see around the house just by wandering round the rooms which were open, whereas on a standard day it has to be by guided tour. I understand the reasoning behind the guided tour, less staff needed, but in reality the guided tours can be boring for children. It was great to be able to just spend ten minutes taking a quick peek in each room, instead of an hour looking at everything in detail. Would it be possible for there to be more days when you can freely visit the house? Once a month, or once every six weeks maybe? Then families with smaller children might be able to enjoy the actual house rather than just the grounds.

Do you have any suggestions for improvements?
The toilet facilities could do with improvement. They were difficult to find (and in the case of baby changing, impossible to find) and whilst they were not dirty as such, they were cold and unwelcoming, and not particularly pleasant. A bit of investment in toilet facilities would make a huge difference to the overall visitor experience.

Overall what is your familys general impression of the NT offer for families?
I think the NT have a lot to offer families. From my childhood, I seem to remember NT properties being mostly about historical houses, but now when I take my own children to visit, its so much more than that.

notso Sat 19-Oct-13 21:26:04

Which NT property did you visit and who was in your group?
Erddig Hall. Myself, DH, DD 13, DS1 9, DS2 2.10, DS3 18 months.

Were the whole family welcomed into the property?
Yes mostly, it took a looooonng time for the man at the desk to understand our tickets. Although he was lovely other people in the queue were getting a bit 'tutty'. DS2 was allowed to borrow some binoculars which he was pleased with. We were given leaflets about the hall, a map and a leaflet for the Wolfs Den.

Were there age appropriate activities for your DC?
Yes, we didn't actually go into the house as we had walked so were incredibly muddy and DS3 was asleep in the pram which we couldn't take into the house. There were teddy bears for DS2 to find if we had gone in. There was a room were you could dress up. We could have borrowed a mini beast kit as well as the binoculars. The ground were amazing, all my DC enjoyed running around even Dd who was a bit sceptical joined in hide and seek. The Wolfs Den was brilliant, even though it was pouring with rain they loved messing around climbing on logs and trying to build a den to keep dry.

if you needed to use the baby changing facilities was it possible for either a Mum or Dad to change their child in at least one of the toilets/changing stations on site?
Yes, had two nappies to change, the room we used was for anyone to use, it was pretty well equipped. There was a fold down changing table, a changing mat to put on it if you wished though both were a bit grubby. There was a step for little ones to reach the sink and plenty of soap. Paper towels to clean the mat and table with would have been welcome.

Did you notice any breast feeding friendly signs displayed anywhere around the property?
Sadly no.

Are there family friendly things the property could make more of?
Looking at a time table of events there are lots of child centred special weekends etc which is great however they tend to be a bit samey. The Easter hunt is the same every year. It would have been nice to have an age appropriate pack with all the features/activities suitable for your child. We just wandered around seeing bits and bobs to interest them and probably missed bits out.

Do you have any suggestions for improvements?
While the cafe we went in (there are three) had plenty of highchairs, they had plastic cups for children but the woman didn't know they were there and gave us take away cups for our boys drinks. There were half portions of all the adult meals if you wished except cottage pie! I found the sandwiches expensive and didn't see any children's ones. I was sad to see there was a sign saying they didn't deem any food suitable for people with nut allergies this mean't DS2 couldn't have anything. DD had a hair in her hot chocolate.
Children's drinks were expensive a child sized hot chocolate would have been welcome. Crayons etc in the cafe as others said.
As I mentioned above packs for children would be a good idea. I think a partnership with Horrible Histories would really appeal to older children.
I appreciate the toilets are in outbuildings but they were all a bit cobwebby and not the cleanest.

Overall what is your family's general impression of the NT offer for families.
We think the NT are working hard to encourage families. I think they need to mix it up a bit with their events. I still feel the admission prices and cafe/gift shop prices are alienating. My older two DC feel that NT is still mostly for older people or school trips.

TiggyD Sun 20-Oct-13 10:36:41

I'd like to focus on just one aspect of my visits to National Trust properties. (It also applies to most big tourist attractions.)

I take my own food with me now because of the extravagantly priced and over poncy crap you sell in your cafes and kiosks. A sandwich is a simple thing to make. An egg sandwhich is bread, egg, butter, mayonnaise, and salt/pepper. In Tesco you can buy them for about £1.30. In a tourist attraction such as an NT one you're looking at double that, at least. It would often be cheaper to buy a whole pack of bread, 6 eggs, and a pack of butter, than to buy a single sandwich from you. Are you trying to keep low income people out of your lovely properties? If you're unable to make sandwiches that are affordable, why not just send somebody to Tesco in the morning to buy theirs?
It's not just sandwiches. Why do you pick the fancy middle class version of everything? Why are all the crisps the expensive Tyrell's ones? Why is all the cola Fenitmans?
Please can you sell a variety of things for a variety of prices for a variety of visitors. National Trust, not The Middle Class Trust.

Nigglenaggle Sun 20-Oct-13 21:01:40

OMG this may be distracting the thread in which case I'm very sorry but finally found someone who feels the same about crisps and can't believe it!! Sodding Tyrells!!! Give me a pack of hula hoops anyday! They're crisps dammit! They are never going to be either a healthy or luxury item!!! And posh cola - still tastes like cola.

welshmum80 Mon 21-Oct-13 09:39:55

- Which NT property did you visit? And who was in your group?

Llanarchaeon with one adult and a one year old

- Were the whole family welcomed into the property?

Yes, very warm welcome.

- Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs?

Too small to really take part in activities, she liked the animals though!

- If you needed to use the baby changing facilities, was it possible for either a Mum or a Dad to change their child in at least one of the bathrooms/ changing stations on-site?

Very impressed with the changing facilities, unisex.

- Did you notice any breastfeeding friendly signs displayed around the property?

Sadly not. I am not sure where you could breastfeed apart from the cafe, so maybe they can put one up in there?

- Are there family friendly things the property could make more of?

I think, like others, offering more affordable food/entry could be really good. For example, a cheap Sunday offer once a month?

- Do you have any suggestions for improvements?

What about a nature trail round the lake for kids?

- Overall what is your familys general impression of the NT offer for families?

Unique and lovely for families but needs to be a bit more savvy in attracting all types of people, i.e. by doing special deals etc. smile

androbbob Mon 21-Oct-13 16:20:23

Which NT property did you visit? And who was in your group?

We went to Lyme Park - myself, DD (11) and DS (6)

- Were the whole family welcomed into the property?

yes everyone was great, from the lady in the car park, the shuttle bus driver and all room staff. They spoke directly to the children rather than me in some cases.

- Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs?

Yes - dressing up clothes that you could then walk round in, things to touch in each room and plenty of room guides to flick through. We werent offered any quiz sheets or treasure hunt sheets though.

- If you needed to use the baby changing facilities, was it possible for either a Mum or a Dad to change their child in at least one of the bathrooms/ changing stations on-site?

Not needed but noticed the feeding station was in the ladies toilets - rather small cramped room. Changing facilities were available for either mum or dad to use.

- Did you notice any breastfeeding friendly signs displayed around the property?

I didnt notice any at all

- Are there family friendly things the property could make more of?

There was a playground but we didnt use it as it was raining. Plenty of open areas to walk round and there was some half term spooky activities planned, but it was too wet to bother.

- Do you have any suggestions for improvements?

having two different age ranges is hard as DD just wants to sit around all day. The food options in the restaurant were not at all suitable - nothing that appealed to any of us, which is unusual. Soup was an unusual flavour and would have been better if another more 'safe' flavour available. Kids menu had three choices which where odd. Tried the coffee shop but not much better.

- Overall what is your familys general impression of the NT offer for families?

Its ok but depends upon whether your family enjoy walking around houses. DD related to some things from topics covered at school, but DS just wanted to get outside.

WilhelminaButlin Tue 22-Oct-13 14:22:37

- Which NT property did you visit? And who was in your group?

Clumber Park. Me, DH DS (8) and DS (6)

- Were the whole family welcomed into the property?

No, although I think this is more to do with the entry system and the property being a large park, rather than the staff being rude to be fair. You pay to park at a toll booth from your car, so no real chance for interaction. There was no conversation at all with any member of staff during our visit.

- Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs?

Yes, there is a small children's Discovery Centre housing a number of interesting interactive displays, and a good woodland adventure playground. The grounds, gardens, chapel etc were of little interest to them, and we didn't find any worksheets or trails to help us chivvy them along.

It is half term here, but we don't think there were any children's activities available. Nothing was mentioned anyway, we might just have been in the wrong places at the wrong times.

- If you needed to use the baby changing facilities, was it possible for either a Mum or a Dad to change their child in at least one of the bathrooms/ changing stations on-site?

I did notice a changing table in the toilets, and DH is fairly sure there was one in the gents' toilet too.

- Did you notice any breastfeeding friendly signs displayed around the property?

No.

- Are there family friendly things the property could make more of?

The staff manning the entry booths should hand out worksheets or trails that are suitable for the children in the car (and acknowledge the children in the process!), as this is the only point of guaranteed contact between staff and visitors. We felt we missed out because the boys weren't interested in walking much in the miserable weather, but with a sheet and some sort of 'aim', they'll walk for miles.

More picnic tables, preferably sheltered. We know you want people to stop bringing their own food and use the cafes instead, but, if you truly do want to have more children visiting, please consider those who can't (see next answer!).

- Do you have any suggestions for improvements?

Please provide more reasonably priced food! I don't always want to take a picnic, especially when the weather is as bad as it is currently, but I'm unwilling to pay as much as NT charges for a light lunch in a far from luxurious cafeteria. We did pop our heads in the cafe with the aim of having a cup of tea, but it looked a bit chaotic with uncleared tables and a long queue, and the prices were the deciding factor.

- Overall what is your familys general impression of the NT offer for families?
Good enough. We still think they favour the 'retired couples and coach parties' audience though grin.

hellymelly Tue 22-Oct-13 18:13:48

1.We visited Llanerchaeron. We were a party of four, Myself, DH, our two dds who are 6 and 8.
2.Whole family welcomed? Yes. All the staff, from the ticket lady onwards, were very friendly towards all of us and spoke to the children as well as the adults.
3.Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs? Well, there weren't specific activities that we found on the day we visited, but there was plenty that the children enjoyed. They loved running around the clipped box hedges in the walled garden, and they really enjoyed seeing the piglets and the Welsh Black calf.
4. Re the baby changing facilities, I am afraid I forgot to look out for them, as we didn't need them, but the loos were clean and there wasn't a long walk to either of the ones we used.
5. I didn't notice any baby feeding signs, but there may have been some.
6.Are there family friendly things the property could make more of?
Well the house is not terribly large but it is beautiful and interesting, however as the rooms are all carefully roped and information brief, it is less interesting to a child than it might be. The staff were very kind and chatty about the house though, and tried to help my dd who was upset by a stuffed otter! (sensitive about animals). Baking in the kitchen, farm activities based on food like using an apple press or similar would be lots of fun, perhaps they do things like this sometimes?
7. Any suggestions for improvements?
Mainly just being able to be a bit more hands on. I would have loved to be able to just stand and look out of one of the beautiful long windows but due to the roping-off it is hard to really experience the rooms as the family would have. Getting a feel for working in the vast kitchens or the outside space would be interesting. It is hard to get a sense of the building as a whole as a lot of rooms seemed to be closed off to the public. More ginger cake in the cafe! (they had run out, but to be fair to them it was closing time when we went).
8. overall, what did we feel about the NT offer for families?
Well we all enjoyed it. I liked the house, the gardens were enjoyed by all of us, as was the farm. We all appreciated the fact the place is so productive still, as we came away with the best apples I have ever tasted, at least 6 varieties (and we didn't try them all.) Squashes, and very very reasonably priced plants. My 6 year old dd enjoyed finding new corridors in the house, and both dds were really interested in the astonishing variety of fungi on the lawns (a sssi).The doves were beautiful, the geese amusing, and the pigs gorgeous. I am sure we will visit again. (I want to go to Erddig too! I haven't been since it very first opened).

Cantdothisagain Sat 26-Oct-13 14:27:01

- Which NT property did you visit? And who was in your group?
We visited Cragside. Family of four.

- Were the whole family welcomed into the property?
Yes-we were greeted as we drove into the entrance and the member of staff was very polite and welcoming.

- Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs?
There didn't seem to be specific organized activities on, but there was a fantastic outdoor play area and a maze. And we saw rabbits and squirrels which was lovely.

- If you needed to use the baby changing facilities, was it possible for either a Mum or a Dad to change their child in at least one of the bathrooms/ changing stations on-site?
Didn't need them. Toilets were clean though.

- Did you notice any breastfeeding friendly signs displayed around the property?
No, nowhere

- Are there family friendly things the property could make more of?
Not that I can think of.

- Do you have any suggestions for improvements?
The tearooms - the food was expensive - my DD wanted a scone and the cheapest fruit scone was actually only available as one of a pair of scones with jam/cream and was £4.60. I agree about crayons in the café too.

- Overall what is your family's general impression of the NT offer for families?
I think it's a good way to spend time outside and the play area etc were really good -but we won't buy a season ticket because we don't live close enough to properties to go often enough to make up the money. It does feel expensive though if you went often enough it would be a good use of money. There was a distinctly middle class vibe there today, presumably because it's expensive.

Andrea75 Sat 26-Oct-13 21:20:41

- Which NT property did you visit? And who was in your group?
Upton House; me, DH, DD (6), DS1 (4) and DS2 (3 months)

- Were the whole family welcomed into the property?
Yes everyone was very friendly.

- Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs?
Yes - in the restaurant area there was an easel and a colouring table - however this meant that the kids were more keen to leave our table and run across the restaurant to the activity table. It would be better to have activity packs or colouring which they just take to their table and do as they are sitting eating. Difficult to supervise when you're trying to sit and drink/eat.
In the woodland there was an animal trail and also a mini obstacle course of tree trunks etc for them to play on which they enjoyed.
In the house, there were treasure boxes in some rooms with artefacts the kids could touch and they were v keen on this. It made them engage with it all more and ask the volunteers questions. The volunteers chatted to us in most rooms - sometimes I wondered if they guessed we were mystery shopping for mumsnet because they were much friendlier and engaging than I've experienced before at other properties !! But they can't have known ;-)
You could try out the billiard table/piano and there were old board games in the sitting room to play with - my kids were very pleased at being able to touch so much - they are normally itching to but then are told no all the time. However it was difficult then to explain why they couldn't touch everything in the room!!

- If you needed to use the baby changing facilities, was it possible for either a Mum or a Dad to change their child in at least one of the bathrooms/ changing stations on-site?
Yes - all very clean.
Also the toilet cubicles in the restaurant were large enough for me to easily stand in with my son to help him, which was useful, sometimes the single cubicles are so small it is a squeeze if he needs help with getting loo roll etc!!

- Did you notice any breastfeeding friendly signs displayed around the property?
No

- Are there family friendly things the property could make more of?
There was no picnic area, and I usually bring a picnic to these kinds of places whatever the weather as it gets too pricey to pay for admission and food when we go out...and we also have two fussy eaters in tow. The lady at the entrance showed us on the map where we could have our picnic when I asked her - but when we got there it was a covered area with three wicker chairs, which looked more like a display than a picnic area, and there was a family already there...so instead we headed for the restaurant where we had hot drinks and the kids had their picnic sarnies...no-one complained about eating our own food in there thankfully. Then we ate the rest of our picnic in the car before leaving as the rain and wind were quite bad today!!
Prices in the restaurant are too much for us - it would be good to see some kind of meal deal or fixed price menu like you get in restaurants so often today, to make it more appealing/affordable. Even an offer on cake and hot drink. Everything feels full/over priced with no incentives to buy (apart from drinks loyalty card)

- Do you have any suggestions for improvements?
We had a pram and at times found it tricky navigating round the paths of the property, in particular the garden, with the steep drops and steps - there was a way round with no steps, but it wasn't obvious.
We were warned of the steep drop at the entrance, but there were no signs up when we got there to remind us, and if kids ran onto the garden, which is tempting and v natural, you have to be quick to remind them not to run and fall off the end!!

- Overall what is your familys general impression of the NT offer for families?
I was pleasantly surprised, esp inside the house. To be honest that was the bit I was dreading - I went in on my own with my two eldest and held their hands and gave them a warning not to run around and touch everything...but the volunteers were so friendly and engaged with them and showed them things they could touch, one even showed them a secret staircase which they loved!!
There was also a Civil war reenactment, which engaged my husband who is not mad-keen on looking round old houses - so those special events for no extra charge are great.
I wouldn't visit NT properties unless I had an annual season ticket. The single admission prices are just too much for us. I hadn't considered getting NT membership with three young kids, because from past experience, when DD was a toddler it didn't seem so family friendly, but Upton House was today.

sabretiggr Sat 26-Oct-13 23:20:34

- Which NT property did you visit? And who was in your group?
We visited Bodium Castle with three children (aged 9,7,1) and 2 adults.

- Were the whole family welcomed into the property?
yes. The person welcoming into the castle bit was really friendly and made an effort to speak to the kids.

- Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs?
yes - trails available. (nothing for very youngest but she is only 1)

- If you needed to use the baby changing facilities, was it possible for either a Mum or a Dad to change their child in at least one of the bathrooms/ changing stations on-site?
yes

- Did you notice any breastfeeding friendly signs displayed around the property?

didn't notice. The cafe was quite busy and cramped which would make it tricky to breastfeed due to lack of space. But staff seemed relaxed and friendly around kids so would feel comfortable that breastfeeding was acceptable there.

- Are there family friendly things the property could make more of?

not sure really as it is a really old castle it is tricky to get around the steps with a young baby but it is still a nice place to visit and it would be really nice in summer for picnics on the grass outside the castle.

- Do you have any suggestions for improvements?

more highchairs in cafe (ideally bigger cafe as it was busy and popular). It was nice there was hot food on offer at the cafe and it was good quality healthy hot food. The sandwiches / rolls seemed pricey but the hot food was worth it.

- Overall what is your familys general impression of the NT offer for families?

better than it used to be! Used to feel 'stuffy' and like they didn't like kids around- now a lot more welcoming.

10thingsihateaboutpoo Sun 27-Oct-13 16:39:22

Which NT property did you visit? And who was in your group?
Castle Drogo. I went with DH and DDs (2.5 and 4 months).

Were the whole family welcomed into the property?
Yes, the staff on the main entrance and entrance to the castle were very friendly.

Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs?
There were a couple of activities for children in the castle but DD1 was a bit young for those. She enjoyed playing on the crochet lawn with the tennis bats/balls and hula hoops though. There was also a small playground near the entrance. I wouldn't really expect there to be too much for toddlers.

If you needed to use the baby changing facilities, was it possible for either a Mum or a Dad to change their child in at least one of the bathrooms/ changing stations on-site?
Yes, the baby change was a separate room to the toilets so was unisex. Nice and clean and modern.

Did you notice any breastfeeding friendly signs displayed around the property?
No, but then I didn't look too closely. I breastfed DD2 in both the restaurant and walking around the castle and felt very comfortable.

Are there family friendly things the property could make more of?
Perhaps more activities in the gardens/grounds.

Do you have any suggestions for improvements?
The cafe was lovely, very large and the main menu was good. DH and I had cold platters which were tasty and value for money. DD's lunchbox deal was not good value though. It was £4 but had quite limited choice for the contents. And the main "sandwich" bit was no choice, it was one very small white roll (like you get on an airplane) with a portion of butter, so no filling at all.
Also, we often take packed lunches with us on days out like this as the cost of entry and lunch in the cafe would be prohibitive. There were picnic benches outside the cafe but I think these were just for cafe customers, so more benches (ideally with some under cover in case of bad weather) would be great.
The castle is undergoing major renovations so a lot of the displays weren't available to see, but learning about the renovations was interesting in itself.

Overall what is your familys general impression of the NT offer for families?
We had a lovely day. We've made use of the free passes at another property today and they had some half-term activities on. To make membership worthwhile you need to live near a few properties and know that you will go several times.

CatAmongThePigeons Tue 29-Oct-13 18:31:29

Which NT property did you visit? And who was in your group? We visited Castle Drogo with Myself, DH, DS1 (7), DS2 (1), FIL and MIL

Were the whole family welcomed into the property? Yes, DS1 was told about the activities inside the castle and DS2 was spoken to by lovely volunteers. We were all warmly welcomed.

- Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs? In the castle itself there were postcards left for the children to read and a few hands on 'building' projects to tie in with the current works to restore Drogo. The peepholes through the works were a fabulously exciting touch for the children, they enjoyed hunting them out.

There was a Halloween trail for a small extra fee, but sadly we didn't know about this until we were leaving which is a shame. The staff should have mentioned it as it was easy to miss in the throng.

If you needed to use the baby changing facilities, was it possible for either a Mum or a Dad to change their child in at least one of the bathrooms/ changing stations on-site? The main changing facilities were in a separate room with a low level toilet and sink, perfect for young children. Both my husband and I could use these facilities to change DS2 and DS1 could use them too, which was a big help!

Did you notice any breastfeeding friendly signs displayed around the property? I didn't notice any signs up about breastfeeding, although I know I am allowed to wherever I need to. The café walls were glass and it probably wouldn't be the easiest place to feed with a wriggling baby.

Are there family friendly things the property could make more of? Overall it was very good for older children but a little trail around the castle for toddlers (involving looking for various things) would be lovely. Also, there needs to be warnings before the rooms that have open displays, we went into one room and had to closely guard DS2 from trying to play with everything. A little note on the staircase would be so handy so we could have avoided the risk!

The café needs somewhere to store prams as there wasn't space around the tables as it was a bit cramped.

Do you have any suggestions for improvements? Improved signage to the picnic areas as the map was very hard to follow and signs which point to routes suitable for prams/wheelchairs.

Overall what is your familys general impression of the NT offer for families? The NT offers a great range of things for older children, although the grounds were great and they were both enthralled for some hours exploring the house and gardens. Our overall impression was really good. The DC were welcomed everywhere and that has changed for the better since I was a child.

perfectstorm Wed 30-Oct-13 20:18:49

Which NT property did you visit? And who was in your group?

Attingham Park: Myself, DH, my mum and DS (4).

Were the whole family welcomed into the property?

Yes, very much so. The guides were lovely - and fascinating.

Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs?

There really were - I was impressed! They had a mouse hunt trail, with little velvet mice hidden all over the rooms and a map with hunks of cheese indicating how many were in each room. They also had details from various objects of interest to kids - someone reading a book as a clock support, an eagle on a gilt thing, sections of a portrait. My son was entranced and really enjoyed the visit. There were major restoration and building works in progress for some areas and they had displays on what was happening, plus lego stations for the kids to build their own versions! Really, really clever and thoughtful, once again.

If you needed to use the baby changing facilities, was it possible for either a Mum or a Dad to change their child in at least one of the bathrooms/ changing stations on-site?

I didn't, but as I'm pregnant my son notices everything baby related and got me to demonstrate the baby change table folding out from the walls! It was nicely done with plenty of space, and really new and clean.

Did you notice any breastfeeding friendly signs displayed around the property?

No, sorry. But in the boudoir in the main building one of the guides said it would probably have been used for breastfeeding ladies, in a very relaxed and open way as part of a list of more private family life activities. It seemed clear that she saw this way of feeding as totally normal, and while I don't know if that is a personal view or the site culture, as I have a large bump it was welcome!

Are there family friendly things the property could make more of?

Quite frankly the food could have been nicer. My son couldn't eat the soup as it contained an awful lot of celery, which at this time of year is fibrous, and it hadn't been sieved. The cheese scone hadn't been fully cooked all the way through, and none of us liked the chocolate cake enough to eat more than a bite each - think that has to be a first! I appreciate that's not squarely under "family-friendly" but food does matter when taking small children out and about.

Do you have any suggestions for improvements?

Only the actual food. Nothing was too much trouble for any of the serving staff, of all ages - they were uniformly delightful. And the guides in the house were absolutely brilliant. My son has been ill and the stairs down to the basement, after lots going up and down, defeated him. They noticed he was convalescent and a bit tired and ushered us through the main state rooms so we had a short cut to get to the cafe. So kind. And all the room staff joined in with the mouse hunting so sweetly.

Overall what is your familys general impression of the NT offer for families?

really, really good. My mum took us a lot when I was a child and I enjoyed it, but not at my son's age. He loved it to bits and asked if he could go back when he was feeling better, he had so much fun. We've told him there are hundreds of them all over the country and his eyes lit up. Though I think he may be sad to discover they don't all harbour mice....

SmilingandWaving Thu 31-Oct-13 16:29:42

- Which NT property did you visit? And who was in your group?

Claremont Gardens: Myself, DP & DS(2)

- Were the whole family welcomed into the property?

Yes, we were made to feel very welcome.

- Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs?

There was a play area, wooded areas to explore & plenty of room to run around so yes.

- If you needed to use the baby changing facilities, was it possible for either a Mum or a Dad to change their child in at least one of the bathrooms/ changing stations on-site?

I didn't need them but I think there were.

- Did you notice any breastfeeding friendly signs displayed around the property?

I did look out for them as I knew this was a question but I didn't see any.

- Are there family friendly things the property could make more of?

There was meant to be a 9 pin bowling alley and a place where DCs could dress up & play with Victorian toys, but due to the weather these were closed so I can't say what they were like. There did seem to be a Halloween treasure hunt going on for the older children which I thought was a good idea and DS was given a children's map that he was very happy with. I thought there was plenty there to keen children of most ages amused.

- Do you have any suggestions for improvements?

Not really

- Overall what is your familys general impression of the NT offer for families?

We all had a great day out and were pleasantly surprised, I only saw one 'keep off the grass' sign, & that was only as it had just been fertilised. DS loved being able to explore and run around but then we could have taken him to the local country park for that so it would maybe need to offer a bit more to warrant the usual £17 entrance fee. I'm not sure he would have enjoyed it quite so much if we'd been visiting a property rather than gardens. Overall though we had a lovely time.

WitchOfEndor Fri 01-Nov-13 08:52:58

- Which NT property did you visit? And who was in your group?
Attingham Park, Me,DH, DMum and DS

- Were the whole family welcomed into the property?
Yes

- Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs?
Yes, there was a great Mouse in the House game where we had to find one in each room of the house which was great because otherwise we'd have struggled to get DS3 to go through it. DS was thrilled to get a sticker at the end to say we had spotted all the mice.

The staff were very child friendly and joined in the game, the man in the Butlers Pantry (I think, it was the shop in the house) let me stop half way through buying something to take a desperate DS to the loo (marked Private so I'd never have found it if he hadn't pointed it out) and then he gave me hints to where the mice were in three other rooms.

There is a big field out by the walled garden with swings, slides, tunnels and picnic tables which has lots of room for children to run and play.

- If you needed to use the baby changing facilities, was it possible for either a Mum or a Dad to change their child in at least one of the bathrooms/ changing stations on-site?
I didn't need to use baby change facilities, I only saw one toilet with baby change facilities but I think all of them were marked as Toilets, rather than gender specific ones.

- Did you notice any breastfeeding friendly signs displayed around the property?
No, didn't see any, and I did look, especially around the courtyard cafe area. There was a breastfeeding mum there though.

- Are there family friendly things the property could make more of?
The Mouse game was so good they should do a trail outside in the grounds (although make it easier as we wouldn't have anyone helping us!), maybe collecting different types of leaves or something.

The play area could have more equipment in it (like Weston Park), and more picnic tables too, as I'm sure it's packed in the summer.

- Do you have any suggestions for improvements?
The House staff were very friendly, grounds staff not so much. DS stood by the side of the path for one of the buggies go past and waved madly at them and they just drove past (and we were the only ones on the path so they couldn't have missed us), which he was disappointed about, so maybe ask them to be a bit friendlier with the public? The fruit and veg on sale could have been more prominently sold, maybe by the cafes, as a way to bring in more revenue.

- Overall what is your familys general impression of the NT offer for families?
It's a lovely place, and if it wasn't nearly £5 per adult we would go a lot more regularly. I was considering a family ticket but think it is a bit pricey as we don't have that many properties nearby so DS might get bored going back too often, on the other hand if we had better weather and we could be guaranteed to go there more regularly and maybe take the dog I would consider it (confusing myself).

AlmaMartyr Fri 01-Nov-13 10:14:31

- Which NT property did you visit? And who was in your group?
Arlington Court, me and DD (5) and DS (3)
- Were the whole family welcomed into the property?
Yes, very much. Both children were chatted to as we arrived. We felt very welcome
- Were there age appropriate activities for your DCs?
Yes, there was lots to do for the children. They loved drawing in the bat cave and looking for bats, looking in the carriage museum (with hobby horses around for them to have a go on) and all the Halloween activities. We didn't go inside the house on this occasion but they normally love the mouse game in other properties
- If you needed to use the baby changing facilities, was it possible for either a Mum or a Dad to change their child in at least one of the bathrooms/ changing stations on-site?
I didn't need to use them so didn't notice
- Did you notice any breastfeeding friendly signs displayed around the property?
I didn't specifically notice but I know I would have felt happy to breastfeed there (and have in the past)
- Are there family friendly things the property could make more of?
It seems pretty good, there's a great little playpark outside the main entrance which the kids enjoyed.
- Do you have any suggestions for improvements?
No
- Overall what is your familys general impression of the NT offer for families?
We love the National Trust, they've been making a big effort to be more family friendly lately and it is appreciated. Sadly, our nearest place (Castle Drogo) is a bit hit and miss for families in my opinion but most places are fab.

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