>What a lovely day yesterday turned out to be. We had glorious sunshine, which made a very nice ride out for me across Pennines, although it was a bit gloomy on t’other side – they assure me here that this is often the case … but I’m not getting into that.
I had a good night’s sleep after finally submitting the last annual (he’s asking for the next one now but I won’t be starting it until next week), had a bit of a lie in, and then headed off. I lost 30 minutes on the Woodhead Pass, another 10 minutes on the ring road around Manchester, and made up all of 2 minutes on the motorway between Manchester and Chester. I got there at 12 noon, had a cup of tea, fell in love with 8 adorable puppies and 2 grown-ups, chose the one I wanted, christened him Rufus, and had a good chat with the breeder and her daughter.
Aside from breeding standard wire-haired dachshunds they’re also on the show jumping circuit. And both kids were educated at home. The number of article ideas that started to scream at me from just those few words was amazing. But they were both very keen and receptive, so I’ll build some queries in around them.
I paid my deposit and we arranged for them to deliver the pup to me at the end of the month when they are over here visiting anyway. I hope they come in the car and not the horse box as they’ll never get the lorry down here.
And here he is:
I think that’s one of his sisters peering over his shoulder. I’m obviously going to have to teach him about posing for the camera.
When I left, I decided to go to Tatton Park at Knutsford, as I was over there and almost passing it on the way home. I’m a member of the National Trust and I thought I could get something to eat there, maybe have a wander, and then head back home.
Wrong. When I got there they tried to charge me £5 to park. “But I’m a member,” I said. “It’s in your book,” she snapped. And so I had a look in my book and all it said was “car entry charge”. I looked around for the major bus route or the mainline railway station, but there wasn’t one close by. I looked for alternative street parking, but there wasn’t any. The majority of visitors to Tatton Park, members or not, come in cars. Talk about a captive audience.
Here are just two of the membership benefits shouted about by the National Trust:
■FREE entry and parking at more than 300 historic houses and gardens.
■FREE car parking at most National Trust countryside, woodland and coastal car parks.
Hmm. There’s the rub, and that all-important get-out clause.
I think it’s disgraceful that members are being charged to park and if other NT properties are going the same way, I shall cancel my membership. What is the point of paying in advance for something and then finding out, when you’ve driven all the way there, that you have to pay again? I can understand them trying to make money where they can in these troubled times, but penalising members in this way is not the way to do it. Surely it would be better to increase subs a little, rather than imposing this charge? And if it is as much as a fiver, and a fiver is a lot to park, it should be clearly printed in the guidebook.
Saying that, the guidebook is a bit pants these days anyway. They’ve stopped listing all of the admission fees, which I suppose they think is reasonable as if you’ve got the guidebook then you’re probably a member and therefore it should be free anyway (allegedly). But what if you have people visiting you, who you want to take out for the day, who aren’t members? Surely they could do with knowing how much it’s going to cost them before they go all that way and put EXPENSIVE petrol in their cars.
I feel like a grumpy old woman, I really do. But this is just taking the mick and taking advantage of already cash-trapped people who are trying to help preserve our heritage and enjoy a good day out at the same time.
Incidentally, I turned around and went to Dunham Massey instead, where the volunteers didn’t try to charge me for parking.
Oh dear. Two rants in two days. Not good.
Moving on …
I need to pace myself a bit better. I shouldn’t be going to bed late, getting up late, and then working solidly until 11pm. This is why I’m exhausted every time I submit another book. I have the time and the space now to balance out my workload, and that starts today. Once I get into this rhythm of freelancing again, things will settle down.
Today I have a history book to proof and at least a thousand words to write on the novel. It’s another glorious day so I’ve put one wash load away, there’s another in that will go on the line, and I may put another one through too. I’ll walk up to the village later to get the local paper. I also have an office to de-clutter in time for the decorator on Monday, and probably the electrician too.
The de-cluttering will continue over the weekend. Tomorrow we may be going to see a band we’ve not seen for about a year.
Have a great weekend.