Is this the biggest sign yet that I am getting older?

PUBLISHED: 18:53 02 May 2019 | UPDATED: 18:53 02 May 2019

Beautiful Felbrigg Hall - one of the many National Trust properties you can visit for just £10.50 a month, says Nick

Beautiful Felbrigg Hall - one of the many National Trust properties you can visit for just £10.50 a month, says Nick

Archant © 2013

Nick Conrad has too many direct debits, he fears. But there is one particular one that he can’t give up...

Maybe I'm getting old... or maturing? I've always been a fan of the National Trust but this week on my radio show I've been loudly shouting about what amazing value you get from being a member. On a recent visit to Cornwall I updated my annual family direct debit and once again I'm delighted with how far the modest members fee stretches. I quite fancy buying a caravan and heading off around the country on a stately home tour! It's so lovely to make a transaction where you know you'll get value for money. Recently I've been looking at my outgoings and questioning whether I really need to make so many monthly direct debit commitments.

Throw together my Norwich City season ticket, Sky TV, broadband, mobile phone, insurance, along with the cars and the total bill makes for grim reading. The problem is that direct debit is so hideously seductive. With 12 'little instalments' you are easily hoodwinked into thinking the little drips of money coming out of your account won't form a torrent. When you look at your total outgoings you might want to sit down to regain your composure.

Last month I'd had enough. No longer was I going to fork out for services I hardly ever used. I decided to have a long overdue purge. How depressing looking through bank statements deciding what I'm no longer going to fund. It was rather therapeutic cancelling various payments and being released from long held obligations. The upshot is that Sky has been trimmed, the gym has gone, (I started running outside again) and a few additional extras have been cut. But staring back at me was one transaction that I just couldn't cut. My National Trust membership!

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On that long and arduous journey to Cornwall we looked for a place to break the journey to stretch our legs. The striking Lanhydrock Estate is nestled on the Cornish border, set in a glorious park. A saunter along the tree lined avenue, tea and cake in a delightful little cafe and a peek inside the stately home made for the most enjoyable morning. Apart from the rather pricey cafe, the rest was an absolute bargain. On returning to Norfolk I've made a resolution to visit the National Trust properties on our doorstep. This weekend I started with Felbrigg Hall.

Located between Sheringham and Cromer this stunning estate doesn't get the attention enjoyed by its more famous stately neighbours. Boasting a stunning Great Wood (which I often walk around), parkland and formal gardens, there is much to do. But last weekend we decided to go inside the house for the first time in many years. Oh, what a treat. Inside you'll find the most elegant country house full of surprises and delights, a mixture of opulence and homeliness where each room has something to feed the imagination. In each room you're warmly greeted by informed, friendly and engaging volunteers who are the best ambassadors for the house and the Trust.

Educational, entertaining 
and culturally enriching there is so much to celebrate when it comes to the National Trust. I'd like to see more youngsters engage with our tremendous local history. For just £10.50 a month, the whole family can gain access to a portfolio of the country's greatest architectural treasures, stunning gardens and parklands.

The National Trust focuses on revealing and sharing the significance of places and ensuring that their special qualities are protected, enhanced, understood and enjoyed by present and future generations. This small direct debit is unique as it forms both an investment in the future at the same time as giving me wonderful access to days out. Simply answer this question... where else could you get a great day out for the whole family for a tenner?

The National Trust is marvellous. In an age where we spend a small fortune on frankly pointless direct debits, I heartily recommend a commitment which gives more than it takes.

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