I am middle aged.
This week I stuck my new National Trust members badge inside my car windscreen, and on Sunday I actively chose to watch Antiques Roadshow. And enjoyed it.
“And my periods are getting closer together!” I moaned to my friend Lucy.
“Well that’s it then,” she said, “early menopause. It’s downhill all the way now.”
My National Trust membership was inspired by a day out with my sister Annabel and nephew Finn to Cliveden in Buckinghamshire. There’s something about the National Trust that just makes you feel nice. Nothing is showy, it’s not too commercial, you can get a nice cup of tea and a bit of cake, and there’s a tasteful gift shop at the end.
It’s all just nice.
And sometimes, nice is just what you need.
Annabel was particularly enthusiastic about Cliveden as they have a recently refurbished maze, and she has a bit of a thing about mazes. Maybe it’s the unknown, the mystery element, but you can’t help but smile and feel a bit excited when you go into a maze.
We left the pushchair with a very sensible looking elderly man in a jaunty waistcoat and National Trust volunteer badge and made sure everything was in order for our adventure – flares, check; life insurance, check; Kendal mint cake, check – you just never know with mazes do you?
“What if I go into labour and we can’t get out?” asked Annabel, who is eight and a half months pregnant, when we’d been wandering around for about five minutes with no sign of reaching the centre. “How will we get help?”
We were still in the outer ring of the maze, and peering through the hedge I caught a glimpse of waistcoat. “I think we’ll probably be alright.”
“It would be pretty cool though wouldn’t it to be born in a maze?” said Annabel, looking wistful. “We could call it Maisy.”
Just when we thought the excitement would be too much to bear, we found ourselves at the centre, where we stopped for about 20 seconds, congratulating ourselves on our maze skills, before making our way back out. Outside, reunited with our pushchair, we exchanged glances that said ‘we probably should go for a walk or something…’.
“Teashop?” I asked helpfully.