The National Trust
Over the last few weeks the English countryside has been at its best. The sun has been shining and the hedgerows have been bursting with flowers - blue, pink, white and yellow.
I went away for a few days down to Cornwall. Driving around the narrow country lanes and walking along the country footpaths made me think just how lucky we are to be able to enjoy so many beautiful places in such a small country! One of the reasons we are so lucky is because of an organisation called the National Trust.
The National Trust is a charity and is completely independent of Government. Their purpose is to protect and open to the public historic houses, gardens and ancient monuments. On the way to Cornwall, we visited Stourhead - this is a house in the south west of England with a beautiful garden:
If you visit the houses and gardens owned by the National Trust you usually have to pay an entrance fee, unless you belong to the National Trust. Anyone can become a member, and for an annual subscription you can vist all the properties owned by the Trust and you don't have to pay. Although a lot of the houses are very old, not all of them are. The Trust owns two houses in Liverpool: you might have heard of the former residents: John Lennon and Paul McCartney!
However, the National Trust doesn't only look after houses and gardens - they also own "forests, woods, fens, beaches, farmland, downs, moorland, islands - for ever, for everyone." Anyone can visit these for free... In order to look after the land the NT raises money from membership fees, donations and sales. Because they want to protect and save the countryside for future generations, they also run special appeals when they want to try and buy a piece of land or property. Sometimes people leave the NT property or land in their will.
I was walking to Land's End in Cornwall
when I came a across a small building perched on the edge of a cliff. Although the NT doesn't own Land's End, it does own some of the land close by - this part is called Mayon Cliff.
The tiny building you can see is a Coastguard Station - used to look out for ships in trouble and during the First World War, for German U-boats. It hasn't been used as a coastguard look-out for more than 50 years - but you can still climb up and admire the views. I met a lovely lady called Annie who works there for the National Trust. For 4 days a week from April to October, her job is to climb up the steps, open up the look-out and chat to any visitors who pass by. In one direction you can see the beautiful Sennen Cove and Cape Cornwall
and in the other direction the forbidding cliffs of Land's End
What a fabulous job she has, don't you think? Something like that would be my dream job. What's your dream job?
Part of this land was given to the Trust in 1935 by "Ferguson's Gang". Even now, the identity of only one member of the "gang" is known. They were all well-educated, upper-class women who wanted to save the countryside for future generations. What a mystery and what fantastic women. Because of people like this, we are lucky enough to be able to get away from the cities and towns, breath clean air, see the views, walk along footpaths and take home wonderful memories. One of my favourite sayings is:
"Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints"
hedgerows: a row of bushes, trees and plants , usually growing along a countryy lane or between fields
entrance fee: money you have to pay to enter a building or garden
subscription: a fixed amount of money that you pay regularly in order to belong to a club or society
former residents: people who used to live there
appeal: a request for money, often by a charity
will: a legal document stating what you want to happen to your money and property when you die
forbidding: severe and unfriendly