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Simple Pleasures Provide Antidote To Recession Suggests Survey

Thursday, 19 March 2009

People in the UK are turning to simple pleasures such as spending time in beautiful surroundings to get them through the gloom of the recession, figures from the National Trust show today.

Faced with a barrage of bad news about the economy, and the need to find ways to make their money go further, more and more people are turning to buildings and gardens such as those owned by The National Trust.

In fact, helped by the good weather and that several properties are opening earlier in response to demand, visitor numbers to the Trust's properties rose 50 per cent during February half term this year, compared with last - with some historic houses seeing as many as four times the number of visitors throughout February 2009, against the same month last year.

And a UK-wide poll seems to explain the rise - with a staggering 84 per cent admitting that simple pleasures such as a day out near home would be as or more important to them this year than ever before.

The survey of 2,000 people, carried out by The National Trust, asked what kinds of days out appealed most and found that 64 per cent said a walk in the park, a similar number chose to visit either a historic house or beautiful garden, while 36 per cent opted to visit a museum or gallery.

The quick but more costly thrills offered by theme parks and sporting events were both markedly less popular, being selected by only 26 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.

And, despite living in a society where more than 55 per cent of people acknowledge there is less beauty than there once was, 90 per cent want their days out to be in beautiful places.

Fiona Reynolds, Director General of the National Trust, said: "We all need quality time to relax and recharge our batteries, whether in a recession or not.

"However, it seems that having less money to spend on treating ourselves is focusing our minds on what really matters.

"Getting away from it all and spending a day with family and friends in beautiful surroundings is becoming essential to help ease away the stresses and strains.  And contact with nature and history clearly provides what people need."

The desire to ensure that leisure time is well spent seems to be strongest in the East Midlands, where visitor numbers across all the area's National Trust properties rose by 137 per cent. The North West of England saw a rise of 91 per cent across all its properties, while visitors to sites in Northern Ireland rose 68 per cent.

Croome Park in the West Midlands has seen the most dramatic rise for an individual property, with more than four times the number of people visiting this February compared with last year. Calke Abbey, near Derby, saw an increase of 225 per cent, while Ham House - where parts of the film The Young Victoria were filmed - saw a rise of 118 per cent.

The National Trust looks after 300 historic houses and gardens across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  On Thursday 19 March, David Starkey and Germaine Greer will debate whether Britain has become indifferent to beauty at a National Trust event chaired by National Trust Chairman Simon Jenkins. For tickets and more information go to: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/debates


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The National Trust surveyed a total of 2,000 people across the UK earlier this month.

And finally....if you're looking for great value that's going to last all year then look no further than the National Trust's family membership.  Access to over 300 houses and gardens , all with their own story to tell, plus free car parking at all of our countryside and coastal properties, membership will certainly keep you busy and all for less than the cost of a family day out to many UK visitor attractions.  Find more at: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/