Wednesday, 25 June 2008

If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet

I've had a friend visiting from overseas these last few days, which always provides a great excuse to go and do the touristy stuff you otherwise don't get around to.

We did a lot of walking, and took advantage of several of the free things that London has to offer - museums, galleries, the events of the always fabulous Greenwich and Docklands Festival - but also decided to splash out on a couple of the pay-for tourist sights.

We had a lot of fun, and in the process I tripped over an unexpected bonus.

Both of the 'big ticket' sites we chose to spend our money on - the Tower of London and York Minster - ask that, if you're a British tax payer you gift-aid your entry fee so that they can claim back about 25% of the money from the Government. (I think, technically, you're making a donation of the same amount as, but in lieu of, the entrance fee...) As I am a British tax payer, and I'm very happy for both these historic buildings to get some extra cash, I paid for both me and my guest, and both times got a pleasant surprise - I now have a years worth of free entry into both buildings!

We certainly felt like we got our money's worth out of both buildings on the single days we were at each one, but the fact that I can now pop into the Tower to take a few photos and wander away again, or when I'm next in York, I can go into the Minster with a local friend* without either of us having to pay, is just a really nice extra.

* (Both the local councils have residents schemes, which make entrance either £1 or free, but I don't qualify for them at either site, despite the fact I walk past the Tower several times a week.)

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