Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Back at Willowbrook

Hello from Willowbrook Farm!  It’s crazy to be back, since I spent so much time over the last year thinking about this impending visit and the one in the past.  Since I am having an experience that is similar on a basic level to the experience I had here last year, I keep thinking that I have a limited amount of time in England and that soon I’ll be heading back home to Vermont.  When I realize this is not the case, a sense of relief mixed with some healthy uncertainty hits me – I live here now.

Anyway, the journey went very smoothly.  When I got on the to Oxford bus, I had the same sensation that I’d had last year: the bus would be similar to any other bus in any other country, except that it was SILENT.  This summer, I remember thinking on a quiet bus from Montpelier to Burlington that maybe English buses weren’t as exceptionally quiet as I remembered – but they definitely are.  I felt completely obnoxious using a zipper.  Anyway, it gave me the opportunity to nap, which was nice.

I loved being back in the beautiful city of Oxford.  My sense of time was completely screwed up – in the US it was about 4:30 in the morning and in England it was 9:30 am, but for some reason my body was sure that it was dinnertime.  Go figure.  This delusion lasted the rest of the day.  In an stroke of happiness-fueled sense of adventure I decided to take the 25A bus all the way to Hampton Gay so that no one would have to pick me up in Kidlington.  I’d then walk down a long lane to the farm with my hands blistering from my suitcases.  Walking down the lane again made me very happy.

The farm is in most ways very similar to it was when I left it, except for a few fundamental changes.  I loved the constant bustle that five kids and constant guests bring to a home, but this year Willowbrook is very calm and quiet.  The main reason for this is that none of the kids are home during the day, and the two oldest aren’t here at all right now.  Also, the members of the family that are here don’t spend as much time with the WWOOFers as they did last year; they don’t eat dinner with us or take tea breaks with us.  I miss them, and I also miss the crazy atmosphere the kids brought to the farm, but I’m still extremely happy to be here again.  Today we worked on building a cob house (cob is a building material made of clay, dirt and water) all morning and boxed eggs in the afternoon – all of it was very similar to last year in terms of work.  It was great to be back to work at Willowbrook!

Yesterday I decided to go into Oxford to get a bank account and a cell phone, which was kind of dumb considering that I was practically delusional with exhaustion, I hadn’t eaten in like twelve hours, and I wasn’t willing to buy food because I didn’t want to spend the money.  I walked around (in the PERFECT weather, I might add – nice and crisp and pretty sunny like I’ve been craving at home) kind of aimlessly for HOURS.  I don’t even really know the first thing about opening up a bank account and I wanted to see the whole city again, so I kind of circled the city a bunch of times before actually going into banks and cell phone stores.  Also, I went looking for my college while I was in the city.  I got lost (Oxford is relatively small, but deceptively confusing due to its amazing yet confusing windy side streets), but I found the Mansfield!  It’s small but beautiful.  Eventually I made my way back to the bus and nearly passed out on the short ride from food and sleep deprivation.

So, I’m having a great time so far.  I’ve decided on my first day off location!  I found out that the home where they shot Netherfield House in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice is only a 6 pound train ticket from Oxford!  Being a huge Jane Austen nerd, I am very interested.  I’ll post a little about my days off while I’m here, and maybe more about the farm if anything comes up.

Until then,



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