It's been a week and I've been recovering from my trip to the Maldives and readjusting to Essex life. I had a brief break from Essex life last weekend with a trip to Oxfordshire to visit Jane, walking buddy from the BB2B adventure. It was a fantastic adventure to a little village of Steventon (host of this coming weekend's Truck Festival http://www.thisistruck.com/). The weekend included walks through the fields with a springer spaniel named Poppy, working in the garden, a bbq and a journey to the next village of East Hendred. It's a beautiful part of the world, full of old timber frame buildings and thatched roofs. We walked through some corn fields, which I haven't seen many of in this area of Essex. Poppy ran through all of the fields, tail wagging, chasing scents. In the wheat fields, she would pogo stick to get a view over the top of the crop from time to time. It was hilarious to watch.
One of the coolest things, though, was seeing red kites. One circled around the garden for about 15 minutes while I was pulling ivy off one of the walls. On campus, our biggest bird of prey seems to be the kestrel. The red kite makes the kestrel look tiny. The red kite is huge. One website puts its wing-span at 5 1/2 feet. The ones I saw were flying quite low so it gave me a chance to admire them. One lone-flyer had a weird, deep throated call. The three I saw together sounded a more predictable screech. They were beautiful to see flying and apparently very common in that area.
Another exciting feature were giant courgettes (or summer squash). Some of the courgettes were larger than my forearm. Jane made a delicious meal for Saturday evening which included many things from the garden: radishes, potatoes, salad, peas, courgettes, beets, and herbs. I really enjoyed picking things and then having them on the table for all to enjoy. It further convinces me I want a kitchen garden where ever I land.