Oxfordshire host's Canadian Exchange Student

15 September 2015

Oxfordshire’s Action Packed Ten Days for Victoria Kyle from Canada 

Monday 17th: August I collected Victoria from Newbury train station; she had come up from Dorset. Her 10 days staying with me where the end of an epic 3month trip around the UK consisting of a week in Wales, 4 weeks in Scotland (including the Highland Show and time on Oakney!), 3 weeks in Northern Ireland and 3 weeks in England (Cumbria, Derbyshire and Dorset). The first afternoon was quite relaxing, showing her around the village I live in followed by the first of 5 BBQs we packed into 10 days! The BBQ was a last min thing as the weather was actually nice and a large group of Abingdon young farmers turned up which was great as many of them where showing Victoria around for a day. Shocking that night was the first time Victoria tried Pimms – surely a must when in England?!?

Tuesday 18th: Amber Game our county coordinator took Victoria for a picnic on White Horse Hill and to see the Wayland Smithy as well as the amazing panoramic views from the top of the hill. The day was finished off with a drive in Ambers soft top sports car!


Danny from Abigndon YFC collected Victoria from Ambers and took her back to his farm to show her around it and the farm shop.

We then probably bored Victoria greatly by taking her to an Abingdon Committee meeting, she said it was interesting seeing how the club was run and lead by us though…..

Wednesday 19th: Victoria got the train into London and met up with Joanna Sheldon at Paddington who took her around London for the day. Here is her write up about the day:
Victoria and I had a really lovely day out in London. I met her at Paddington bright and early and I took her straight to Oxford Street to try and avoid the masses that I knew would appear later on. We went to Selfridges and then onto St Christopher's Place which no one really knows about. I wanted to make sure I took Victoria to all the touristy places but also the hidden gems too. We then went onto Liberty's and Carnaby street which has a much more alternative scene. We popped into Kingly Court and then onto Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square. Victoria seemed to be really impressed with Trafalgar Square which was nice to see. I think the highlight of her day though was seeing the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace! We escaped from the manic-ness to St James's Park which has stunning views both towards the city and Buckingham Palace itself, we were also lucky enough to see some of the resident Pelicans. We then ventured into Westminster Square, walking past Westminster Abbey and Westminster Palace as well. We then popped on the tube to St Paul's. We walked around it, and went inside to the Chapel. We then went up to the roof of One New Change opposite St Paul's which offers fantastic views of London - thankfully it was still reasonably sunny at this point. We then walked through the city of London past the Bank of England, the new Walkie Talkie building to Leadenhall Market which is architecturally stunning, constructed in the 19th century in the heart of the city. We walked across London Bridge, glimpsed at the Shard and hurried ourselves to Borough Market for Lunch as we were starving. Under London Bridge station, Borough Market has a huge collection of Street Food, I had Paella and Victoria had a venison burger. We ate overlooking the Thames and it was really nice to hear all about Victoria's farm in Canada. We then walked down to Shakespeare's Globe and the Tate Modern. We walked across the 'wobbly bridge' or Millennium Bridge and got the tube to Tower Hill. We walked around the whole of the Tower of London and then hopped back on the tube to Knightsbridge. I took Victoria to Harrods, specifically the food hall which she really enjoyed. We then got the tube to the Southbank, took in the London Eye and then met up with Alastair Mogford in Covent Garden where we ate some yummy Ben's Cookies! We walked from Marble Arch to Paddington through Hyde Park and saw Victoria onto her train. We had a really fun day together, I learnt a lot about her farming life and studies in Canada.

Thursday 20th: Christina O’Hare from Abingdon YFC took Victoria on a day trip around Oxford. Here is Christina’s write up of the day:
The bus stopped outside the Oxford castle so we had a look at the motte and the prison hotel (Malmaison). We started the tour with a wander through the covered market, where we picked up a selection of Bens Cookies. We took a look around the famous Blackwell's bookshop and walked in amongst the university buildings in the Radcliffe square, to take some photos of the architecture. We watched fudge being made at the Fugde Kitchen (and obviously tasted the free samples). We headed to the best view of Oxfords 'dreaming spires' from the top of St Mary's church, up the tiniest stair wells. After lunch at The Buttery we did some museum trips around the natural history museum with the dinosaurs and the Pitt Rivers museum of the aboriginals. Finishing in the meadows of Christchurch and to take a look at where the inspiration for the Great Hall in the Harry Potter films came from a guide showed us the various parts that featured in the film. Along with a look around the Christchurch cathedral.
Christina then took Victoria along to Abingdon YFCs meeting, we had a joint meeting with our juniors, it had the brilliant title of “Farm Olympics”. Competions included; straw bale stacking, egg throwing, apple bobbing and more!

Friday 21st:  Victoria went into Syngenta with my mum to have a look as the research facilities are Jealott’s Hill.  
In the evening we had a look around a small holding where they breed Gloucester Old Spot pigs.

At the weekend we (Isobel, Victoria, Christina) went to Hampshire to take part in Wield's local Village Olympics. Our team was Australia, (made up of 9 young farmers and young villagers). Dressed as Koalas, Kangeroos and Bondi Beach lifeguards, we look part in 8 different events including; dodgeball, volley ball, ultimate frisbee, beer pong, Dutch long ball, handball (which we were surprisingly good at). Our teams best event was tug of war which we won, obviously down to everything we had learnt in young farmers! For lunch we had to make a meal traditional to our teams country - being Australia it had to be a Barbie with shrimps (and burgers and hotdogs). Overall we came 7th I think our slip and slide skills may have let us down on this occasion. Considering the majority of our team was doing this for the first time the fact that we were actually quite a way off being last (11 teams in total) we were all very proud.
The Village Olympics where followed by one of the Yew Tree Pubs legendry’s after parties, which was Victoria’s first night out in England – shockingly! With a sounds tract starting in the 50’s going thought the decades to present day we party and danced into the wee hours!

The next morning, all slightly tired and with a gale bowling outside the cricket match we were going to watch was cancelled but this meant Ben could showed us around his farm, including the sheep flock and vineyard. His dad gave us a tour around the winery where they showed us the process for making their Hattingley Valley wines from the collecting of the grapes to the bottling. Followed by a large village lunch at the Winery.

Monday 24th: Katy Appleby form Abingdon YFC took Victoria for a day out in Marlow and Henley. They walked along the River Thames, went into lots of little independent shops and had afternoon tea.  

Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th: Laura Ford and Fran Hook from Witney YFC had Victoria for 2 days. They took her to Burford for afternoon tea by the river, Blenheim Palace gardens, Aston Pottery for more tea and cakes, and of course a tour around PD Hooks Hatchery.  

Thursday 27th: Victoria flow home

Having Victoria stay was a really great experience even though I was working for most of the week and had to rely on lots of help from other members of Abingdon and Oxfordshire YFC to help out in hosting her. This meant that she got to see a lot of different things in different places and had a lot of variety in the 10 days. It was of course daunting collecting a complete stranger from the station but by the time she left we were friends and I can’t wait to go out to Canada one day and stay with Victoria! I would recommend hosting to anyone, all you need is a spare room! Oxfordshire YFC very kindly gave a generous grant thanks to the Oxfordshire Agricultural Society Trust which meant we could afford to give Victoria a really fun week showing off Oxfordshire and its surrounding areas at its best!

Here is Victoria’s review of here time in Oxfordshire:
On August 17 I headed to my final (!!) host family of my trip, located in Oxfordshire. Isobel (Abingdon Young Farmers) picked me up from the train station and hosted a barbeque that night so that I could meet some of the other members of her club. I spent Tuesday with Amber, who works for Oxfordshire Young Farmers. She took me hiking on the hills in the area and for a drive in her 1978 MGB Roadster! On Wednesday I went to London, where I got to see several of the famous sights, including a changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace! Thursday I got to spend in Oxford, with visits to Oxford University and a couple awesome (and free) museums. On Friday my host mom Judith took me to her work, the Jealott’s Hill Syngenta Research Station. It was fascinating seeing all the parts of the research there, from a formulations robot to insects to microscopes. The weekend was spent down in Hampshire, where I took part in a “Village Olympics”. I was part of team Australia and we played all sorts of games throughout the day, from volleyball to ultimate Frisbee to slip n slide! On Sunday I got to tour a winery that makes sparkling wine. Monday was spent in Henley and Marlow. Tuesday and Wednesday I spent with the Witney Young Farmers, where I toured a hatchery, explored the town of Burford and went for high tea! Thursday was time for me to pack up and head home! Overall I had a great time in Oxfordshire.

Isobel Mogford, Christina O’Hare, Joanna Sheldon & Victoria Kyle