A Taste of “home” in England
As part of my study abroad program, we are required to spend a weekend with a family who lives in the United Kingdom. Myself and about twenty-five other students in my program had their home stays this weekend in Shap, a town right below the border of Scotland. So Friday evening we boarded the bus and said goodbye to Edinburgh for a few days and headed about 3 hours south. I had done a home stay my senior year of high school in France for a little over a week so I was ready to face whatever came my way this past weekend. Seven other students and I were placed with this one family (god bless them) who lived on a farm about twenty minutes away from Shap! From the first moment I met them they could not have been nicer! We headed straight home to their place when we arrived and they had a hot meal waiting for us on the table. I was especially greatful because they had to go out of their way to make a vegetarian alternative for me every time we ate (I’m such a fuss I know). By the time we finished dinner it was almost 11pm, so we just headed to bed.
Where we stayed used to be the barn of the farm that was converted into a mini-hostel (my family were professional hosts, I tell you). A few years ago, my family was given a grant by the English government to create this living arrangement so they could bring international students, children, and people with disabilities to their place to educate them about farm life. If you want to know a little bit more about the awesome work they do, here is the link to their website-The Learning Fields. So like I was saying, there were seven other students with me from my program staying at the barn with me. They were all girls. To prevent me from catching cooties, I had the pleasure of having a room all to myself with a nice big double bed, while they were all in a big room together with bunk beds. I won. Compared to other students in my program who had their home stays at different places in Shap, my group lucked out with the living arrangements!
Anyway, on Saturday we woke up fairly early to take advantage of the day. The family drove us around to the city’s center where we walked around, window shopped, and stopped for tea and cakes in this great little cafe.
After our tea break, we headed to the neighboring city town to grab subs [I had this amazing brie and cranberry sub that I am still craving] and had a [snow] picnic on the grounds of castle ruins. I can not remember the name of the castle at the moment, but it was home to King Arthur’s father way back when, which is pretty cool!
After lunch we headed over to our families neighbors house so we could go watch cows being milked [I wish I could make this stuff up]. The farmer’s name was Bob and in the last 25 years he only missed one day of milking his cows, which was a Christmas a few years ago. A dedicated man if you ask me. He was a really interesting guy to say the least, and it was very nice of him to show us around cow paradise.
After cow milking we all helped our host family make dinner back at the barn. After dinner we all just hung out and got to know each other better. What was truly great about being here was that there was not cell phone service or wifi at the house. Sometimes “unplugging” yourself for a weekend is so refreshing. After hanging out we all headed to bed. A girl on my home-stay brought “The Perks of Being a Wall Flower” with her for the weekend and finished it the night before, so she let me borrow it for the rest of the weekend. I saw the movie on the plane over to Scotland actually and was itching to read the book. It was so good and also pretty short so I managed to finish it on Saturday night. I highly highly recommend it to anyone!
Sunday was our last day on the farm. We had breakfast and then got a tour of “The Learning Fields” once and for all. It was a really special place and the family we had stayed with was so proud to show it off to us [I don’t blame them]. It was beautiful in the winter so I can not even imagine how nice it must be in the summer. The Learning Fields have a lot of sensory activities as well as some animals [SHEEEEEEEEEEP] that are used to educate all of the different visitors that come about farm life as well as the environment.
My home stay could not have been better. I was so lucky to have been paired up with such a great family who was so accommodating and eager to show us their lives. It has been one of the many highlights I have had so far in Scotland.
I am going to keep posting [shamelessly] of my cooking adventures. Here is some “Chicken” Pad Thai [used in a loose sense] that I made for dinner. It was actually hella good.
Stay tuned for more crazy wild adventures,