Blog

Village People

Posted on July 11, 2007 by Holly Hayes
Part of: Summer in an Oxfordshire Village

oxfordshire villages

On Saturday afternoon, after completing the morning errands in Oxford and watching the Formula One qualifying race (which is in Britain this weekend!), we went for a walk around our new hometown of Great Milton. We had a wonderful time.

crossroads
A road sign just outside Great Milton (also seen at the top).

country road
A road into the village. It looks like a bike path, but it is actually for cars, a few of which came zooming by as we walked along. In the English countryside, most of the roads are "single-track", meaning that only one car can use it at a time. There are occasional small pull-outs that you have to squeeze into when meeting an oncoming car, and there are many blind corners and hills that require nerves of steel. But there seem to be few incidents, as everyone is used to it.

me
Fun with a convex mirror at a bend in the road.

village entrance
Entering Great Milton.

cottage
One of many lovely cottages scattered around the village.

downtown
"Downtown" Great Milton. An hourly bus leaves here to go into Oxford.

the local
The village's only pub, The Bull. We haven't tried it yet, but we will!

the old post office
Great Milton's only shop, which doubles as the post office. It was closed, but seems to have some basic staples like newspapers, bread and candy.

great milton church great milton church
Great Milton's church, which I've photographed a number of times before. But when the sun's out and I have my wide-angle lens, of course I can't just walk by! We still haven't seen the inside, as we have to get the keys from next door and haven't bothered yet.

le manoir
And this is what's next door: Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, which I think I've also mentioned briefly before. It's one of the finest restaurants in the entire UK and has prices to match (upwards of $200 each for dinner). It is housed in a 14th-century manor and has luxurious lodgings to go with the restaurant.

We explored Le Manoir's property in depth this time, although we are probably not supposed to as non-customers. We just tried to look like we belonged and no one asked questions! Thankfully some rich people dress down. :)

vegetable garden courgette flowers
Above are the huge vegetable and herb gardens whose products are used in the restaurant. The greenhouse (with zucchini) looked very X-Files to me.

But this was the best part of all. As we were heading out of Le Manoir and admiring the fancy cars in the parking lot, we heard a helicopter overhead. Soon we realized it was landing nearby! Right next to the parking lot is a small, grassy helipad.

helicopter and mercedes

We were SO jealous. We figured they were either arriving at Le Manoir from London, or had been out to some nearby tourist destination for the day. How awesome would that be? I have come to really hate airports, and trains and crowded roads are not a lot of fun either, so if I could afford a helicopter I would totally suck up my fear of heights and use it regularly!

After the pilots made lots of adjustments overhead and turned off the rotor, we watched three happy, rich-looking women in linen pants and high heels emerge and head for their hotel room. Nice.

After they left, we approached the helicopter and David asked the pilot if he could take a picture. He clearly gets this a lot: he beckoned each of us in turn to come pose with him for pictures.

david with helicopter holly with helicopter

Then he said he had to be going, but would be back in about a half an hour. He seemed to assume we were staying there and might actually use the helicopter, which was awesome.

David asked where he was going, and get this: he was a shuttle to the Formula One race! Of all things! We should have thought of that, as the Silverstone race track is just north of Oxford. The traffic approaching the race track is notoriously bad, so this would just be the coolest thing ever.

helicopter takeoff

Then he was off within minutes. The takeoff was so much fun to watch. We were joined by a local family on a walk with their kids and a dog and we all waved at him as he flew away.

lower end

That excitement behind us, we headed back home via a footpath through the fields, which began on the delightfully-named Lower End road. One of the things England really has going for are the many great names of streets and villages.

footpath countryside
Our footpath home took us through some seriously spectacular views of the countryside. I can't get over how big the sky is out here - it reminds me of Montana! The combination of very few buildings, fairly flat land, and not too many trees just makes it seem to go on forever.

farm
A barn on the way home.

We have been disappointed there aren't more animals on the farm - especially cats, which have been nowhere to be seen - but while we were out exploring back here, we did discover he has pigs!

snout
Oink, oink!