My Wychwood experience

In my final year of high school, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do when I graduated. There was a possibility of going to university, maybe working full time or potentially taking a gap year out to work and travel; which is how I ended up here, in Milton under Wychwood!

At the very beginning of March last year, a friend and I travelled all the way from Christchurch, New Zealand to London, England. We are both from a small town called Rangiora about 20 minutes out from the city centre of Christchurch, located in the South Island. Christchurch is mostly known for its creative street art, beautiful scenic views and animals as well as its recent earthquakes which took lives and drastically damaged our city centre in 2010 and 2011.

I am lucky enough to have lots of family on this side of the world and am even luckier that my AMAZING Auntie, Uncle and cousin opened their home for us to stay in when while we were here. We managed to get a job at The Hare – this being our first ever waitressing job. Everyone at The Hare was so friendly and welcoming towards us and the atmosphere and environment is always so uplifting that we learnt so much from everyone around us. However, shortly after we first arrived, they had to close due to Covid-19 but fortunately we were able to work full time from August until Christmas.

During our time in lockdown, we were able to explore a lot of Milton and its neighbouring villages on long walks and bike rides. My uncle and I took up cycling and were doing around 35-40km per day but the Cotswolds isn’t the easiest place to cycle – you are either going uphill or down – there never is any in between! By bike I was really able to admire all the pretty village houses and views and I have to admit, if we were going to be stuck anywhere, the Cotswolds is a pretty nice place to be stuck.

The Wychwoods are such a beautiful part of the country and everyone here is so friendly and always interested to find out where you come from and whether you are in enjoying your stay. Especially while working in such a small village pub you really do get to know many of the local residents and they are always happy to hear how you are.

Although, we did like the quiet nature of the Wychwoods we were able to venture out when we could, getting the train into London many times and also making it to Bath, Brighton, and Edinburgh for weekends away. Not really what we had in mind for our year of travel but was still an amazing experience. It’s just so crazy to think that if we had booked our tickets for two weeks later, we probably wouldn’t have even made it over here and wouldn’t have had this experience of life in the Cotswolds!

Elsa, my friend who I travelled over here with, went home at the end of October to be home for Christmas but because I have family over here, I wanted to experience a winter Christmas, as I am used to it being in the summer. But now my time here is coming to an end and I am trying to get home in April. This year I plan to go to university back in NZ to study production/event management. Although last year didn’t go as planned, we are both never going to forget the year of 2020: the one when we were stuck in the Cotswolds!

Olivia Chunn

April-May 2021