Picking sunflowers in Kent – Motorcycle journals

A bunch of freshly picked sunflowers on a wooden table.
STATS:

Bike – Yamaha XJR 1300 aka The Beast
Period – 25th August 2019, day trip
Duration – half a day
Distance covered – cca 116 km or 72 miles
Issues with the bike – too short of a trip
Number of roadkill – none
Favourite part of the road– passing over Dartford Bridge

One thing I love about the August bank holiday in UK is that it usually falls just in between our wedding anniversary and my birthday. This year we decided to have a whole anniversary weekend as it was the fifth year of us not killing each other 😀 Saturday we went down to the East Sussex coast and on the Sunday the husband took me sunflower picking in Kent knowing sunflowers are one of my favourite flowers, so much so that they were almost the only flowers at our wedding. There is quite a fun anecdote with the sunflowers that happened the morning of the wedding (if not interested, skip the next paragraph)

Wedding anecdote: It’s 2014. My mum knows a woman who has a field of sunflowers close to her house so we decided that this way would be the cheapest way of getting our hands on loads of them for the wedding. On the morning of the wedding, my mother goes to pick them up. The woman picked them fresh that morning but, on her way to the market, the poor thing fell of a bicycle into the mud and all the sunflowers that she had picked were ruined. The florists has only small ones and not many of them. My last chance is to call my cousin who is driving to the wedding from the farthest east of Slavonia and who will be passing fields and fields of sunflowers on the way to my hometown (and the wedding). So my lovely cousin stops in the middle of some random field and packs a trunk full of wild sunflowers and thus saves this flower catastrophe.

Now that you know the extent of my sunflower love, let’s get back to our little trip.

There are several farms with fields of sunflowers near us which have the option to come and pick your own flowers or other things, depending on the season (apples, strawberries, pumpkins, pears, lavender). Actually, there is one about 10 minutes drive from our home, but we only found that out after this short road trip.

Meopham map
Our route A12 – M25 – Dartford Bridge – A2 – A227

We picked a farm down in North Kent, in a small village called Meopham. It is only a 45 minute ride away. It was such a hot day, hotter than the day before. Looking back on it now, maybe we should have picked chillin in the garden with a G&T. Hindsight is 20/20, huh? It was a quick and easy ride, the only problem was the already mentioned sun beating down on us relentlessly making us sweat in the riding gear. Our route (see map) took us over Dartford Bridge.

I love going over that bridge! The view is not the best as it overlooks the factories and cargo ships, but it feels very liberating being high above it all, visors lifted with the breeze cooling us down. Another plus, Dartford crossing is free for motorcycles.

After some more miles baking in the persistent sun, we got to Meopham. Gotta tell you now, once we got there, I was a tiny bit disappointed. Let me show you why.

Sunflower fields in Croatia: 

And this was the field in Kent:

I am standing in a filed with a few sunflowers. My back is turned to the camera and I have a big sunflower in my hair.

In my opinion, this is a small field, yes. But a sunflower field? Erm, no… Still, we managed to pick a bunch of golden suns sent to the earth. They were 80 pence a piece. Quite a few of them were broken half way down the stem as people passed them by so if you decide to go, please be a bit more mindful.

PhotoCollage_20190826_225036262.jpg

The farm sold home made apple and pear juice (£2.75 a one litre bottle). We got a bottle of the apple one and it was super tasty! When we got home and opened it, it was difficult to keep ourselves from drinking it straight away.

I already mentioned it was ridiculously hot day, right? Having picked our flowers, we sat down for an ice cold coffee and a big bottle of icy cold water. Thumbs up to the staff who were super polite and even refilled our water after we lapped it up. We were not ready to go home yet, it was too hot to get back in the riding gear. We decided to go and feed the pigs! They were 6 months old so were not as small or as cute as you’d want them to be but it was still a fun activity. Every shake they made landed mud on both of us! We were so engrossed with their filthy grunts I managed to lose a lens cap somewhere by their pen.

Apart from the entertaining pigs, the farm had the Maize maize (cool name, ha?) where you could wander the corn labyrinth. With the heat, this was a definite pass. Last thing we needed was getting lost in the middle of a corn field and seeing some seriously sunburnt children of the corn.

As the time passed, it was only getting hotter and we decided to go back home before the bike got too hot to sit on. The sunflowers we picked were a little bit wilted due to the heat. Our hope lied in managing to resuscitate them once home. Most of the flowers survived the trip, but not all. Curse you, you giant ball of gas! Your children did not survive your relentless rays. We learned our lesson for next time: ask the staff to keep the flowers in water while we go around frolicking with piggies!!

***One of my best friends insisted that I give you a bit of history on Ivandvor, where the photos of the Croatian sunflower fields were taken. As he drove over two hours (one way) just to come and whisk me away for a fun weekend in Slavonia and then return me home, I think I owe him this one. And it is promoting the continental part of Croatia that people keep ignoring. 

Ivandvor is the location of the State Stud Farm which was visited by Queen Elizabeth II on 20th October 1972. She actually arrived in Đakovo on a train (trust me, if you knew the state of the Croatian railways nowadays you would be laughing your ass off). Anyways, as my friend took me to Ivandvor to look at horses because I love horses (how can you not, they are magical creatures!!) he also took me to see the house where the Queen stayed during her visit. It is a very relaxing and “get back to nature” place. Also it was surrounded with masive fields of sunflowers. In short, if the road ever takes you to Đakovo, take a tiny detour and visit Ivandvor***

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