"Hello. Could we cut your grass?"
July 7, 2016 7:08 PM   Subscribe

Kidlington is a quiet little suburb in Oxfordshire, England. Well, it was quiet until tourists mysteriously started showing up for no reason.
posted by JoeZydeco (64 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
It does seem like a nice place to visit.
posted by 4ster at 7:14 PM on July 7, 2016


Has anyone but the one unnamed neighbor thought to ask them why they're there?
posted by enjoymoreradio at 7:21 PM on July 7, 2016 [18 favorites]


This is wonderful.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:22 PM on July 7, 2016


I like this. I would be inclined to leave for work each morning in a horse mask just to add to the fun.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:25 PM on July 7, 2016 [23 favorites]


Thy sure took a long time to mention they were Chinese tourists.
posted by resurrexit at 7:25 PM on July 7, 2016 [11 favorites]


Like a Chinese version of the Rick Steves Effect.

(Assuming they are Chinese, the article wasn't willing to commit.)
posted by clorox at 7:25 PM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I met a couple the other day who were Doc Martin fans. They have traveled several times to Port Isaac, where the series is filmed. As they complained about the influx of tourists to the small village, they seemed oblivious to the fact that they were part of that invasion. I suspect we'll see more and more of this as fandom drives our lives (even when locations are mistaken!).
posted by HuronBob at 7:28 PM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


Also I think it would be interesting to see a list of most popular tourist destinations broken down by country of origin. What are Germans more likely to do in Paris than other people? What are Canadians more likely to do in Japan than Americans?
posted by clorox at 7:32 PM on July 7, 2016 [11 favorites]


I can list probably 15 nicer and more cutesy English villages on a rough line between Bicester Village and Oxford.

Namely, most of the other villages between Bicester Village and Oxford. I mean, I like Kidlington, and have spent a lot of time there, but it is not a patch on any of the proper small villages. Kidlington is more town than village these days.
posted by Brockles at 7:33 PM on July 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


Bizarrely, it doesn't mention anyone trying to cash in on this.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 7:36 PM on July 7, 2016


I bet Doc Martin tourists are on the whole nicer to have than Broadchurch tourists.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:42 PM on July 7, 2016 [8 favorites]


My sister and I believe that anywhere we haven't already seen is ripe for our tourism. This afternoon we played on an ancient piece of playground equipment (which we later dated to the 1910s) behind a very old school building in an extremely small town in the middle of nowhere. We took many photos to the amusement of those living nearby. This sort of thing is far, far more satisfying than the usual beaten path.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:43 PM on July 7, 2016 [17 favorites]


If watching Hot Fuzz has taught me anything, it's that the entire town of Kidlington is obviously up to no good and tourists will soon wind up dead in mysterious accidents in an attempt to protect their charming little town.

It is, of course, possible that watching Hot Fuzz has taught me nothing.
posted by zachlipton at 7:55 PM on July 7, 2016 [52 favorites]


What are Canadians more likely to do in Japan than Americans?

Based on my experience being mistaken for Canadian in Japan for being polite, I'm going to say be polite.
posted by aaronetc at 8:01 PM on July 7, 2016 [12 favorites]


As they complained about the influx of tourists to the small village, they seemed oblivious to the fact that they were part of that invasion.

Please do not, under any circumstances, disturb the emmets.

Not until we've had their money anyway.

I have, at this point, lived more than half my life on the wrong side of the Tamar but, having spent some years in the last decade dependent solely on the vital pasty-dollar, I never want to see a tourist with a functioning wallet discouraged. Bless them for enabling us to eat.
posted by howfar at 8:18 PM on July 7, 2016 [10 favorites]


It is, of course, possible that watching Hot Fuzz has taught me nothing.

Feel free to spool through, though.
posted by nubs at 8:22 PM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


Based on my experience being mistaken for Canadian in Japan for being polite, I'm going to say be polite.

On a tangent to this (because I have no anecdata relating to Japan), my experience is that it's regarded as polite, in some tourist destinations, to affect the assumption that all people with North American accents are Canadian.
posted by howfar at 8:24 PM on July 7, 2016 [23 favorites]


Actual reporting here would have involved asking the visitors. The BBC's report is a little less terrible than the version I saw in the Telegraph, because it offers the suggestion that it's en route to Bicester Village, but it's infuriating that this is depicted as a 'mystery' when it could probably be cleared up with a little bit of shoe-leather journalism.

And yeah, Kidlington's basically a commuter suburb.
posted by holgate at 8:31 PM on July 7, 2016 [7 favorites]


A great story, and I want to know more, but I'd guess it's a message board or a tour operator.

Comments on the Facebook page mentioned in the article do offer a nice glimpse of xenophobic hostility, though.
posted by Miko at 8:34 PM on July 7, 2016


I wonder how many times some unremarkable (to the people who live there) Chinese village has been descended on by waves of European tourists.
posted by dilaudid at 8:35 PM on July 7, 2016 [15 favorites]


The part where they photograph news photographers not finding any tourists to photograph is really the best. Maybe the tourists are themselves a hoax the local residents are playing on the media?
posted by zachlipton at 8:43 PM on July 7, 2016 [8 favorites]


"What are Canadians more likely to do in Japan than Americans?"

Go to Canadian World, I assume.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:49 PM on July 7, 2016 [6 favorites]


It's a mystery that I'm not sure will ever be solved.

I am so confused. There are people doing something outside your home and everyone including the BBC seems to feel that actually finding out they are doing is beyond all possibility? As if communication within our own species is clearly an insurmountable challenge?

This is a sly joke, right? A parody of what the news would if be there were no journalists and all news is reported by people speculating on message boards?
posted by mark k at 9:33 PM on July 7, 2016 [27 favorites]


I think the local residents are just saying the mysterious tourists are showing up, which will create a buzz around the town, and then tourists will show up for real. The sly devils.
posted by DrumsIntheDeep at 9:40 PM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Here's the piece from the Telegraph, again running the lazy 'mystery' angle. And because so much online news coverage is about reiteration, and if you don't publish quickly you lose the viral traffic from search and social media, all of the me-too reports take the same line. To be fair, the BBC did a wee bit of original reporting, but wasn't patient enough to hire a Chinese student in Oxford as a stringer to zoom up to Kidlington and talk to next group of tourists to show up.

And it looks like the original tip and photos came from SWNS: everything's basically just reiterating that piece.
posted by holgate at 9:43 PM on July 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


Give it about six more months, then you'll know why all the time-traveling tourists showed up. ;-)
posted by MikeWarot at 10:24 PM on July 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


But this is a local village, for local people!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:46 PM on July 7, 2016 [14 favorites]


Other travel agencies will take you to some tourist trap with 'restored' half-timbered houses; in Kidlington you can meet authentic unspoiled Brits and witness how they express their suppressed desperation by obsessively trimming their lawns.
posted by Segundus at 11:23 PM on July 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


This is good!
I work a lot with a bus company, and mostly with the same driver and one or two of his mates. He tells me they often get jobs with no set plan: just take these tourists/old people/company picnic people out somewhere where they can see a few sights, then eat and drink and socialize.
He claims to enjoy working with me because he gets ideas for those random tours. But my tours often include things like: the first housing estate built entirely with prefab concrete elements; a run-down hotel on a remote island; a local community centre which is next to a large mall, and thus good for snack break; and yes, a suburb which I see as typical and thus interesting for my Chinese students. I am always really curious about how this translates into my bus-driver friend's tour-planning — this may be the work of his British counterpart
posted by mumimor at 11:35 PM on July 7, 2016 [13 favorites]


What are Canadians more likely to do in Japan than Americans?

Talk about Anne of Green Gables with you?
posted by ODiV at 11:46 PM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


Wrong! That's what Japanese people are more likely to do to Canadians.
posted by No-sword at 11:52 PM on July 7, 2016 [9 favorites]


huh, I guess I am more of a Morse fan boy than I knew since my intuition was telling me it was Morse related (though if these are Chinese or Japanese tourists, that seems unlikely).
posted by juv3nal at 12:41 AM on July 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm thinking maybe Improv Everywhere has gone global.
posted by TedW at 1:06 AM on July 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Disturbing and ominous. I imagine lots of worried conversations in hushed voices between the villagers over a cup of tea.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:18 AM on July 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Baz Daniels, who has lived in Kidlington for more than 20 years, said he had been in touch with a friend in China to try to get to the bottom of the tourist influx to his village.

"Kidlington is apparently being marketed by Chinese tourist agencies as a beautiful English village on the way to Bicester Village shopping centre," he said.

"Many of the visitors live in cities, and love to see things like the hanging baskets and little flowers in people's gardens.

posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 2:54 AM on July 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Stop that Rainbo Vagrant, you're killing the mystery!
posted by chavenet at 3:04 AM on July 8, 2016


I am so confused. There are people doing something outside your home and everyone including the BBC seems to feel that actually finding out they are doing is beyond all possibility? As if communication within our own species is clearly an insurmountable challenge?

You're not British, are you?

I kid, I kid. I'm not British either. But after 5 very pleasant years here, I will (lovingly) say that "inquisitive small-talk with strangers" is not something that is reliably in the British wheelhouse.
posted by chalkbored at 3:19 AM on July 8, 2016 [15 favorites]


If they do turn out to be Morse fans, it would explain how they've ended up in a small town outside Oxford: they've made the fatal mistake of assuming that the TV show is a reliable guide to how to navigate around Oxford when it's actually one of the most spectacular cases of TV Geography out there.
posted by Major Clanger at 4:08 AM on July 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


my experience is that it's regarded as polite, in some tourist destinations, to affect the assumption that all people with North American accents are Canadian.


Not only that, but to say to someone that they are so rude that people think they're American when they travel overseas is considered a dire insult in Canada.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:21 AM on July 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


"Kidlington is apparently being marketed by Chinese tourist agencies as a beautiful English village on the way to Bicester Village shopping centre," he said.

Bicester Village – a kind of outdoor Selfridges in bungalows – is a big draw for the All-of-Europe-in-a-week Chinese bus tour industry. It really looks like someone looking to add a sightseeing stop to their tour mistyped the name of the next village over, nobody noticed, and now the entire industry is adding an ordinary residential area to their itinerary of famous landmarks and outlet villages.

I have sympathy for the residents, some for the tourists (although I want to ask, how would you feel if that were your front garden??), none for the tour operators (or guidebook editors or travel bloggers or whoever is responsible). When your actions run the risk of redirecting large flows of short-term visitors, you should act responsibly towards the people and the landscape of the place. That includes respecting local sensitivities of what are and are not ‘tourist places’.
posted by ormon nekas at 4:34 AM on July 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


This is a local shop, for local people! We'll have no trouble here!
posted by rorgy at 4:39 AM on July 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


It’s a question of scale, isn’t it? Yes, it would be ridiculous for locals to be wary of the occasional tourist having a walk around their village streets, and as a tourist I’ve sometimes done the same. But regularly scheduled coaches? League of Gentlemen jokes seem out of place.
posted by ormon nekas at 4:52 AM on July 8, 2016


chalkbored: I kid, I kid. I'm not British either. But after 5 very pleasant years here, I will (lovingly) say that "inquisitive small-talk with strangers" is not something that is reliably in the British wheelhouse.

Cozy British murder-mysteries have lied to me.
posted by pseudonymph at 5:08 AM on July 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


(on a lighter note, between this and this, we are basically looking at people taking a 10,000-km trip to see minor variations on Thames Town, and liking it)
posted by ormon nekas at 5:26 AM on July 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I assume that Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia was once a quiet little town, no different from a dozen others, before the fleets of tour buses started coming, and they had to turn half the place into a giant parking lot to accommodate them.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:32 AM on July 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


ormon nekas: thanks!

A little digging reveals that Bicester Village was created by Value Retail plc. Other similar projects include La Vallée Village within Disneyland Paris. More elsewhere in Europe. Plus two (and more to come) in China. Further info, if anyone is interested, at Value Retail.
posted by Mister Bijou at 6:09 AM on July 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I said Kidlington, diddle I?
posted by blue_beetle at 6:27 AM on July 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


The quirky magical-realist novel almost writes itself.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:34 AM on July 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


IME people in Japan did not care what particular country you came from, it was more remarkable that you were not Japanese. I've definitely never experienced this "assume Canadian" thing, and only a couple of times have I bothered to correct anyone calling me or my friends American. Once was in the early 2000s in Prague with a bunch of friends. We were at Letna Park hanging out, and some locals were annoyed with us. Kept throwing a ball at our table and their dogs would chase it. The one guy we were with who lived there went over to talk to them and when they found out we weren't American, they stopped. I gather you guys were not very popular in the Czech Republic during the Bush years. We also gota negative reaction to being Canadian once, it was during the World Hockey Championships and we were walking out of a bar after the Canada - Slovakia game that Canada won, and this Slovak cab driver gets out of his cab, starts pissing on this beautiful old cathedral, and yells "CANADA FUCKING". We were like, "what?" And he clarified "CANADA FUCKING STUPID". OK then, see ya around, church pissing cabbie!
posted by Hoopo at 8:43 AM on July 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


The quirky magical-realist novel almost writes itself.

That or a revenge plot against a neighbour who has done you some great wrong.

They soon discover that, according to Tripadvisor and numerous travel blogs, why yes, their house is open to self-guided tours and of course you're welcome to bring a picnic lunch and eat it on their lawn. Public washrooms are also available on site.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:44 AM on July 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Kidlington is more town than village these days.

Yes - twisted, and evil.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 9:46 AM on July 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


"They are time travellers, something terrible must happen to your village when we finally exit the EU, they just want to see Kidlington before the event."
posted by doctornemo at 9:58 AM on July 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I wonder how many times some unremarkable (to the people who live there) Chinese village has been descended on by waves of European tourists.

One hundred percent agree. I'm sure it's happened to thousands of towns and villages around the world that happened to catch the fancy of a travel writer.
posted by roolya_boolya at 9:58 AM on July 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm sure it's happened to thousands of towns and villages around the world that happened to catch the fancy of a travel writer.

Such as Verity Hodge aka Dawn French
posted by doiheartwentyone at 10:45 AM on July 8, 2016


That or a revenge plot against a neighbour who has done you some great wrong.

(The kind of revenge that a neighbour would enact in a quirky magical-realist novel...)
posted by tobascodagama at 10:46 AM on July 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Feel free to spool through, though.

It's for the greater good.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:56 AM on July 8, 2016


These tourists, they try to find the Dursleys, I'm sure. Worst kind of Muggles.
posted by Namlit at 12:03 PM on July 8, 2016


It's for the greater good.

The greater good.
posted by zachlipton at 12:16 PM on July 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


The greater good

Yarp
posted by nubs at 12:39 PM on July 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Definitely enjoying the time-travelers theory. Anyone else here ever see Grand Tour: Disaster in Time?
posted by webmutant at 1:37 PM on July 8, 2016


I have, although I think they should have just left the title as "The Grand Tour". The title gives the whole thing away a bit.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:36 PM on July 8, 2016


CANADA FUCKING STUPID

Really? What a bummer! Oh, well.

[lies down in the Taiga to die]
posted by CynicalKnight at 10:13 AM on July 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


IME people in Japan did not care what particular country you came from, it was more remarkable that you were not Japanese.

At least in my case, the person mistaking me for Canadian was a Canadian ex-pat.
posted by aaronetc at 11:03 AM on July 9, 2016




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