If you want to visit Clarkson’s Farm, aka Diddly Squat Farm Shop, we were there a few days ago so can give you the inside skinny together with a few thoughts.
Regular readers know that we’re big fans of Jeremy Clarkson and occasionally republish the odd article of his here on the site.
Many only know him from Top Gear, Grand Tour, or Clarkson’s Farm, but in fact, he cut his teeth as a writer. He writes for the Sunday Times, The Sun and has written many books (many of which are just his newspaper articles republished together – but still worth reading twice).
We’d just visited pals in France for a week, and had got off the ferry at Southampton early on a Sunday morning. The long drive back to the north of England is a bit of a drag, so the prospect of visiting Diddly Squat for breakfast en route was too good to miss. I’d wanted to go for a while, but my travels never took me close enough before.
By the way, the A34 from the south into Oxfordshire is a glorious road – no speed cameras and lots of open tarmac to stretch out a big engine. You can tell many influential people live in that neck of the woods – they don’t want speed cameras. They want to have fun in their vintage Ferraris and MGs on a Sunday morning. It’s like driving in 1953. Great fun!
I naively thought JC himself might be floating around somewhere on the farm, I had a couple of bottles of nice French Rosé to give him if I saw him. Alas, it was not to be on this visit. And I think I know why. More on that later.
However, if you want to visit Clarkson’s Farm, aka Diddly Squat Farm Shop, I’ll tell you what to expect.
First, you will put the postcode of OX7 3PE into your car’s navigation. Depending on what you drive, that may be a mistake. I drive a newish Range Rover (full fat 4.4 V8, naturally), and inputting that postcode took me up a private road to a row of houses about three miles away. I bet the people who live there find that very tedious. It must happen dozens of times a day.
Back on the main road, I swapped over to Google Maps on my phone, Google knows where Diddly Squat Farm Shop is, and it’s not up a dusty dead-end road.
Apparently, you are encouraged to park on a bit of field 100 yards up the road on the opposite side, I didn’t know this so parked on the verge outside.
I was hoping for the standard car in front of the Diddly Squat sign photo you see often on Instagram. Alas, the small car park by the sign was full of chavs in lowered VW Golfs, aged Subaru Imprezas with gold wheels, and similar types of vehicles with exhausts that look like beans tins. The ones that young marijuana enthusiast blokes with small gentlemen sausages and greasy fringes drive. At first, I thought it was some kind of event or owners club meet. I later decided that these people imagined they were in some way hanging out with Jezza.
We managed a few photos with the famous sign. As it was freezing cold, my usually rather glamorous wife was dressed for the cold instead of the fashionista she usually is (Although I am asked to point out that is a Versace coat and Gucci trainers).
Once inside, you’ll find the place is rammed with people. Even if you are there early as we were.
I think the trick is to join the queue for the shop while another in your party goes and queues for food. We did it the other way around. We went and had breakfast from the trailer around the back, sat around for a bit, and joined the queue later. Which was then three times longer than it was before. Here it was before breakfast.
After breakfast, it was like a queue you might see at Disney. Many hundreds of people. And more Americans yarking loudly in thier two-stroke nasal accents than you might prefer.
But there’s more: let’s discuss breakfast. There’s a trailer around the back where you get food. You order it from a counter nearby (that also sells Hawkstone lager and cider) and get a buzzer when it’s ready. It doesn’t take long, and to be fair, the bacon and sausage rolls are pretty good. Not cheap of course, but they are very decent. As they sell the Hawkstone beer too, blokes are walking about drinking pints of beer at 11am on a Sunday morning. Like they do in the airport.
Who drinks beer at 11am on a Sunday morning? Blokes with Subarus garnished with gold wheels waiting for a Ryanair flight to Spain where they hope to catch Chlamydia off a fat bird from Bradford. That’s who. You’ll find them at Clarkson’s Farm too. But they are mostly quite harmless. Treat it like an anthropology study.
Really, I’d have given up on the shop bit, the queue was so slow (I don’t really do queues), but my teenage daughter wanted to look inside, buy stuff and wanted merch. So I endured. For about two hours.
And about those queues. Some might think them badly organised. As they got bigger, staff moved people into a rag-tag zig-zag pattern back and forth. But to organise them better would involve barriers, fences, cones, signs, people in high-viz jackets, and all manner of things that normal people abhor.
It’s far more Clarksonesque to have you freeze your arse off in a rag-tag queue, in the mud, being assaulted by American accents, clouds of smoke from people’s vapes and the visual feast that is fake sportswear.
At least there’s lots of graffiti from visitors on the wall to read. And a few messages from Clarkson about bee juice, how the turkeys ate the wasabi, and other things to make you chuckle as you pass the time.
Eventually, you’ll get to the entrance.
And in our case, that’s when you find out the milk machine has run out of milk. I wanted my bottle of cow juice after a two-hour wait, but the dratted machine had run dry. A cute sign said the cows were ‘sleeping’. Such is life.
Anyway, eventually, we are inside.
For what is a small shed of a shop, with hundreds of people having already passed through already that day, I’m surprised there was anything at all left to buy. But there was.
Despite the milk machine having run out of cow juice, you can still get the glass bottles, for about six quid.
There are some inviting-looking loaves of uncovered bread, but with 500 of the great unwashed probably coughing on them prior, I decided to avoid those.
Observe the Subaru driver in his anorak on the right above (I don’t think it actually was Jasper Carrot, although it looks like him). And the man with an unfortunate haircut – probably a lowered Golf driver – on the left.
Finally, you get to the till, and now you want to buy some merch, right? Except that’s not allowed. Apparently, the shop is only allowed to sell stuff made within 15 miles of Diddly Squat (stupid council rules I think), so merch is only available online.
There is a discount code available so you get free shipping though. I could publish it here, but that is probably not cricket to do so – so I won’t.
Visit Clarkson’s Farm: a Few Thoughts
We’ve all read or watched how the locals in Chadlington and Chipping Norton despise Clarkson and his Diddly Squat Farm Shop. The Chadlington Mafia even deface local road signs in protest.
As much as I like Jeremy Clarkson, I do kinda get their point. If I had a two million-quid house in Chadlington or thereabouts, I’d not be too pleased if a local celebrity bloke turned our quiet corner of rural England into a daily circus and traffic jam. Rupert doesn’t want hordes of out-of-town yobs, tanked up on Hawkstone, tearing around in lowered Golfs throwing McDonald’s wrappers out of the window while shouting “speed”. You don’t choose to pay big money to live in the Cotswolds to have that on your doorstep. I do get where the red-trousered NIMBYs are coming from there.
But I also get Clarkson’s argument. He has circa 1000 acres he has paid for with his own money. He lives there. He built a house there. He wants a small farm shop where his fans can go to buy some of his produce. And he should be allowed to do that too. He needs a car park, facilities and sufficient amenities to support the visitors. And not all of them are called Bazza and drive a £200 Toyota.
There must be a middle ground there somewhere.
Many of them might be like us, who arrive in a late model Range Rover, and may choose to spend a few days in the locality spending our money. We might choose to stop over in Chadlington and drop £1k in local businesses over the weekend. We didn’t, as we feel we are not welcome there. Look at what the council are doing to Clarkson there. Do the Chadlington NIMBYs not want our tourist money in their quaint villages? It seems not.
Visit Clarkson’s Farm: NIMBYs
I do wonder if the council and the NIMBYs in Chadlintgton make decisions out of jealousy. When we went to Clarkson’s Farm we spent about £100. I’d guess that’s quite average, we only had breakfast and didn’t buy that much.
I had to fill my bottle with Tesco milk for that shot as there was no Diddly Squat milk, but I digress…
We also bought some Hawkstone cider (quite tasty and not gassy in case you wondered).
But let’s crunch some numbers. We spent about £100 in total and were there for about three hours. But let’s say the average spend is £75. There were at least 1000 people there that Sunday morning over three hours. Let’s assume they came in pairs and spent 2-3 hours there. 500 ‘units’ spending £75 each. Times that by three over the day. That’s £112k a day. £787k a week. £40m a year. That small shed is suddenly a significant local business.
I’m only speculating in numbers, so even if you halve that, a £20m pa business in a shed in a field is a BIG small business. And that isn’t counting the online sales. Brand Clarkson is a Cotswolds success story. The local council should be bending over backwards to accommodate him.
A local £20-40m pa business that employs quite a few people, supports other local businesses, and can’t even get permission for a proper car park or anything that is not on stilts or wheels?
That influx of people, if managed properly need not impose on the quality of life of those who live nearby. In fact, managed properly by a proper council, could be a cash cow for local businesses. Putting aside the impecunious chavs in their aged VWs, there is still a group of normal people who might stay nearby, patronise local restaurants and businesses and shop at the local butcher, baker and candlestick maker.
Visit Clarkson’s Farm: Meeting Clarkson
You might be visiting a far-flung corner of Clarkson’s farm, but will you meet the man himself? I’d suggest only if you are lucky. He’s obviously a busy bloke with the writing, Amazon stuff, Millionaire stuff and being a farmist. Despite being ‘cancelled’ by the wokerati for light-heartedly envisaging Sparkle Markle in some scene from Game of Thrones, he is still very much in demand.
We visited on a Sunday morning. Of course, he wasn’t there. Would you be?
Imagine you had a choice between visiting your farm shop and enduring 500 selfies with blokes called Gary by their Subaru or having breakfast with Lisa. What would you choose?
Let’s say each interaction takes a minute. If only 500 people want a selfie and a chat, that’s eight hours. Who wants to do that?
Far better to emerge late morning in your nearby farmhouse wearing loose robes, and have Lisa serve you bacon and eggs while wearing something skimpy, knowing that your nearby farm shop took fifty grand while you were reading your own article in the Sunday Times and eating breakfast.
Jezza is living the dream. All normal blokes aspire to that.
Do you want to meet Clarkson? If I were him, I’d visit my farm shop at 10:15 on a Tuesday morning when it’s pissing down with rain.
Is it worth a visit? If you are a JC fan I’d say it’s a must if you are in the area. But be prepared for queues and hordes of people. I’d personally be disappointed if I had travelled a long way.
And if you’re reading this, Jeremy, have someone clean the bogs occasionally. They resemble something one might find in a favela.
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