The news has been pretty bleak recently – well, pretty much all year to be honest – and so this story on the BBC website yesterday was a bit of light relief:

Kidlington ‘mystery tourists’ baffle Oxfordshire village

Residents of a village have been baffled by the weekly appearance of “coach loads” of tourists in their road.

Groups of sightseers in Kidlington have been seen posing for photos in front gardens and against parked cars.

Locals have no idea why the quiet suburb, about five miles north of Oxford, has become a tourist magnet.

There have been numerous theories put forward as to why the tourists have suddenly started arriving:

  • The title of an Inspector Morse novel published in Japan is “Disappeared from Kidlington”
  • They are mistaking Kidlington with the nearby “quintessential English village” of Kirtlington
  • Students from Oxford University are performing some sort of covert social experiment

According to the BBC, local resident Nick Allington, said that one tourist had even asked to cut the grass in their garden. “It’s a mystery that I’m not sure will ever be solved” he added.

I sympathise with Nick Allington. The mystery is always more interesting than the answer, and for me, there is a difference between a true mystery and a mere puzzle or riddle. The puzzle has intrigue and interest, but ultimately it solvable. There is an answer and you just need to find it. A true mystery might not have any solution at all. There may not be an answer out there.

Sadly though, it seems that the case of the Kidlington tourists was just a puzzle rather than a mystery:

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.

“Visitors are now actively asking to add Kidlington to their tour itineraries,” he added.

Just as I sympathise with Nick Allington, I also sympathise with Baz Daniels. I know that if I had been in that situation, I would have been unable to resist the temptation to find the answer, even though I knew it would be disappointing.

Although saying that, maybe Baz’s simple explanation isn’t the full story. Maybe Andrew MacLachlan’s theory is closer to the truth:

“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.”

Be warned, people of Kidlington. Your days (and ours) may be numbered.

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