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Sunday 14th July 2013

Tiddington Fete, Oxfordshire

Is there anything more English than the village fete? The stalls selling their wares on the village green, the Pims, beer and tea, with the games to win a small prize. It had been decades since my last fete. That had been organised my local Catholic Church, and since my Scout troop used the church hall, I with the other Scouts manned the throw a wet sponge at the Scoutmaster stall. That fete in my eyes was notable for a bloke greeting Parish Priest with a cheery but slightly inappropriate,

“Well hello vicar, how the devil are you?!”

Tiddington is one of those pretty little villages destined to be driven though but not often stopped at. If you live in the south of England chances are you’ve been close by as the M40 runs about half a mile south, and the A418 runs from Oxford to Thame through the village.

Despite the passing traffic the village hasn’t been immune to the ravages of time. The railway station closed in 1963, a victim of the Beeching axe, and the local pub, The Fox became an Indian restaurant, but that’s now closed and the villagers are hoping to buy back the pub and run it as a co-operative. For more than 50 years an annual tug-of-war with the neighbouring Buckinghamshire village of Ickford has been held each summer across the River Thame (not to be confused with the Thames), which forms the boundary between both the two parishes and counties.

I walked around, and took in my surroundings. I listened for the accents; around these parts you may only be 5 miles out of Oxford, but the voices are very different. In Oxford itself there are two accents, the famous drawl of the academics called Oxford Gown, and the locals’ accent which is more estuary, Oxford Town, influenced by London to the east. Once outside you hear Oxford agricultural, the burr a result of the woollen industry to the west.

I loved eating an ice cream whilst listening to the Silver Band, and bought two books for a measly 75p from the book stall. I watched the games on offer, all seeming to be based around the skill of aim, including the pub game of Aunt Sally that you only see in Oxfordshire.

It was all rather too warm, so I retreated to the Village Hall for a drink, but got dragged out once again for a Tiddington village tradition, egg throwing! I didn’t win, but then I was just pleased that neither my partner or I got egg on our faces, both literally or figuratively! I’d like to thank Kim for taking the last two pictures, one of which I couldn’t have possibly taken!