Fans of Jeremy Clarkson and his new iteration as a gentleman farmer on the hit Amazon Prime series Clarkson’s Farm will be thrilled to hear a second season is filming. Since I’m staying nearby in Chipping Norton, it’s time to have a look at his Diddly Squat Farm Shop.
Jeremy Clarkson bought his 1,000-acre farm in Chipping Norton in 2008, when he was with his second wife, mother of his three children, though they split in 2014. He leased the land out to a local farmer who planted barley, rapeseed and wheat while he pursued his career as the host of Top Gear. When the farmer retired in 2018, and after his BBC contract wasn’t renewed, Jeremy decided to try farming the land himself. The results are hilarious. Farmers love the show, which reveals what the daily reality of farm life is all about, much better than the long running, and boring, BBC TV series Countryside.
The farm was renamed ‘Diddly Squat’ by Jeremy to indicate its lack of productivity. Diddly squat is American slang for ‘absolutely nothing at all’ probably from a 1930s expression doodly squat, though the current version became popular world-wide in the 1980s by a significant order of magnitude. Doodly apparently meant excrement, so I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. When Jeremy thought he had enough produce to sell, he and his partner Lisa Hogan decided to open a little farm shop. And when I say little, I mean little, although the Diddly Squat Farm Shop seems to be a big hit.
Warned that there might be a long queue to even get near the farm shop, we set out early from my daughter’s delightful little Cotswold stone cottage in Chippie for the 2.6-mile journey, to beat the crowds. Apparently, the thousands of weekend looky-loos have created wrath among the locals, who do not appreciate the 90-minute queue to get into the farm, blocking all the surrounding roads.
Getting into the shop from the parking lot was a challenge as it was a churned-up sea of thick, glutinous, clay and mud. Some gravel had been put down around the shop, but when I cracked to the attendant that they needed another 10 tons of crushed rock, he rolled his eyes and said: “Speak to the Council. They won’t let us improve the parking lot.” On our early morning weekday visit, there were perhaps a dozen cars in the lot, and we were able to squish our way to a semi-useful matting walkway that had been dropped over the mud.
The blonde in the farm shop who helped me pick out the perfect fresh loaf of bread looked suspiciously like Jeremy’s partner Lisa, but I didn’t want to sound like a stalker (or a tourist) by asking her if she was. After all, my daughter is a local, and locals ignore local celebrities, such as members of the Chipping Norton set who also include Rebekah Brooks, disgraced editor of the News of the World, former British Prime Minister David Cameron, Elisabeth Murdoch, daughter of the News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch, Emily Oppenheimer Turner, heiress to the DeBeers Diamond empire and Sir Howard Stringer, former chairman of Sony (and dare I say it, an alumnus of my old school, Oundle). Footballer David Beckham and his wife, former Spice Girl Victoria, also have a home nearby in the Cotswolds. If we’d seen any of them we would have politely ignored them, although I might have said hello to Sir Howard, with whom I once had dinner at his HQ, high atop New York.
As mentioned, the shop is small, but well stocked with locally produced and farm grown produce, plus T-shirts and stuff for the tourists. Our visit took all of 10 minutes, no comparison with the nearby Daylesford Farm Shop, a going concern for more than 40 years and fully organic too. Or a patch on my old favourites, the Chatsworth Estate Farm Shop in Derbyshire and the Arrow Farm Shop not far from the borders of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire, near our little Yorkshire cottage. But of course, they don’t have the promise of meeting Jeremy.
Later my daughter and I, after the exhausting seven-minute drive back to her place, chowed down on the delicious crusty fresh bread (which the blonde in the shop personally put in my basket), fabulous local Cotswold cheese and sausage rolls we had bought. Expecting that my choice of T-shirt (as a gift for my son, a huge Clarkson fan), might be sold out because it’s the popular size L, or indeed that the endless weekend queues might even prevent us getting in, I ordered it online and it arrived in a couple of days, with a nice thank you card from Jeremy. That part of the plan went well.
We didn’t see Jeremy or his side-kick Kaleb or the inarticulate dry-wall builder Gerald, all stars of the TV show, as I imagine they are busy shooting the new series. (Gerald apparently frequents our local pub, which I won’t name for fear of there being a line-up to get in.) But we did buy half a dozen multi-coloured eggs from Jeremy’s hen houses and that was as close as I got to the famous man himself.
If you haven’t watched the first season of Clarkson’s Farm, then rush immediately to your TV set and tune in. Do not stop. You will be richly rewarded with the dry wit and sense of humour that made Jeremy a household word on Top Gear, The Grand Tour and Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Watch here for the release date of Season Two.
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