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The likely suspects June 26, 2015

Posted by flutebrarian in Generalities.
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Why would 25 people from six different countries descend upon the tiny English hamlet of Henton Nr. Chinnor every summer solstice? What do they all have in common? 

It’s the annual fan meeting and tour by the Midsomer Murders Society.

The group’s home is The Peacock Country Manor located in the Buckinghamshire countryside. Surrounded by lush farm pastures and lovely village homes, it is not unusual to open your curtains in the morning and have a friendly cow staring you in the face. Walking paths are abundant leading you past dog breeder kennels, horse and dairy farms, and through fields of all kinds. 

We first attended Midsummer in Midsomer in 2010 and returned in 2013 and this summer to share in the fun. So what does one do at a Midsomer fan convention? Tour locations and eat – lots.

Sabine Schreiner and Joan Street have written the book Midsomer Murders on Location outlining many of the locations used in the filming of this popular, long-running British murder mystery series. We have traveled to Thame, Long Crendon, Bledlow, Oxford, Hambleden, and various other small villages in search of post offices, churches, train stations, manor houses, and pubs.

Highlights of the tour include a quiz night including questions based on episodes from the series, a Midsomer store featuring merchandise ranging from mugs to t-shirts to coasters and bumper stickers exclaiming, “I’ve been to Midsomer … and survived,” and “rubbing out the blood stains.” 

And the food — don’t let anyone tell you that English food is boring or bland. The Peacock has some of the best food around with large portions as well. Our host Martin kept trying to convince us that we should order the full English breakfast on top of our cereal, yogurt, fruit, juices, and coffee/tea. Somehow, white or brown toast, eggs, bacon (ham), beans, sausages, and tomatoes is a bit much on top of all the other meals throughout the day. Especially when dinner isn’t started until 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. each night.

The best part of the convention is the people. The committee works hard to put together the three and a half day tour, arranging for everything from transportation to menus, itineraries to entertainment and even a keynote speaker. We enjoyed Douglas Watkinson’s talk in 2013 and his stories of writing some of the screenplays for the series, even though he doesn’t like including a high body count. This year, we listened to Ron Dowling, who had designed props for many years and showed us up close how someone can have a knife drawn across their forearm with a convincing flow of blood coming from it. It was a fascinating talk. He now uses his props skills to work with troubled teens and show them what could happen if they continue with gangs.

Will we return to Midsomer? I certainly hope so. The beauty of the countryside is definitely enticing, but the friendships will be the returning factor.