Local news is a world unto itself.

While we spend a majority of the time reporting on crime and court cases, covering council meetings and bringing you the latest results from Oxford United, there are also a weird and wonderful variety of stories that make it into the paper.

As the new year approaches, we have decided to round up all the unusual, strange and downright quirky stories from 2022.


Just 12 days into the new year and we already had our first peculiar tale – a chicken was on the loose in Bicester.

People spotted the bird roaming around the Kingsmere area, it was seen in Pingle Brook playground as well as in people's front gardens.

Eventually, the chicken was located by a local resident who kept the egg-scapee safe.

READ MORE: Chicken on the loose in Bicester

During the same month, Layla Moran’s Twitter was hacked by a scammer.

Oxford Mail: The chicken was on the loose in Bicester The chicken was on the loose in Bicester (Image: Archive)

A tweet from the Abingdon and West Oxford MP’s account appeared to be selling brand new PS5's for charity.

The tweet read: "Every PS5 you see here is retail price and for sale, all proceeds will go to charity.

"First come first serve and can ship anywhere in the USA and UK and Canada.

"Trolls will be blocked."

The tweet was quickly deleted and the MP urged anyone who sent money to the scammer to contact the police.

Oxford Mail: Layla Moran's Twitter was hacked by a scammerLayla Moran's Twitter was hacked by a scammer (Image: Twitter)


In April, mysterious object was seen floating over the skies of Oxfordshire.

A reader took photos of the object, which did not move at all, seeming to float above Farmoor Reservoir at around 1am on Wednesday April 20.

"It looked as if was hovering above Farmoor Reservoir, around two-and-a-half miles away.

"I've never seen anything like it in the sky before - it was saucer-shaped, bright orange and completely stationary,” the spotter told the Oxford Mail.

Is it a star, is it a lantern or is it a plane? Is the truth out there?

Oxford Mail: What was the mysterious glowing object spotted over Oxfordshire skies?What was the mysterious glowing object spotted over Oxfordshire skies? (Image: Archive)


They say a pet is for life and that is none truer than for 'superstar' pet chicken Cutie, who we wrote a feature about in May. 

The bird, a Brahma chicken, changed her owner's life and is no ordinary chicken, knowing how to play fetch, giving cuddles, and coming running when Facetime starts up so that she can join in with the conversation.

Owner Sophie Bonnefoi, from Headington, said the chicken is loved by her children and is incredibly friendly.

"The chicken changed my life.

READ MORE: Oxford pet chicken that plays fetch changed owners life

"The first lockdown was hard. But as soon as I got Cutie I didn't feel the loneliness of the next lockdowns. She's an absolute superstar,” Ms Bonnefoi said.

Oxford Mail: Sophie Bonnefoi and Cutie the chickenSophie Bonnefoi and Cutie the chicken (Image: Sophie Bonnefoi)


In September a tourist had his £7,500 watch stolen at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History after he took it off to dry his “sweaty wrist”.

Jaz Pabla, who lives near Kings Langley, was in Oxford for a day off “sightseeing” when his Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner with stainless steel bracelet and case was taken.

READ MORE: Man has £7,500 Rolex stolen in Oxford while drying his "sweaty" wrist

“I put it on one of the display counter while my wrist dried,” he said. “At that moment my friend distracted me to look at a bird in one of the display counters and I went over to have a look.

“About 15 minutes later I realised that the watch wasn’t on my wrist and I went back to the counter but it had gone.

“It wasn’t handed in to front of house desk and CCTV didn’t cover that area.”

Oxford Mail: The watch was stolen at the Natural History Museum The watch was stolen at the Natural History Museum (Image: Jaz Pabla)


In October, a poster in the North Leigh Community Notice Board Facebook asked neighbours if they had seen anyone sacrificing animals in the woods.

The Facebook user said they said children had also reported other creepy activities such as people in flowing robes banging drums in woods near Common Road.

READ MORE: Resident reports animal sacrifice in woods near Witney

“Weird post… but some kids went down the footpath in the woods opposite the Common Road turn.

"They saw people dressed in black robes banging drums. They have also seen previously, animals such as hedgehogs hanging from trees (dead obviously),” they wrote.

Other local weighed in on the occult sightings and claimed they had also seen strange goings on in the area.

Oxford Mail: Are animal sacrifices happening in North Leigh?Are animal sacrifices happening in North Leigh? (Image: North Leigh Parish Council)


We reported on a man who, despite the risk of a painful sting which can last for months on end, grew one of the world’s most dangerous plants in his house.

Daniel Emlyn-Jones, of Divinity Road in East Oxford, cultivated the gympie-gympie, a member of the nettle family which is notorious for its venom that causes an extremely painful and long-lasting sting.

Housed in a black cage with a danger sign, the shrub - which originates from Australia - is reputed to be the most venomous plant in the country, if not the world.

When a person comes into contact with the gympie-gympie they will feel an immediate and severe burning sensation at the site of contact. The stinging will intensify during the next 30 minutes and the pain can last for weeks and months, with victims unable to sleep or work due to the unbearable agony.

The 49-year-old told this newspaper that he wants to promote an interest in plants by cultivating unique flora.

Oxford Mail: Daniel Emlyn-Jones with the gympie-gympie, the world's most dangerous plantDaniel Emlyn-Jones with the gympie-gympie, the world's most dangerous plant (Image: Ed Nix)

In the same month, World Cup fever got underway and a psychic alpaca attempted to predict the upcoming football results.

On November 21, an alpaca named Alfie, who lives on Fairytale Farm near Chipping Norton, appeared on ITV's This Morning with owner Nick Laister, and was asked to pick between a feeder decorated with the UK flag, and another with the Iranian flag.

He later did the same test with the Welsh and US flags. 

The fortune telling camelid mammal revealed England would lose three-to-nil against Iran, and the US team would beat Wales one nil.

However, this predictions were less than true as England thrashed Iran six-to-two and Wales drew with the United States.

Oxford Mail: Alfie the psychic alpaca Alfie the psychic alpaca (Image: Ed Nix)


Read more from this author

This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing: sophie.perry@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter itssophieperry