Series celebrating the British winter. Margherita Taylor meets the duo who are raising and nurturing disease-free cocoa plants.
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The days may be some of the shortest in the year,
and the hours are the darkest...
..but winter casts its own special spell.
A time to embrace the magic of our wonderful, British landscape.
Be captivated by our wildlife.
And enjoy the bracing great outdoors.
The season may be beautiful, but winter's not without its problems.
All week, we're travelling the length and breadth of the UK...
-Little sieves make perfect feeders.
And do you know what? My kids would love to do this.
..bringing the very best seasonal stories that matter to you.
Some would say, "Why don't you put the heating on at home?"
Because we can't afford it. The cost is astronomical.
A warm welcome to Countryfile Winter Diaries.
And here's what we've got for you on today's programme.
Paul discovers his pigs have a special surprise.
What you might not know, Paul,
is that pigs could hold the cure for the common cold inside them.
Keeley learns why our rock pools need saving.
The rock pools are a very important part of that cycle, and without them
who knows whether we would maintain the fish within the oceans?
And I'll be showing how UK superheroes
are saving one of our Valentine's favourites from the brink.
We've spent all week here in Anglesey,
just a stone's throw from the Welsh mainland, and Snowdonia,
in all its majesty.
And talking of majestic, how about that?
Telford Suspension Bridge over the Menai Strait.
Now, the waters here may look narrow enough,
but they are amongst some of the most treacherous in the UK.
Particularly the stretch between Telford's bridge
and the later Britannia Bridge, known locally as The Swellies.
Whether you're plying the straits or just out for a walk
the winds here can be pretty bracing,
but there's nothing wrong with a blast of cold air.
It can help boost your immune system.
And let's face it - if there's one thing we all want to avoid every year,
it's the common cold.
So far, a cure has eluded scientists - until now.
And as Paul discovers, it may lie in the most uprising of places.
Now, back in the autumn, we welcomed these two to our smallholding.
I remember the day they arrived,
they were that big! They were so cute.
Everybody was so excited.
Now look at the size of them!
They're Kunekunes, which in Maori literally means "fat and round".
Well, they're certainly living up to their names.
Now, I thought their primary use was confined to being utterly delicious,
but apparently, they hold a very special secret.
Top immunologist Dr Peter Barlow
has come all the way from Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland
to reveal all.
So, thank you for coming down and making the trip.
This is Toffee and Fudge. What is so special about them?
Well, what you might not know, Paul,
is that pigs could hold the cure for the common cold inside them.
Yeah, absolutely. So,
pigs have incredibly well developed immune systems
that are very similar to the immune system of humans.
So, enter pigs!
Both humans and pigs have molecules called peptides.
And those peptides are incredibly good at killing viruses.
So we can use the information that we've learned from studying pigs,
and apply that to design new drugs for killing human viruses.
Scientists are constantly working on cures for different types of cancers
and there's been some amazing breakthroughs, but up until now,
has the common cold evaded them?
It has, because there's over
100 different types of cold virus,
and it's an incredibly difficult scientific problem to solve.
So, what we're trying to do is create a drug
that will target and kill each one of those cold viruses,
so we can develop a new treatment for curing the common cold.
That's amazing, isn't it?
Rhinovirus is the name
given to the malady that's making us miserable.
It's this group of viruses that cause colds in humans.
Finally identified in 1956, by the UK's Common Cold Unit,
they desperately hoped to discover a cure.
But after 40 years with no success,
in 1989, its doors were closed.
So, almost three decades later,
are we about to go where no man has gone before?
Peter has constructed a temporary lab in my kitchen, for a science lesson,
to show me how tantalisingly close his team is to cracking it.
It seems it's all to do with this tiny thing called a peptide.
So, what we have here is a graphical representation
of what a peptide looks like in real life.
-And it looks like a coiled spring.
-It is, isn't it?
And what the peptide does,
when it interacts with a virus,
is it punches holes in the virus very, very quickly,
and kills it within minutes.
So how are you designing the peptide so it's geared towards humans?
So, what we do is we grow the virus
in a container like this,
and then we infect human lung cells
and study how the virus actually acts on those cells.
So, what we're looking at here is a before and after shot.
The blue dots that you see here are lung cells,
and the ones that are stained with green
are the ones that have been infected with the virus
that causes the common cold.
So, this is the before shot...
..and then, two hours later,
after we've treated those cells with the peptide from the pig,
we find that all the green staining, or the virus,
And that tells us that the peptide
is killing the virus inside the lung cells.
So, instead of waiting for three or four days
for your cold to resolve,
we would hopefully just be waiting just a few hours.
Where's this research going to take you?
Well, now that we've discovered that these peptides
can kill the cold virus,
we want to look and see
what peptides from other animals can do to this virus.
Because it's been found that peptides can also kill other viruses
like HIV and influenza,
which makes them really exciting for developing new drugs.
That is revolutionary, isn't it?
It is. It's going to take a long time
before we have a pill that we can give to people with the common cold,
but that's what we're going to be doing
over the next five to ten years.
Peter's research could have an enormous impact on global health -
particularly those living with respiratory diseases, like asthma.
Worldwide, it's estimated that 300 million people suffer from asthma,
with 250,000 deaths every year.
But until that cure lands on our shelves,
what can we do to fend off the sniffles in the meantime?
We've set up some traditional home remedies
for local community pharmacist Zoe Pierce to ponder.
It's quite amazing how many
different rescue remedies are out there -
we've got a few examples here,
and of course every family has their own,
and my mum swore by hot honey and lemon.
-A good combination.
Indeed. One of my personal favourites.
Honey is a very old-fashioned remedy,
it's what we call a de-muculent
so it actually coats the throat and soothes sore throats.
It's got lots of other properties as well,
which help us heal when we're poorly.
And also lemon, as well as making it taste nice,
contains lots of vitamin C which is important when we are coming down with a cold, to help us heal.
Yeah, it kind of feels like it revitalises you,
-makes you feel good as well.
Garlic... I expect you're wondering
what this odd sock is for.
Some people actually say,
if you warm the garlic up - crush it down,
stick it with some oil, warm it up -
paste it around a sock and then put the sock on your foot...
-..that's good for you.
I'm not particularly familiar with that,
but certainly wearing socks in bed would help keep you nice and warm
so that might help you heal quicker.
That's probably what it was all about, it's gone wrong somewhere.
Someone's added garlic, you know what it's like!
Who would want to do that, your feet would stink!
So, there's a lot of old folklore around crushed garlic
releasing a chemical called allicin,
which has got very good anti-oxidative properties,
which again helps to bolster our immune system when we're coming down with a cold.
What about chicken soup?
Quite often chicken bones are boiled up, and the cartilage
that sticks to the bones is broken down,
releasing lots of minerals like calcium,
magnesium contained in bones, which can help our immune system again.
What about this one, look? Onion tea, never heard of that.
Certainly my father, when I was growing up, used to swear by
eating a raw onion when he was suffering from a cold.
I don't know if it CURED him, but it certainly prevented him
from passing it on to anyone, as everyone stayed well away from him.
I like that! That's a good story.
-I love hot chilli, as you know...
Hot foods like chilli
can actually make our eyes water and make our mucus be secreted.
And I suppose that applies to hot curries as well.
Things like this will make us sweat, which is a way of cooling down -
which again will help flush out any germs in our body.
Dr Peter and the team in Edinburgh are on the verge of
cracking the cure for the common cold. It could be the eureka moment.
What impact will that have on the pharmaceutical market?
It sounds like an absolute ground-breaking opportunity at the moment,
and I think anything that we, as a medical profession,
can do to help our patients can't be a bad thing.
Of course the best advice
is to avoid catching a cold in the first place,
so here are some tips to keep your immune system in tip-top condition.
Wash hands regularly, especially before eating.
Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and veg.
Drink plenty of water and get lots of rest.
A good night's sleep works miracles.
We'll have to wait and see where research
leads Peter and his team in Edinburgh, but I'll tell you what,
I have a new-found and total respect for these two.
Who would've thought they'd hold such a very special secret?
Well done, girls.
Well, they're clever animals, those pigs,
so make sure you wrap up warm and avoid those germs at all costs.
Now, what do you think is three times more popular than cycling,
twice as popular as swimming
and definitely a bigger draw than going to the gym?
The answer is walking.
It's our favourite national pastime, but it's not without its dangers.
Latest figures have revealed
there are over 3,500 SOS distress calls every year,
many of them from nearby Mount Snowdon.
Here on Anglesey, the lowland search and rescue team are training hard,
ready to jump to the rescue and I volunteered to help them.
All right, lads?
You OK with that?
-Jules, how are you doing?
-Really good, I'm in good hands.
OK, we're just going to get you strapped in, get you nice and secure
-and then we're going to move you over to the stretcher.
Ooh, I feel as snug as a bug in a rug!
I am now safely taken care of, but on a more serious note,
during the winter months, we do need to take extra care
and having a few survival tips to hand can come in pretty useful,
as I set off to find out in the Forest of Dean
with my trusty companion Teddy.
Now, like many of us, there's nothing that Teddy and I like more
than the chance to get out for a nice long winter's yomp,
but it's easy to forget just how easy it can be
to find yourself stranded,
particularly on a cold, dark winter's day. Come on, Teddy.
If there's one man who knows how to keep us safe and alive
until help arrives, it's ex-military
and leading survival expert Andy Wood.
-How are you?
-Good morning, mate. Nice to see you.
With over 40 years' experience,
Andy has braved conditions in some of the world's most remote regions.
Now, Andy, you've worked in some of the most hostile of environments.
My sense is that here in the UK,
we really haven't got that much to worry about, surely?
Unfortunately, people do tend to think that,
but now we're not ten metres from the track, but people do get lost.
Whether it's up in the mountains or in forests like this,
we don't plan on things going wrong.
We go out for a walk with family, with the dog, what have you,
but things distract us, you know,
the kids might run off into the bottom of the forest there
and injure an ankle.
If you got lost in here now,
this would be one of the hardest environments to survive in.
Cold and wet really is a killer.
While we can't all be experts at survival,
the key thing is to be better prepared.
-Can we have a look at what you've got?
-Yeah, sure. Yeah, yeah.
I've got a few bits and bobs in here.
I mean, just another layer really but it just happens to be a nice,
bright colour which obviously is going to be quite helpful, isn't it?
Yeah. A standard sort of signal in mountain rescue is three objects,
three bright colours, so if you're on a hillside and you had that,
you've got a very bright red T-shirt, if you had something else,
if you lay them out,
if there was a search party looking for you and they observed that,
they'd know somebody's in danger there.
-Do you have a phone on you?
-I do have a phone on me, yeah.
-Here's the phone.
-Again, when you have no signal and you're trying
to find somewhere where you can call for help, send yourself a text.
When you do pick up a signal next, your text will be received
so you know you're in a position with a signal.
Brilliant. That is a really useful tip.
And then I've got a little bit of a snack, which as you can see,
Teddy is more than interested in.
-Got his eyes on already.
-Yeah, he absolutely has.
Right. With some fuel on board and a few extra layers,
you're all kitted up. You set off through the woods, head down,
then after a little while,
you look up and suddenly find yourself utterly lost.
What's the first step to take to ensure you stay safe?
My advice to anybody is always listen to those alarm bells.
As soon as you start doubting where you are, you start thinking,
"Hang on, this isn't right," do not push on.
Running around, panicking,
you'll just get yourself more and more lost.
Stop, think about it.
There are all kinds of acronyms and mnemonics.
I'm sure you can tell me one.
Well, the one I know is itself STOP.
Which stands for?
-I'll take your word for that.
That sort of thing is fantastic to remember.
Invariably, going back the way you've come is the best way.
In the tracking world, when we're following people,
we're looking for things that we'd refer to as pointers,
so as you drag your feet through the woods as you're walking through,
I may take a piece of bush like that.
-So that's now pointing in the direction I'm going.
That's a slightly exaggerated example there, but in bracken,
that's what happens. You also have colour change,
you have the underside of the leaf showing now.
These are all things out of the norm,
so if you follow that logical procession back,
you'll find your way out.
That's just the sort of thing we don't think about -
using pointers to backtrack through the scrub.
But what about Teddy?
Hasn't he got a nose for home?
Dogs, of course, famously can smell on a spectrum
that is light years away from anything we can do.
If you are out there lost, having somebody else to be responsible for,
you know, it's an animal rather than a person,
but it gives you that comfort factor.
If you've walked this route many times before...
-If he knows it, yeah.
-..there's every chance
he will know his way home.
Some valuable tracking tips there,
but if backtracking proves too difficult,
there can be another exit route to hand.
The river gives you something to follow,
it gives you a hand rail to know where you're going
-and know if you have to come back.
-You say handrail,
it's a really useful term that and I think describes it perfectly.
Water is a really good tool in terms of navigating our way
to some sort of civilisation, to some sort of help.
Especially here in the UK, if you head downstream,
it won't take long to find signs of life.
So, you see, there's quite a bit you can do to help your predicament.
But one thing is totally out of our control.
HE WHISTLES Come on.
You know, on a day like this, Andy,
it's easy to get lulled into a false sense of security that, you know,
nothing is going to go wrong, but of course,
the weather can change just like that, can't it?
Invariably it's the weather that catches most people out, Jules.
Whether it's up in the mountains or in forests like this,
you cannot book nature. It will do whatever she wants to do.
You can't book nature. That's a great way of putting it actually.
So, looking around you here, what are the resources
that have caught your eye that we might make use of to keep us warm?
Because it's that sense of warmth
that I guess is key to keeping you alive.
If all this leaf litter was completely dry...
-..which it's not.
-..unappealingly it isn't, yeah.
If that was bone dry and you could throw it in the air,
and it'd just float off with the breeze,
you could tuck some of that into your jacket,
up your sleeves and that
to give you that sort of down jacket, air trapping layer.
What a simple idea.
But remember, only use it if the leaves are dry.
And if all else fails and you find yourself stuck here for the night,
it's vital to find shelter before the light begins to fade.
If you look behind us down here, that low-lying ground,
you're not going to build something down there, are you?
-It's wet and boggy. When we came out this morning,
you had all that mist sitting in the low-lying ground.
-That is just going to be misery.
-It's just a cold pocket, isn't it?
Just a cold pocket, it's just going to hold it there.
You know, up on top of a windswept hill,
you don't want to be there either, so it's finding that happy medium.
Around here, we have the leaf litter, we have already lying trees,
so we've got a lot of the resources there ready for us.
Well, Teddy is going to be no real use in helping us build,
but may come into his own little bit later on,
once we get this shelter up.
Come on, let's go and build something. Come on.
First, choose a fallen tree that's good and strong
and acts as a natural windbreak.
Next, forage for long, straight sticks on the forest floor.
I used to love building dens out in the woods.
Why should that stop just because you've grown up?
After constructing a basic framework...
..make a compact layer of leaf litter.
Finally, our house of sticks is complete
and this is where Teddy really comes into his own.
So, I'm going to crawl in
and you are going to come and keep me warm, Teddy Bear,
if you think this is going to be cosy enough.
Right. In you come, come on. In you come.
So after an hour's work, Andy and I have created, I think,
a really good shelter.
Now, if I'd done it on my own,
it might have taken me a couple of hours, but let's face it,
it's not a huge amount of time when you consider that it could keep me
safe and dry for at least 24 hours -
time enough, I would hope, for help to come and find us.
As it is, I'm dry, I'm warm, I've got Teddy for company,
what more could I want?
Steak and chips?
Rather like building dens,
something else we all loved to do as kids is go rock pooling.
Whatever the weather and especially in winter,
no trip to the beach is complete
without seeing what fantastic creatures you can discover.
But with rising sea levels, many sections of our coastline
are now having to have extra defences put upon them.
But those self-same barriers run the risk of endangering
the very delicate balance of ecosystems and marine life
that call places like this home.
So what can be done about it?
Well, Keeley is on the case.
As winter storms gnaw away at our coastlines,
sea levels continue to rise.
More than £2 billion will be spent over the next two years
trying to hold the sea back.
I'm talking, of course, about sea defences and breakwaters.
Miles of concrete,
man-made walls designed to protect us from the waves
and hundreds of our homes from falling into the sea.
And while they're a guardian for us,
they're a home wrecker for the little tidal paradises.
These tidal dwellings are rock pools -
the pools of sea water left behind when the tide goes out,
providing shelter for a rich variety of marine life.
At almost 1,700 miles long,
the rocky Welsh coastline is full of them.
On a blustery winter beach just a few miles from Aberystwyth,
I'm meeting intertidal ecologist Paul Brazier
to find out just what threat they're facing.
It's so dramatic here.
You really are exposed, aren't you?
There's a lot of wind coming off the Irish Sea this morning
and it's rolling those waves up the beach today, yes.
And with you being on the West Coast,
you get the weather often first, don't you?
You really can be at the brunt of the weather.
Yeah, definitely. The storms come in good and hard in here
and even when it's not stormy,
there's often a strong wind that's producing a lot of wave action.
And I would have thought that would have created
an inhospitable environment,
but that's not the case, is it?
Well, no. The animals here are all adapted to deal
with that very difficult situation.
Because of the changing tides,
you can find a wide variety of sea life
in this narrow stretch of shoreline.
From high tide areas where flora and fauna have to survive
battering waves and currents, to the riches of the low tide areas,
which are more abundant in food
and rock pools are another world in between.
I suppose you think about rock pooling,
you think about summer holidays,
but there's plenty to see at this time of year as well, isn't there?
Well, yes. The life within the rock pools keeps going.
All sorts of different sorts of animals.
We've got urchins and starfish, mussels,
we've got the winkles that are sort of grazing within the rock pools
and again, we've got a lot more seaweeds
which are protected by being in the rock pool.
They remain wet and so carry on living
and feeding there when the tide goes out.
It's like a little adventure really that's a sort of
miniature wilderness within the rock pool,
because you're never quite sure what you're going to find.
And why are the rock pools so important?
Why do we need to look after them?
Well, the rock pools are part of a much bigger system,
so that the animals and plants that are feeding there
and are feeding on the prawns and the shrimps and worms
that are living within the rock pool,
and then those fish will grow up and move out to the greater ocean
where they'll feed bigger fish
and so the food chain continues that way.
They are a very important part of that cycle and without them,
who knows whether we would maintain the fish within the oceans.
The scientists are predicting stronger storms
and more weather extremes
and over 1,000 miles of the English and Welsh coastline
is under threat from coastal erosion.
To protect homes and vital coastal infrastructure
simply falling into the sea,
nearly 1,500 miles of the coast has artificial protection.
But this could spell disaster for creatures that need rock pools
to survive and thrive.
With a coastal defence, if it's smooth concrete or smooth rock,
it's a very clean surface
and it's very difficult for a community to become established.
Here on wintry Tywyn Beach, you can see miles and miles
of those smooth man-made concrete breakwaters.
Unlike rough, craggy rock pools where wildlife can attach itself
and shelter from the tides,
these smooth walls offer little lodging and scant protection.
The situation looks bleak.
But rock pool saviour Dr Ally Evans of Aberystwyth University
might just have the solution.
This is the artificial breakwater.
What have you done to create natural environments in this?
We've got a project here
where we've drilled 40 artificial rock pools
into some of the rock units on the seaward side of the breakwater.
These are really simple designs,
they're just holes about the size of a tin of paint
and we wanted to see if they would act like rock pools.
So why are you doing it? Why are you making the rock pools?
The marine environment is changing quite drastically.
We're seeing lots of development along coastlines and offshore
for all sorts of different reasons,
including sea defence like this breakwater,
and we know that construction activities like this
can cause a lot of damage to the natural environment
and we also know that these artificial structures
are not very good quality habitats for marine plants and animals.
So it's certainly important to prioritise
looking after the natural habitats that we have already,
but in places where hard artificial structures like this breakwater
are necessary, this is just one, simple,
effective way of providing an additional habitat for marine life.
Ally started the project three and half years ago,
but in that short time, she's definitely seen results.
They worked really well.
I've seen all sorts of different things using them as a home,
lots of different seaweeds, snails, fish, crabs, anemones,
anything that you'd find in a normal rock pool
have been using these rock pools.
Really? Just from drilling a hole in the rock,
-you've found all those things?
How important is it that we look after the rock pools that we've got?
It's really important, especially with the scale of these things.
One structure in one place might not be that much of an issue,
but when you consider how many of these things are being built
all around our coastlines and on the seabeds,
some of it we don't see, so,
it's a really big issue and we need to do anything we can
to try to make them slightly better.
As small as these little sea worlds are,
rock pools play a dynamic part in our coastal ecosystem
and provide millions of holiday-makers
hours of beach time fun.
It would be a tragedy if we lost any more of them.
Sea defences are crucial in protecting our coastline
and, of course, our homes as well,
but thank goodness for people like Ally who are making sure
our wildlife's homes are just as safe and secure.
Well, Keeley clearly had a chilly expedition,
but what a great idea to give nature a helping hand.
Keeley, of course, was in Aberystwyth
which sits on the glorious Welsh coastline,
one of our favourite coastal stretches in the UK
for you to enjoy in winter.
Here you'll find cliffs that plunge into the sea,
hidden coves, beaches and farmland edging the shore.
You're spoiled for choice.
And here's a rundown of some other spectacular shorelines.
Across in Northumberland, you'll find 30 miles of sandy beaches.
A particular favourite of mine
is Bamburgh in the shadow of the castle,
once the seat of the kings of Northumbria.
Walking or riding, this beach will blow away any winter cobwebs.
But for those of you who like something really wild and dramatic,
there are the Outer Hebrides right on the edge of Europe.
200 islands pop out of the ocean.
Only a few are inhabited and there is mile upon mile of white sand.
And for something really different, try exploring Norfolk's reedbeds.
Nearly 2,000 hectares teeming with winter bird life.
Once a huge swamp, the reeds and sedge here are used for thatching
and the beds are a natural flood defence.
Now, since the 18th century,
if you wanted to sell your livestock at market,
it was common practice to walk them all the way to town.
Well, before the bridges were built linking Anglesey to the mainland,
farmers on the island faced the challenge of getting their livestock
from one side to the other
and back then, the solution was fairly simple - sink or swim.
It's thought they would drive their herds and flocks across at low tide,
but I wonder how the animals felt about that?
Can you even begin to get into the mind of a farm animal?
Well, Adam met an animal behaviourist
to learn to think like a sheep.
If a shepherd's going to look after his flock successfully,
he needs to know what makes them tick,
so I've invited animal behaviourist Cathy Dwyer to my farm
to help me see the world through the eyes of a sheep.
So, Cathy, why do you want to sneak up on this flock of sheep, then?
Well, what we want to look at is just their undisturbed behaviour,
so although it looks like they're just little woolly blobs
on the field doing not very much,
actually what you're looking at is a sheep society, if you like.
Animals will choose to graze with each other,
so we have a little group of animals over here
who maybe are related to each other or they're friends,
they're grazing buddies, if you like.
They've just spotted us.
-And they're running now.
Sheep are prey animals.
They've evolved keen instincts to spot predators like wolves
and, of course, us humans.
A field of sheep means lots of pairs of eyes on the lookout for trouble.
When one raises the alarm, they start to flock together.
As we all know, there's safety in numbers.
For an approaching predator,
the key to success lies in picking out a weakness,
like a sheep that's old or one that's sick.
But the flock seems to know this and so sacrifices its weaker members.
Within the group of animals, you'll have animals that are dominant,
so those are the animals that are most important in the flock,
and there'll be animals that are much more subordinates.
-Will the dominant ones be safe in the middle of them?
So the more subordinate animals are probably still
around the outside and the dominants will be tucking themselves
into the safest position here, so that when they really run,
they're going to be in the middle of that group.
When sheep flock together in numbers,
getting hold of one is a tricky business.
If I go in and see if I can catch one, if you hang on here,
let's see what I can do. What I'm trying to do here now is get...
Not a hope.
I'll never be able to catch one like that.
As I launch my attack, the flock scatter,
making it difficult to target any one sheep.
I spotted one that was running away,
so I reckoned I could get up behind it,
but the other ones were looking at me, so they were warning it really.
That's right. I mean, they work together
as quite a corporative group. That's what keeps them safe,
is being in this social group together and keeping an eye out
-for each other.
-Yeah. They are all looking at me now, laughing.
I know one way to a sheep's heart which will get me closer.
It's highly nutritious and irresistible if you're a sheep.
So they recognise the bag instantly, you know,
just a shake of the bag.
And before, these sheep that were running away from me...
Still little bit nervous.
Put down a bit of food.
There's a good girl.
That wild instinct, I suppose, is taken away because
I'm feeding them, I've tamed them in a way.
That's right, you've trained them to know what this is
and it's so delicious, they'll let their guard down a little bit
so you can get round behind them and get in the blind spot.
So tell me about their eyes, then.
-Can they see as well as we can?
-They have different vision to us.
So if you look at the pupil, you can see that it's horizontal,
so that helps them see much better in the periphery,
but they don't see as well top and bottom.
If something jumped out of a tree, they wouldn't see that so well.
As long as the predator's coming along the ground towards them,
then they're going to spot that really well.
And how far can they see?
There's reports they can see up to a mile away,
but they're particularly good at seeing movement,
that's what their eyes are designed to do, to spot movement.
One of the sheep's natural predators, the wolf,
has forward pointing eyes
giving them what's known as binocular vision.
This enables them to judge distance accurately
so hunt and bring down prey.
Sheep's eyes on the other hand are found on the sides of their head,
so while they're unable to judge distance well,
it gives them a remarkable 270 degree field of vision.
This still leaves a blind spot directly behind them.
On their own, this would make them vulnerable, but in a flock,
they can all watch each other's backs.
It's fantastic for them, the way it's evolved, I suppose,
over thousands of years.
That's right. I mean, it's an arms race between predator and prey,
so as they develop one tactic,
then another one evolves in the prey animals.
They're just trying to stay one step ahead
of whatever tricks the wolf has up its sleeve to catch them.
Right, let her go. Go on, then, missus. Go back to your breakfast.
And today, we use the domesticated version of the wolf
to round up the sheep.
We're going to attempt a simple experiment
to see whether the sheep's herding instinct
is stronger than their appetite for their favourite food.
Right, I'll just get a subject.
Here we are, you'll do.
By taking one greedy sheep away from the safety of the flock,
we'll force her to make a snap decision.
Will she run to her friends or the food?
If you grab the bag of food and stand down there, and I'll...
..I'll give her the option and then she can decide
whether to come to you for food or go to her mates.
-OK. You ready?
There's some food. You've seen it.
She has a look at the food, thinks about it for half a second,
before the wild flock instinct takes over.
OK, it might not be completely scientific,
but she chooses her friends first time.
Nature wins over nurture.
Well, it just demonstrates how strong that flock instinct is
and how important it is to the sheep,
that they would choose the flock over anything else when they're stressed.
They'll choose the social group and it really demonstrates
how stressful it is for these sheep to be on their own.
So, remember, when you next pass a flock of sheep,
they're not just a bunch of animals standing around -
each individual has their role to play and sticking together keeps them safe.
This is the island of Llanddwyn, known locally as the Welsh island of love.
Literally translated, it means the church of Dwynwen,
the Welsh patron saint of lovers.
Now, we love a bit of romance here in the UK and it's thought that we
spend over £1 billion every year on Valentine's Day, and let's face it,
chocolate is right up there as the perfect way into anyone's heart.
But there's a chocolate crisis looming on the horizon as cocoa crops
around the world are being decimated,
but salvation is at hand right here in the UK.
Margherita is mad about chocolate
and she couldn't wait to find out more.
Now, I'm a self-confessed chocoholic and I could pretend
that these lovely little green artichokes and the mini cauliflowers
here are part of my five-a-day,
but they're actually made totally of chocolate.
And it just goes to show how sophisticated our tastes and demands
for chocolate have become here in the UK.
I can't imagine a world without this delicious little treat,
although that could all too easily come to pass.
Hopefully not before I've sampled one or two more trays.
For a nation that spends more on chocolate than even fish and chips,
the worrying news is that every year,
30% of cocoa crops across the world are destroyed by pests and disease,
all at a time when demand is growing even faster than supply.
In the UK alone, we each eat around 12 kilos of chocolate every year.
But fear not, fellow chocolate lovers,
because the answer lies with two people.
A chocolate rescue squad based not in some far-flung corner of the world,
but right here in the outskirts of Reading.
The International Cocoa Quarantine Centre
is the only one of its kind in the world.
It's been safeguarding our chocolate for 30 years
in acres of these polytunnels.
Dr Daymond is the boss.
And this is what it's all about.
So, this is a cocoa pod.
-So, these are the beans here.
You can see they're covered with a pulp
which is actually quite sweet-tasting
and it's the beans here which are used to make chocolate.
This place acts as a huge gene bank for cocoa plants,
supplying growers and research institutes
with varieties of the crop from around the world.
Why is the research here so important?
It's important that breeders and researchers have access to different
types of cocoa for their breeding programmes,
to produce new varieties ultimately to supply to farmers.
And why is the work based here in Reading?
I thought it would be somewhere hot and tropical.
So, the fact that we're located in a cold country is actually important
in that there is no danger then that any endemic pests or diseases
of cocoa enter the facility from outside.
So, what threats do our cocoa crops face?
It differs around the world.
In South America,
it's fungal diseases known as witches' broom and frosty pod rot that are causing major problems.
In West Africa, as well as damage from pests,
a virus which causes the shoots to swell is killing entire trees.
And in south-east Asia, it's a moth called the cocoa pod borer.
They're incredibly destructive but they're no match for the chocolate rescue squad.
It's technician Stella Poole's job to grow disease-defying plants,
which in my book makes her Robin to Dr Andrew's Batman.
So, Stella, do you have to have a sweet tooth to work here?
It's probably a good thing not to have one in a way,
because if you're thinking about chocolate all day... But, no, they're just plants.
How does the process start?
Well, we receive budwood, these are budwood sticks or twigs,
and these arrive from the US Department of Agriculture in Miami.
We can potentially get a plant from each bud you see there.
Stella cuts out individual buds from the budwood samples to transplant
onto already established cocoa plants.
If successful, the new combination of genes
will hopefully make the plants more disease-resistant.
So, what's the next stage in the process?
We can now attach this to a strong rootstock,
so essentially ending up with two plants which will become one plant
and they live together happily.
The budwood is carefully grafted onto a host plant
and tightly wrapped to coax it into creating a healthy cocoa plant.
This is all about hopefully creating virus-free stock
or as close as we we'll ever get to that.
So, what does success look like once you grafted and it's begun to take?
Sure. There's a couple we had earlier this year.
This one, which came from Costa Rica in June.
Same process, this is the graft just there.
And as you can see, that's completely taken, really healthy,
then grow to be a beautiful plant in a year or two.
Stella tends her plants for two years, but then they need another two years
in quarantine before they're nearly ready to go back into the big wide world.
They need to get used to the hot and humid conditions which mimic the tropics.
20 degrees at night, 25 by day.
Lovely for me, I have to say, on a cold winter's day.
There's not a hint of disease in the 400 varieties under tender loving care here.
And they'll soon be on their way to help farmers in 200 countries -
super plants ready to do their fabulous thing.
With Valentine's Day on the way,
it's good to know that our favourite sweet treat really is in safe hands.
Well, thank goodness for Dr Andrew and Stella.
I don't know about you, but I could not imagine a world without chocolate.
Sadly, that is the last of our Countryfile Winter Diaries reports,
but don't forget Countryfile this Sunday at 6.30pm, when Ellie will be
in Cambridgeshire looking at the secret life of truffles,
ably abetted by Lucy the truffle hound.
Countryfile Diaries will be back in three months' time when we'll be
bringing you the very best spring stories that matter to you.
So, until then, goodbye.
Jules Hudson files his final reports from Anglesey, including the top signs that spring is finally on its way. He's also on the island of Llanddwyn, home to Wales's patron saint of love.
In time for Valentine's Day, self-confessed chocoholic Margherita Taylor meets the duo responsible for saving the world's cocoa crops, which are being decimated by bugs and disease. Beavering away in greenhouses in Reading, they are raising and nurturing disease-free cocoa plants which will wing their way to farmers in 200 countries.
In Aberystwyth and Borth on the Welsh coast, Keeley Donovan battles the elements for the rockpooling expedition of a lifetime. The coast in this area is one of the most diverse in the UK, and tidal patterns reveal pools which are vital nurseries for sealife. But there's a threat. Just off the coast lie manmade seawalls, essential to safeguard homes from coastal erosion at a time when storms are predicted to be more commonplace. But these concrete walls are hostile environments for the delicate ecosystems which need rock pools to survive. The answer might lie in something the size of a dinner plate, and a simple but ingenious idea from a scientist who's something of a rock pool magician.
Paul Martin unravels why his pigs might just hold the secret to a cure for a winter misery that affects us all. The common cold costs the UK economy a£40 billion a year as colds take us off work for 34 million days. Since the ancient Egyptians, trying to a find a cure has eluded some of the finest brains in the world. But immunologists at Edinburgh University might just have cracked it. Dr Peter Barlow meets Paul at his Wiltshire smallholding to explain why Paul's kune kune pigs, Truffle and Fudge, might just hold the key. Paul also discovers whether old remedies can offer relief - from a curry to chicken soup, lemon and honey and even a garlic-infused sock. And, while we wait for the cure to arrive, he finds out how to try and fend off colds in the first place.
Walking is more popular than cycling, swimming or the gym, but rescue services receive 3,500 SOS's a year from walkers who get into trouble. Jules is in the Forest of Dean discovering just what you need to do to stay safe and alive in the winter until help arrives, and he has a secret weapon which could prove crucial to survival.