Countryfile is deep in the heart of rural England, exploring the chalk-lands of the South Downs. Ellie Harrison walks in Jane Austen's footsteps and visits her home in Chawton.
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The chalklands of the South Downs.
Farming country through and through.
For centuries, these fields and leafy lanes
have gladdened the hearts of all who have lived here,
providing a real source of inspiration.
It's no surprise that this place nurtured
one of our best-loved naturalists.
Gilbert White's engaging observations
inspired Charles Darwin and are still being read today,
but it's not just the man.
I'll also be finding out about his pet.
Ellie's got her own literary journey to go on.
I'll be taking a leaf out of another book when I get into character
to experience life as Jane Austen lived it in the early 1800s.
She spent the last decade of her life living here
and liked nothing more than getting out and about into the countryside.
What do you think of the dress?
Meanwhile, Tom's gone in search of a healthy snack.
Fancy some tasty greens?
Qualifies as one of your five-a-day.
And that's a slogan that is now ten-years-old.
In that time, it should have improved the nation's health
and maybe given a welcome boost to farmers' incomes along the way.
But has it delivered? I'll be investigating.
Adam's finding out whether the appliance of science
could give us healthier pigs.
In this laboratory they're using some of the latest technology
developed for some of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters
to find out if this pig potentially has a problem
that could affect pigs all across the UK.
Later on, we'll be finding out how she performs.
You're lovely, aren't you?
The South Downs.
600 square miles of rolling chalk hills,
dramatic heaths and ancient woodland.
The vast park stretches from the coastline near Eastbourne
all the way to Winchester, 100 miles to the west.
Captivating and timeless, it's a landscape that's been
an inspiration to some of its inhabitants.
I'm in the village of Selborne
to discover the story of a man who lived here in the 1700s.
His name was Gilbert White, a local clergyman with a natural curiosity.
Gilbert had a passion for gardening
which flourished into an obsession of observing all living things.
Putting pen to paper, he wrote about what he saw.
His letters were published as a book -
the Natural History of Selborne.
It's said to be the fourth most-published book
in the English language,
and it revolutionised the way we look at the natural world.
To find out how, I'm meeting Ronnie Davidson-Houston.
He's been studying Gilbert's life and work since he was ten,
and I'm getting the impression he's a pretty big fan.
I found this book which was just so beautifully written,
so readable, and really appealed to me.
-And has done ever since.
-And have you collected all of his work since?
Well, I'm still trying.
I've got about 1,000 copies which are now in the museum here.
-He was a very, very special man, wasn't he?
He's what we call the first ecologist.
He took the whole of nature, including man, in his writing.
And he was the person who first started everybody bird watching.
And of course he inspired Darwin, among others.
Gilbert's love of nature began in the garden of his country home -
today, a museum. His passion flourished.
And I'm meeting deputy head gardener Rose Mallion,
who is recreating Gilbert's garden by taking a leaf from his own book.
-Hello, Matt, nice to meet you.
-Are you all right?
-Yes, thank you.
-Good. Busy planting?
-Yes. We're planting out our bulb border
in accordance with the record Gilbert kept for us in his garden calendar.
So we know exactly what he planted
-and the place in which he planted them.
-Right. OK then.
-So shall we pop up there, then?
-Let's go up and have a go.
What you need to do is get the bulb about three times
its own depth into the soil, and cover over with a trowel.
-Tulipa clusiana, that one.
-What else would he have been planting?
He would have been planting double hyacinths, jonquils and tulips.
That's what Gilbert called, "The rank clay that required
"the labour of years to render it useful."
He's got a lovely turn of phrase, hasn't he?
He's got a lovely turn of phrase, yes.
And how did it expand from this border to more of the natural world?
He called himself an outdoor naturalist,
and because he was outside
he was able to observe patterns in behaviour,
the changes in the season - all those things,
because he was out gardening, he noticed.
Gilbert's passion for observing wildlife was born.
It soon turned into an obsession that would continue
for the rest of his life.
Whilst out in the garden watching the seasons change
and nature at work he would come and sit in a chair
just like this one up here, up on this little mound.
CHURCH BELLS PEAL
Well, from here,
he would soak up his natural surroundings like a sponge.
He believed the more confined your sphere of observation,
the more perfect would be your remarks.
Very comfortable. Might get one of these at home, actually.
And this was his sphere. The countryside around his home.
His observations were recorded in a series of letters
bound into his book - The Natural History of Selborne.
The 18th-century manuscript is held in the museum,
and I've been given special permission to have a look.
In his letters, Gilbert was describing things
that had never been written down before.
Like this - the first-ever description of a harvest mouse.
"They're much smaller and more slender
"and have more of the squirrel or dormouse colour."
Gilbert's peers were describing new species as well,
but there was something that Gilbert was alone in doing.
He was questioning how animals lived and behaved.
Listen to what he said about the nest of a harvest mouse,
"Perfectly round, about the size of a cricket ball.
"It was so compact and well filled, how could the dam" -
that's the mother mouse - "come at her young
"and administer a teat to each?"
You can hear the excitement in his words.
By writing down his observations and questions,
he had started the science of ecology. The study of animals
in their environment.
His words would go on to inspire generations for centuries to come.
Gilbert continued his writing up until a few days before he died.
And in his last letter, in the manuscript,
he wrote to a friend, "I shall here take a respectful leave from you
"and from natural history altogether."
Two decades after Gilbert wrote about rural Hampshire,
a few miles away in the village of Chawton, country life
was inspiring another great writer. Jane Austen.
And this cottage is where Jane spent eight years of her life
and finished off Pride And Prejudice, Sense And Sensibility
and other literary works that made her a household name.
Let's take a look inside.
Jane's books reflect the everyday pleasures and pains of rural life,
as witnessed by this passage from her novel Mansfield Park.
I'm going to find out what it was like to live here
in Jane Austen's day.
It's a great excuse to get dressed up.
Jane Austen may have written Emma and Persuasion,
among other books, here but did you also know
that she was a very accomplished pianist? Unlike me.
She used to practise in this room every day before breakfast.
So here we go.
-HITS WRONG NOTE
This is what it SHOULD sound like.
MUSIC: "I That Was Once A Ploughman"
Jane's handwritten notes on the score
show her obvious pleasure in the music.
Louise, this is a lovely house. But it's not big, is it?
What was life like for the family back then?
I think it was fairly comfortable. Daily life would have been probably
quite straightforward, you know, you mentioned Jane playing the piano
and then she made the breakfast and then she would start writing.
And we're told that sometimes Jane would suddenly leap up
and she had a great idea for one of her books
and might rush to her little table to write something down.
How do Jane's books give us an insight into country life back then?
In Pride And Prejudice, Jane, when she famously gets soaking wet
and has to stay overnight at Netherfield,
actually she can't take the carriage because Mr Bennett points out
that the horses are needed on the farm.
So you just get these little glimpses,
which would be absolutely normal for the readership then,
but now we think, "Oh, interesting,
"they had a farm attached to the house."
So Jane lived in this relatively modest house
but her brother had an enormous estate.
She was living in the shadow of his wealth. She was the poor relation.
Most people, of course, were poor or dirt poor,
but in that upper strata, I suppose the Austens were fairly low down.
But this is completely reflected in her novels.
All of them deal with this issue of class and money
and where you are in that structure.
Following in Jane's footsteps, I'm on my way
to her brother's impressive mansion.
And I'm travelling just as she would have done.
There we go. That wasn't too inelegant, actually.
So why a donkey rather than a horse?
That's what I would have imagined.
Rural people may not have had the money to actually own a horse.
And a donkey invariably was a little bit smaller,
a little bit easier to keep.
I imagine on a long journey
and perhaps without tarmac it might have been a touch on the bumpy side.
In some respects, yes, but the way the carriages were built,
they were sprung in such a way
that actually it give you a very comfy ride.
I must say, it's the only way to travel now.
Oh, wow. Joanne, this is the spot right here. Look at that view.
See you again. Cheers.
This is my Jane Austen heroine moment.
Come and look at this. I'm going to get into character.
Chawton House, the home of Jane's brother Edward.
It's said to have inspired this passage from Pride And Prejudice,
when the heroine Elizabeth gets her first glimpse
of the stately pile owned by Mr Darcy.
You can imagine Jane Austen looking out over a scene like this,
at the land being worked by heavy horses.
And 200 years on, it's still being worked by heavy horses.
I'd quite like to go and check it out,
but I definitely need to get out of this rather impractical garb.
Angie McLaren is the head horseman, and she's going to give me a lesson
in harrowing the old-fashioned way.
It's a job to catch up here. How are you doing, are you all right?
I'm doing really well. Walk on.
So in Jane Austen's day, shire horses like Royston,
-would they have been quite a feature?
It was all just farm equipment
and obviously a horse of this size can pull quite a bit of weight.
-And what we're doing today is chain harrowing.
What it's doing is dragging out all the old grass
and also any moss that's in there, and it aerates the soil.
-So just taking all the dead stuff off the top?
-Would it be possible for me to have a go?
-What do I need to know?
-Ooh, lad. OK, these are your lines.
-Make sure you don't put them round your wrist.
And I'll give you the commands. To go left, you say, "Come over."
And to go right you say, "Get away."
-And to go just say "Walk on."
-OK. Walk on! Walk on!
Good boy. Just keep a little bit of tension on here,
-but not too much?
How important is it to keep shire horses in this context,
where Jane Austen lived and in this landscape?
The public love to see the horses on the estate here
and to have them actually back on the estate
when they would have been here when Jane Austen was walking around,
it's like going to work on a film set every day.
It's absolutely amazing.
I've been in costume already today -
I tell you, I feel like I'm in a movie as well.
Thanks to the work going on here,
the landscape today looks very much as it would have done in Jane's day.
Our idea of what it means to live healthily
has certainly moved on a bit since Jane Austen's day.
We all know that we need to eat five-a-day.
But has that expression really worked? Tom's been finding out.
The fields of Lincolnshire. Vast acres of winter veg -
the kind of produce that finds its way to the nation's market halls.
Vibrant, colourful places where you can load up
on nourishing fruit and veg from home and abroad.
Whether it's oranges from Morocco, a juicy melon from Spain,
or maybe some nice fresh sprouts from an English field,
we all know that eating fruit and veg is good for us.
And here at Coventry market
they certainly seem to have an appetite for it.
But as a nation, we're eating less healthily than before,
and that's despite one of the most famous health slogans ever.
Five-a-day was launched ten years ago this month.
It was the government's way of getting us to eat more fruit and veg,
essential in the fight against things like heart disease,
obesity and even cancer.
A portion can be a medium-sized apple or banana,
three tablespoons of cooked veg, or even a glass of fruit juice.
Well, not quite.
A quick glimpse in our shopping basket shows us why.
The original idea of the message was to encourage us
to eat more fruit, veg, and maybe salad.
But what about this? Ready meals?
It says it's got one of our five a day, so that's OK, right?
Well, that depends on your point of view.
There are strict rules about using the official five-a-day logo,
but it's OK to use the slogan
as long as what you're selling contains a portion of fruit or veg.
And that could include the juice in your favourite breakfast drink
or maybe the tomato sauce in the beans you like on toast.
But is it OK to use the slogan on ready meals
and other processed foods?
Yes, you might be getting one of your five a day,
but that often comes with increased amounts of salt or sugar.
Food activist Kath Dalmeny thinks the public are being misled.
Let's just have a look at some of these.
This is a ready meal, and this, obviously, is an apple.
Both claiming to have one of the five-a-day.
-What issues do you have with these?
-When the five-a-day message
was first invented to try and improve the nation's health,
it's about eating more apples and oranges and broccoli
and cabbage and bananas, it's not about eating more ready meals.
People were already eating enough ready meals.
We don't need to be encouraged to eat more of those.
We need to be encouraged to eat more of this.
But this says one of my five-a-day, so what's your beef?
When you cook food, you might add salt, you might add some fat
or whatever to your own meal, but you would see how much is going on.
When you put it into a ready meal,
there's all kinds of other products in here.
The ingredients, you can see on the front,
it says there's 2.96g of salt, which is, as it says, 49%,
that's round about half of all of the salt you should eat in one day.
-Just in one meal!
-Let's have a look at what that means.
We've got our little scales here.
When you look at the pile of salt, what you're seeing
is national advice on how much salt you should maximally eat in a day
to maintain your good health and to avoid getting heart disease.
So in that product there, there's basically half this amount.
Roughly. That's about right.
There's a phrase that people use which is that the five-a-day message
gives a kind of healthy halo to products.
People are dying to put it onto their packets
and give the healthy halo to the product,
but when it sites appearing on salty products and very sugary products,
there's something going amiss. The message has been hijacked.
It makes me angry, because a lot of effort has been put into it
by dieticians, by nutritionists, to try and reduce
cancer risk in this country, to try and reduce heart disease.
This is serious stuff. This isn't a game.
This is about getting people to eat more healthy fruit and vegetables.
So are the British public being hoodwinked into buying stuff
they believe to be healthy, when the opposite may be true?
Terry Jones from the Food And Drink Federation
thinks the industry is very clear about what goes into their products.
A few things that confuse me.
An apple, clearly one of your five-a-day.
But this ready meal also claiming to be one of your five-a-day
yet it comes loaded with things that might not be good for you.
How can that be?
What you've got there is a composite product
that contains all manner of...
It's a meal in itself, and one of the key ingredients is vegetables.
And a portion, one portion of vegetables.
But isn't putting five-a-day on some of these products giving them
a healthy mask which isn't justified by the ingredients?
No, I wouldn't agree with that.
Because what you're doing there is providing really clear
information that shows you the calories, the sugar, the fat,
the saturated fat and the salt. And you also know
that you could get one of your five-a-day from that.
But this is more healthy than packaged food.
On its own, absolutely.
But we're in the middle of central London here.
That's a raw sprig of broccoli. Is it the most convenient...?
But this is convenient. I can eat it raw.
It's very healthy for me, isn't it?
I'd love to join you with that, but I don't want to spoil my lunch.
What I'm saying is that where consumers struggle
to get all of their five-a-day,
this helps them to get that extra one or two.
Five-a-day is a simple enough slogan, but has it delivered?
Later on I'll be finding out why even eating the fresh stuff
hasn't always been good news for our health or our farmers.
This week, we're exploring the rolling hills of the South Downs.
Hidden amongst the broad, open landscape
is a rare and wild terrain.
Traditional heathland. Once abundant,
this low-lying heath now covers a tiny 1% of these Downs.
During the past 200 years, stunning heathland like this
has been disappearing at an alarming rate right across the nation.
So when the chance came up,
a dedicated bunch of people made the bold move
of trying to protect this particular heath.
They had the idea of turning back the clock
and working the land the old-fashioned way.
They are members of the Lynchmere Society.
Lynchmere is the local parish around here.
What they did was dig deep in their pockets
and buy 307 acres of this heath.
I'm joining them for a day on their heath,
and my host is Mark Allery, one of the joint owners.
So what would have happened to this place, Mark,
if the society hadn't bought it?
If these trees kept growing, it would become a woodland.
We've got to keep cutting them down so the heathland plants can flourish.
So what is a heathland?
Heathland is blueberry, like we're standing on,
heather, surrounding us, and of course gorse and bracken
and all those plants that you associate with more open areas.
Let me show you how this works.
If we just put it under some tension
and then I'm just going to take a swipe through it.
-Right. Just like that.
-Just like that.
So if you push it back under tension. And then slice through like a knife.
-I'm not as good as you.
-You've got it. You've got it.
That's not bad for the first go.
When the society bought this heath, was it difficult to raise the money?
It was a big local appeal and we had over 600 people
in the parish who actually contributed, raising over £100,000,
which was matched by lottery money to buy the 307 acres of the commons.
-So people obviously felt passionate about this place.
that's one of the really good things, the local community
is very involved with the restoration of these commons to heathland.
-And what did you do before that?
-I used to build spacecraft.
I was a rocket scientist. I know, I know!
This is easy-peasy compared to rocket science.
It's not, that's the fascinating thing! It's an absolutely huge book.
Every time I open another page, there's another book beneath it.
I have to learn about trees, have to learn about soil, geology,
What's most important is, how did this landscape come about?
Who was using it? How did the community have the heathlands
200 years ago? And what were they doing that made it into a heathland
and what should we be doing now if we want to keep the heaths open?
Traditionally the trees and scrub
were harvested for firewood and bedding material.
Today some of the cuttings are being used to make lunch.
With the volunteer cooks busy in their woodland kitchen,
there is a chance for me to see one section of heathland
that's already been transformed back to the way it used to be.
Here's a patch that's been almost totally restored, Mark?
Yes. We cleared this area just a couple of years ago.
And what would this place have looked like beforehand?
There wouldn't have been any heather, and you wouldn't have been able
to walk through here, the trees would have been so thick.
The ultimate goal is to restore individual patches of heath,
then open up corridors to connect them.
And the society has an unusual request
for anyone visiting their land.
We'll be asking people to walk on the tracks, to walk off the tracks.
-Just like the cattle.
It's because bad soil here is a good thing.
The nutrient level is very low,
which is good because that keeps the plants struggling to survive
and that means that the rarer plants and the rarer wildlife
that lives in the habitat will do well.
So you're actually doing the opposite to most husbandry,
you want the poorest possible soil and you want people to walk on it.
Yes, we do, yes.
Time for lunch, and a chance to meet some of the other landowners.
-Did you put some of your money into this?
-Yes, we did.
In fact, we put £1,000 in and to us that was a huge amount.
But we just thought gosh, you know,
put your money where your mouth is, so to speak.
It's certainly hard work, isn't it? Why do you do it?
I grew up a mile and a half down the road, I used to play up here
a lot as a kid and that, and now I still get to play up here!
But there's a bit more of a point behind it, you know.
Today's patch of heath has been cleared, but for Mark,
the work doesn't end there.
Once the birch has been cleared, some of it goes on bonfires,
but other bits are put to use. It makes very good kindling.
And anyone who's ever seen a Harry Potter film
might guess what birch can also be used for.
-Isn't that right, Mark?
That looks to be a very special kind of tool you're using.
It's a broom squire's roundshave. They're very traditional tools
and tend to be made by local blacksmiths, or the broom squires.
-So as well as the handle, we need the sweeping bit.
-Why don't you pick up one of the bales over there?
-One of these?
This looks about the right amount, does it?
There is enough for a broom in there.
And what appeals to you about this, Mark?
It's a sense of connection with the landscape
and also the people who were here before.
The house next to me was a family of broom squires about 100 years ago,
and I get a real sense of fulfilment
out of being out here working on the land
and doing the same kind of things that was used to maintain
the landscape, and will be in future, I hope.
And I can't find a bigger difference, I don't think,
from being a rocket scientist to a broom squire.
It's not rocket science, is it, John?
With a few finishing touches from this expert in space age propulsion,
our traditional broom is ready for action.
Ideal for sweeping up leaves. Or even...
It's not working! It's not working!
Exploring the grounds of Gilbert White's Hampshire residence,
it's easy to see why, with all this beauty on his doorstep,
he came to be one of our most inspiring naturalists.
Gilbert's stomping ground was the countryside around his home,
which included this.
A hillside with dramatic views.
Now obviously all the best vantage points are at the top,
so he did as any self-respecting Georgian man would do,
and he had a path cut all the way to the summit.
250 years later, the path is still intact.
Over a quarter of a mile,
takes you over 200 feet above the surrounding countryside.
It's called the zigzag path and I'm heading for the top
to meet a man with a longstanding family tradition
of looking after it.
Chris Webb lives in the village
and manages the path for the National Trust.
-How are you doing, all right?
-All right, yeah.
-This is the top then, is it?
-It is. Yeah. You've made it.
It's a bit of a thigh-burner.
Chris, it's a belting view, this, isn't it?
We're about 250 feet above the village
and we're looking out across the west end of the Weald,
towards the North Downs.
-Well worth the hike.
-Excellent, yeah. It's a good day for it today.
Chris has been working on the path for 35 years.
And it seems to be in his blood.
I was working up here in the '70s as a schoolboy,
-helping keep the path open.
My great-grandfather was maintaining the zigzag
for the first quarter of the 20th century.
When they rebuilt the zigzag in the 1890s my great-great-grandfather
was involved in that as well. So a bit of a family tradition.
-You've always had a connection.
-I wonder how many times you've been up it, then.
Can't tell you. Several thousand times,
I should think, over the years.
Chris, you can see why Gilbert White wanted to have the path cut up here.
Get up at height, look over the surrounding countryside,
and just observe nature.
Now earlier, we heard how eating your five-a-day
may not always be as good for you as you think.
So what exactly are we doing wrong? Here's Tom.
From the fields of Britain to the market stalls of the nation's towns,
there is a staggering choice of fresh, hearty produce
waiting to be snapped up.
So that's 62 for those.
£1.42, you're there before me, thank you very much.
'But we've needed a push to get us eating enough of it.'
Five-a-day - a clear message
encouraging us to eat more fruit and veg.
What could be simpler?
It should have delivered a healthier diet
and maybe provided a boost to British farmers along the way,
but it seems that after 10 years
we are more confused about the message than ever.
As we heard earlier,
critics claim big business has hijacked the slogan
with some food companies putting five-a-day on things like ready meals
that are also high in salt, fat or sugar.
But is it that simple? Is big business really to blame,
or did the message kind of misfire from the start?
We're not only eating less fruit and veg in total,
we're also eating more fruit than veg.
That could be bad news for our health,
since veg tends to have more essential vitamins and nutrients
than fresh fruit.
Nutritionist Shaleen Meelu wants us to get the balance right.
People often think, well, I've had my apple-a-day,
or I've had my banana-a-day.
What we're trying to aim for is variety and diversity
and to go for vegetable options, or pulses even count.
Dried fruit even counts.
People seem to be going, if they are going for anything,
for fruits generally, yes.
And I suppose the other thing with fruit
is that you can make it into juices like this,
which are a very convenient way,
and they certainly claim, a lot of them, to have one of the five-a-day.
And they do... They can count as up to one of your five-a-day,
but I wouldn't be drinking juices all the time,
especially as dentists have started observing acid erosion
due to excessive fruit and fruit juice consumption.
'Processing foods like the fruit in fruit juice drinks,
'or the veg in ready meals
'can lead to a loss of some of the nutrients
'locked up in fresh raw veg.'
The kind of things that we get from vegetables
will help our blood cells, will help cell growth, etc,
help us feel energetic.
That's why it's really important to get a diversity.
'Shaleen's thrown in some sweet potato, button mushrooms and pumpkin.
'Stir-frying it like this is a good way to cook it,
'as it locks in a lot of the goodness.
'Herbs and spices can be used to add extra taste.'
OK. On we go. Do you reckon there are a few of our five-a-day in this?
We're definitely getting there.
If we put it on a plate and had at least half of the plate full of veg,
a little bit of salad, that would at least be two to three portions.
And the point is that this is a way -
and it's very good - of eating more vegetables in particular.
And a variety of vegetables.
Definitely. And making it tasty.
I think a lot of the time people don't eat veg
because it's so...boring.
Eating more fruit than veg
is not only the wrong way to interpret the message,
it has also meant that British farmers have missed out
on the benefits that five-a-day could have given them.
The problem is that they can provide the veg we need,
but not the exotic fruit we've got a taste for.
Here in Lincolnshire,
Andrew Burgess runs one of the country's biggest suppliers
of fresh fruit and veg.
At the moment, the emphasis has been too much on fruit.
As a British grower, it's not actually helping us much,
because other than the soft fruit and some of the apples,
most of our stuff is imported.
Whereas, we're producing good, wholesome British vegetables
right here in Lincolnshire.
Five-a-day was never about improving the businesses for British growers.
It was about improving the health of the nation.
But obviously it is funded by the UK government
and we're UK citizens and we would like the campaign to help us
at the same time as helping the health of the nation.
For the sake of our health and our food growers,
shouldn't we just eat more fresh fruit and vegetables
and less of the processed stuff?
Well, Terry Jones thinks that rather than hijacking the message,
processed food manufacturers are simply helping us reach our quota.
I would encourage consumers to eat healthy diets.
And that means more fresh raw fruit and veg.
It means more fresh fruit and veg,
but it means if they can't get every portion of their five-a-day
from fresh fruit and veg,
it means that manufacturers are on hand to provide that missing...
Perhaps that one missing, or two missing portions,
every day through composite products.
This is about us trying to help consumers to make that change.
But their starting point with five-a-day
-should be the fresh raw stuff?
Simple. That's the message loud and clear.
Do we really need to be told what to eat?
Arguing either way about what qualifies precisely as five-a-day?
Surely it's down to the kind of common sense
your mum used to dish out with your meal -
make sure you eat those greens.
Think you know better than mum or dad?
Could you come up with a better slogan than five-a-day?
Then we'd like to hear from you.
Contact us via the Countryfile website
and let us have your slogans to get us all eating more fruit and veg.
Now, over in the Cotswolds, Adam's got his hands full.
This week he's finding out
how a glamorous multi-million dollar industry
could help improve the welfare of our pigs.
Come on then, to your babies. There's a good girl.
I've got four different breeds of pig on the farm.
This is the Kunekune, which is a New Zealand pig.
And then I've got a pig called an Iron Age,
which looks a little bit like a wild boar.
The Tamworth, which is a big ginger pig.
And then the Gloucestershire Old Spot.
And pigs, just like all other farm animals,
can suffer from lameness.
It doesn't matter whether they're large or small.
And they can get an infection in their foot,
this is known as a clee,
where they've got two toes, and they can get an infection there
that then needs treating with antibiotics.
They can get it in their joints,
and also, they can have slightly twisted legs,
which can cause lameness too.
And it can be a bit of a problem,
but it's something that farmers have to manage.
There you go. Go and get some breakfast.
This is one of my Tamworth sows, that has been a bit lame.
Let's give her some food.
There's your breakfast.
And on her toe here,
she had an infection.
When a pig or any animal gets lame,
you obviously need to treat it,
which takes up time and money from the farmer,
and it causes a huge discomfort to the animal.
And because of that discomfort,
it can affect the amount they eat, so they won't grow very well.
If it's a sow or a boar it can affect their fertility.
So, really, lameness is a major problem.
There are more than 400,000 sows in this country
and it's thought that about 5% of them are lame.
But thankfully, help is at hand,
from quite an unusual source - Hollywood.
How can blockbuster movies
like Avatar, The Matrix and Lord Of The Rings help a lame pig?
I'm off to Newcastle University to find out.
The first thing researcher and vet Sophia Stavrakakis and I have to do
is attach some reflectors to a pig.
I've been working with pigs all my life
and I've never had to put reflective stickers on them before.
Sophia, this looks pretty high-tech. What's going on here?
We're using this highly specialised camera system here
in order to prevent lameness in pig production.
And basically what we're doing is using 3D motion-capture technology
to measure movement, to measure gait in pigs.
And gait is the way it walks - its steps, really.
-And that 3D movement technology
is the sort of stuff you would see in animation films?
There are actual Hollywood movies
that have been based on animation obtained from such camera systems.
And so, how do they work?
They emit infrared light, which is reflected by markers on the pig.
So those little dots on the pig are reflecting back.
-They're reflecting back to the cameras.
-So shall we go and have a look at how it looks on the PC?
Here we see the actual capture of the pig with the markers on.
-So, the markers moving through this space.
So there's the reflective marks,
so that you can see the shape of the pig walking across.
And so, this is much more than the human eye could detect.
We're filming at a much greater frame rate
and this enables us to see more than the human eye would be able to see.
So, as a pig farmer,
when you're picking your females
from a herd that you might want to breed from,
you could potentially set up a camera,
walk the piglets through, and say,
look, those ones have got certain angles on their joints
that may cause them to be lame in the future.
And then you won't breed from it
and therefore, genetically,
you improve the ability of the pigs to move around?
So that would enable you to better select for breeding schemes.
It's very important for the pig industry.
When you think of pig farming,
you just think of smelly pigs and perhaps sausages and bacon,
but this technology is just extraordinary.
Yeah, isn't it? I think so too.
This research is in its infancy,
but Sophia hopes to create a computer model of a healthy pig
to use as a reference point to spot potential lameness in pigs.
Another area the university is tackling
is the welfare of sows in farrowing crates.
This is a typical pig maternity unit,
or farrowing shed, as it's known.
And, in the UK, we keep around 60% of our pigs indoors.
And so, these sows, the mothers,
would have been kept in straw yards
and then brought into these crates a week before they give birth.
And because the sow is so big and the piglets are so little,
one of the major causes of death in piglets
is the sow crushing the piglets.
And that's where the crate comes in.
It restrains the sow, so that when she lies down
she can't flop down sideways and squash them underneath
and the piglets have a safe haven to go.
And in the UK, there are some people who feel
that this system still isn't ideal,
so here at Newcastle University, they've developed an alternative.
By understanding pig behaviour, and the needs of a sow,
the research team have designed a new farrowing pen.
I'm meeting head stock man, Darren Bloomfield, to find out more.
-Darren, good to meet you.
-Nice to meet you.
-So where are these pigs?
-Round the corner.
-Let's go and have a look.
Darren, why did we need to come up with a new design?
This design has been put together by Newcastle University
and the Scottish Agricultural College in order to cater
more for the welfare of the sow as well as the piglets.
The piglets are, of course, important but the sow has her needs as well
and her behavioural needs are met more with this particular system.
So how does it work, then?
Well, we want the sow to use specific areas in the pen.
We have the nesting area here with straw in it.
When she starts to get ready to farrow,
she'll require the need to bed-make, so she'll come into this area and
start carrying some straw around and she'll start bed-making in this area.
We also need a specific toilet area.
She'll come out here to defecate and urinate
and keep her bedding as clean as possible.
-There's also water out there so she can drink.
-What's this board here?
-What's that about?
-The sloping board is key to the design, really.
The biggest problem, if we just had a right-angled wall here
and the sow went to lay down, she'd go down against the wall
and the piglets would be squashed underneath her.
By putting this sloping board in,
the sow will actually slide down the board, the piglets will
disappear under there, they won't be crushed
and they'll come out of the ends and they'll be perfectly safe.
In the UK, we always seem to be a step ahead of the game.
Our legislation on animal welfare is a lot better than other countries, isn't it?
Yes, it is and I'm proud to be a British pig farmer, really.
What we try and do,
we try and come up with solutions before we need them.
This is an alternative
and pig farmers all around the world are all coming to look at this
sort of design and thinking maybe this is the way forward in the future.
I'm not sure this piglet will ever make the dizzy heights
of Hollywood, but it's great that farming is embracing new technologies
and developments all the time and even as a small-scale pig farmer
I'm warmed by the fact that our pig industry is in good hands.
Do you want to go back to your mum? PIGLET SQUEALS
Next week, I'll be in the Forest of Dean,
learning about the ancient art of sheep hefting.
Back on the South Downs, I'm off to find out
about a local agricultural revolution.
It's something that's changing the face of the countryside around here.
Believe it or not, this rather romantic stretch of road,
the A272, is what is now becoming known as England's wine trail.
Where better to start than one of Britain's first modern commercial vineyards?
The Romans and medieval monks made wine in the UK,
but the story of commercial wine production here is much more recent.
Hambledon Vineyard on the southern edges of the Downs helped
transform English winemaking when it opened in 1952.
Footage from 1981 shows just how much interest this venture generated.
Experts from winemaking countries abroad have paid us very great
and flattering compliments.
Bill Carcary ran the vineyard from the 1960s
until his retirement in 1995.
What was the reaction to having grapes grown here?
The villagers, they thought we were mad.
English wine had got a very bad press.
Mainly it was apple wines and things like that.
When they started making wine with the grapes,
people came from miles around to see it.
How were things done differently back then to how they're done now?
Harvesting is the main difference.
Local villagers came up and picked them into small baskets and they
were all transported on a wheelbarrow and straight up round to the winery.
The grapes were crushed then and then put in the press.
It was a hand press with a fair amount of pressure put on
to get the juice out.
And it's not just the process that's changed since those days.
If you'd come to an English vineyard 15 years ago,
they'd most likely be growing German grapes like Riesling
for still wine, but now things are quite different.
Today's vineyards are fizzing...
..for chalky soils here in the South Downs have similarities to
the Champagne region of France.
That means you can grow Pinot Noir, Chardonnay
and Pinot Meunier grapes -
the key ingredients for upmarket sparkling wine.
From Hambledon, I'm moving on to one of the UK's newest vineyards,
Owner Simon Robinson began turning arable land over to vines
four years ago, but this year he's been hit hard by one of the worst
summers for a hundred years.
So how does the business model for grapes differ from traditional farming?
Grapes and making wine are much longer term investment,
a much bigger investment. And this year, I have to say, has been a terrible harvest.
-Yes, we're squelching here, aren't we?
Awful harvest. A lot of people have lost everything.
We simply didn't have the sunshine and the heat.
A lot of grapes simply didn't manage to mature enough
and you can see on the vine over here, these are Chardonnay,
and they're still pretty hard.
So have you got enough even to go into production or is this
just a write-off year for you?
No, it's not a write-off year, we are in production,
-but not nearly at the levels that we would have hoped.
While some vineyards scrapped their harvest this year,
Simon did send in the pickers to salvage what
they could just before a cold snap a few weeks ago.
Consultant winemaker Emma Rice takes the grapes from vine to glass.
So is all of this just for the grapes that are grown here?
No, we have partner vineyards from all over the country.
In Hampshire, we're quite central,
so we have client vineyards in Dorset through to Kent.
Wow, what is this? This is an enormous piece of kit.
This is our press - it takes between four
and five tonnes of whole bunches of grapes.
-With stalks and everything?
-With stalks and everything.
It's very important with the traditional method, sparkling wine process
that you keep the bunches intact as long as possible.
Crushing whole great bunches helps the initial
fermentation in these huge steel tanks and after just a few weeks,
the juice is already starting to develop a flavour.
It's not unpleasant, is it, but it's quite sour?
It's basically come to the end of its fermentation,
so all of the sugar has now been fermented and turned into alcohol,
so you're left with the alcohol and the acidity.
For a sparkling wine that's going to be aged for quite some time,
it's quite important to maintain a high level of acidity,
so it can last through the ageing process.
After eight months in the tanks, the wine is bottled
and left for another two to three years to go through a second
fermentation when those all-important bubbles form.
Now the good stuff!
So here we have a 2010 -
this was the very first harvest from our own vineyards.
-So it's quite a significant bottle?
-Very significant bottle, yes.
It's not been released yet, so this is a special exclusive.
-Exclusive for Countryfile. Oh, wow! That looks amazing. Cheers.
-Very, very nice.
I could stay here and party all day with this.
-Well, we've got 65,000 bottles next door.
If you're after something sparkling this Christmas,
then we've got just the thing - the Countryfile calendar for 2013
made up of all the winning entries from this year's photographic competition.
Here's John with all the details.
The Countryfile calendar has been raising
lots of money for the BBC's Children In Need appeal for more than
a decade now and for the 2013 edition,
we had a fantastic number of amazing photographs sent in by viewers to choose from.
So if you want these beautiful shots on your wall
next year, you can order a copy right now, either on our website,
..or by calling the order line on...
To order by post, send your name, address and cheque to...
..and please make your cheques payable to BBC Countryfile Calendar.
Remember, the calendar costs £9
and at least £4 from every sale will go to Children In Need.
You'll find all the information and more on our website.
Now it's time for the Countryfile forecast for the week ahead.
This week we're in the South Downs,
where I've been leafing through the life and work of Gilbert White,
one of our earliest naturalists who lived here in the 1700s.
While Gilbert's main passion was observing his natural
surroundings, like many animal lovers, he also had pets.
One of them was particularly charismatic -
he was called Timothy and he was a tortoise.
Now Gilbert was an inquisitive gent,
so an exotic pet like Timothy was an obvious subject for investigation.
Ronnie Davidson-Houston is a Gilbert White enthusiast.
Timothy was really one of his best friends.
'I'm meeting him to find out what Gilbert discovered about his treasured tortoise.'
And what work did he do with him then,
because he put him through various tests, I understand?
Yes, yes, really people knew very little about tortoises,
so he shouted at him through an ear trumpet to see if Timothy could hear.
-Apparently not, no.
He dumped him in a bucket of water to see if he could swim,
and he couldn't and poor Timothy must've been so distressed,
but he was not a turtle.
One should say "her" because Timothy was found out later to be a she,
but it's much easier to say "he".
Timothy, the female tortoise,
became a mischievous resident of Gilbert's home.
In one of his letters, Gilbert referred to Timothy as,
"So old a domestic who behaved himself in
"so blameless a manner in the family for nearly 50 years."
Timothy had a roguish habit of escaping from his garden home.
One jaunt took him out into the nearby farmland only to be
discovered several days later, which has given me an idea.
Well, we're going to have a go at recreating one of Gilbert's
many quests to find his tortoise.
Now, sadly, Timothy has long since left this world so we have a stunt
stand-in, Saffy, on her last outing before hibernation,
so I'll pop you in there
and it's over to the search party that are ready and waiting.
Saffy will, of course, be supervised on her adventure
and to find her, a bunch of keen treasure hunters will follow the clues.
The first is on a plastic tortoise in the veg patch.
Ronnie's in character to provide some expert knowledge
and my two kids have come along to join in the fun.
Here comes the first question...
-..where did Gilbert White's love of the natural world come from?
The garden! Very good. So, everyone, to the garden, go!
Quick, quick, quick, quick, quick!
-You got it?
We've got it.
Right, next clue - "Find the spot where
"I like to look out" from Gilbert White.
-It's exhausting, this.
-Sorry we're late. Little legs.
What's the next clue, Gilbert?
Ah, that's another tortoise and that's in one of my favourite
bits of the garden, called the Six Quarters, behind the hedge there.
-Go for it!
-Let's have another look here.
-This one's not plastic.
-Well done, everyone.
-Yeah, good hunting.
Give yourselves a round of applause.
Oh, wow! Let's have a look.
Saffy's adventure has come to an end -
an award-winning performance as Timothy, the real star of the show.
Well, that is the end of the treasure hunt
and the end of the programme.
Next week, we'll be on the South Gloucestershire border
behind the scenes at one of our top dressage stables,
and what does it take to keep one of Britain's oldest trees healthy?
We'll be finding out. Hope you can join us then.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Countryfile is deep in the heart of rural England, exploring the chalk-lands of the South Downs.
Centuries ago this countryside, with its green fields and wooded hedges, gladdened the heart of Jane Austen, and as Matt Baker and Ellie Harrison discover, there is still plenty around today that the great novelist would recognise. Ellie walks in Jane Austen's footsteps, and discovers how Austen reflected country life in her novels when she visits Jane's home in the village of Chawton.
Matt is at Selborne, where he finds out how the Hampshire landscape inspired an earlier writer, Gilbert White. One of Britain's best-loved naturalists, White's observations of the county's flora and fauna inspired Darwin and are still being read today.
Also in the programme, Tom Heap investigates just what 'five a day' means when it comes to healthy living. There can't be many people in Britain today who haven't heard of the five-a-day message. But is the campaign to get us all to eat more fruit and veg really making us healthier?
Meanwhile, Adam Henson leaves the farm and travels north in search of scientific ways to make pig rearing more welfare-friendly.