The Countryfile teams visit East Sussex. Matt Baker explores the coastline and looks at some of its iconic legacies, and Julia visits the countryside which inspired Virginia Woolf.
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'East Sussex - dramatic white cliffs, chalky downs
'and secluded, rocky bays.
'This is a county brimming with unspoilt landscapes.'
It's also a county crowded with national treasures.
And I'll be visiting a few
that are at risk of being lost from our coastline for ever.
'But there's more to East Sussex than a stunning coast.
'Inland it's pretty inspirational, too.'
This is where Virginia Woolf and other members of
the Bloomsbury set came to escape the chaos of London life.
I'll be discovering why, for Virginia,
the East Sussex countryside provided a tonic for both body and mind.
'Not that the local bees are helping me relax.'
Brilliant(!) Right by my eye. In my face.
-Has it stung you?
'While Julia recovers, I'll be in East Anglia
'searching for the cause of a mystery illness that affects dogs.'
It appeared out of nowhere in 2009,
and has recurred every autumn since.
The common factors are autumn conditions like this
and dogs walking in woodland.
So, just how worried should we be?
'Meanwhile, Adam's taking a break from his farm.'
I'm here in the Swiss Alps
meeting a famous fighting cow.
But they're friendly to people. Want some bread?
'An undulating, panoramic view of chalk downland
'mimicking the rolling seas.
'This is East Sussex
'with its distinctive English coastline -
'white cliffs, sandy beaches
'and other familiar landmarks
'you'd expect to find here.'
Like this - the lighthouse at Beachy Head.
Dressed in her red-and-white uniform,
she proudly stands out against the bright, white cliffs.
But for how much longer?
'The chalk cliffs of Beachy Head
'have long been a landmark for mariners.
'In 1902, the 40m lighthouse was built here,
'casting her first heroic light on October 2nd.'
In 1980, she was painted the red and white that you see today.
But last year her owners, Trinity House,
decided that this iconic building had no longer earned its stripes.
'Her owners aren't planning to repaint her,
'so the sea will eventually strip away her colours
'and she'll return to plain grey granite.'
So, how might she look, given that the sea erodes these cliffs
at a staggering rate of a metre a year?
'Margaret Turton is a local painter, who paints on canvas, not granite.
'And she's trying to visualise Beachy Head
'without its distinctive red-and-white stripes.'
Margaret, what a difference this is.
I mean, as a lover of colour, this must be quite a sobering experience.
Yes, it's, um, looking very dull and boring to me.
-It's much nicer to paint it with the red stripes.
-That's how I remember it from my childhood.
-I mean, that is...
That, to me, seems very happy. It's kind of a smiley, sunny picture.
This one is just...
-drab and dull, isn't it?
As an artist, would you have ever chosen THIS as a subject?
I don't think I would. No.
There's plenty of places along the coast of the cliffs, where you get
a lovely view, but that would be just a bit of an eyesore.
If you wouldn't mind, could I take these and just have a word
with a few people and just gauge their reactions?
-Yes, I think that's a good idea.
-How does that make you feel?
-Yeah, it makes me feel warm and nice.
-And then, what about that one?
-That's boring, dull.
-Oh...that's not so attractive.
-That's not our lighthouse.
If somebody doesn't do something
about it, that's part of our history and our heritage...
And if nobody steps up to the plate and looks after it,
that's going to fall in the sea.
'Beachy Head lighthouse
'has been a part of our coastal heritage for years.
'She acted as a visual landmark
'to guide Spitfires and Lancasters back home in World War II.
'Now, local people are desperately trying to save her stripes.'
You are born and bred in the area. What are your earliest memories
of this world-famous stripy lighthouse?
-Coming up here and laying down on the edge looking over.
-You used to lie on the edge of the cliffs?
-And it was just that...
-Yeah, the whole world is out there.
Yeah. How big is the group in support of keeping it red and white?
It's about over 2,000 now, isn't it?
And we've had a lot of support from all across the world.
-OK. And where are you at now with the money?
Last October we realised that we needed to raise 27,000.
And since then, we've raised 22,500. So, we're two-thirds of the way there
and we're confident that by next spring,
which is when she's going to need a bit of a facelift,
that we will have raised the money.
Robert, a great example of people power.
It must feel brilliant for you guys to have achieved what you have done.
When we first started it seemed so far away.
And it's just purely through the support of people
who love this lighthouse and want to keep it just as it is.
'A lighthouse without stripes is like a leopard without spots.
'So I, for one, hope she keeps them for years to come.'
Whilst I've been exploring the south coast,
Tom has been up in the East Anglian countryside,
investigating a mystery illness that's affecting dogs.
'It's an idyllic autumnal scene around our countryside.
'The sun is shining.
'The leaves on the trees are turning.
'It's the perfect time to stride out with your faithful friend at heel.
'But in one part of the country,
'this idyll has been shattered by
'something sinister lurking in our woods,
'something that's making our dogs seriously ill
'and, in the worst cases, killing them.'
The trouble is no-one knows what it is.
It's inherited the name Seasonal Canine Illness.
And with 14 recorded dog deaths since 2010,
the race is on to find out.
Would you normally let them off around here?
-Yeah, about here's good for them.
-Give them their freedom.
-Here we go.
Are you ready, Ebony?
DOGS BARK AND RUMBLE
'In September 2010, Viv Smee and her partner, Clive,
'took her bearded collie, Dottie, out for a walk in Thetford Forest Park.'
Viv, can I take you back to those fateful days in September?
Um, I had a phone call at work from my daughter at lunchtime.
She said, "Mum, can you come back and pick the dog up?
"She's not very well."
-So, that's her.
She was perfectly healthy when I went to work that morning.
Um, got home...
She could hardly get out of her bed - very, very lethargic.
So, I just picked her up, put her in the car
and took her down to the vets'.
Um, you know, in the...
In the space of, like, a couple of hours,
I'd gone to work with what I thought
was a perfectly healthy dog at home and came back...
to find that she'd died in my arms.
And this was just a few days after she'd been
for a walk out in the woods?
Yeah, we'd taken her to the normal places that we walked.
Um, nothing different. Nothing special.
Just a normal walk in the woods.
'Viv's vet had no idea what had killed Dottie and neither did Viv.
'But now, with two new dogs,
'she doesn't risk taking them anywhere near the woods.
'So was what happened to Dottie an isolated case?
'Well, worryingly, no.
'Seasonal Canine Illness
'was first reported on the Sandringham Estate
'in the autumn of 2009.
'The following year,
'53 cases of sick dogs were recorded across Norfolk,
'Suffolk and Nottinghamshire.'
That's when a group based here
at this beautiful country house got involved.
The Animal Health Trust is now spearheading
the research into this mystery illness. But why them?
'Based in Newmarket,
'the Queen is the trust's patron and Princess Anne is their president.
'So when dogs got sick at Sandringham,
'it was immediately on their radar.
'Doctor Richard Newton was brought in to lead
'the investigation into Seasonal Canine Illness.
'With between 150 and 200 cases since 2010,
'his team have managed to establish a simple set of symptoms.'
Dogs are presenting with sickness. So, they're vomiting.
And they're also producing diarrhoea at the other end.
So, it's a gastro-intestinal appearing disease.
But particularly those animals that get quite sick,
they're becoming lethargic, they can have pain in their stomachs
and they can go off their food,
and if veterinary attention is not sought quickly,
they can become quite ill quite quickly.
There's something else you've found,
something that the dogs have been doing just before they become ill.
You're absolutely right. Many of these cases had got the common theme
that they'd been walked in woodland areas,
and that seemed to be a very common message that was coming through.
'Most of the reported cases have come from five specific areas
'that the Animal Health Trust is now investigating
'as hotspots for the illness.
'The locations are Clumber Park
'and Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire,
'Sandringham Estate and Thetford Forest in Norfolk
'and Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk.'
So they know where it's happening and what's happening to the dogs.
But despite working tirelessly, they still don't know the cause
of seasonal canine illness, so where do we go from here?
Ah, this is sulphur tuft.
This is one of the commonest, most adaptable British fungi...
'Last year, the Trust called in botanist Mark Spencer
'from the Natural History Museum to help make sense of the puzzle.
'His job was to head out into the woods at Sandringham
'and look for anything new or unusual.'
So in this mystery, what were some of the early leads?
The first one that was mentioned was a blue-green algae
which are toxic algae that live in fresh water generally,
but there's no permanent standing water here, so we ruled that out.
There was no sign of really significantly poisonous plants
in the neighbourhood and also then fungi.
-Well, that chimes in with the autumn thing as well.
'But despite an intensive search,
'Mark could find no sign of fungi poisonous to dogs anywhere.
'So, he returned home.'
There really isn't any clear suspects in this woodland.
I'm going to carry on looking around anyway.
'But then something unexpected happened.
'The following morning, he woke up with a badly swollen leg.'
I felt really, really itchy
and had bright scarlet ankles with nasty bites all over it
and a really, really nasty case of something that had had a go at me.
'Despite spending half his life rooting around in the undergrowth,
'he'd never had bites like this before.'
So had Mark stumbled on the mystery cause of Seasonal Canine Illness?
Later on, I'm going to be delving deeper into the undergrowth
to find out.
'We've come to East Sussex to discover some of the secrets
'this lush county hides within its landscape.'
I'm on the South Downs Way.
This chalky trail is a magnet for ramblers,
who can follow the route all the way down to the coast in Eastbourne.
'There's nothing like the freedom of walking to clear the mind
'and rejuvenate the spirit,
'the exhilaration of becoming lost in your own thoughts.'
One of the greatest British writers of the 20th century,
Virginia Woolf, believed strongly in the power of perambulation.
She was enchanted by this landscape.
It was for her a constant source of inspiration.
"Evening is kind to Sussex, for Sussex is no longer young."
"And she's grateful for the veil of evening
"as an elderly woman is glad when a shade is drawn over a lamp,
"and only the outline of her face remains.
"The outline of Sussex is still very fine."
'So fine was it, Virginia and her husband Leonard
'bought Monk's House in the village of Rodmell in 1919,
'a place she said would be their home for ever and ever.'
And in a way, it still is,
watched over carefully by Alison Pritchard from the National Trust.
Why do you think they loved this house so much?
Virginia used to come into the village to buy her tobacco
and they'd always known the garden. I think the garden was a big draw.
The house was actually, is quite awkward, it still is.
It's very little, isn't it?
Yeah, she said she came to love it like a mongrel wins your heart.
There's a complete escape from London life.
'Virginia liked a daily routine.
'In the morning at ten o'clock,
'she would walk to her writing room in the garden.
'Leonard said that she went "with the daily regularity
'"of a stockbroker who commutes."'
She paid to have this room moved from one end of the garden
to the other, so that she could sit inside and write
looking out over the South Downs for inspiration.
It cost £157, which she wrote afterwards was a lot of money
to move a writing room, but worth it.
'One of her biggest bugbears was noise,
'and she often complained about the racket from a local school.
'But that view more than made up for it.'
Afternoons were spent socialising,
playing games and debating topical issues with friends.
Nothing special with nobody special, really.
EM Forster, John Maynard Keynes, TS Eliot.
Just some of the greatest literary and artistic minds
of the 20th century.
'They were all close to the Bloomsbury set,
'a group of highly influential intellectuals,
'at the centre of which were Virginia
'and her sister Vanessa Bell.'
Vanessa lived about eight miles from here in Charleston House,
which was a country retreat for the Bloomsbury set,
and it wasn't unusual for Virginia to walk from this garden
all the way across the Downs to see her.
Eight miles is quite a long way in a long skirt.
"The country is so amazingly beautiful
"that I frequently have to stop and say 'Good God.'"
Walking was very important to Virginia, wasn't it?
Yes, it was hugely important.
She would write all morning, walk in the afternoon.
She said she needed space for her mind to spread into.
-It was more than just exercise to her.
The rhythm of walking, pacing round the London squares
when she was a child with her father, she'd compose sentences,
so obviously later when she came to the South Downs,
that expanse of space was hugely important to her work as a writer.
"I slip easily from writing to reading,
"with spaces between of walking,
"walking through the long grass in the meadows or up in the Downs."
Let's focus for a moment on the D word, the depression,
because of course she suffered from these great bouts of depression,
and the walking, the exposure to the outdoors
is what helped her with those dark times.
She suffered from terrible periods of depression,
but I think it's important to get that into perspective.
She's one of the most brilliant writers of the 20th century.
She was witty and great fun to be with.
-So it wasn't all the darkness and the gloom?
-Not at all, no.
But a landscape like this, if you are suffering from depression,
there could be nothing more therapeutic.
'When Virginia arrived here at Charleston, her sister's house,
'the Bloomsbury set would indulge their passions.
'Painting, reading and socialising.'
There's no question
that the dynamics within this group were complicated.
They were highbrow, intellectual, arty people,
and some of them were definitely more than just close friends,
but Virginia Woolf felt very comfortable in their company.
She wrote that "Some people go to priests, some go to poetry,
"I go to my friends."
'But in the end, even her friends couldn't console her.'
On the 28th of March 1941,
overcome by the prospect of another unbearable World War,
Virginia filled her pockets with stones
and tragically walked into the River Ouse, never to return.
'In her essay The Waves, perhaps she predicted her own death,
'as she wrote,
'"Against you I fling myself,
'"unvanquished and unyielding. Oh, Death."
'Marie Bartholomew was the daughter of Virginia's gardener
'and remembers that dreadful day very well.'
We were having our meal
because everyone was having a meal at that time
because the news came on
and during the War we always listened to the news.
And suddenly, the door burst open
and Leonard rushed straight into the room
and said, "Percy, come quickly! Come quickly!"
Dad just dropped his knife and fork in his plate,
grabbed his jacket and went.
I knew something had happened but I was only ten,
but I knew it was something dreadful.
-What was his face like, Leonard's face?
-Awful. Absolutely distraught.
I can still see a picture of his face in my mind now.
"I can fasten on a beautiful day as a bee fixes on a sunflower.
"It feeds me, rests me, satisfies me as nothing else does.
"This is holiness. This will go on after I am dead."
Last month, a tip-off from a Countryfile viewer
took Adam to Switzerland
where he helped herd Blacknose sheep off the Alps.
They're coming down the path and the shepherd ahead says
we've got to move on quickly to get out of their way.
'While he was there, he couldn't resist
'exploring this beautiful country further.
'But the attractions of Switzerland for this tourist
'don't include chocolate or cuckoo clocks.'
'The Swiss Alps.
'Where snow-capped peaks tower into the sky
'and descend into lush valleys.'
The scenery around here is absolutely stunning and so varied,
and down here in the valleys, the climate's much warmer.
And on every spare acre, there seems to be a vineyard,
growing grapes for good-quality wine.
But if you want to see unusual breeds of livestock,
then you have to be prepared to climb.
'And I mean climb!
'Two and a half thousand metres above sea level
'live some big, brutal, bruising animals,
'famous in Switzerland for fighting.
'The Ehringer cow has to be
'one of the most unusual breeds I've ever heard of.'
COW SNORTS BELL RINGS
In some parts of Spain, bullfighting is quite a common
and controversial spectacle, but here the cattle fight each other,
and as often the way of the Swiss, it's a lot less controversial.
'In Switzerland, cow-fighting events are a big deal.
'Huge crowds come to see the Ehringer cows battle it out
'until one is pronounced the winner. It's completely natural behaviour.
'Fighting is the way this breed
'establishes a hierarchy within the herd.'
'Alain Zamofin farms the cows high on the slopes of the Turtmann Valley.
'He's taking me to see his cows and he's brought along
'his friend Florian in case he needs help with his English.'
-Ah, here they are, the cows!
-Yes, now we have found it.
-This, there are between 90 and 110.
-I just imagined a few but there's lots.
-Yes, there's a lot.
Amazing. Well, they certainly look very happy. And can we get closer?
-Is it safe?
-Yes, they are harmless.
It's like a dog. They are really, he like really the people.
-Great, let's go and get closer.
'So whilst they fight each other...'
They're so friendly.
'..they're incredibly gentle with people.'
Look at these ones lying down here, they're lovely.
Ha-ha! The bells are huge! Very big bells!
Yeah, and also noisy.
Aww! They're so friendly!
They're living up here in a mountain, but they're like pets.
Can't imagine them fighting.
Just getting up close to these cattle is absolutely wonderful for me,
and holding their skin, you can feel that it's really thick.
And their meat is just solid, it's muscle!
And although they're short, they're powerful little beasts. Look at you.
The thickness of its head... just incredible!
And what makes a good cow? What do you look for?
A good cow has a solid head,
have good big horns,
and have a lot of neck and behind they are really much of muscularity,
so they have enough of power for push the other one away.
-When you do the fighting.
They're quite a short cow, aren't they? Short in the leg.
It's good for going in the mountain, so they don't...
-Fall over and break their legs.
-So, this is the queen of this mountain.
-The queen fighting cow?
-How did she become Queen?
She win all the other cows.
So how many fights will she have?
This one, it is the third year she's Queen.
I think 100 days, ten fights.
When I have my cows at home and I let them out
from the winter, in the spring, often they will fight just for a short time
and then the best cow, the strongest cow, will be top of the tree.
Yes, have the best place for eat, and so.
It's natural. It's exactly the same.
When they're fighting, it's a big event.
Yes, it's a big event. There are normally 200 cows.
And if your cow wins, do you get money?
No! You win a bell!
-A nice bell!
-A nice bell!
So do you breed the cows for fighting or eating?
For both, but for eating, I have prepared something for you.
-Yes, we can go take a picnic.
So, what have you got here?
So, this is cheese from this area too,
and this is meat from the fighting cows,
from a cow from me.
-Wonderful. So this is from one of your cows?
Mmm! Great flavour.
Mmm, it's fantastic.
-And you make this yourself?
-Do you farm the cows?
Yes, and butcher, too?
Yes, the cows, when they come older or you don't like it, you make meat.
Really delicious. Let me try some of this bread.
The food is fantastic. You must take some, too. I'm being greedy.
I will give you a little bit of wine.
We have two red wine.
You don't want to drink too much.
We've got a long walk back down the mountain.
You are a big man. It's no problem for you!
I love visiting other farms to see what people are getting up to.
But to come up here, in this fantastic scenery,
to see a cattle farmer is really quite extraordinary.
And that's not the end of my Alpine adventure.
Later in the programme, I'll be on the hunt
for a very special breed of mountain goat.
COWBELL CHIMES GENTLY
Here on the dramatic East Sussex coast, I've been finding out
about the appeal to save the signature red and white stripes
of Beachy Head lighthouse near Eastbourne.
Further west, heading towards Brighton, this coastal road reveals
another part of our seaside heritage also in jeopardy.
This building, nestled in a bowl beneath the town of Saltdean
is a sad reminder of its former glory.
Saltdean Lido was built in 1938,
just as people were starting to embrace outdoor swimming.
The joy of sunbathing was also sweeping our shores, meaning
that lidos soon became a pleasure ground for the British holidaymaker.
Just imagine what it would have been like.
This place would have been buzzing.
All the lads over here jumping off the diving boards,
showing off, the girls lounging on the sunbeds,
and the kids screaming and splashing around.
SOUND OF CHILDREN PLAYING
What a shame!
Inside the Art Deco-style building with its distinctive curved wings
at either end, were the changing rooms, and a cafe
serving hot soup to warm up after what would have been a chilly swim.
It would have been a hive of activity.
But the arrival of cheap foreign holidays with guaranteed sunshine
meant that lidos like this one fell out of fashion.
Despite clinging on through some very difficult times,
Saltdean Lido eventually closed to the public last year.
Proposals for the site have included filling in the pool
and building community apartments.
The sympathetic council so far has managed to hold back such plans.
But the future of the site is still uncertain.
Architect Paul Zara is passionate about
this unique and increasingly rare example of British architecture.
-It feels quite something to be here.
-It's a very special place.
So talk us through what would have been where.
Well, you can still see the shape of the original pool, this curve, here.
That's important. Most pools aren't that shape.
That's the unusual thing about this lido.
It's the most protected lido. Grade II* listed.
Most lidos have a big, square pool with a brick box
for the changing rooms and loos, maybe a cafe if you're lucky.
Whereas this one has these beautiful curved wings.
It's a bit like an aeroplane or a cruise liner.
Arms holding the building, holding the pool. It's just fantastic.
And what is happening to it now?
Is the lido in limbo?
It is in limbo at the moment. But it's not going to fall down.
It feels rock solid. It's not moving.
It's all made out of in-situ concrete.
The floors, walls and ceilings are made of concrete,
so it's not going to fall down. But it does need some TLC.
-It needs to be looked after.
-I like the feel of it, though. It's great.
The future of this magnificent lido is still undecided,
but one idea proposes to reconnect its original access to the beach.
Now, earlier in the programme,
we heard about a mystery illness affecting dogs in some
parts of our countryside, but are we any closer to finding out the cause?
Tom has been investigating.
Over the past three years, 14 dogs have died in East Anglia
and the East Midlands, due to Seasonal Canine Illness.
Various attempts have been made to find the cause
of this mystery killer, but with no success.
That is, until the botanist investigating the case, Mark Spencer,
found some nasty bites on his leg.
-So how bad was it?
It really was all up here on both ankles, particularly this one,
really nasty bites.
I also had it around here, round here, it was very, very unpleasant.
I asked my colleagues at the Natural History Museum,
who are specialists in insects, "Can you tell me what this is?"
And they said it looks like mite bites.
So does this mean that mites are the cause of this mystery illness?
That's a question that Dr Richard Newton
of the Animal Health Trust has been trying to answer.
So, Richard, is this a photofit of the potential killer?
This is a mite though, is it?
Yes, what we have here is a harvest mite that was retrieved from a case
of Seasonal Canine Illness, and it's one of the culprits at the moment
which is implicated, but we don't know for sure that it is the cause.
What is it about this character, this mite, that fits with this disease?
This critter sits in the woods, waits for a warm-blooded animal
to come along, then it will attach
and bite the skin, and drop off
and continue its life cycle with no contact with animals after that.
Mites only bite
when they are at the larval stage, which happens in autumn.
This could explain why the outbreaks have occurred at this time of year.
But how can a bite from such a tiny mite make a much larger animal
so seriously ill?
If the dog, in being bitten, goes into a state of shock,
there is an allergic-type reaction
that can lead to these sorts of signs. In some dogs, but not all.
But that's just one theory.
To really get to the bottom of this,
the investigating team needs to do more research.
So we're heading to the Sandringham Estate
on a hunt for this mysterious mite.
Richard, how do you go about finding the elusive mite?
Well, what we've got to do is set a trap. If you open the bag...
'Using warm water and rags, we're creating the effect of a body,
'in the hope that some of these little bugs will latch on
'like they would to a warm-blooded mammal.'
-On the ground?
-Yes, just laid out.
As... Like that.
And perhaps you could set one over there as well.
Mites gathered here are examined to answer certain questions,
not least why this is happening now. What's changed?
This is not a new phenomenon
in terms of these harvest mites being in this sort of environment,
but something has changed that's triggering this condition.
We're fairly certain of that.
And it's unravelling that factor that's different now
than was the case, say, ten years ago. That's the important bit.
Catching mites is easier said than done, as is identifying them.
So, samples need to be sent off to a specialist lab for analysis.
There's something on my thumbnail, as well. Do you see?
Want me to scrape it off?
Let's hope the ones we've caught today fit the bill.
He went outside. I think he dropped!
Can't stop looking at my hands and rolling up my sleeves.
Partly for the aid of science,
but there's also an element of self-preservation in there.
Although harvest mites are the prime suspect, the jury is still out,
and it could be some time before a verdict is returned.
In the meantime, are our dogs really in danger?
Well, yes. According to the British Veterinary Association,
we should be taking this seriously.
Vet nurse Karen McCoy is on the front line
of the battle against this cryptic killer.
She's seen plenty of cases.
Back in 2010, we had quite a few dogs being brought to us
that were critically ill, and, actually, some of them died.
It was affecting dogs of all ages and of health status.
Like the British Veterinary Association, Karen thinks
we should take this illness seriously, but we shouldn't panic.
For a start, it is treatable.
People who are getting prompt treatments,
getting their pets to the vets, have recovery between seven to ten days.
They do quite well.
What would your recommendation to people be?
Should they stop taking their dogs to the woods?
No, we don't want to cause panic.
We don't know what's causing it and where it is,
so the proportion that we see of ill pets of the proportion
that are walking in the woods round the forestry areas is quite small.
Although Seasonal Canine Illness is cause for concern,
you have to remember there are an estimated ten million dogs in the UK,
and only a few of them have been affected so far.
By all means take your dog for a walk in the woods at this time of year.
But be vigilant and look out for anything unusual.
It's unlikely, but if you spot the symptoms of Seasonal Canine Illness
within 24-72 hours after that walk, then do get to a vet.
And those symptoms are lethargy,
frequently accompanied by sickness and/or diarrhoea.
As another autumn rolls on, the mystery of this illness continues.
It's not certain that harvest mites are the cause
and we've yet to discover if these outbreaks are more widespread
than the areas currently being investigated.
And that's where you come in.
If you think your dog has suffered from Seasonal Canine Illness,
or you have any information about this disease,
then don't hesitate to contact us via the website.
This week we've been exploring East Sussex.
Matt's been taking in the clifftop views from the coast path
and I've been exploring the chalky hills of the South Downs.
My next stop is Ashurst Wood, home of the Natural Beekeeping Trust,
and its director Heidi Herrmann,
a lady with some revolutionary ideas about beekeeping.
Heidi, tell me what natural beekeeping is.
Natural beekeeping, as we define it, in the Natural Beekeeping Trust,
is giving your colonies the best possible chance
to express all facets of normal colony behaviour.
Ordinary beekeeping, especially in the last 100 years,
a lot of these normal colony behaviours
have been and are being systematically suppressed,
in order to get the bees to perform to a particular design.
You want the honey.
Yes, we want the honey, and natural beekeepers want the honey, too.
But we will be very careful with taking only the honey
that we are absolutely sure is surplus to the colony's requirements.
Deliciously sticky-sweet as honey is,
bees don't make it especially for us.
They store it in the hive to eat for themselves during winter,
when there's less nectar on offer.
But in modern beekeeping, their honey is taken away,
and their food source is replaced with sugar water.
Of course, you can get away with it for a number of years,
but in the long term, taking the long view, we're not getting away with it.
That's very clear. The bees are sick.
Of course we want honey, and it's very good for us,
but first of all, we need to work very hard now,
and not just as beekeepers, but, really, everyone,
to bring the bees back to health,
to restore the vitality bees had 100 years ago.
This year, Heidi's been trying out
a new German design called the Sun Hive.
It's made using biodynamic principles,
which means it's designed in harmony with the colony's needs.
Its inner workings are made locally.
And it's finished off with a good dollop of cow dung.
Heidi thinks it's the bees' knees.
So this is the magnificent biodynamic beehive.
It looks spectacular! Why is this so right for the bees?
Well, it fulfils, really, most of the criteria
of normal, natural colony life.
The bees are able to build their combs from the top downwards,
which they would do in a natural situation, in a tree trunk.
The beekeeper will hardly ever go into this hive.
You don't go into this hive to harvest honey.
If bees manage to make so much honey that this hive is completely full
then you can place a bowl, or a box, on top and that is your honey.
The bees suspend their comb on those hoops
and eventually that comb would go all the way down.
This challenges everyone's modern-day thought process
about beekeeping, doesn't it?
Where bees live, belong.
I mean, think about a beehive,
you think about the square things on the floor.
You think about a square box, you think about a whole group of people
dressed up in a, sort of, toxic waste removal suit, you know,
smoking the bees and I think we need to,
if you really want to help the bees, we need to get away from this image
and this hive enables us, in such a beautiful,
and such a perfect way, to get away from this image.
There are three Sun Hives in the garden,
all of them being used by bees.
Heidi's taking me to see them up close.
Time to be at one with the bees.
I feel a little underdressed but here goes.
What tips have you got for me? Just relax and be natural?
Well, at the moment it's a little, if you stay a little bit, maybe, here.
-Because it's windy
and the bees can't control so well where they're going.
It's lovely just to enjoy their company.
-Yeah. And they're not bothered by us at all, actually.
-They like us!
Why should they be bothered by us?
-They've never had anything nasty done to them.
-They're friendly bees!
You can still get an occasional sting but then you have to just accept...
-Ah, they're trying to get into your hair.
-Right, just stay calm.
You have a box... Oh! ..on the top of...
Oh, I've got one more in my hair.
-Oh, there we go, love.
-Can you feel it?
Ow, it's stinging my face.
-Brilliant. Right by my eye, in my face.
-Close your eye.
Close my eye and it's in.
-Yeah, it's in, which is... Ah!
-It stung you?
We don't want that. That's just what we didn't want.
-Are you OK now?
-Have you got the sting?
-Yeah, it's out.
'OK, we'll just leave the friendly bees now!'
Well, it could have been a lot worse.
Insects and animals can always be unpredictable
but I'll live to see another day.
Well, I knew it could happen, there was every possibility.
-You took it very well.
-I took the sting like a man!
You did, yes! It's always a possibility with bees.
It's always a possibility but it rarely happens.
Any chance of honey?
I'm afraid not this year.
We've had our gifts from the bees, the wonderful company,
-the wonderful learning possibilities but no honey this year.
-Just, for me, just a sting and a memory.
-A sting and a memory.
-Worth it, though.
-Absolutely worth it.
The Countryfile calendar for 2013 features the winning photos
from this year's photographic competition.
Aren't they lovely?
And this one, coming up, is my particular favourite today.
If you want to get your hands on one, here's John with the details.
Don't sting me!
You can order copies right now, either by going to our website...
..or by ringing the order line...
To order by post, send your name, address and cheque to...
Please make cheques payable to "BBC Countryfile Calendar".
It costs nine pounds
and at least four pounds from every sale goes to Children in Need.
Back to Switzerland, now, and Adam's left the fighting cows behind him
and is in search of another animal that thrives in the harsh Alps.
It's a rare breed of goat and it's known locally as the glacier goat.
Well, there's the glacier, all I've got to do is find the goats.
I'm hoping to catch a glimpse of the Valais black-necked goat,
which lives on the mountain tops.
I'm meeting up with my guide, Lilian Bietcsch,
and we set off in search of them.
More beautiful cows! I've seen cows already, what I want is goats.
-So, what is the mountain range here?
-These are the Swiss Alps, of course.
On the other side you've got Italy. Over there, that's the Matterhorn.
-Oh, yes, the famous Matterhorn.
-The most beautiful one, of course.
So you want to have goats, they're coming up there, now.
Oh, yes, there, yes. You've got good eyes!
Oh, we have a little bit more walking to do.
Yes, I think we have to go towards them. There are 300 of them.
-Well, let's go and meet them.
-Yes, see, now, they're running.
-Oh, they want to meet you!
They look forward to it.
Head of mountain rescue Gilbert Schmidt
has bought a small group down the mountain for me to see.
Good morning, Gilbert.
Thank you for bringing the goats!
Can I feed them?
So they follow you for the salt, is it?
There we are.
There we are. Look at this.
Bit of bread. Aren't they wonderful?!
And how many goats are there?
-There are 200.
-And where are the others?
-There are more two steps ahead.
-Let's go and see them.
-Shall we go and see all the others?
-Komm, komm, komm, komm.
The prospect of seeing the whole herd gives me my second wind
for the final push up the mountain.
At the top of the hill I find the farmer, Werner Bauman,
relaxing with his goats.
They're actually very quiet and tame.
I thought they'd just be running away when we turned up.
No, and now, at the moment, they have siesta time.
-Like the normal people!
-Yeah, they enjoy the sun as well.
-And this is the farmer?
-This is the farmer, yes.
This farmer is 70 years old, apparently.
And how often do you come up to look at them?
HE SPEAKS IN SWISS GERMAN
It depends lately from the weather.
He said when the weather is not good, well, he's not coming
but if the weather is bad then they have to come afterwards.
Why does he farm them? For the meat or the milk?
HE SPEAKS IN SWISS GERMAN
It's a hobby, they love them. I think that's the main reason.
It's because in winter time otherwise we get too much avalanches
and they have to keep, they keep the grass short.
-And the short grass holds the snow?
And does the farmer love them?
THEY SPEAK IN SWISS GERMAN
Yes, he loves them because otherwise he wouldn't be here
and I think they've got a lot of passion for them
and they go down and they just, they wash them and they comb them.
-They are like babies for them. He has no children.
-Oh, it's wonderful.
Well, it's been a real treat for me to see them.
-Can you thank him for me? It's wonderful.
THEY SPEAK IN SWISS GERMAN
-He said that he thanks you as well.
These black-necked goats are absolutely lovely
and they're very similar to the Bagot goats that I've got at home.
Oh, go on, go on.
They love this salt and some historians believe
that Richard the Lionheart brought Swiss black-necked goats
back from his crusades
and they ended up being gifted to the Bagot family from Northamptonshire.
And my dad got some Bagot goats from Lady Bagot
and so they could well be distant relatives.
I've loved my busman's holiday in Switzerland
but next week I'll be back on my farm doing some proper work.
In a few minutes I am going to be behind the wheel of this beauty,
taking her for a spin.
She's 110 years old,
she's all set for the London to Brighton veteran car run
and she is, of course, very much loved by her owner.
In fact, I'm polishing her with a pair of his underpants.
Anyway, before all of that,
it's time for the Countryfile weather forecast.
'This week, we've been exploring East Sussex.
'While Julia's been inland looking at its literary history,
'I've been at the seaside, looking at its coastal heritage.'
Well, I've now travelled further around the coast
to the edge of Brighton
where I'm about to meet a jewel in our heritage
so I'm dressing for the part.
Get the old cap on and...of course, the patches.
'Built in the same year as the Beachy Head lighthouse, 1902,
'this little beauty shows no sign of deteriorating paintwork.'
Michael, how good to see you.
Matt, good afternoon, good to see you.
My word, this is something else.
This is Fifi.
Fifi's been in my wife's family for just over 80 years.
She's a De Dion-Bouton made in 1902
in a place called Puteaux just outside Paris.
These were the most advanced engines in Europe at the time.
Europe had been used to having motor cars
that were doing maybe 10 or 12 miles per hour.
Cars like this that were being produced in 1901, 1902
could get up to 20 miles an hour, 25 miles an hour.
Of course, they couldn't always stop very quickly
but they could certainly go.
-Shall I show you how it all works?
-Yeah, please do.
There we go.
Listen to that.
She's got the most gorgeous putt-putt-putt sound.
'As well as being a prominent member of Mike's family,
'Fifi is a regular in the London to Brighton Run,
'which is taking place in a few weeks.
'The 60 mile journey commemorates the Emancipation Run of 1896
'which celebrated raising the speed limit from 4 to 14 miles per hour.
'That said, we'll be lucky to achieve speeds like that today.'
Can you give us a bit of a push, Matt?
Here we go. Go, go, go.
Come on, Matt, hurry up.
Well done. Brilliant.
It's the biggest event of its type anywhere in the world.
You will never get 550 veteran motor cars
in one place at any other time of the year.
It's stopped. So we'll start it again.
'This unplanned stop gives me the perfect opportunity
'to take the wheel.'
Right. Lower one towards you.
You've got the revs up, clutch forward and away we go.
ENGINE DROWNS OUT SPEECH
'Well, I've had my fun.
'But now, Mike's back in control as we brave Brighton's rush hour
'and head off to the seafront where the London to Brighton Run ends.
'As the weather is taking a turn for the worse,
'it's time to get the appropriate clobber on.'
-This is the last slight hill before Brighton.
When you're coming in on the run, you have to get up this small hill.
From there onwards, it's downhill all the way.
It just brings a smile to everybody's face.
It does, you're absolutely right.
I think so, anyway. I can't quite see.
'Just like previous veteran car runs, it's nice to see
'we're not the first to have braved the inclement British weather.'
There we are. Let's give her a blast.
How are you doing?
Oh! You made it in one piece. Are you all right?
I can hear you but I can't see you.
I can't see you either because I got stung in the eye by a bee.
-Oh, are you all right?
How's the jaw? Can you talk?
I can't move my jaw. I'm mithered to the bone.
It's a risky job, this Countryfile business, isn't it?
-Well, we better quit while we can still talk.
That's it for this week.
Next week we're going to be in Anglesey.
I'm going property hunting in one of the remotest locations in Wales.
Yes, and I'm going to be meeting a bloke who grows massive pumpkins,
-as it's close to Halloween.
-Can I get a lift?
-You can. Jump in the back.
Mind you, Julia, we're going up a slight incline here
and whoever's sitting in the back, if we get stuck, they have to push.
-All right. You might want to put these on as well.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
The Countryfile team visits East Sussex. Matt Baker explores the coastline and looks at some of its more iconic legacies. The red and white stripes of the Beachy Head lighthouse are in danger of being lost for ever; Matt meets the campaigners determined to save them.
Julia Bradbury is inland, exploring the countryside which inspired Virginia Woolf and other members of the Bloomsbury set. She also meets the Natural Bee Keepers, and the bees with a sting in their tail.
Tom Heap is in East Anglia investigating a mysterious and sometimes fatal illness that is affecting dogs walked in woodland, and Adam Henson takes a break from his Cotswold farm and visits Switzerland, where he is on the hunt for some cows who like a fight.