The Countryfile team explore Anglesey, Wales's largest island. Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury get together for an epic seasonal battle sailing pumpkins in the Menai Straits.
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'Anglesey, hewn from some of the oldest rocks in Britain.
'In the Middle Ages, the fields here earned the island fame as Mam Cymru,
'the Mother of Wales,
'a place so fertile it could feed a nation.'
These days, some of the harvests are slightly more exotic,
as I'll be finding out when I meet a husband and wife team
who built this polytunnel to house their boat,
but ended up with a thriving business.
'The gloves are off for an epic seasonal battle.'
-I'm going to push mine.
-Hang on a minute! This isn't bowls!
'But just who will win?
'And Adam's left his farm behind to help with a very special task.'
I'll be travelling the length and breadth of the country
in search of the BBC's Farmer of the Year for 2012,
and I've got three fascinating characters to meet up with.
'The island of Anglesey.
'Craggy shores envelope a rich expanse of farmland.
'Lying in the Irish Sea, just off the north-western tip of Wales,
'Anglesey is the largest of the Welsh islands.
'The wild Menai Strait once cut it off from the mainland,
'but for a century we've had the gap bridged,
'two elegant crossings connecting this farming community.'
Back in the Middle Ages, Anglesey was so productive
that it was known as the Bread Basket of Wales,
but as I'm about to explore,
conditions here today are ripe for some very specialist harvests.
'I'm heading to a small plot of land that's a long way
'from the traditional kitchen garden.
'Keith and Catherine Self moved here to retire five years ago.
'Keith was hankering for a quieter life,
'but green-fingered Catherine had other ideas.
'She started a business growing exotic fruit.'
We've got Kiwi fruits, bananas, oranges, lemons, limes.
-So all exotic?
It was never meant, was it, for plants, this polytunnel?
No, it wasn't. That's why it's got extra-wide doors and extra height.
It was to put Lily May in, my boat, but it never made it.
-Bananas came in and in and in!
-Nothing to do with me!
'So Keith built a second polytunnel,
'which Catherine also filled with fruit and greenery.
'Four years later, Lily May is still in need of some TLC. Poor Keith!
'He doesn't even like fruit!'
One banana a year and that's about it!
There's no chance of me eating the profits.
Go and show me what you're growing outside...
'Keeping Catherine's beloved plants fruitful in their new,
'more temperate home in Anglesey needs extra care and attention.'
As the cold weather tightens its grip,
it's time to bed these tropical beauties down for the winter
with the help of a secret ingredient from the Anglesey seaside.
Give it a good bed down,
right the way round the edges.
The seaweed actually works as a slow-release fertilizer.
-We could leave them out all year.
They are hardy enough,
but we use the fruit to make produce by taking them in.
It gives them a bit of a head start in the spring,
so we get a much higher yield from each plant.
Right, we'll go and put that one in the tunnel.
'One Kiwi plant produces around 90 fruit in a season,
'so with 100 plants, that's 9,000 Kiwis a year.'
-Keith, shall I just pop this on here?
-Yeah, fine. Just on there.
-There we are.
-No problem. That'll be it for winter now.
Well, there's another 95 to go.
-So there's certainly no room for the boat this year.
-Er, I think I need a big workshop, don't you?
'Time to find out what happens to all those Kiwis.
'Over the past three years, Catherine has handmade 6,353 pots
'of award-winning jams and preserves.'
Well, Catherine, this is a very tasty way
of dealing with how productive your Kiwi plants are.
It certainly is, Matt, yes.
We make Kiwi fruit jam along with a lot of others as well,
and our range has gradually increased
as we source new recipe ideas.
What's your secret, then?
Erm, good fresh ingredients, no artificial colourings,
preservatives, so everything that goes in the jar is 100% natural.
'Catherine wants to increase jam production to 3,000 pots a year.'
I'm a big fan of Kiwi fruit and that...that is beautiful.
'And she has grand designs
'for another part of their retirement home.'
We've just got planning permission now to, dare I say it,
turn the garage into a commercial kitchen.
-Not Keith's garage!
-He's lost his polytunnel!
-Now he's losing his garage.
-Now he's going to lose his garage.
'With the jam business going places, it looks like Keith's boat Lily May
'will be high and dry for a little longer.'
'At Anglesey's western edge lies the port of Holyhead.
'Every year, two million passengers
'make the crossing to and from Ireland. Just a few miles away,
'the famous South Stack Lighthouse protects it all.'
But the lighthouse has a noisy younger brother,
a fog house on the North Stack.
For decades, it's been privately owned,
but recently, it's come up for sale, and as it happens,
I'm in the market for something unusual and craggy.
'I've arranged a viewing with Philippa Jacobs who owns the house.'
Well, suitably miserable weather.
-And I understand we've got a bit of a journey.
You have, and it's going to be a slippery one, the first bit.
'It's a 20 minute drive from civilisation to get there.
'Along a track...if that's what you want to call it.'
-So how many times do you think you've made this journey?
Hundreds and hundreds, cos you've been at the fog house for how long?
-Nearly 24 years.
-Yes, so quite a few journeys.
I try to limit it these days to about three a week.
So 24 years and now you decide it's time to sell.
Well, yes, I mean it's my age.
I don't want to go, obviously, I mean, I love it here,
I've loved every minute of being here.
-How old are you? I know it's rude to ask.
This is the most bumpy bit.
For me, still no sign of the fog house.
You will see it where it is!
This is becoming quite ridiculous! Philippa, look at this!
-There's the fog house.
-I can see a roof, there she is.
-There she is.
'The signal station was built in the 1850s
'to send out warning blasts to ships on foggy days.
'Nowadays, Philippa uses it as a studio for her artwork.'
-Oh, have a cup of tea, yes.
-We need it today.
I'm very impressed with your kitchen.
You've got everything here. It's very cosy, I'm loving the Aga.
I can see electricity, so you've got power, you've got water.
Yes, ah, but the water is from the roof, you realise that?
-I'm not on mains water here.
-It's rain water?
It's rain water, but this water is bought water
because I didn't want to give you rain water
because the seagulls defecate on the...
But in the old days, the fog people,
they drank the water from the roof all the time.
'With great views, period features and privacy guaranteed,
'this three-bed character property
'is enough to make any estate agent drool.
'And it's a snip at just under £600,000.
'Philippa moved into the living quarters in 1989.'
I lived in Hampshire on a farm for many years,
and my husband became terminally ill, sadly,
so we moved to the town, and there I didn't have a studio, you see,
in the town, and so when sadly he died,
I, erm, saw this place, an aerial shot of it
in a property magazine and came up and immediately fell in love with it
and realised that this was the place.
I was 50 years old at the time and realised that if I didn't do it then,
I wasn't going to do it in another ten years' time, so go for it!
'Continuing my tour,
Philippa's taking me to the heart of the house.'
The cold wing. I don't like it too hot in the studio.
So this is your place of work and play and meditation.
-No, it's not a place of play.
-Not a place of play.
So you don't consider there to be any play in your artistry?
There's no play in the art.
There is enjoyment, of course you love doing it, but it's a struggle.
It's quite a...you know, you have to get up every morning
and know that you're going to work because a painter, I think,
should work as hard as anybody else.
I can't be in the room and not be drawn to that.
Well, this one is of...well, this part here is North Stack,
is the island, and this is the race between the island
and this is the mainland, and the sea for me is also about an idea.
You can't paint a painting unless you've got an idea behind it.
There's no point in painting something...
and the currents of the sea, again, are about our lives.
The way we go in this direction or that...
Or get pulled in this direction or that direction.
-Is that where you rest or where you sleep?
-This is where I sleep.
I live in this room. I sleep, work, read, eat,
and the dogs also sleep in here at the same time.
So you like to sleep with your art?
I like to sleep with my paintings, yes.
'Philippa is leaving her mark on the history of the house,
'like the fog people before her.
'A bank of redundant speakers sit dormant in the fog station.
'Now silent, they're a reminder that this place was built to be heard.'
I'm not sure that I could live here,
but of course, it never used to be a choice, it was a lifestyle.
The man in the picture here is called Derek Lewis,
and he used to be the assistant keeper,
and he's on his way back for a visit for the first time in 50 years.
I wonder what he'll make of the place now.
-Hello, lovely to meet you, Mr Lewis. Do come in.
Hello, you couldn't have picked a better day for it. Come on in.
Derek, this is a real first for you, isn't it,
because you're in the house as well?
-You weren't allowed in the house.
-No, I weren't.
First time to be in the house.
We used to...in a little shed at the back here.
I used to go down to the fog station about 12 o'clock at night,
down this path, you know, it's very, very...
-The lethal path.
And if it was foggy, then I'd start firing,
and I'd be firing say till eight o'clock in the morning.
And then I'd stop then and I used to go to sleep
and then the next keeper would take charge then.
And not only that, but you have to have these guns blasting away
while you're trying to sleep, you know.
-Not very restful.
-How's your hearing?
-Not very good!
'Philippa's nearing the end of her time at North Stack
'and so am I,
'but before I leave, she wants to show me one more painting.'
-There it is.
-It's not very artistic, Philippa.
Well, that's what my son said.
I sent him a photograph of it, and he had the audacity to say,
"You didn't do it very neatly, did you, Mother?"
'Well, it could catch a passing sailor's eye.'
I think the people looking at this kind of house
are looking for peace, looking to get away from the scrum of everyday life.
Here I can see the horizon,
I can see the clouds disappearing below the horizon,
so I know that I'm living on a globe and part of a much bigger system.
In the town, you don't have that sense
of this extraordinary place called Earth.
'Over on the mainland, our very own farmer in residence
'has been asked to judge this year's Farmer of the Year, part of
'the BBC's Food and Farming Awards.
'Today, he's visiting the three short-listed farms.'
It's a real honour to be asked to judge these awards,
and as a farmer, I'm often driving around looking over the fence
wondering what other farmers are getting up to.
So I can get behind the scenes and have a good nose round.
But also, the three finalists that I'm going to visit
have got some very inspirational businesses.
As a judge, what I'm looking for are very good farmers
who produce food in a responsible way and consider the environment,
but also that they're great communicators
and can inspire others around them.
'I'm heading to Devon first of all, where I'm meeting up with someone
'whose business has gone from strength to strength.
'Guy Watson has run an organic veg box scheme
'for the last 25 years.'
Morning, Guy. It's a wonderful spot.
Have you always wanted to be a farmer?
I have, ever since I was three I've been obsessed with it, really.
Stomping around in me wellies, getting in everyone's way.
How did the box scheme all come about and grow so fast?
Well, we are the real thing. People like that.
I mean, I am actually a farmer, I do occasionally get out in the field
and we do grow really good vegetables.
To employ 450 people in a way that I feel comfortable with,
it has been difficult and I've had to learn a hell of a lot.
It's been a steep learning curve.
And then your Riverford brand has just exploded.
Well, I was delivering vegetables to local shops
literally out of the back of my beaten up old car
and it's grown from those very small beginnings to now
we pack 40,000 boxes a week, that's roughly one every three seconds.
-Fascinating. Well, I'm intrigued to see more.
I want to see what happens to the veg once it's picked.
So, Guy, this is a serious operation, in here?
Yeah, we've invested quite a lot in mechanising the box-packing.
As well as having this set-up in Devon,
Guy also runs other farms across the UK and abroad.
-Some tomatoes. Where is this grown?
-That would be various UK growers.
-This is from a farm in Hampshire.
-And avocado, is that?
They're not grown in the UK?
No, they're normally Spanish.
People would imagine you're doing seasonal vegetables in a box,
delivered locally... But the business has gone past that?
Well, that's what I would like to do.
We do pack one very seasonal box, which would be 98% UK produce.
It is 2% of our sales.
I'm afraid tomatoes in February have just become a reality.
So how do you balance that with your ethics? How do you justify it?
When we do import, we import carefully.
We always know the farm that it comes from.
I like to think that on balance,
we leave the world a better place than if we weren't here.
But not everything they harvest here is taken away from the farm.
There is a restaurant on site, too. And I can't help feeling
that this really is a great example of diversification in farming.
We have a salad of butternut squash, slow-roast tomatoes and red onions.
Thank you very much, wow! This looks absolutely delicious.
What is the business all about?
It's about taking the best from out there in the fields
and sharing with our customers.
Trying to get them excited about cooking seasonal vegetables.
And when they come here, that's what they get.
So, I really think that the field kitchen,
it does sum up our mission statement, if you like. Which is
about good farming, good business and good food.
Guy Watson is certainly a very good farmer, running a huge business.
But still considering the environment in everything that he does.
And the farm that I'm heading to next is certainly no different.
I'm leaving Devon for Wiltshire,
where wildlife is at the heart of everything they do.
Henry Edmunds farms 1,000 hectares,
around 2,500 acres organically, on the Cholderton estate in Salisbury.
Henry, this is a lovely scene. Tell me about your dairy herd.
Well, we have about 300 cows, split into two herds.
We milk them only twice a day, and they are out at grass
for as much of the year as possible,
as you can see, today.
Henry sows his fields with all sorts of grasses and clovers
that are so rich in nutrients that it allows
the cattle to stay out much longer than most dairy cows.
The system works pretty well. The cows last a long time.
Many cows that you are looking at here have done 10, 12 lactations,
sometimes even more.
If you compare that to many of the commercial systems,
what would their average be?
Well, they only do three lactations on the whole.
That is the national average.
And cows that are kept on concrete, it just isn't natural.
This is how cows should be kept, grazing on grass.
And you can see they are very happy.
I have to mention the swallows and house martins.
-It is an amazing spectacle.
-Yeah, it's fabulous.
And it's a reflection... They are being attracted
by the cowpats coming from the cows,
which is bringing in insects.
And of course, the red clover,
insects are coming and nectaring off that.
And also, there are a lot of small beetles and flies coming off this
that you wouldn't get in a conventional pasture.
As well as having bird life at the forefront of his farming model,
Henry also keeps a traditional breed of sheep.
Something close to my heart, and I'm intrigued to check out his stock.
Why Hampshires? Is it a family tradition?
Yeah, we have had Hampshires here since 1890.
-This is the oldest flock of Hampshires in the world.
-Yeah, it is.
Next door to here,
we've got the field which is grazed tightly by the sheep.
The lapwings always nest there every year and I leave it fallow for them.
So they come in, nest there,
their chicks eat all the insects left by the sheep droppings.
So I always arrange that there is a field closely grazed by sheep
right next door to where they have their babies.
Here you are, farming crops and livestock,
but you're really farming the wildlife.
Yeah that's... Well, it all works together.
Another big part of Henry's farming ethos
is how his hedgerows are managed.
All right then, girls! Freedom!
And like most farmers,
Henry gets government grants for his environmental work.
Henry, where I farm in the Cotswolds, we don't have too many hedges,
but you've got lots of them.
How do you manage them?
Yeah, well, we cut them once every three years, basically.
-Lots of berries on that bush there.
-This is a beauty.
-It grows quite a lot around here. Absolutely beautiful, spindle.
-What the next one up?
-This is Gilda rose.
This doesn't last as long as the berries on the spindle,
but this will be eaten by mistle thrushes and things like that.
So you cut the hedges every three years to leave food for the birds.
I don't cut any hedges until the berries have been eaten.
This is key.
This business of cutting hedges in late summer is scandalous.
I would never do that.
There's a flock of birds down there.
-What are they?
-Those are goldfinches. There are 50, 60 of them.
Mostly young birds. They are coming in and feeding on the chicory here.
You can see, some of it's flowering, some of it is seeding.
So it's giving great continuity of food for these small birds.
Do you consider yourself as a conservationist or a farmer?
I'm definitely a farmer
because without farming I couldn't do my conservation work.
But every farming decision I make,
I am thinking about the environmental effects of what I do.
Later on in the programme,
I'll be heading north to see another candidate for farmer of the year.
He is a new breed of dairy farmer
that is turning the industry on its head,
and he doesn't even have to get his hands dirty.
The Isle of Anglesey. Separated from Wales by the narrow Menai Strait.
The channel is filled with water all the way from the Atlantic.
Seawater, pushed in through the Irish Sea by the Gulf Stream.
It's fresh from the ocean and full of salt.
And one enterprising Islander has found a way to tap into it.
It was whilst walking his dog on the shoreline that businessman
David Lea-Wilson had a Eureka moment.
He decided to make salt.
People told us we were mad, you get sea salt from the Mediterranean.
Not from Anglesey.
So, 15 years ago, with a pan,
heating some seawater from the Menai Strait,
he set out to put his idea to the test. It worked.
And today, he sells Anglesey sea salt all over the world.
But now, he's gone back to basics, to show me how it all began.
When it actually worked, and this is what I did,
I got some seawater and concentrated it up.
And then you put it in the saucepan.
You are just adding a little bit of heat,
and a bit like a cloud can only hold
so much moisture before it starts raining, with liquid,
it can only hold so much sold before it has got to crystallise.
What is going on, out there, that brings in this salt?
We've got really clean seawater. There is no industry here.
The Gulf stream is bringing in new seawater twice a day.
And the last thing is, in front of us, we have got a huge mussel bed.
Several thousand tonnes of mussels out there and each of those mussels
individually is filtering nine pints an hour.
So our salt...
Helping you out quite nicely there?
They're doing their stuff!
-You can certainly see all those crystals forming now, David.
It is really a simple, natural process. This is what we did.
And there you have it. Sea salt.
And luckily, I came prepared for this moment.
David, we can't sit around here talking about the salt
without putting it to the test.
And I've got the perfect seaside delicacy to do just that with it.
-A bag of chips!
-And I've got the finished dried product here.
So... Nice little sprinkle.
I tell you what, I'm genuinely surprised, at the difference
in the taste of that salt to what we have at home, in our cupboard.
-Good. You make a salt-maker a very happy.
-That is lovely.
For David, the days of slaving over a hot stove are long gone.
He now employs 14 Anglesey Islanders in his salt works
which produces 100 tonnes of Anglesey Sea salt a year.
Hundreds of thousands of packs of salt are sold all over the world.
The salt now goes off to Japan as an ingredient in soy sauce.
It is even sprinkled on Barack Obama's favourite chocolate
and was on the menu at the Royal wedding.
But there's nothing quite like enjoying it at the water's edge
in the place where it came from.
Along Anglesey's coastline, there is something to suit all tastes.
This is a place of peace and tranquillity.
But noisy secrets lurk in this island's crags and corners.
These buildings are all that is left of the Ty Croes military camp.
It was a test facility for surface-to-air missiles
and anti-aircraft weapons.
50 years ago,
this place would have been rocking with the sound of explosions.
Missiles like this Bloodhound were launched towards the Irish Sea,
leaving balls of fire on the horizon.
Nowadays, the focus is off the derelict buildings
and onto this tough coastal heathland
which is full of rare birds and butterflies.
But that doesn't mean it's all peace and love, man.
Ty Croes is now home to the Anglesey track
where petrol heads go head-to-head and test their mettle.
And they do it amongst the most stunning scenery.
I'm joining them for the day.
Every biker has a wristband.
It tells the organisers they are safe to ride.
I've been asked to make sure that everyone is OK to go.
Tell me, what's so great about this track, racing on it?
It's open, clear, you see everything going on.
And when you're going so fast, you do still see the view?
-You take it all in?
-Spot the dolphins.
Good luck! Enjoy!
What did he say?
He said, you look like an air hostess!
Great, I look like an air hostess! I thought I'd given it some panache.
I was giving it some moves and some shape, boys! So no job for me, then?
-Maybe next year.
-I'll keep practising, that's what I'll do.
-Keep the good work up.
Motorbikes whizzing around
may not be the most environmentally friendly activity,
but this track is trying to lower its impact.
The tyres and the marshals' huts are recycled, noise is monitored,
and they are planning to offset the circuit's emissions.
The bikers are taking their lunch break
and to a woman like me, that's an opportunity.
Nice view, I must say.
I have roped racing instructor Mark Hales into taking me
for a spin in a racy little Lotus Elise.
It's very small in here! Ooh, ow! I can barely get in.
-It's like the TARDIS. It gets bigger once you're in.
A car for little people.
Now, look at that view. That's not a view you get at Silverstone, is it?
I've been asking myself all day if you can actually take in
that view when you're racing around here at 100 miles an hour?
I'm looking at the track, if that's OK with you?
Fine, you look at the track.
I'll look at the view as you push me to this side of the car.
OK, we're coming up to Rocket, now.
-So this will hark back to the military past.
That's Rocket bend.
Now, what you single this whole concept of an eco-racetrack?
Well, they quarried all the stone here,
which saved 3,000 wagon journeys.
They laid the asphalt cold, they did a lot of work trying
to make the building of the track eco-friendly.
But it's not just a racetrack.
It's a research facility. People come here with experimental vehicles,
electric cars have all been tested here.
I think you should have a go around this track.
Now you see what it looks like...
Now I've seen it from the left-hand side of this window!
He has no idea what he's letting himself in for.
-Right. Let's do it.
-Are you sure?
I'll just get out of this bend.
OK. Slow down. Look for the end of the corner, it is over there.
-And just let the car go there.
OK, this one is coming at you,
so slow it down because we've got to turn sharp left.
-Probably don't want to do that, then.
OK, just relax a bit. You are very keen to get on the gas, aren't you?
Slow it down, slow it down.
Good. It all gets much calmer.
And that, as they say, is that. Did I scare you?
No. That was all right.
Full marks for commitment. Just need to calm it down.
That has always been a problem of mine.
Now Adam has certainly got his work cut out, judging this year's
Farmer Of The Year as part of the BBC Food And Farming Awards.
It's no easy task.
I've been really impressed with the first two candidates.
From veg box schemes on an enormous scale...
We pack 40,000 boxes a week, that's roughly one every three seconds.
To a farmer keeping nature at the heart of everything he does.
-You are really farming the wildlife?
-Well, yeah. It all works together.
I'm heading out to Yorkshire to visit the last candidate
and I'm intrigued to find out what this guy is all about.
He is trying to turn the dairy industry on its head.
And apparently, whatever he is doing is working.
Tom Rawson is 34 and he is trying to revolutionise dairy farming
with an injection of sound business sense.
Tom, as the dairy industry seems to be in crisis
and lots of people going out of business,
you are turning it around into a success story.
-How have you managed that?
-Myself and my business partner got together,
independent of our families, and decided to try to make something
out of nothing, working with other farmers, clubbing together.
We are hooking up investors, young people in the industry,
ourselves and farm owners.
Just trying to get together, add some scale to the business
and make it all work for all parties.
So, investors bring the money, farmers have the farms
and Tom and his team bring business acumen and management skills.
So what else?
We have come to Jim and Nicola's to work with them.
We have got some cows arriving here at this farm.
The farmer would like to step back from milking cows
but actually his farm is perfect for young cattle.
He can focus on that, we can focus on milking another 50 cows here.
Because, at the end of the day, if you can get a 10% return,
why would you want to sell your cows when you can hire them out?
Well, good for you, Tom. But it's not just Tom in charge.
His business partner, Oliver Hall, is 25
and they have a group of managers, all in their 20s,
helping to run various farms around the UK.
-Adam, this is Ollie, my business partner.
-How are you doing?
-What's going on here, then?
We've just measured the grass here in this field.
We've got 1,550 kilos of dry matter per hectare available in the field.
-What's that about?
-There's quite a lot of science behind the grass.
It's about treating the grass as a crop,
looking to harvest at the right point,
making sure we graze down to the right point
so we get good utilisation.
It's very business minded, isn't it?
And so, are you consultants, or are you farmers?
A bit of both.
We both do over 25,000 miles a year each on the road.
So you would say that actually, we are just drivers!
Jim and Nicola Waterhouse were struggling to make a living
before they met Tom.
He has encouraged them to rethink their business.
There's a lovely family scene.
How have things changed for you over the last three years?
Things were getting increasingly more difficult
for borrowing and things.
So we had to do something.
Tom has fetched great value to our business.
He has more or less turned it around from me struggling on me own
to a viable dairy enterprise.
They have now got a herdsman helping them, too.
We get just about every other weekend off.
So that makes a big difference when they are young.
Often, dairy farmers work their fingers to the bone.
-We do, definitely.
But while the children are growing up its time to be spending with them
and enjoying the dairy side.
So putting attention to detail when you are working,
-but also recharging your batteries.
-Good luck with it.
-See you soon. OK. Bye, girls.
It's great that Tom and his business partner
have come up with some exciting ideas
to try and improve the profitability of dairy farming.
And they are attracting young people into it.
And really, if you want to get young people into farming,
it has got to be exciting and it has got to be profitable.
And what they are doing seems to be working.
I've been bowled over with all three candidates.
Now I've got some serious thinking to do before I make
my final decision at the award ceremony at the NEC in Birmingham.
Go to our website if you want to be in the audience on 28th November.
It would be great to see you there.
In a moment, I'm going to be meeting one man who wants
to sail across the Menai Straits in one of these.
Extraordinary, I know.
But first, a very big thank you
to everyone who has been buying our Countryfile Calendar.
So many beautiful pictures in here,
but my favourite has to be September's owl on the prowl.
If you would like your own copy, here's John with all of the details.
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 £9 and at least £4 from every sale goes to Children in Need.
Well, the weather certainly features on our calendar,
but what does it have in store in the week ahead?
Here's the Countryfile forecast.
For centuries, its fertile land made the island a hub
for food production.
I've been discovering some of its more specialist harvests
and now, I'm on my way to meet
the owners of a little vegetable garden with big ideas.
Welcome to the world of super-sized veg.
I tell you what, imagine having one of these as part of your five a day!
The garden is owned by Medwyn Williams.
And it's full of all shapes and sizes of gold-medal-winning veg.
So what is the secret in producing something that you can feed
the whole family, the in-laws, and the neighbours all in one go?
All in one go.
Well, there are strains that are likely to grow this big,
genetically inbuilt to grow bigger than normal, regular vegetables.
Your runner beans are longer than my arm!
Well, there was a variety called "as long as your arm".
Is this a real passion of yours, then, big veg?
-Is it the bigger the better as far as you're concerned?
Definitely not the bigger the better. We're not into giant veg.
Well, I'm not.
We like to grow vegetables to their optimum and pick them to harvest
when they are just right for taste, flavour, condition.
It's not just the veg around here that's big.
And for Medwyn's son Alwyn, it is all about size.
We're about to harvest the seeds
from the king of this year's pumpkin crop. This £400 beauty.
Just the front off.
Look how thick it is.
Oh, the seeds are hiding. There is one there.
What we need to start doing is having a look inside,
and we'll see all the seeds in little pods along the sides, here.
-There you go.
-How many seeds do you get from a pumpkin like this?
A good couple of hundred good quality seeds.
And let's say, right, that this
was the biggest pumpkin that you had ever produced
and there were good seeds in there,
how much would I expect to pay for just one seat?
I believe the record for the UK was about £800.
And that was for a world record.
It's all to do with the genetics. The parentage of the plant.
It's a frightening thought.
-Well, you have an ambition with your pumpkins, don't you?
If I get one big enough,
I would like to take it across the Menai Strait.
-You want to sail a pumpkin...
-Across the Menai Strait, yes.
This year's pumpkin is too small to sail.
Alwyn's dream will just have to wait.
But that doesn't mean that we can't do a trial run on a smaller scale.
I'm setting up for a pumpkin sailing race. And it's me versus Julia.
Now, why am I meeting you on a jetty with a pumpkin?
Because we're going to have a pumpkin race, of course!
A pumpkin race?
In honour of Alwyn, we're going to see if we can do this.
-A little pilot race. So there's your flag.
We're starting here. I don't know where you want the finish to be?
-Just go to that...?
-Can I ask you something?
-Are you sure they'll float?
We're racing with the tide, about 20 feet to the end of the pontoon.
-I don't think they're going to fly away from the edge...
-Are you ready?
-Yeah, I'm ready.
-Oh, it's actually floating!
It is, it's going, yeah. That's all right.
Mine is heavier. There we go.
Yay! Mine's got a bit of a head start because it's a bit weighty.
-What is mine doing?
-Yours is just bobbing around. Hang on a minute!
-This isn't bowls!
-Tell you what, that's got a good bit of pace on it.
You do need a motor, to be fair.
-Are we there?
-Is that it?
-I'll tell you what, Alwyn will be pleased.
On this occasion, actually, size did count.
You've done it, by at least 20 pumpkin lengths.
That's it from us this week. Next week, Ellie will be in West Sussex.
She's going to be with the expert woodman Ben Law,
finding out all about life in the forest.
And she'll be looking back at the wonderful woodland
we've covered in the past. Hope you can join her then.
Will you do us a favour?
Will you just grab our pumpkins that are floating off downstream?
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
The Countryfile team explore Anglesey, Wales's largest island. Historically the island earned fame as 'Mam Cymru' the mother of Wales, a place so fertile it could feed a nation. Matt Baker gets to grips with some of the more exotic crops grown there and finds out how a brisk coastal walk inspired an award-winning business harvesting salt from the sea.
Julia Bradbury feels the wind in her hair on a race-track proud of its eco-credentials and finds out why the Fog House on North Stack, which once sounded the warning to keep vessels safe in bad weather, is up for sale.
Julia and Matt get together for an epic seasonal battle sailing pumpkins in the Menai Straits. Adam Henson travels the length and breadth of Britain in search of the BBC's Farmer of the Year for 2012, visiting three finalists.