Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury are in Hampshire. Matt explores the maritime history of the area by helping out on the most powerful warship of her time, HMS Warrior.
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Hampshire, mile upon mile of idyllic countryside
and coastline that boasts a rich maritime history.
This is HMS Warrior, the largest and most powerful battleship
of her day, but today, she is in need of a bit of TLC,
so I'm going to be heading 60 foot up here to help out.
Portsmouth is the birthplace of the Royal Navy.
It's also where a story of an epic journey of naval heroism began.
In the autumn of 1942,
German troops were tightening their grip on France
and at the same time here in Hampshire,
a secret training exercise was taking place.
A group of marines were shaping up to become the Cockleshell Heroes
and kayaks like this played a vital role.
All right, Ray, let's get a push on.
Tom's looking at the future of farming.
A few hundred years ago, British technology
created an agricultural revolution and a hike in food production,
but now, we need more and today on Countryfile,
we'll exclusively reveal a breakthrough from British science
which could well help feed the world.
And Adam's on the hunt for a new addition to his farm.
This is my White Park bull, who's a very good example of the breed
and I'm very fond of him, but he's now related to two of the cows
that I've got in the herd, so I need a fresh bloodline.
So, it's time for a bit of bull shopping.
The ancient oak forests of North Hampshire.
Hundreds of years ago, wood from here was on the move,
sent to the boatbuilding shores of Portsmouth Harbour.
To celebrate that journey, a new 50-mile trail has been set up.
The Shipwright's Way winds from Alice Holt Forest
at its northern tip, to Portsmouth in the south.
And today, I'm walking a section of it,
starting here at the city's historic dockyard.
Nowadays, there aren't many of these around,
but I've managed to find a shipwright that's still gainfully employed,
and this is his ship.
Just a small one!
HMS Warrior. Commissioned in 1858,
she was the largest warship in the world,
60% bigger than her French counterpart
and with an iron hull four inches thick.
Bob Daubeney is the shipwright of this ironclad beauty.
So, Bob, what exactly is a shipwright?
A shipwright, you take the term "wright",
and it's someone who manufacturers things.
You've heard of the term "blacksmith",
and you had got smiths that worked in metal, you've got wrights, who tended to work in wood,
so you had a boatwright, a shipwright,
a cartwright, a wheelwright, there's a whole series of trades and skills.
And even though she's no longer at sea, then,
-is it a full-time job for you?
It keeps me on the go all the time. I've been here 15.5 years now.
We've repainted the whole of the deck, 1.07 million,
-two and a half years.
You've got to keep it watertight, got to protect the infrastructure.
It doesn't get any better than being a shipwright on a vessel like this.
Can you imagine coming to work here every day?
Oh! She is incredibly important. Did she see much action?
She never fired a shot in anger. She became a deterrent.
She had been created to such a strength,
there was nothing they could do to combat her.
But when it comes to keeping Warrior shipshape,
not all the jobs fall to Bob.
-You all right, Ian?
Now, 60 foot up, Ian is replacing these things.
They're called the dead eyes and they connect all the rigging
to the ship and as you can imagine, at that height,
they get exposed to all of the elements, so they need an overhaul.
And the only way to reach them is by climbing the rigging.
So, that's where I'm heading.
-Getting there now.
-All right, mate?
-Hello, Ian, you all right?
-I'm good, how are you, all right?
-Yeah, nice to see you close up!
It doesn't bear thinking about, a young lad climbing up here
-in a storm.
-Yeah, tell me about all that!
Goodness me, but what a view up here!
What are we doing with these dead eyes?
As you rightly point out, these are exposed to all the elements.
This one here, we've cut away all the timber surrounding it.
Yeah. So, it's nice and loose now, all ready to come out.
It's important to kind of preserve all those details,
because you want this ship to kind of transport you back to
sailing down the channel to go and stand up to the French
-and all of that.
OK, so what he wants to do is slide up this way towards me a bit.
-I don't know how loose it's going to be.
-There you go.
-We've got to have a bit of luck sometimes.
-There's some weight in it, like, isn't there?
You can see the amount of rust that's built up here,
-you can see the way the timber's de-laminated.
It's done well, it's served its purpose,
but everything comes to an end eventually.
It does make you think, Ian, the amount of people
that will have been up here doing this job over the years,
you know, pretty privileged, aren't we?
Well, yeah, it's nice for us to be able to show what we do.
-So often the jobs are out of sight for everyone.
We like to show what goes on up here.
I'll be sticking around in Portsmouth's historic docks
to see how new technology is helping preserve
our most celebrated battleship.
But first, when it comes to innovation in farming,
Britain used to be a world leader,
but with a global food crisis on the horizon,
have we still got what it takes to meet the challenges of the future?
Wheat. It's one of our oldest and most basic food sources.
Entire civilisations were built on the stuff.
It was created by a happy accident of nature, 10,000 years ago,
where three wild grasses combined to produce this vital food source.
It's gone on to feed the world.
Even today, wheat provides 20% of the calories
consumed by humans worldwide.
Its most common reincarnation - the humble loaf.
No wonder it's known as the staff of life
and it's easy to take for granted, but in 50 years,
this could be a luxury that few of us can afford.
Rising population and a changing climate
are putting pressure on the way we farm.
We simply need to be able to produce more food
and we're turning to science for the answers.
This is where you actually bring the seeds to work on, is it?
Yeah, so he's actually opening up the seed,
with some fine forceps and a scalpel
and taking the embryo and we put that on a plate of nutrients.
Here at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany,
they're looking at ways to tackle the problems of the future.
We need to be doing things differently
if we're going to increase yields enough
to feed the world in the future.
So, we need to be looking at sources of variation
that conventional breeding just can't reach.
We're bridging the gap between some of the basic science,
such as this, and the commercial breeders
who are producing the varieties that go out on farms.
Phil Howell's work is vitally important.
By 2050, it's estimated there will be nine billion people on our planet.
That's a lot of extra mouths to feed.
And that's not all.
Climate change already seems to be impacting on our countryside.
Arable farmers say they've seen the effects,
from lower crop yields to extreme weather.
But in recent years,
science has failed to keep pace with the growing need for food.
We've reached the stage now where yields have plateaued a bit
on the farm and it's quite clear that with the challenges
of increasing global population,
key pesticides are being taken out of use, and energy...
energy costs an awful lot.
We'll have to produce more from less in the future.
It's estimated that we'll need to produce more wheat
in the next 50 years than we've produced in the previous 10,000,
so clearly we need step changes
and we need to almost redesign the wheat plant.
But now, Countryfile can exclusively reveal a major breakthrough.
Dr Howell's team have redesigned the wheat plant
by going back to its roots.
We're trying to actually copy that lucky chance
that happened 10,000 years ago.
So, we're taking a large collection of these goatgrasses
and we're crossing them with... this is modern pasta wheat,
to produce this synthetic wheat.
-Is this a GM technology?
-No, no, this is conventional breeding.
We're making the same crosses that normal breeders would make,
only we're just using much wilder species.
In simple terms, they're crossing an ancient, but hardy, wild grass
with a domestic wheat plant. This makes synthetic wheat.
This synthetic wheat then provides the building block
for breeding new, improved wheat varieties.
Left to itself, this cross would die,
so they're quite literally giving nature a helping hand.
So, you're following that natural historic journey of wheat,
but, if you like, trying to improve it,
so you get some of the qualities from this goatgrass into wheat today?
Absolutely, yes. So, we think that...
there are some untapped variations,
for things like drought tolerance, insect resistance,
disease resistance, and we're beginning to think now,
some excellent yield improvements as well.
The results have been extraordinary, far exceeding their expectations.
We were expecting to see the diversity increased,
we were expecting to see disease resistance,
but what we WEREN'T expecting was so much of a yield increase.
In tests last year, the best of these actually out-yielded
-the cultivated parent by more than 30%.
I mean, how surprised were you by that?
I double-checked the results, let's just say that!
Across the UK, scientists are working to futureproof the way we farm.
The trouble is, while great work is happening on the theory,
Britain has been slow to put it into practice.
David Gardner from the Royal Agricultural Society of England
thinks we need to do more to take groundbreaking work
from the lab to the land.
Where has the UK been weak or lagging behind in recent years?
I think the UK is excellent in terms of what we call basic science or blue-sky science.
It's not so good in terms of taking that science and bringing it through
into practical stuff that farmers can actually do on the farm
and then taking it through and telling farmers about it.
It will be a while before we see the new super wheat in our fields,
but it is a major step in the right direction.
In the meantime, there are other ways to prepare for the future.
And that's where technology steps in.
Later on, I'll be finding out if we're dedicating enough attention
and research into the hardware to see the rise of the machines.
We're exploring the Shipwright's Way,
a long-distance trail in honour of Hampshire's shipbuilding past.
It runs along this section of coast,
before passing north into the Hampshire Hills.
It's where I've got a behind-the-scenes appointment
at the Royal Marines Museum. Hi, lads.
-Not with them, sadly!
I'm in search of an object, that was instrumental
in a secret military operation that began here in Hampshire.
It was labelled the most courageous raid of World War II.
This is it.
No, it's not a flatpack set of shelves,
it's actually a 70-year-old Mark II military kayak.
It's made of wood, with collapsible canvas sides
and it had to be collapsible because it had to be transportable.
In 1942, a newly formed detachment of the toughest soldiers
were deployed on a mission in kayaks exactly like this.
The assignment was perilous.
The target was situated right at the heart of a port
in German-occupied France.
The kayaks were nicknamed cockles and the men who took part
in this remarkable mission, became known as the Cockleshell Heroes.
Southsea Beach was where the formative heroes
learned to paddle in the autumn of 1942.
Kayaks had been recognised as the perfect tool
to deal with the enemy threatening our island nation.
I'm meeting Royal Marine historian Mark Bentinck.
Give me some texture as to what was happening at that point in time,
-Well, 1942 was a really bad year for Britain.
Our fortunes were at an all-time low.
But there was one particular problem, in that
individual German ships, fast merchant ships,
were bringing key materials into occupied Europe from the Far East.
25,000 tonnes of natural rubber had been imported through Bordeaux.
If we could intercept or damage this commerce, this would be very useful.
It was a year when desperate measures were required
to survive and actually win the war.
A team of Marines had volunteered for hazardous service,
unaware of the risky task that lay ahead.
They would serve under an experienced kayaker,
the strong-minded Major Hasler, nicknamed Blondie.
Hasler was quite a character, the leader of the group -
-what was he looking for in his team members?
People who could do the right thing without being told what to do
and without waiting for orders. People with endurance and toughness
and determination who weren't going to give up
and could survive the very tough conditions
of canoeing in enemy country in the winter.
Only later would the mission be divulged.
Codenamed Operation Frankton,
the secret raid would strike in early December, 1942.
A team of a dozen men led by intrepid Blondie Hasler
boarded naval submarine HMS Tuna
for what they thought was a training exercise.
It was only in the secure confines of the submarine
that the truth was revealed.
They were to raid Bordeaux and attack German merchant ships,
a task so dangerous, the chance of survival was tiny.
The kayaks would be stored in the torpedo hatches of the submarine
and then launched right here, at the mouth of the Gironde estuary.
The men would then have to paddle 100 miles
towards the city of Bordeaux,
evading the enemy and their guns along the way.
The goal was to attach limpet mines, like this one,
to the merchant ships that were in the port.
It was a ridiculously dangerous and risky mission.
Almost as soon as they'd left their sub,
they were caught in a huge riptide,
the first of many hazards that wiped out members of the team.
But as they approached Bordeaux, Hasler, the leader
and the most experienced kayaker, was still in charge.
He had learned to paddle as a child, here on Canoe Lake in Portsmouth.
And that's where I'm about to get a taste of what their voyage was like.
I'm taking to the water in a replica cockle
with ex-marine Ray Cooper.
Ray, they're not that comfortable, I have to say.
You're only in it for a short time.
The guys that paddled these in 1942
had to make the best of the six-hour tide,
so they would be in them for six hours,
it was December, the weather was very, very cold.
They had to do everything, they were eating,
sleeping, you name it, in this space.
Everything, this was their workspace.
After that treacherous journey, two kayaks made it to the port,
but did they actually manage to damage any ships?
Yes, five ships were damaged and one was sunk,
which helped boost morale and also destroy the Germans' morale.
It made the Germans aware that they could be infiltrated,
which meant that they then had to bring more men into the area,
away from the actual front.
Only two men survived the journey back to Britain.
Blondie Hasler, the leader, was one of them.
Despite the lives lost,
Hasler's chancy undertaking had been a success.
But there's an astonishing twist -
Hasler and his men weren't the only team of British secret forces
targeting the merchant ships in Bordeaux.
Five months earlier, a special operations executive
had sent their own team in by parachute,
and their job was to blow up the same ships at the same docks.
Historian Tom Keene discovered another raid on the same port.
They were meant to liaise and they didn't.
So, Hasler's team went in, believing that was the only way to attack
those targets, and it manifestly wasn't.
On the night that Hasler's men finally reached Bordeaux,
this team, the Scientist team, were on their final recce
and what they were going to do was not paddle 100 miles down the river,
they were going to walk through the dock gates with passes,
with bombs in their knapsacks and put their bombs on the boats
-from the shore side.
-Disguised as what?
Painters and workmen. They had the passes.
Does this mean, looking back now,
that it was a pointless mission in every way?
No, it doesn't.
The Cockleshell Heroes raid became THE iconic
Royal Marines small boat raid of the Second World War.
The Germans described it as the greatest raid of the war.
I think post-war, Operation Frankton, the Cockleshell Heroes' raid,
changed the Royal Marines' perception of themselves.
It became the iconic symbol of all that they do best.
And at the Royal Marines Museum, the story of the Cockleshell Heroes
is still inspiring the military elite of today.
I've been taking in the historic dockyards of Portsmouth,
the home of the iron-hulled warship HMS Warrior
and the legendary HMS Victory,
a superstar of battleships.
Commissioned in 1778,
the Victory is the only surviving battleship to have fought
in the American War of Independence, the French Revolutionary War
and, most famously, the Napoleonic wars,
and she served on the forefront of naval warfare for 34 years.
It was from HMS Victory that in 1805
Lord Nelson led the battle of Trafalgar.
He defeated the French, who were never again a threat to our island,
but in doing so paid the ultimate price.
In the ferocity of battle, he was shot and killed.
And it's because of Nelson's death
that she's one of the most famous ships in the world.
HMS Victory is now over 250 years old,
and as you can see, well, she is in need of a bit of work.
But she is about to undergo a £50 million restoration project
and some 21st-century technology is going to be used
to re-image this Georgian battleship in a digital age.
Lasers. Scanning every surface,
these machines are creating a 3D model of Victory
to help curator Andrew Baines
look after this vulnerable national treasure.
She is inherently biodegradable,
she's made of natural materials that will rot.
She's designed to operate in the most hostile environment
known to man at the time - the sea - for four or five years
before you bring her back and give her very extensive repairs.
So this is the Great Cabin on Victory.
This is where Nelson would have been based and quartered.
We're stood in the day cabin part of his quarters
and this is Nelson's breakfast table.
-And we're going to sit here, at Nelson's table?
-At Nelson's table.
What a feeling. It is, you can feel it. It's heavy, isn't it?
She's weighted with history.
Why did you decide to go for lasers?
When we decide we need to take some planks of the ship
or we need to lift the mass out,
we can actually model the effects of that work
and work out the best approach we can take
so we don't put the ship at any risk
and we don't do anything that is going to damage the ship.
-So you can, kind of, do the work in the computer first...
-Without actually making any mistakes?
It looks incredibly detailed.
I mean, what level of accuracy are we talking here, Andrew?
The level of accuracy we've got, it's down to the millimetre.
If we were to stand here with a tape measure doing that
it's going to take us a while.
So even all these little chips and flecks and all that stuff...?
Yes, it can feel all that, the original markings on the timber.
It can pick those up as well. Very, very detailed.
Victory's old plans have been outdated...
A view of HMS Victory that's never been seen before.
The beginning of a venture to preserve
one of the most treasured relics of our naval past.
It's in the dark lower decks of this ship that, with a keen eye,
you can just make out these marks, signatures left by shipwrights
who fashioned her wooden hull centuries ago.
You can see here the name Victory has been carved into this beam
by a shipwright with his knife, and it's in honour of those men
that a new trail has been created connecting Portsmouth dock
with the surrounding Hampshire countryside,
and that is exactly where I'm headed.
But first, here is what else is coming up on tonight's programme.
Will Julia bite off more than she can chew?
-You can definitely feel that going through you.
Adam's Golden Guernsey goat kids are ready for life outdoors.
Yeah, you go in your shelter. There's a good girl.
Into your shelter.
And we'll have a full weather forecast for the week ahead.
Earlier we heard how farming
is looking towards science and technology
to deal with future challenges.
British scientists are working wonders with wheat,
but now Tom is exploring the rise of the machines.
Our world is under pressure.
Population is rising and our climate is changing.
We are reaching a critical point
where food production will struggle to meet demand.
And farming is on the front line.
The challenge is so great that crop science alone may not be enough.
Technology also has to play a part.
That, of course, is nothing new to farming.
We used to do most things by hand, like grinding this wheat here,
and I can tell you, it is pretty hard work.
But then came the Agricultural Revolution,
something that was born in Britain.
That meant we could use our newfound engineering expertise
to produce machines to help us do the work.
This one is still milling wheat,
but with far less labour and in much greater quantities.
And that meant we could feed our growing societies and huge cities.
Back then, British farming technology was leading the world,
but in the 21st century,
there's a danger the world is overtaking Britain.
They're now developing driverless tractors in Germany,
automated fruit-pickers in Spain,
and even mechanical bees in America.
Other countries, it seems,
are steaming ahead in the race for robotics.
So is Britain keeping up with the pace?
Well, these guys in here certainly think so.
Harper Adams in Shropshire is one of the only universities in the country
dealing with agricultural engineering and robotics.
Students here are developing a new generation of farming machinery.
This is a quarter-scale model of a selective lettuce-harvesting robot.
This is Nigel, the farm robot of the future.
One day he will be able to do everything
that one of these big tractors will do, but all on his own.
This is Mark II of our mechanised harvester,
and it's designed to be able to tell the difference
between plants which are ready to harvest without the need for humans.
# Harder, better
# Faster, stronger... #
These smart machines will make significant savings
and will revolutionise how we treat our plants in the fields.
'Professor Simon Blackmore is the course leader
'for these engineers of our farming future.'
And smart machines isn't just about getting rid of people, is it?
Just, you know, making farmers and farm workers redundant?
No, we still need farmers, we still need people working the land,
but I do see the advent
of small, smart machines running around the fields
doing useful things for us, yes, definitely.
So when will farmers be able to watch Countryfile
and have their machines out farming at the same time?
-I'm sure some are already, but...
..I think there is a lot of technological advances all the time
that are moving ahead very quickly
and our job is to judge these things to bring them in,
but in terms of the smart machines and the robotics,
then I see no technological reason
why we don't have agricultural robots now.
The student projects are certainly promising,
but what about British commercial developments?
Rich Walker has created a highly sophisticated gadget
that could really lend farmers a hand.
It's truly mesmerising, but really, what is it?
-What am I looking at here?
-OK, well, this is a research hand.
We use these all over the world with academics
who are trying to understand how humans manipulate objects
so they can make machines that can do those kinds of tasks.
But you brought it in to be relevant to agriculture and farming.
Because we've been looking at how humans do complicated tasks, like...
How do I take that off there?
Well, I grab that, I twist that, I pull there,
and if we can get this robot hand to do those kinds of tasks
then we should be able to build machines that can go out
into fields and orchards and pick fruit and vegetables.
And you think this is something practical
for the future of farming, not just a bit of fun?
It's definitely a bit of fun for guys like us,
but we are doing this very seriously
because we see that in 5, 10, 15 years, these kinds of technologies
-could well have translated out into real applications.
Well, in our field we didn't see the milking robot come,
and that has been a huge, huge success in farming,
so it's entirely possible that these could get out the lab
and be in the fields.
What's standing in the way of the hand being out in the field?
Well, this is a kind of premium research product.
We make a small number of these, they are a six-figure sum.
This is not designed to go out and cope with rain, wind and mud.
The next generations will get more and more rugged and robust
and the price will come down to the point where it is something
that can be out there in the fields day and night.
Currently too delicate and expensive
-for the real farming environment?
-Afraid so, afraid so.
From crop science to robotics,
Britain clearly has the ingenuity for a second Agricultural Revolution,
but will it have the support to make that happen?
The government claims it will...
We have terrific science in our institutions and universities.
We have terrific farms and farmers.
That's why we are introducing our new agri-tech strategy
to pull together the strands that are already there,
but just needs to be streamlined
to get some of this technology on to farms.
Will you be offering more funding?
Government funding that goes into agri-tech and food
is in the region of 400 million.
There will be some more through this agri-tech strategy,
but I think the important thing to do
is to pull through industry funding as well to maximise the benefit.
Two things are for certain -
our population is going up and our climate is changing.
We are now faced with an opportunity to meet those challenges head-on.
So here in Britain we have the seeds of the next Agricultural Revolution -
ingenious plant scientists and inventive engineers,
but to grow they need money, and that's scarce.
We'll reap in future decades what we sow with investments today.
There are few animals on a farm more magnificent than a bull,
and this week Adam is on the hunt for a rare one - a White Park.
But first he's had to make a very tough decision.
A couple of weeks ago we decided
that about a third of our winter oilseed's rape was a write-off
and so we had to replant about 100 acres, and this is one of the fields.
And now the spring oilseed rape that we've put in here
is just poking its head through, it's just a couple of leaves.
So what we need now is some moisture but also lots of warm weather
to get this plant growing, to really kick-start it into life.
Good dog. Here. Here.
We're coming to the end of the lambing season
and so far it's gone really well,
but inevitably some ewes have had problems.
Last week one of my Herdwick ewes, a first-time mum,
showed signs of rejecting her lamb.
So I rounded them up and took them to an indoor pen.
I put the lamb onto the mother
in the hope they'd bond over the next few weeks.
These are some of my North Ronaldsay ewes with their lambs,
and also my Herdwick, there, that I had problems with.
Usually lambs will go to suckle from the side of the ewe
to get to the teat, but the little Herdwick lamb,
because it was nervous about suckling
because its mother batted it away a few times,
it goes from between her back legs
and approaches the udder from that way,
and it just suckles now like that.
That's the way it's learnt.
I think she's got the hang of being a mum now.
We've had about 1,500 new lambs on the farm so far this year,
with a few more to come.
But it's not just my ewes that are enjoying the delights of motherhood.
These are some of my Golden Guernsey goats.
They've started kidding, which is the term for giving birth.
Baby goats are called kids,
and some of them are ready to be turned out into the field.
So this one's had twins.
And there's two.
From the Isle of Guernsey
there are three breeds that have this golden colour.
There was the golden donkey, the Golden Guernsey goat
and the Guernsey cattle, and the cattle are now very popular.
The Guernsey goat is quite rare,
and the golden Guernsey donkey is extinct.
Come on, then.
Come with your babies. Come on, then.
There, you go in your shelter. There's a good girl.
The other four Golden Guernsey females I've got out in the fields
are last year's kids, so they're just over a year old.
And they'll be going to the billy this autumn
to give birth in the spring 2014.
But the only billy I've got on the farm at the moment is their dad,
so I need a fresh bloodline and I've got a new Golden Guernsey billy
being delivered back at the farm.
Caroline Saunders is a Golden Guernsey goat breeder,
and I'm really keen to see what she's brought along for me.
-Thanks for bringing him over.
-You're very welcome.
-Let's let him run in here, shall we?
Come on, then. Come on.
Well, he's lovely, Caroline, isn't he?
Yes, we've had him now for four years and lots of kids from him.
-We're very pleased.
-Very dark colour.
Yes, and that does come through with the kids as well.
-I've got some beautiful dark golden kids from him.
-And what's his temperament like?
-It's very good.
He's very good with the ladies. He's very gentle with all the females.
-You have to watch the horns.
He just occasionally flicks his head.
-But apart from that, he's a gentle old goat.
-And he's six years old.
-He is, yes.
-Oh, he's lovely, isn't he?
It's absolutely fantastic that you're having him.
I'm really, really pleased he's coming here.
Let's hope he has lots of nice little kids this time next year.
-Yes, so do I. Thank you very much.
-You're very welcome.
While the new billy settles in,
I've got to check on another breeding male on the farm
who might just have to stand aside from his regular duties.
These are some of my White Parks. They're a lovely breed of cattle
and they've come through the winter fairly well,
despite the cold weather and the grass not growing.
The silage and supplements have done them OK.
They're either heavily pregnant and due to calf
or there are one or two that have already calved.
But I've got two cows in the herd now that are related to my bull here,
so what I need to do is find a replacement for him if I can
so that he's not mating with cows that are related to him.
And I know a farmer who's got some very good
young White Park bulls for sale, so I've got a bit of a road trip on.
A couple of weeks ago I heard about a good White Park bull
that was up for sale, but unfortunately he was snapped up
before I could get a look-in.
Thankfully I know a farmer, Paul Milner in Leicestershire
who might have a White Park bull up for grabs.
-Hello, hi, I'm Adam.
-Hi, nice to meet you, too.
-This is Wilfred.
-Hi, Wilf. So, shall we go and look at these cattle?
Yeah, let's go.
Right, this is our old stock bull that you might be interested to see
cos he's the father of the young bull that we have for sale.
This is Ashenfield Talas. As you can see, he's very quiet.
-Lovely, isn't he?
-Yeah, very good temperament.
It's certainly important to have quiet bulls, isn't it?
It is very important, cos in the field where they are
there are footpaths, and people can just walk with the dogs,
and he's very good. He just lies there.
-So how old is he, then?
-He is eight years old now.
-He's getting on a bit.
-He's quite old for a bull, really, yeah.
Well, it's good to see the farmer of young bulls
that are up for sale, and I'm certainly impressed by him.
Oh, he's nice. So how old's he?
He's two. He's just two, this one is.
-What's his name?
Can I let him out for a little walk around?
Yes, we can let him out. Just to see what he's like.
All right, then, fella.
-There we go.
-Lovely! He moves well, doesn't he?
-Yes, he does move quite quickly.
-And what's his temperament like?
-It's very good temperament, yes.
-Yeah, nice-looking bull.
He's not a bad-looking bull.
He's got a nice straight back, good back end. Walks well.
My dad always said to me you need the males in the flocks or the herds,
their genetics get spread across the whole herd,
so you want to buy good ones.
-That's it, you do.
-Oh, it's nice to see him next to his dad.
Yeah, he's a little bit shorter, but it's nice to see the potential
of what he could grow into, what he's going to grow into, hopefully.
And he's two now, so got plenty of growing to do?
Yes, they normally take till about four or five
before a White Park is fully grown, yeah.
I like his markings, good black eyes and black nose,
-but not too dark, is he?
-No, he's not too dark.
You don't want them too dark because sometimes
when they are dark they do start throwing black calves,
-which you don't want in the white Parks, really.
-No, I like him.
Very good. Well, shall we put him away, and can I see his mum?
Yes, you can see his mum. It's just round the end of the yard.
OK, I'll shove him back in the shed and we'll walk around.
That's a good boy.
My word, Paul. What a lovely scene.
I mean, with this open stone yard and these cattle,
you could go back 100 years, couldn't you?
Yeah, it's wonderful, this yard is.
Absolutely wonderful for these, with their horns and everything.
They can get out the wind, they love it in here.
So where's the mother of the bull?
So the mother's just here, right in front of me,
just turning round and having a scratch now.
Oh, she's very nice, isn't she? Quite a big cow.
-Yes, she is quite a big cow.
-She is well marked, a nice straight back.
So the genetics in that young bull, in Zachary,
he's got a good dad and a lovely mum and he's well grown.
I mean, really, you know, he's pretty good, isn't he?
Yeah, he's got good genetics, yeah. Good parentage.
I suppose the crux of the matter is now, how much do you want for him?
-Well, we're looking for about 3,250 for him.
OK. Well, it's something I'm going to have to think on.
I'll maybe have a sleep on it and phone you in the morning,
-if that's all right?
-That's perfectly all right.
Well, I really appreciate you showing me around. It's great to meet you.
Fantastic herd. And I'll give you a ring first thing in the morning.
-OK, thanks very much.
Well, I really like the young bull and his parents are smart, too.
And this is his pedigree, which is basically his family tree,
so I can look back in his breeding,
and there's some good animals here, too, so I know he's well bred,
but really there's only two cows back at the farm
that I need him for and I could use artificial insemination instead,
or sell the old bull to help pay for him
and put him across the whole herd.
Next week I'm looking at Eric's new calves,
and one of them came as a bit of a shock.
Earlier I was on a Hampshire coast
learning about a heroic top-secret operation
that took place during the Second World War.
Now I've come inland
where a much more contemporary mission is underway.
Deep within Hampshire's beautiful countryside,
a mysterious project is in progress,
hidden from the public eye for the last five years.
To grow one of the rarest and most expensive vegetables in the world.
It's all been kept quite literally under a veil of secrecy,
because this is the first farm in Europe
to grow the Japanese delicacy wasabi.
It's best known as a companion to sushi and its popularity is soaring.
In the last year, sales across Britain have risen by 30%.
Archaeological evidence suggests that the vegetable wasabi
has been grown in Japan for more than 2,000 years.
But no-one has successfully met the challenge
of growing it on British soil.
That is, until now.
One of the men behind this innovation
is more known for growing watercress - Tom Amery.
Around about five years ago we decided to look for something
that we could complement our watercress production
that was challenging and fairly new to the country,
so someone suggested growing wasabi.
So we started investigating and we are here where we are now.
You couldn't have picked anything more niche, really, could you?
There was nothing, really, you could find easily about wasabi.
It's a very secretive industry, over in Japan particularly,
so what we had to do was find a plan of how to produce it in the UK
and really from the start we didn't know quite when we would be able
to start harvesting crops, so that was an unknown as well.
All this time and effort and money
that we've been putting into the production
has led to us, sort of, holding back information
about how we actually grow
so we're protecting our intellectual property rights.
Just like watercress,
the wasabi plant loves Hampshire's mineral-rich natural spring water.
I'm on a promise -
if I keep the location of the farm a secret, I get exclusive access.
And is this the famous wasabi?
Yeah, this is the famous wasabi.
Why is there no soil around?
Because traditionally wasabi is grown in gravel.
-It gives us a top quality.
-And that's what you want,
-the luxury end.
-The luxury end.
So what do you do? Just bury a little hole?
Basically, you just dig a hole roughly three inches into the gravel,
pop the plant in and then just spread back carefully,
-try not to damage too many of the leaves.
-Sean, it's easy.
It can't have been any trouble at all for you, this whole project.
How can I say? It's actually making me go grey.
You were a young man before you started!
-Well, basically I still am. I'm only 21.
I know I look 46, but I didn't before I started this job.
How many plants do you think you've lost along the way?
Probably in excess of 25,000. SHE WHISTLES
The biggest challenge for us
is trying to represent how it grows in Japan.
It's grown in, sort of, river streams in the mountains,
with natural, basically, shade from the trees.
Sean's mimicked the shade of the trees with mesh,
but there is another of nature's gifts that's needed -
These plants are at the beginning of their life-cycle,
but in one of the other tents, Tom's already harvesting.
-Tom, you're absolutely sure that that's ready?
-I hope so.
You can never really tell until we've pulled it,
but what we'll do is we'll take it over here, break it open
and hopefully prepare some wasabi for sale.
-Look at the size of that!
-Yeah, it's huge.
And if I start...
So what we've got to do is find the rhizomes, and there we are.
-That's what you want.
This is it, yeah. This is exactly it,
-so what we'll do is we'll...
-It looks like a nice, chunky size.
It is. Well, this plant has been here now for probably about two years,
so what we would expect is lots of rhizomes.
Break these off.
'The rhizome is basically a swollen stem
'and its these that make the wasabi...
-Can you eat the whole thing?
The petioles are sold and they're very popular.
They're pickled or they're chopped and used as an ingredient
and then the leaf, they're used in cooking as well.
The rhizome is the key part. That is where wasabi paste comes from.
How much for the big one?
So, if we didn't sell this size, which is very large,
and it would cost probably in excess of £60,
then that would then go into what we call our processing section
where we will create 100% wasabi paste
and that will then be frozen and used in restaurant sales,
but in a smaller packaging size.
Time for me to fess up. I don't actually like wasabi.
I don't like horseradish and I don't like mustard.
Sean, here, has been cultivating wasabi for five years
and he has never even tasted it,
which means that Matt, our lovely chef...
..has really got his work cut out for him.
So, how can we help, first of all?
OK, first of all we need to really finely grate the wasabi.
-I recognise that.
-The most important thing is remove the base.
-No, we don't need to peel it.
No, so we're going to go straight onto grating.
-It's the finest side, which is this side.
And it's circular motions, quite gently.
You want to create a paste rather than like grating cheese.
'This is what causes the chemical reaction,
'which gives wasabi its pungent heat.'
-It's going really well.
-So with a bamboo scraper...
Bamboo scraper! Shall I pop it on there?
Yeah, just next to the salmon.
It's probably not going to be the prettiest pile of wasabi,
but it's definitely the freshest I have ever, ever seen.
-That's shop-bought wasabi.
Such a difference in colour.
Yeah, the tube wasabi isn't really wasabi.
It's got a small amount of wasabi in it, about 4%,
and it's 67% horseradish in there.
Well, no wonder I don't like it. I don't like horseradish.
Much more powerful, it's got that feeling when it goes up your nose.
Much stronger, it dominates the palate more than the fresh does.
The fresh has got a much more subtle, nutty taste,
with the heat in the background.
-Right, shall we have a taste?
-I think we ought to.
You've gone first.
-You should get the...
..sort of, wet nut flavours, as well as the heat.
-You definitely feel that going through you.
The key with the fresh wasabi is once you've grated it
the clock starts ticking, so it's a fresh flavour,
it starts to oxidise as time goes by
so you want to be eating it within ten minutes maximum, really,
to make sure you preserve those delicate, volatile flavours.
For some crazy reason, we now agreed to try the shop-bought wasabi.
-Oh, without the salmon. That's very brave.
Oh, that's horrible! I just don't like it.
Luckily, Matt's Bloody Mary numbs the pain.
Then after a little taste of wasabi butter and wasabi leaves
we finish off our exotic banquet with a wasabi-infused panna cotta.
Well, as I'm warmed through with wasabi,
let's see what the weather's got in store for the week ahead.
Here's the forecast.
I've been walking a section of the Shipwright's Way,
a new trail celebrating the boat-building past
of Hampshire and its coastline.
But I'm taking a bit of a detour
and heading to a kind of prehistoric lab,
where they're putting the practices
of some of the earliest boat-builders to the test.
Butser Ancient Farm is a modern replica of an Iron Age village.
It was set up in the '70s
by an innovative archaeologist who had a big idea,
a way to help us understand how prehistoric man lived.
His name was Peter Reynolds, and he put it best himself.
We need to test those ideas, the interpretations,
the explanations, of the archaeologist.
And we test them by building direct experiments at a one-to-one scale.
40 years on, and archaeologist Ryan Watts
is putting another idea to the test. He suspects that 2,500 years ago,
man was using more than tools to hollow out canoes.
Now, I hear you have a new theory.
-I do have a new theory.
-Tell me all about it.
For thousands of years man has been building
and using boats pretty much like this one,
just on a much bigger scale, made out from hollowed-out tree trunks.
Archaeologists find these from 7,000 years ago,
and when they find them they think that the ancient man
used to hack away at them with tools,
-but I have a different theory on how that can work.
If you come with me and I'll show you.
I'll show you on my much bigger example, here, of a log.
I think that fire could be used to help with the hollowing out,
rather than just doing it with the tools that they had.
Why don't others agree with you, then?
Well, others don't agree with me because when they find them
in the archaeological record - they're not very common,
as you'd imagine cos they rot away,
but when they do find them they find no evidence of this charring.
However, around the rest of the world,
wherever tribal communities use boats like this,
they use fire to make it easier for them to hollow them out,
so really I'm asking why didn't our ancient ancestors do it?
-Yeah, why wouldn't you do it if it does make it easier?
So let's have a look at the type of fire
that you're using in this technique, then,
cos it's not a raging bonfire you've got going.
It's not a raging bonfire, it would be very difficult
to control a raging bonfire.
What I really want is a lot of heat in one place,
I want it to focus the heat down, so we're using charcoal.
This is getting towards the end of its, kind of, heat now,
so I'm just going to put some more on.
Leaving the charcoal to do the hard work,
I'm off to see a bit of prehistoric alchemy.
Jim Clift is a metal casting enthusiast
and collector of ancient tools.
Just talk us through what we've got here, then.
We've got a crucible full of molten bronze.
So how do you know what a Bronze Age axe head actually looks like?
Well, we've actually got one from 3,500 years ago,
-so it's here in my pocket.
-Oh, right. OK.
Wow. And that's 3,500 years old?
It was found in the '40s
when they were clearing land for food production.
And so the mould that you've taken, is it very similar to this?
-It's exactly the same as that. We've used that as the pattern.
Well, we'll pop that to one side. I'll put it down there safely.
After 25 minutes, the bronze is at 1,100 degrees and ready to pour.
So this is a mixture, then, of copper and tin?
Yes, 10% tin, and the rest is copper.
Now that's the definition of red hot, that, isn't it?
-Right, so we are ready to go.
-Is that OK?
Look at that. That's mesmerising to watch, that.
'It's thought the foundry men of old made tools in secret,
'and because of this they were believed to have magical powers.'
Do you know, Jim, I know just the person
who is going to be impressed by a bit of magic.
Julia's going to love it.
I'll be taking a closer look once it's cooled,
meanwhile Ryan's been using one of the blades made by Jim
to remove the embers from his experimental canoe.
-Is it cooked?
Oh, and these are the finished tools, then, are they?
-Yeah, those are the finished tools.
-It's very duck-like.
It is quite duck-like, and that's quite important, actually,
cos it's different from using a modern axe and you peck away.
-Oh, it looks quite deep.
-Yeah, it's getting there.
The trick is not getting it too deep and then coming out of the bottom.
-Cos that could be a problem.
-After all this work.
Yeah, after all this work the last thing you want to do
is put a hole in the bottom.
And it's just a real question of just tapping away
and it comes away nice and easily.
But if you have a go, and it's just gentle pecking.
-You see how it kind of, just, flakes up.
It's coming off very, very easily.
We've gone down about two inches.
Hang on, there it is, look, you see,
and I've gone straight back to the wood
and without even trying it...
Look, if I just scrape that back
you can see I'm there to bare wood,
so there is proof that you can get rid of the evidence.
-There you go, you've made my discovery for me.
So early findings suggest Ryan is onto something,
although he won't be absolutely sure until his boat is finished.
Time to reveal the axe head now it's cooled.
There he is, my Iron Age hero.
-I've missed you.
-Are you all right?
-Very much so.
-I have brought you a flower.
-Oh, that's very kind.
-It's an edible flower as well.
-Is it? Oh, right. What, all of it?
-Do I eat the whole lot?
-Just eat the top, see what you think.
-That's spicy, isn't it?
-Yeah, it's a wasabi flower.
Yeah, you can take that home and have it with your sushi.
Wow, well, listen. I am pleased that you are here
cos we don't really know how it's going to turn out...
-What have we got?
-But I think you're going to love it.
-It's a tool!
-Look at this!
-You've done that today?
-Made it just about half an hour ago.
-You must have been in heaven.
-Look at this!
-That is really good, Mattie.
-Hang on, let me just wash it. Look, it's bronze.
-Who's a clever boy?
-Now, that is a beauty, isn't it?
That's it from Hampshire. Next week we are in the Thames Valley,
and I'm on the trail of some giant ants
who have got a very unusual defence mechanism
that's led to an important scientific discovery.
And I don't know about bronze, but I'll be finding out
what it's going to take to win gold as an Olympic rower,
and I tell you what - on that point, right,
you'll never believe this - we have changed history today.
Come on, let me show you me red-hot canoe.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury are in the county of Hampshire.
Matt explores the maritime history of the area by helping out on the largest and most powerful warship of her time, HMS Warrior.
Julia is in Portsmouth where a story of an epic journey of naval heroism began with the unbelievable bravery of the Cockleshell heroes she also visits the only wasabi farm in the UK.
Tom Heap investigates how, when it came to innovation in farming, Britain used to be a world leader. But with a global food shortage on the horizon, have we still got what it takes to meet the challenges of the future?
Adam Henson is on the hunt for a new White Park bull for his farm in the Cotswolds - but can he afford the high asking price?