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'Tranquillity and peace, a place for reflection
'from the hustle and bustle of city life and industry.
'This is a green oasis, the border land of Birmingham
'and the Black Country.'
But it's more than just nectar for the soul,
it's a place of inspiring beauty, and some of the most
influential 18th century landscapes in Europe can be found here.
'Ellie's exploring the dramatic impact
'this area's natural resources had on the Industrial Revolution.'
This geologically rich landscape was a victim of its own treasures.
Industry took a hold, but now nature, as it always does,
is claiming it back.
'Charlotte asks if there are too many drugs in modern farming.'
Antibiotic resistance has been
described as one of the greatest threats to modern human health.
But could using antibiotics on farms be making the problem worse?
'And Adam is always one for a bit of healthy competition,
'even if it is with his own son.'
This is a pure Pekin cockerel.
Obviously not going to lay any eggs, and he's not for meat,
but hopefully he's going to win my son Alfie over there
a prize at one of the agricultural shows in the poultry classes.
Are you ready for this, chicken?
'The heart of England.
'For ever associated with the Industrial Revolution.
'But the West Midlands and the Black Country also have
'their fair share of green surprises.
'Bookended by wild hillside, the Stour Valley hides
'pockets of nature reserves and breathing spaces for city dwellers.'
I'm in Halesowen in the LEAsowes
or the LEHsowes, depending on who you speak to around here,
in about 150 acres or 60 hectares of open green space.
Now, this place is open 365 days a year for dog walkers and picnics
but it is also a globally important
Grade One registered historic garden.
'This wild-looking landscape was actually the life's work of
'its 18th century owner, local poet William Shenstone.'
So, John, who exactly was William Shenstone, and when was he around?
William Shenstone was, for his time,
quite a famous poet and landscape gardener.
He was born in 1714 here at the Leasowes.
The Leasowes was a farm in those days.
Right, and when did the landscape gardening come in, then?
I mean, was he always a passionate gardener, or...?
Yes, I think he was.
I mean, one of his early poems was called The Schoolmistress,
and in that poem he talks about his schoolmistress having a garden,
-and he lists the flowers.
-So I think it started very early with him.
And quite a different approach to gardening, cos back then,
I mean, it was all about formal gardens, wasn't it?
It certainly was.
He wasn't original in the idea of the natural landscape,
-but it certainly was unique in the way he did it.
The landscape of Italy was what he had in mind.
Even though this wasn't a formal garden, there was
a definite order that he wanted people to experience...?
Oh, yes, there was an order.
All his visitors were supposed to walk around this path
because the features that he wanted people to see could only be
seen properly from one particular point.
And who paid for it all, cos it's massive?!
-Well, basically, Shenstone did.
He did own property in the end because he spent
so much money on this place he became bankrupt.
Was there a timeframe that he had in mind,
-and how long did it kind of take?
-It took 20 years.
It was an evolving landscape.
Towards the end of his life,
he realised that he couldn't spend any more money on it,
so he retired to his house
and carried on doing research.
Shenstone died in 1763,
but left behind a garden much admired for its pioneering approach,
and the focus on the Leasowes in gardening books
and high society circles even after Shenstone's death
meant that famous visitors,
including American presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson,
came here to see it for themselves.
'But time takes its toll,
'and the reflective quiet of his landscape was interrupted by
'the building of the Dudley No.2 Canal,
'now a haven for wildlife.
'The Leasowes has been council-owned since 1934.
'The wardens and volunteers who look after this park
'have quite a task.'
We've got a 10-year management plan, a 10-year conservation plan,
which not only looks after the historic landscape
but the ecological landscape as well.
And do you have to use traditional methods to manage?
We can see here this scene of everyone cutting down the grass.
"Leasowes" means meadows,
so there's always been traditional management of grassland on the site.
We're using it here on this site to help the diversification of
-the wild flowers by removing the bramble and grasses.
But we've also got the added benefit with this field
that we've got Red Data Book species of fungi on site.
We've got the waxcap family appearing in good numbers.
And so we do this, and it benefits those as well.
Talking of numbers, you've got workers in force here.
Now, then, team! How are we doing, all right?
Good. We'll give you a hand while I'm here!
So a lot has gone on, erm, in this spot over the years.
-Is there a plan for the future, Anthony?
-Yeah, yeah, I mean,
the plan for the future is just to keep going
the way we are, which is, you know, continue to reintroduce
the historic landscape back to the site.
You know, it'll be small scale, like Shenstone used to do.
So it's not just human help you've got,
I've noticed the bovine workforce over the top there.
Yes, we have, we've got longhorn cattle on site.
Erm, we've got an original drawing
-that shows longhorn cattle on the site.
So it keeps us in the past and things but also benefits the future.
I mean, a real spectacle for those that do come here to walk
and wander and see a herd of those.
Yeah, I mean, set in the middle of the Black Country,
there's a lot of people who don't come across cows every day,
but, you know, you come to the Leasowes, you can see it all.
Sometimes keeping cattle like this fit and healthy requires medication,
but is the use of antibiotics on animals a threat to human health?
Well, Charlotte has been investigating.
'Much of farming in Britain today is big business,
'requiring industrial-scale facilities to provide us with
'food that is both competitive in price and tasty too.'
One of the things which helps farmers achieve all that is this,
'Since Alexander Fleming discovered them more than 80 years ago,
'antibiotics have been at the heart of modern medicine,
'for both humans and animals.'
But nature has a habit of finding a way around them, and increasingly,
infectious bacteria are becoming resistant to these wonder drugs.
This growing resistance has been
described as one of the greatest threats to modern human health.
'Whether fairly or unfairly,
'some of the blame for this growth in resistance is being
'attributed to the farming industry's use of antibiotics.
'I've come to Cote in Oxfordshire, where James Hook runs one of
'the leading independent chick hatcheries in the country.
We're entering the hatchery now through the foot bath.
'The family has been breeding chickens since the 1950s.
'Today they produce more than five million chicks a week,
'and selective antibiotic use is a key part of the process.'
-Oh, my goodness!
-There's roughly about 100 chicks in this tray.
-So how many in there?
-There are 24,000 in that hatchery.
-24,000, there's 400,000 in this room
that'll be taken off tomorrow morning.
-It's almost unimaginably big, isn't it?
-It is quite large, yes.
So where do the antibiotics come in, then? Why do you use them in farming?
You have to be able to treat animals if they're sick,
otherwise they become poorly, they can't enter the food chain,
and economically, it would be a huge amount of wasted product.
So what are you trying to avoid?
What infections or illnesses are you trying to prevent?
Infection of the yolk sac, which,
if they were to get it, is probably E-coli.
'Farming uses many of the same groups of antibiotics
'that doctors prescribe to us, and just like in human health,
'these drugs are an invaluable weapon in the fight against disease.
'But there's a catch.'
The more we take antibiotics, the greater the chance the bug
will evolve into a form which is resistant to the medication.
'In recent years, new types of E-coli and other bacteria
'like salmonella and livestock MRSA have done just that.'
That's led some pressure groups to argue that British farmers are using
too many antibiotics,
which could lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
That's obviously bad news for animals.
But it could be bad news for humans too.
'Back in 2011, Tom Heap visited the University of Cambridge
'to meet Dr Mark Holmes.'
We are currently surveying over 1,000 dairy farms
up and down the country, including Scotland,
and we're looking for MRSA.
'MRSA is a bacterial infection
'resistant to a wide variety of antibiotics.
'We know it as the superbug found in hospitals, but there are also
'strains found in farm animals, known as livestock MRSA.
'Three years ago, Mark was building the evidence
'for a frightening theory.'
We have discovered a new version of MRSA.
We know that the bug is travelling between people and cows.
'Wind forward to the present day, and what's Mark concluded?'
We do now have evidence that it travels from animals to people.
But how? How does it go from an animal to a human?
Farmers and people who work on farms pick up any bacteria,
any bugs that we find on the animals, just because they work
with them every day and they have direct contact with the animals.
But this is fairly rare.
The most likely way that we would get infected is through
eating contaminated meat or drinking unpasteurised milk.
If we were to compare, for example,
what unpasteurised milk looks like, here are quite a lot of bacteria.
If one of those is MRSA,
then if you ingest that unpasteurised milk,
you will inevitably be at slightly higher risk of
becoming contaminated, and of course,
if we looked at pasteurised milk, there'll be no bacteria.
There's nothing to see.
So, from a human point of view, how concerned should we be?
I think we should be worried.
I think we should be concerned. It is not a time to be complacent.
Antibiotic resistance is clearly a big issue,
and whether it is for humans or for farm animals, we do not want to lose
these valuable, essential tools
in our battle against disease,
in either veterinary health or human health.
There is definite proof, then, that we can catch MRSA
from animals, either from direct contact
or eating raw or undercooked infected meat.
So should the farming industry reduce
its reliance on antibiotics
to help counter the rise of drug-resistant superbugs?
If you look at the resistance
levels in bacteria that cause problems to animals,
there isn't a problem.
There is no clinical problem.
That would suggest we are using the right amount of antibiotics,
in the right way, to keep animals healthy,
to keep good welfare standards up,
and to ensure we can provide safe food for consumers to eat.
John Fitzgerald is from RUMA,
the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance.
We need to be very careful that we don't introduce
disproportionate controls on the use of antibiotics on animals
that will have no beneficial effect
to the levels of resistance in humans,
but could quite seriously damage
the health and welfare of the animals we breed in the UK.
Isn't that, though, the industry saying, "Don't change anything,
"because it works and it's cheap."
No, it's the industry saying, "We need proper data,
"scientific data, to support
"any decisions that are made to control antibiotic use in animals."
However, the Government feels resistant bugs in animals
pose a significant threat to our health.
Last September it launched a five-year strategy
to tackle the problem in both humans and animals.
But if antibiotics are such a vital part of animal health,
how can we reduce their use without animal suffering
or food prices rising?
It's something they've been wrestling with at James Hook's hatchery
We stopped two years ago using any of the antibiotics
-that are used in human health.
-And what impact did that have?
To start with, the mortality
in those hens was a little bit higher,
but we've gradually got that down to acceptable levels.
We use a traffic light system, red, amber and green.
If they're green, which these are, it means the chicks are clean,
the farm that they are going on to was clean last time.
We won't use antibiotics.
That's probably 80% of our chickens.
The other 20%, we may use antibiotics
if we think there will be a problem with a yolk sac infection
or there's been a problem on the farm previously.
How much have you managed to reduce use by, then?
We have probably more than halved our use in recent times.
But we will still always need to keep antibiotics in our armoury
to use when we get a problem.
I don't see us, for the foreseeable future,
not being able to use antibiotics at all.
James' reduction is voluntary,
but in the last ten years, farmers in the UK
have been banned from using antibiotics to promote animal growth.
And now there is increasing pressure
to stop them being used simply as a preventative measure.
Some, though, would like to go even further.
Helen Browning is chief executive of The Soil Association.
She believes antibiotic overuse is the result of intensive farming.
We're using antibiotics often
to allow farming systems
to continue that would not be viable
without the use of antibiotics.
We need to be reducing the use of antibiotics
in animal husbandry systems,
which should benefit the animals as well as making sure
we are viable for us in the longer term, too.
Helen runs a 1,400-acre organic farm
in Wiltshire, where she has managed to cut back
in antibiotic use in the treatment of mastitis,
an endemic disease in dairy cattle, where the udders become inflamed.
What have you been doing with this lot, then?
-With this lot, we've been trialling a peppermint oil.
Yeah, a peppermint oil which you massage into the udder.
Has peppermint oil made any difference, honestly?
It does seem to have made a difference.
We seem to be getting lower cell counts
in the lactation after using peppermint oil at calving.
Can that really ever replace antibiotics? Don't eat me!
It's only one part of the jigsaw.
There are so many things you need to do
if you're going to reduce antibiotics.
You have to reduce the stress on the cow,
you have to make sure you have a really clean system,
that the bedding quality is good, the ventilation is good and the diet is right.
All those things are really important.
You have to take the pressure off the cow overall.
While Helen is having some success treating mastitis here,
there are still many infectious animal diseases
where really there is no alternative to antibiotics.
'Making farming less intensive may help,
'but the result is likely to be more expensive food.
'In other countries, though, they have been able to reduce
'antibiotic use without dramatically changing farming methods.
'In the Netherlands, they used to use far more antibiotics on farms than we do,
'but the Dutch government set draconian targets
'to cut their use by half.'
You might expect that at that point there was a bit of a revolt,
but in fact, Dutch farmers have done pretty much what their government wanted
and have radically reduced their reliance on antibiotics.
'So is it time for a tougher approach here in the UK?
'Nigel Gibbons is the chief veterinary officer for Defra.'
We've been promoting responsible use of antibiotics
in animals for many years.
There's some really good work being done by farmers and vets.
Are you doing enough, really, though,
given the potential scale of this problem? Shouldn't we be doing more
and doing it faster?
I think we are doing enough.
if you look at us in the context of the rest of Europe -
we're part of the Europe plan -
we are actually leading on a piece of work in Europe to improve
the surveillance for antibiotic resistance and make that
directly comparable to the work done in humans, really good work.
We've heard concerns that, really,
not enough is known about the transmission between animals and humans. Do you share those?
Yes, there's a lot of work to do to understand
exactly what makes antimicrobial resistance
or antibiotic resistance happen.
But we shouldn't act in a way
that really damages livestock production,
which gets in the way of animal welfare.
Things like blanket reductions on antibiotic usage could do that.
We think it is better to improve the way
we are gathering information
about what antibiotics are being used, by whom,
on what animals, and when,
and focus changes on places it will really make a difference.
The problem of resistance to antibiotics
is, frankly, down to us.
As humans, we have overused these drugs.
Now farmers and vets are working to reduce their use on farms,
but for some, that simply isn't happening fast enough.
And so, they say, we still have the potential to face major problems
in the future.
'On the edge of the Black Country
'lies a natural landscape that has shaped
'and been shaped by its industrial past.'
Here, in one of the UK's largest urban nature reserves,
it's hard to imagine that this
was once one of the most industrialised places in the world.
'200 years ago,
'this land was smoke-filled, strewn with furnaces and factories,
'the beating heart of the Industrial Revolution.
'It was the area's exceptional geology
'that brought the industry here.'
Thick seams of coal,
the biggest in Europe,
ran just below the surface
and fuelled the growing industries.
An abundance of valuable minerals,
limestone, ironstone and clay, were quarried in vast quantities
from the surrounding hills.
This is a glass cone,
a gigantic chimney under which was once
a furnace of molten glass.
'Back in the 1600s, glass-making took off in this area.
'They didn't just come for the coal,
'they also came for the clay,
'not to make the glass but to line the furnaces.
'Charlotte Hughes-Martin has been blowing glass for 17 years.'
Glass is really corrosive. It will eat through absolutely anything.
You need something to contain the glass,
something that will withstand over 1,000 degrees,
and the fireclay is perfect for this.
That's the only thing you can really use.
-Would you be able to do some blowing for me?
So get blowing.
OK. So a bit harder?
Keep going, keep going!
It's really hard work.
Go on, you can do it!
'Rich geology meant manufacturing exploded here.
'The Black Country became the workshop of the world.
'Iron production went into overdrive,
'and amazingly it was another local natural resource
'that sparked it.'
But this abundant mineral wasn't easy to access.
To get the purer stuff,
you had to follow the seams deep underground,
so that is when I am heading.
And to get there, I'm going by barge.
'This is one of the world's first underground canal tunnels.'
That is a snug fit. I see how you need these.
'Today, this vast network is punctuated
'by limestone quarries
'whose roofs have collapsed.'
It looks like a tropical lagoon!
And there it is - nature reclaiming the land.
Into the dark again.
'Deep underground lies an extraordinary labyrinth,
'miles of limestone tunnels.'
This is straight out of a Bond movie.
'And vast caverns.'
Incredible to think it would've been carved out
by the hands of the miners.
'In the cavernous depths,
'I'm meeting Graham Worton, Dudley's keeper of geology.
'There can't be many councils that have one of those.'
The cavern we're in is a big cavern
but behind us in this direction
there's a cavern called Dark Cavern.
It's a mile in length
and the limestone that was extracted from there
would fill seven St Paul's Cathedrals.
As they dug into the ground,
they found other things in the limestone
that became of great interest to science.
Here we have a surface rock layer
and it was once an ancient sea bed.
But we have a better example for you to see just down here.
It's covered in beautiful preserved fossils.
There isn't a millimetre without a fossil on it.
The limestone miners didn't have,
initially, a lot of interest in these fossil creatures.
They put so many of these into the furnaces it makes me weep.
But eventually, when the gentleman scientists came,
they came with money in their pockets,
and the limestone miners became great fossil hunters.
I have a perfect example with me.
We call it the Dudley Bug.
This is an incredible example!
This would have fetched a pretty penny, then?
It would. A very good Dudley Bug,
back in the 1830s,
would have been paid for by the gentry to the sum of
about 12 shillings.
That was about a month's wages.
That was well worth finding one of these.
'The Black Country contains some of the most extraordinary
'geology found anywhere on earth,
'and it is remarkable how nature has shaped this incredible landscape.'
'Just a few miles from Stourbridge, and swathed in beautiful countryside,
'lies Hagley Hall.'
It is a very impressive pile,
but it's the 18th-century gardens that I am here to see.
Just like its contemporary on the other side of the hill, the Leasowes,
the landscape is Grade I-registered
and there's a lot of restoration work going on here
to put it back to its former glory.
'It's home to the 12th Viscount, Lord Chris Cobham,
'who inherited quite a legacy.'
What we see here, Lord Cobham,
is very much down to your relative,
but it looks very different today to how it looked back in his day.
Well, it does, because when he started living here,
the house didn't exist but the park did.
And he spent an immense amount of time and love on the park.
And then he decided the house he had just didn't fit.
So he decided to build a new house.
The right place for the park.
And so for him it was all about the landscape.
What was his vision?
The vision, I think, was something he had picked up back when he was on
the Grand Tour, about 1728 or 1730.
He had come back, having had been absolutely stunned by the views
on the Alps and in Italy, particularly,
and he decided he really wanted to capture
a piece of that here.
As far as history is concerned, has it always been protected?
I wish it had.
Unfortunately, in the 19th century,
my family had an immense amount of children,
and a very expensive house to maintain,
and the money just wouldn't stretch
around all of it, so the park fell into terrible disrepair.
In fact, it remained in disrepair
till some five or six years ago,
when we started looking at it and seeing if we could mend it.
And I guess, if you can put the money to one side,
a great experience and brilliant fun to have done.
Oh, huge fun!
I can't stay away from it. I'm up here twice a day.
Lovely! And do you have a favourite part, then?
I do, and I think the rotunda
and some of the views of the rotunda are absolutely stunning.
-Let's go and have a look.
So this is your latest pride and joy, Chris?
It certainly is.
It has been for years without any roof at all.
And in the last year the roof has been remade
and put back on again, all made out of stone.
And every stone has to be carved in three dimensions.
It's the most fantastic piece of work.
Remarkable work from the stonemasons...
-..to get that shape!
I can see why you love being here
because there's just the most remarkable feel
as you stand here and you look out.
When I was growing up we had no idea there was a view
like this, because it was all overgrown.
'It's not just the buildings -
'every inch of this landscape gets special attention.
'Hard at work repairing one of the many water cascades
'is Hagley's head of landscape, Joe Hawkins.'
Now, then, Joe, what Hagley job have you got in store?
-Are you all right?
-Do you like mud?
Do I like mud? Oh, yes, I do!
This is all very, very impressive.
Just talk us through what you've recreated, I suppose.
It was a collapsed cascade.
Up on the bank up there we've got
loads of tree roots. They've been searching
for water and they have gone underneath the cascade,
then gradually grown bigger and bigger until they've lifted
all the stones up, so we've rebuilt the whole lot.
I was expecting some backbreaking work here, but it looks like you've finished.
We've done all that section
and down inside the bank there is a solid clay seal
and all I have to do now is finish that last piece off.
Basically, how I normally do this
is I get a dollop of it out
and then just hurl it into the sides.
Just slap it in there? Oh, it's satisfying!
-You're like a natural!
Oh, that was a good one, that!
You're loving it, aren't you?
I get paid to do this!
-Mind you, I need the money for the cleaning bill after.
'With the clay skilfully placed, a bit of puddling.'
-This is formed like a seal, to stop the water sinking through.
Normally they would have sheep doing it but we can't afford sheep so we get BBC presenters.
'And we are ready for the final piece of the jigsaw.'
Go for it.
It seems, Joe, that you have quite a bit in common
with George Lyttelton, cos isn't it
right you have an MA in 18th-century landscaping?
I have, yeah. I just find it fascinating. I think that anyone
who goes out into landscape will benefit from it.
It's good for in here and in here as well.
-I couldn't agree more.
-It's a real healing thing, I think.
Good. How's that looking for you, my man?
I like that idea. I think you could come back
and do some more. What I need to do
is get a few more pieces of stone in, and then I'll seal through the top
but you've made a fantastic job of that.
You can't beat...slap on the cheeks.
Later on in the programme, we will be following
the water course down to help
breathe new life into another fine example
of this restoration project.
But there are just a few hours left
for you to vote for the winner of this year's Countryfile
so here is John with a reminder of the finalists
and how to pick your favourite.
From more than 32,000 photos you sent in,
here are the final 12.
In a moment I'll give you the phone numbers
to vote for your favourite.
Calls cost 10p from a BT landline.
Other operators may vary
and calls from a mobile will be higher.
You can also vote for free on our website...
So here are those final dozen photos
with their all-important numbers.
If Sunlit Sheep is your favourite, call...
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Please don't call after midnight
because your vote won't be counted and you may be charged.
'Most of us think of the humble chicken
'as a bird bred for the oven or for laying eggs.
'But this week, Adam and his son Alfie
'are entering a different world of birds,
'at a big poultry show.'
We've kept chickens on the farm here for as long as I can remember.
These are Cream Legbars,
but we have various different breeds
of all different shapes and colours and sizes.
My son, Alfie, here, likes picking a few chickens, don't you?
I like eating their eggs and watching them scratch about.
But one thing we've never tried is showing chickens.
I've shown lots of sheep and cattle before,
but that world of poultry fancying, it's called,
it's completely alien to me.
'Which is why I've asked Andy Corfrey,
'a seasoned bird-shower, along
'to help Alfie and I prepare some birds for showing.'
Andy, Alfie and I have a few different types of chicken.
We have that little Pekin
and then this Silkie here.
I have to admit I went out and bought them,
because I didn't think
any of the chickens we had the farm were show-quality.
What do you reckon to that one?
It looks reasonable, like a tidy example.
Ultimately, when you put the bird in the show, that's when you'll find out.
The judges will give you some idea if it's a good quality
and a good type.
-Can anybody try doing it?
-Yeah, anybody can have a go at it.
It's a very accessible form of livestock showing.
A lot of people keep chickens in their back garden
and everybody can have a go at it.
I'll put this chicken away, and we need to get him ready, don't we?
-We do indeed. There you go, Alfie.
'Andy has brought along one of his own birds
'to demonstrate how to prepare poultry for showing.'
One of the first things you need to do is make sure it's in the right condition.
Make sure it's not carrying any passengers.
If you point the bird so the head's pointing toward you...
-Do you know why that is?
-Cos if it poos and you're holding it
the other way around, you'll have it all over your shirt.
But if you tip the bird as well like that,
its feathers will automatically open the tail.
See how that happens like that?
You can have a look in there and check around
and make sure there's nothing in there.
Have a look in there, tip him forward.
So we are looking for lice or anything like that?
Anything that might suggest there is a problem.
Check over the feet and toes as well.
Make sure there's no sign of any scaly-legged mite on there.
What you get with scaly-legged mites
is the scales on the leg of start to lift up.
That's cos a little mite gets to live there
and it's quite difficult to get rid of.
It seems to be OK so whilst you've got the bird in your hand,
hold it up and look at the eyes, make sure the eyes are bright,
and whilst the bird is there, just try and smell...
Can you smell the breath? Can you smell anything?
-That's good then.
If it's got a sweet smell, it can be a sign of a crop problem.
-So what's the crop?
-The crop is this area here.
If you hold the bird and just feel there,
that's where they keep all their food.
-So, it's the hard bit.
-That bit there, yeah. Like a little ball.
-OK, shall we give them a wash then?
-Give them a wash.
What do you reckon, bull?
I've washed lots of bulls in my time but never a chicken.
A bit different, isn't it?
THEY LAUGH Come on then, Alfie!
'The first part Alfie washes is the dirtiest, the feet,
'and, after a good scrub, we pick the nails clean.
'Then it's on to the feather.
'Alfie's not shampooing the whole bird, just its bottom.
'When that's clean, the bird is rinsed and then it's ready for a blow-dry.'
-Is this yours, Alfie?
You need to make sure it's on the coolest setting.
It's amazing the amount of effort that goes into preparing
a bird for showing. Some breeders take months.
We're doing it the day before.
He's clucking away, quite happy. How do you fancy his chances?
I think he looks a lot better than he did an hour ago.
But it depends what the other chickens look like, really.
'There will be plenty of competition at the Cheshire County Show which has
'been going since 1838 and attracts in excess of 80,000 visitors.
'We're meeting Andy again to guide us through the day.'
It's a new day and we had an early start
because we had to get to the Cheshire Show here by 7:30 to get them
prepped and into the pens by 8:30.
Right! Let's get them in, Alf.
'Andy thinks the black Pekin cock stands the best chance.
'But Alfie has other ideas,
'and has brought along a hen which he really likes and got ready himself.'
Well done, Alf. That's great!
'So, that's Alfie sorted.
'And here's my attempt with my black Silkie.'
Just try your best.
'We've done all we can.
'Now, it's up to the judges.
'But before they start, we're having a quick look around the show.'
Why are there so many different types, Andy?
They don't all have different purposes, do they?
There are different breeds for different needs.
You've got the game birds there,
that used to be used in cockfighting.
Then the laying breeds that lay huge volumes of eggs.
Then you need something for the table
so you've got larger breeds used for table purposes.
And then you've got dual-purpose breeds.
These are ones that produce eggs
and they also produce a decent amount of meat for the table.
Ideal for a smallholder in that respect.
Andy, how many types of chicken are there?
There are over 100 different varieties of chicken,
ranging from the Serama, the smallest of chickens
through to this, the king of chickens, the Brahma.
So, are they all in the same family?
They all originate from the same species, yes.
These are just different breed type of all different varieties.
-It's stunning, isn't it?
'With over 700 birds entered,
'the judges have really got their work cut out.
'Everyone has to leave the arena
'as the birds are put through their paces.'
We're not allowed in.
The judging's taking place and we're not allowed to influence the judges.
We're looking on from a distance. They're on our birds, Alf.
He's checking the type for the Pekin.
It should be like a ball and it should be very low on the ground,
with good foot feather which you can see outside the body.
-He's behaving himself, isn't he?
-Yeah, he's looking good.
She's quite nice, but the light undercolour spoils her.
I reckon we'll be taking some of these cups home with us.
Yeah, all of them.
The whole lot!
'Actually, it seems as though they didn't think much of the cock,
'but what about Alfie's prized hen?'
That's fine, that's 100% better.
-That's better than the male bird.
'I wonder what they make of my Silkie.'
He's got too much crest, which is this.
'As the judges make up their minds,
'they start awarding the prizes.
'The very best birds go on to the championship row
'and from there, just one will be awarded best in show.
'As the tension builds, Alfie can't help peeping
'to see if we won anything.'
-What colour is it?
That's a first!
If we pull that off...
That'd be brilliant, I'd love that.
'Alfie thinks he's won first,
'but from where we were standing, it was difficult to tell,
'so once the judges are finished, we can check.'
Quite a lot of competition. There must be, what, 10-15 birds here.
About 15 birds in here, yep.
-And that's the bird that you prepped yourself.
Get her out, then, Alf. Let's have a little look at her.
'Incredible - on Alfie's first attempt at showing,
'he got a first in his class with his very own choice of bird.
'A few more like this and Alfie will be looking to get best in show,
'which was won by this beautiful Barbu d'Anvers.
'Alfie's done brilliantly, but how did my Silkie do?'
Is that a prize on my pen?
-No, a close rosette again.
-Yeah, that's yours.
-I'm afraid not.
-Think I might have beaten you.
-I think you have!
-You got a first prize, I got nothing.
-I think I'll just stick to showing cattle.
Not bad for our first day out chicken-showing.
-Thanks for all your help, Andy.
We really have discovered the wonderful world of poultry fancying
-and I've won a rosette.
-No, I've won the rosette, Dad.
Oh, yeah. THEY CHUCKLE
Venturing out just five miles from the historical hub
of industry in Stourbridge and into the countryside,
you'll find Kinver Edge,
home to more than 1,400 recorded species of wildlife,
a lesson in social history and a geological melting pot.
'Archaeologist Edmund Simons lives by Kinver Edge
'and has always had a passion for its rare qualities,
'from the remains of the hilltop Iron Age fort
'to the vibrant red sandstone dating back more than 270 million years
'that's provided Kinver residents with more than you'd think.'
What's the story with this place?
This is Nanny's Rock, or the Foxearth,
as it was known for a long time,
and this is one of the many rock houses in the area.
It looks primitive, it looks like some big holes in the ground,
but what you're looking at is the remnants of natural cave at one end
and a rock house at the other,
so they're rooms that have been purposely excavated from the rock
and then they've had stone fronts put on.
What sort of records are there of the people who lived here?
There's not a lot apart from almost anecdotal mentions
of old ladies living in the rock,
people going and visiting the "nannies" who lived here
and I've always made the mistake, and I think a lot of people have,
of thinking of them as sort of troglodytes
living in grinding poverty sitting in a cave somewhere...
-..whereas really, when you look at it,
by the standards of the early 17th century,
there's big rooms in it, there's a big moulded fireplace
and they owned it, they owned it in their own right.
They bought part of the rock and created their own house?
They probably owned it with their own families,
so people who owned their own property
and are living in quite a comfortable house,
quite a fashionable house, almost.
'Many cave dwellings in the area fell into disrepair,
'but some of the Holy Austin rock houses have been restored,
'opening to the public in 1997.
'The eroded, narrow middle tier is off-limits to the public,
'but is a haven for wildlife, as David Bullock,
'head of nature conservation for the National Trust, explains.'
Tell me about the wildlife that is up here.
Lots of individual mason or solitary bees here.
Adders are here and in the evening.
This rock radiates out warmth
and insects are attracted to that warmth,
the bats will come out of tree roosts in this woodland all around here
-and feed along the slope as well.
-So these holes here, these have been created by solitary bees?
-It's actually remarkably soft.
I can wear it away just with my fingertips, this stone.
What they're doing is this little bee is making a honeycomb
of some of this lovely sandstone,
which actually generates an issue for us.
If some of that then starts to become more than a honeycomb
and starts to peel off, we've got to watch for that.
I guess that's the challenge, isn't it?
How do you preserve the heritage of these houses
while also allowing nature to have a place?
I know. I use the term, "When nature moves in."
That's what nature's done here.
For a long time, people were living here,
and, if you like, nature was repelled.
Then they were in a period of neglect and, of course,
nature then started to move in big-time.
'The land was gifted to the National Trust in 1917
'by a local family, the Lees.
'Their legacy meant Kinver Edge would remain
'a public but protected open space
'and it's been popular for more than 100 years,
'with curious visitors.'
Kinver's regeneration as a tourism hotspot
was thanks in part to a rather imaginative campaign,
marketing it to the Black Country and beyond
as the Switzerland of the Midlands.
'The introduction of an electric tramway in 1901
'saw thousands of visitors from the neighbouring industrial towns
'pour into Kinver.
'Enterprising families in the rock houses
'opened tearooms to cater for them.
'The last baby to be born here, Nick Novak,
'spent his formative years here on Kinver Edge with his family
'until his grandfather and great-grandmother
'were the last to move out in 1963.'
What were the practicalities of living here like?
Were there any mod cons?
There weren't any mod cons back then -
no electricity, so the only lighting was from gas. We had a gas mantle.
Everything was carried up to the house, coal and so on.
We had running water, but originally it was from the well.
What did the rooms feel like?
-The rooms were quite warm, bit like this.
-It is warm, isn't it?
We had a range exactly like this.
There was a fire and all the cooking was done on there.
The walls were painted, the rock, that is,
white like this, but in the summer, it was always nice and cool
and in the winter, warm.
But when it was damp, the rocks sweated,
so there was always a bit of a damp feel to the rock.
And what was it like being around Kinver Edge,
not just here at the houses?
We were always on the rocks and sometimes climbers would come in,
put their ropes and things out on the steep side
and we'd just scurry past them
with our bare hands, cos we knew every nook and cranny, basically.
Kinver Edge was our garden,
so it was fantastic.
'Hagley Park, near Stourbridge, surrounded by the industry
'of the West Midlands, is itself a hive of activity.
'In a bid to restore the Grade I-registered gardens
'to their former glory, owner Lord Chris Cobham, and head
'of Hagley's landscape, Joe Hawkins,
'are two years into a 20-year to-do list.'
The restoration of this wonderful bit of architecture was finished
in the spring, as the original bridge had virtually disappeared.
But now this park really is a testament to all of those
that have had a hand in it over the centuries.
How pleased are you with how things have gone so far?
I think it is the most exciting thing I have ever been involved with.
It has been fantastic to see it coming out of the totally enclosed
and lost landscape that was here, and back to where it was in 1770.
-This afternoon is quite a big day, isn't it?
-It is a big day.
We are going to have life back in the water again
and it will not be me falling in! We will put some fish in.
-What have you gone for?
-We are going for golden rudd.
Would they have been here in the 18th century?
Typical estate fish from the 18th century.
Because they feed close to the surface,
it means there will be lots of animation in the water
so when you stand on the bridge, you will have something else
spectacular to hold your eye rather than just the rotunda up at the top.
Yeah, great. They've arrived, haven't they, the fish?
We're all here for the moment so let us not hang around and get them in.
Little beauties, aren't they? How old are these ones?
-These are about two to three years old.
How old would you expect them to grow to be in this pond?
They can actually live up to about 18 years old.
-They produce something like 100,000 to 200,000 eggs.
-So they will multiply very, very quickly?
-Get your hand in there. Set one free.
-Set one free myself.
Go on, mate, enjoy yourself.
Gently does it. And off they go. Happy times ahead.
-You got a good feeling?
-We will see. We'll see.
Excellent, look at those.
-How fabulous. Look at that colour.
-Yes. Vibrant, aren't they?
'And look who has arrived to get in on the action.'
-Now then, have I missed all the fun?
-Well, we have got a few left.
-I am not sure how many have gone in.
-These are the last ones, are they?
-About six or so left.
Let's get them gone then. Oh, gosh, I don't want to drop them.
-It is a lovely experience.
-Is it? I will be a bit gentle here.
Just give it a little tilt. They will all swim away from you.
-They are gone.
-That is golden rudd.
-There we are.
Yes, it is goodbye to the fish, and it is goodbye to all of you
because that is all we have got time for this week.
Next week, Countryfile will be in Norfolk
and Jules will be exploring a long-forgotten landscape.
And Anita will be looking at the history of the humble shepherd's hut.
-So we will see you then.
Right, I've got a lovely route down for you.
-It's a beautiful meander.