Countryfile is in Suffolk, where Matt Baker explores the area's boating heritage as he puts the finishing touches to a very special boat called the Nancy Blackett.
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The shimmering green countryside of Suffolk.
Historic towns, sweeping dales and tranquil rivers.
Sitting on the banks of the River Deben, the Suffolk town
of Woodbridge has been a centre for boat-building for hundreds of years.
I'm going to spend the day in this boatyard,
putting the finishing touches
to a very special boat.
There she is, the Nancy Blackett.
Now, she's been out of the water for a few months
but, hopefully, by the end of the programme,
we're going to get her looking shipshape and sailing again.
The islands and remote spits of land along the Suffolk coast
are home to some remarkable wildlife.
I'm heading over to Havergate Island
and I'm hoping that spring is in
the air, because that's the best time of year to see boxing hares.
Apparently the island is home to quite a few of them,
as well some increasingly rare birds, so, binoculars at the ready.
Tom's inland, finding out why British people
aren't as green-fingered as they used to be.
We're said to be a nation of gardeners,
but these days there's a lack of professional knowledge
and enthusiasm when it comes to plants.
And we're now being warned that, without enough horticulturalists,
we're in danger of losing some of the most beautiful features
of our countryside, and that's what I will be investigating later.
Meanwhile, Adam's got a new helper.
With me today on the farm is a special guest,
it's JB from the boy band, JLS.
He's keen to be a farmer. So, what do you reckon to being out here?
-It is, isn't it!
Glowing in the warmth of the sun,
spring has finally taken over this flat, pastoral land.
Bordered by Cambridgeshire on the West,
Suffolk stretches across East Anglia,
till its rivers run into the North Sea.
These winding waterways are home to sailors,
boats huddle in clusters, sheltered from the sea.
When the sailing season gets under way,
they will take to the water, in search of adventure.
"There's a boat coming up the river now," said John.
"Her sails are a lovely colour."
"A little white cutter with red sails was coming in
"towards the moored boats.
"Someone was busy on her foredeck.
"As they watched, they saw the tall, red main sail crumple
"and fall in great folds on the top of the cabin."
That passage was from We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea,
a book by Arthur Ransome.
A hero of children's literature, most famed for Swallows and Amazons,
Ransome loved sailing here in his home county of Suffolk.
The boat with the red sails was very close to his heart.
Those sails are real, and today, on this river,
they will be unfurling once more.
At a yard in the town of Woodbridge, Mike Illingworth
has been restoring that very boat, the Nancy Blackett.
-Am I all right to come up?
-You certainly are.
So you're busy prepping, then,
because she's going to be back in the water?
We certainly are, it's an early start to the season this year,
just the sails to finish putting on and then we're ready to go.
And these are the iconic red sails that are talked about?
They are indeed, as in the book, yes.
It's a very interesting name, isn't it, the Nancy Blackett.
How did Arthur come to call it that, how did he actually acquire it?
Well, I'm sure everyone has heard of the Swallows and Amazons book,
which was his first, most popular book, the well-read one.
The principal character in the Swallows and Amazons book
was Nancy Blackett,
so he was able to purchase the boat with the proceeds of the book,
so that's where the name comes from.
We have got to be careful putting these up now,
-otherwise we'll start sailing before we know it.
And he uses a lot of the experiences that he has
on-board of her in the book, We Didn't Mean To Go Sea.
Yes, that's right, but in the book she's called The Goblin.
Arthur drew detailed illustrations of The Goblin,
so when there was a problem sailing the boat,
Mike referred back to Arthur's drawings
to work out exactly what was wrong.
The problem lay in the upper part of the mast was bending forward
when the boat was sailing,
so when you actually look closely at these drawings,
you can see that there is an upper part to the running backstay.
Which is this here, this is the running backstay?
This is it, we found that only one of these wires,
the lower one, was in place, so we fitted the second one,
which you see goes to the very top of the mast, and that cured the problem.
So it was due to his accuracy of drawings
that we were able to perfect the rigging problem.
The boat is now owned by the Nancy Blackett Trust -
a team of big kids who treasure her like Ransome did.
What is it about Arthur Ransome's work that does it for you?
Well, a lot, actually, Matt.
I think, basically, it's a sense of freedom for kids to do
their own thing, explore,
make their own mistakes, learn, grow,
free from their parents and society.
So how excited are you for this afternoon then,
to get out and get her on the water again?
Oh, it will be brilliant, it's a nice, good wind for sailing today,
and we'll take you down the river a little bit
and you can feel the pleasure of being on the boat,
feel the helm and become a member of the Nancy Blackett Trust!
That would be wonderful.
You see, if I give you the badge, you can fit that on somewhere.
Look at that, Peter, thank you.
-Stick it in there.
-Yes, I will, I will pop that in there.
-There you go, look at that!
-It's cool, isn't it?
-Let's get going, shall we?
Thank you, Peter!
Now an official member, I'll be joining the crew later,
when she's ready for launch.
Now, Britain may be known as a nation of gardeners,
but when it comes to turning our green-fingered skills
into a profession, we are sorely lacking,
as Tom has been finding out.
Plants are fundamental for life on Earth.
They provide us with food, clean air and furnish our rich
and beautiful countryside.
But it's not all rosy in the garden.
Our knowledge and understanding of the botanical world is stagnating.
There's a skill shortage that threatens our countryside
and our food supply.
This is an issue specific to horticulture.
Recent research by the Royal Horticultural Society
found that part of the problem
is that many people don't know what it is.
Maybe that's because of the definition?
In simple terms, it's the art, science, technology
and business of intensive plant cultivation for human use.
OK, maybe it's not that simple.
It may be easier to think about it in terms of jobs,
and there's quite a selection.
From fruit, to flowers and salad growers.
Tree surgeons, landscape gardeners, potato farmers,
greens keepers on golf courses.
Turf specialists for football pitches,
to plant scientists and academics.
The industry currently employs about 300,000 people,
and generates £9 billion for the British economy each year.
But recently there's been a warning that it needs to attract
thousands more skilled workers to keep it alive,
and the RHS's latest findings suggest that's proving difficult.
The roots of the issue run deep.
People in the industry say that young people don't really know what
horticulture is, or they think it's a job for low achievers.
Well, are they right? I've come to a school to find out.
I'm in Angmering in West Sussex,
to discover what our next generation of university entrants thinks.
Well, thanks for coming in, I am going to test you,
I'll write a word up here
and I want you to tell me what you think it means.
OK - lady at the end, here.
Is it the study of plants or something?
Growing things in greenhouses, herbs?
Gardening? I'm not quite sure.
So would you want to do horticulture as a job?
LAUGHTER Why not?
I think if I saw that word, it wouldn't attract me, no.
I don't think it's a modern career or a trendy career to pursue.
It doesn't interest me at all.
So, even when the students have a faint grasp of what horticulture is,
they don't like it, it's seen as dirty, old-fashioned,
certainly not glamorous.
And it's this image problem
which is really threatening to wipe out the industry.
So what's going on here, Chris?
OK, Tom, this is the potting, pot filling,
this is where we fill the pots with the substrate, with the peat.
This is where we basically do about 20,000, 25,000 pots a day
on this particular product.
Chris Moncrieff is the production director of the largest
fresh herb producer in the UK.
They supply 16 million pots of living herbs
to supermarkets each year.
He's worried about finding the next generation of horticulturists
It is quite difficult - it seems to be a career
that doesn't seem to be on anybody's radar at the moment.
The only perceptions people are building up are maybe of programmes
on television that they're seeing, maybe gardening-type roles,
not about horticulture, not about what we do here,
which is the mass production and sophistication of products,
that, you know, are worth £3.7 billion farm gate to this country.
What we're seeing here is a very technical industry, with computers,
with sophisticated IT, robotics, railway systems, movements.
What is the danger for the industry
if we don't have enough young people coming in?
The danger is that we're going to have the same people within
the industry, which leads to maybe a recycling of ideas, old ideas,
we don't get new ideas.
The second thing is we don't get that new blood coming through,
picking it up, and maybe having a different view on things,
which creates new NPD, new innovation, which is
what Britain is all about at the moment, is trying to promote that,
and start selling out of this country when you get those ideas.
That picture is repeated right across the country.
Universities are dropping courses due to lack of demand
and that's led to a nationwide shortage.
Tragically, we don't have any real degrees in botany
-as a pure subject these days.
-Not at all?
Not at all, no.
'To find out how this is hitting the industry,
'the Royal Horticultural Society surveyed 200 businesses.
'John David, Head of Science, is giving us
'an exclusive preview of their findings.'
They told us they had difficulty recruiting skilled people into
their industry, into their business, and that 90% of people actually
thought that it was not a skilled occupation to go into horticulture.
Hmm, and what did you make of that?
Well, we were very surprised - we feel that there is such
-a diversity of things to do in horticulture.
-And who's to blame?
Well, really it's in the schools.
It is not that schools are to blame, but schools do not have any sort of
sense that horticulture is something that people should be doing.
We found that 70% of people had not been
told about horticulture by their careers service,
and most of them did feel that horticulture was just getting
dirty in the fields, and it was for people who had failed academically.
The RHS feels its findings are so significant
that it's submitting them to the Government in the next few weeks,
pushing them to take action for the sake of the industry.
But it's not just the effect this shortage has on business
that we should be worried about.
We're now warned that without enough horticulturalists,
we're in danger of losing some of the most beautiful
features of our countryside.
That's what I'll be investigating later.
It's an early start for me,
for a journey that begins in the tranquil Suffolk village of Orford.
This is my launching point for a day of exploration
on the only island along Suffolk's winding coast.
It's famed for its wildlife,
so I'm calling on the services of an expert guide, John Partridge.
We're heading just a few miles downstream to a place John
knows intimately but hasn't visited for a year - Havergate Island.
-I've known it all my life, really.
My father was the first warden out here,
he was actually taken on full-time in about 1949.
He was here for about 25 years, and I took over from him then
and I did 30 years.
Fair amount of family history, so it's a special place for you, then?
Oh, yes. Yeah.
So how far away are we now?
-We're just off Havergate Island now, it's just there.
John has now retired, and Kieren, our skipper,
is the island's latest warden,
looking after Havergate's wildlife and the occasional visitor.
At two miles long, Havergate is covered with seven lagoons,
salty waters, muddy banks - irresistible to birds.
Back in 1947, a special visitor came.
The avocet was extinct in the UK back then,
until a handful came here to breed.
The island was made one of the first RSPB reserves
to protect this wading bird.
The avocet became a symbol of success.
In the early days, avocets used to come just during the summer months
to breed and so on,
and, very, very seldom did you see an avocet
during the winter in those days.
But now, of course, they overwinter here,
as they do quite a lot in other places.
What are the chances of me seeing an avocet, do you think?
-Keep an eye out!
At their peak, 120 pairs of avocets nested here.
Today only 25 pairs come, and I'm not having much luck seeing any.
What have you done since John's day, where have they all gone?
Very good question, really, everyone asks me that!
Avocets are actually doing fantastically well, nationally,
there are over 1,000 breeding in the country now,
that just keeps increasing.
If you build a little scrape, if you will, or a saline lagoon,
or anything, you'll almost certainly, within the first three years,
get avocets that are tending to nest now,
and that's just a testament to the previous conservation
-of avocets in this country.
Kieren and John are off to make lunch, while I explore the farming
past of Havergate, because these lagoons haven't always been lagoons.
500 years ago, these sea walls were built around Havergate Island,
protecting it from the surrounding water.
The enclosed fields were then farmed, first for crops,
and later for cattle.
In a small cottage on the island, farmers lived a simple life here
until the 1920s, when the island became home to a gravel works.
To power the extraction, the works installed a generator
and housed it in an existing cottage on the island,
and for years it chugged away and shook and heartily generated power,
until it eventually rattled the whole house down.
Finally, the gravel works was abandoned, too.
The island was left to the sea, and fields became lagoons,
and birds followed.
-All right there, birders?
This looks good, very inviting after that cold weather.
You probably want warming up.
I do want warming up, you're absolutely right, John.
I think I've just seen a hare!
Fantastic, yes, we do have...
Yes, if you look, there's one sitting by the gorse now.
God, you have got sharp eyes, John!
And we're not the only ones in need of a bite.
Look at that!
A barn owl flying in the day.
This place is alive with birds.
It's on the hunt for rodents in the banks,
but it's time to turn my attention to those hares.
They lazily occupy this patch of gorse,
and apparently the best way to see them is to take a quiet stroll.
So, I'm going to take a small camera with me,
while the crew film from afar.
I would just approach them quietly, slowly,
try and gain their confidence
and then they will probably just go about their normal business.
-OK, wish me luck!
I step into the prickly realm of the Havergate hare.
Ow! Agh! That's really spiky!
Where are they?
I've seen two.
I've seen two, and I'm going to be really, really careful.
Can you see that one there?
And there's one just there.
Can you see it?
Let's go really nice and close,
they've got that distinctive black tip to the ear.
This is ridiculous, I've never been this close to one before.
Look at that - I'm right next to it. Wow!
You've got to forgive the awful camerawork. Oh!
I think what has happened here is that they were introduced
to the island about 50 years ago,
and because they control for foxes, what with the bird populations
and the ground nesting that goes on here, they have become
completely desensitised to having to be so nervous about foxes.
Let's see if I can film this one.
He is so unfazed by me,
I think we an take a chance with the film crew.
He still doesn't seem to mind.
Look at that enormously long leg,
it's just cleaning there at the moment -
you can see why they can get up to about 45 miles an hour,
with all that power behind them!
What a beast!
The handful of times I have seen hares before,
it's always been their back end, tearing off towards the horizon.
Occasionally I have seen mountain hares
sitting off in the distance when they've turned white,
but this one's totally relaxed.
And, with the light fading, my day here has drawn to an end.
Time to set sail and leave the island to its wild inhabitants.
Over in Kent, it's a cold day,
but that doesn't stop Adam getting out and about, especially
when he is meeting a wannabe farmer intent on realising his dream.
It's not every day that a 26-year-old boy band singer
wants to exchange his mic for a tractor.
Luckily, Adam is on hand to advise him on his new venture.
'Raised in South London,
'JB is in one of Britain's most popular boy bands, JLS.'
# Everybody in love, gonna put your hands up
# Everybody in love, gonna put your hands up
# Everybody in love, gonna put your hands up... #
'With his busy lifestyle, you'd think he's an unlikely candidate
'to become a farmer, but you'd be wrong.
'After buying a smallholding in Kent, he's ready to get his hands dirty.'
Goodness me, I thought, you know, glitzy boy band,
you'd have some flash car. You've got an old tractor!
Yeah, I inherited it with the place, so it's come part and parcel.
-Do you love it?
-Love it. It's a lot of fun.
I don't drive it that much, and I don't plough fields yet.
But I do love it. It's a lot of fun.
-And have you got a farming background?
My dad has dabbled in farming, and we had a farm in Antigua,
which is where I grew up.
He's definitely excited by it and into it.
What do the rest of the guys in the band think about you setting up
-as a farmer?
-I think they love it.
I don't think I'm going to be getting them as volunteers
down on the farm, but they're definitely supportive.
-Great. Can we have a look round?
-So how big is the farm then?
-About ten acres.
And you've got these little paddocks all broken up.
It's got great potential, hasn't it? Have you got any animals already?
Yeah, I've got some chickens. I've got three chickens.
They're already laying lovely eggs, so all good.
-I'm thinking of getting a pig as well.
So I'll have that in a couple of weeks probably.
It's just a case really of getting an idea
of what type of animals I could have on the land,
what would do really well.
The choices are huge, but potential is massive, you know, that's great.
-It's so exciting.
-Shall we go have a little look around the rest of it?
-So how big is the woodland, do you think?
-Probably an acre and a bit.
It's lovely open woodland, isn't it?
You could quite easily get some pigs in here,
and either let them have the whole thing or fence off an area for them.
Pigs are terrible at rooting up the ground, they cause a bit of a mess.
But they'd love it in here.
I have wild deer come in here from time to time,
and that's one of the reasons why I wanted to look into deer farming,
and seeing what I could do with it. I know they love a bit of woodland.
I'm actually thinking as well of purchasing a place,
maybe up in Scotland, with a bit more space
and actually doing it properly.
-So they've come to pick up your hay.
-I'll jump up here.
-Chuck them to me.
-No worries. Thank you, Adam.
-There we go.
You can do some working out for your dance routines, keep you fit.
It makes a change, doesn't it?
-A nice bit of extra income, selling some hay.
-There we go.
There we go, that's that loaded. Well, it's been great to look around.
-You've got wonderful potential here.
It would be lovely if you wanted to come up to the farm
and have a look around at home,
and you could see all the different animals I keep
and see what you fancy getting hold of.
-For sure, definitely, I would love to.
'Later in the programme...
'..we'll be finding out if JB has any second thoughts
'after experiencing a day in the life on my freezing Cotswold farm.'
If it's going to be this cold,
I don't know if I'm going to get on with it!
'And I've arranged for him
'to visit a very different type of farm that I know he'll like.'
It looks like I've lost him to deer farming now.
I'll have to work on one of the other boys from the band.
I'm spending the day in a boat yard in the riverside town
of Woodbridge in Suffolk.
Today's big project is to launch and sail the Nancy Blackett,
a boat once owned by children's author
and sailing enthusiast Arthur Ransome.
Well, the Nancy Blackett is not alone
in being out of the water for repairs.
I've come into this shed to meet a couple who've been preparing
to set sail in their boat for the last 25 years.
-Chris, Pat, is it nearly finished yet?
-Pat, come on round. How are you? Are you all right?
OK, so, what is the story? Introduce me to your boat, what is she called?
She's called Marjorie, she was built in 1924.
'A cruising yacht built for leisure,
'the Marjorie was last in the water in 1988.
'She's undergoing a meticulous restoration,
'so eventually she'll be in perfect condition.
'It's a long-term labour of love.'
How many years are you giving yourself to finish this, Pat?
I mean, you know, you've been going 25
and there's still quite a bit to do. Let's be honest, here.
I think we have to have a few targets.
What do the rest of your family and your friends make of the situation?
I'm an idiot.
-Yes. Well, it is, I enjoy it.
'Well, I'm going to join in to help move things on a little.
'So Chris and Pat have asked me to put the finishing touches
'to a section of the hull.'
-Whereabouts is this bit going?
-It's a top plank right at the back end.
Shall we go have a look and see how it's shaping up?
There's a bit more to take off at that end yet, but let's get an idea.
-Along here? Oh, yes, I see.
-Yes, there's a bit. That was all rotten.
-There's a line at the end here.
-There we go. Lovely.
That is a nice piece, actually.
There we go.
One step closer to seeing the Marjorie back on the water,
where she belongs.
Now, earlier we heard how a shortage of skilled workers
has created a crisis in British horticulture.
And, as Tom's been finding out,
that crisis could now threaten the very fabric of our countryside.
Horticulture is an industry that offers a world of opportunity.
From salad growers to plant scientists,
the possibilities seem endless.
But, as I've been finding out, hardly anyone wants to do these jobs,
and it's undermining every part of the industry.
Right now, the UK is facing a critical shortage
of one particular type of horticulturalist,
the plant pathologist.
Their job is to study the many threats facing our natural world
and, without them, our countryside is much more vulnerable.
So what's the problem?
Well, in the past, there hasn't been enough funding for research jobs,
and now there is a lack of training and skilled workers. The result?
Hardly any new plant pathologists,
leaving our countryside dangerously exposed to disease.
In fact, there are even suggestions that ash dieback
could and should have been picked up earlier
if we'd had more plant pathologists working in the UK.
'With only a few hundred of these pathologists nationwide,
'research carried out at the Royal Horticultural Society
'forms a vital part of our defence against plant disease.'
It's almost like criminal investigation of plants,
because you have to do detective work,
you try to work out what the problem is,
you identify it under the microscope,
so, yeah, it's very exciting.
'Here at RHS Wisley, Dr Liz Beal is one of only two pathologists
'in the team working to protect our plants.'
This is really the front line in the fight against disease.
You've got all your members sending in suspicious things.
That's right, it's really useful.
We've got such a wide base of members
and they find things in their garden and send it to us
and we're first on the line to spot anything new
that might come into the UK.
'Ash dieback may be the one hitting the headlines,
'but we've also let in diseases that affect juniper,
'pine and even the most iconic of British trees.'
Oak trees - a very prominent tree on our landscape -
if there are diseases coming in that affect oak,
it could potentially wipe out oaks.
If you compare it to Dutch elm disease,
I mean, there aren't many elm trees left now in the UK.
We could have a similar problem.
Most diseases come into the UK from abroad.
The international trade in plants and trees
accounts for 90% of all plant pests introduced to Britain.
And with the RHS warning
that research in plant pathology is close to collapse,
it's becoming increasingly difficult to defend ourselves.
But as we're struggling to stop imported plants
bringing in disease, maybe it's time for a change of tack.
Maybe we should grow all of our own.
Sadly, even if our climate allowed it, we can't do that either,
because, as we already know, we haven't got enough skilled workers.
The bottom line is, we simply need more horticulturalists,
and to achieve that, we must get more young people interested.
'The students I met earlier were pretty unimpressed
'with the idea of a job in horticulture.
'So what will they make of Chris Moncrieff's herb farm?'
Welcome. What we're going to do today is use a parasitic wasp.
This is going to hunt out the insects
that we don't want on the crop.
In this case, it's aphids, greenfly.
This parasitic wasp lays its egg inside the greenfly.
The egg hatches out inside the greenfly,
eats it from the inside and out comes a brand-new parasitic wasp.
So it's really sustainable. It's fantastic.
What do you think? Cool or gross?
-A bit of both!
-A bit of both.
One for you, Lewis. One for you. Shall we pick a row?
I think it's amazing using a sustainable method like wasps
to get rid of pests on the plants rather than using chemicals.
'So has this visit changed any of the students' minds?'
I think I'm more interested in it now.
This morning, I thought it was for old people, sort of thing. Boring.
I thought it would just be...
Smaller and, you know,
much more "stick one seed in a pot and carry on."
I didn't realise all the technology here is just for the plants.
Being in this high-tech greenhouse has certainly shattered
a few negative stereotypes for these students,
and some of them, at least, are pretty keen to know more.
But this is just a handful, a drop in the ocean.
How do we get that message out nationally?
'As far as the RHS is concerned,
'the whole industry now needs some official support.'
What's the answer?
Well, I would think a much more joined-up approach
across horticulture in talking to government is really vital.
We need to get the government to understand
the significance of horticulture to an economy.
If they want to grow their economy,
I think horticulture can actually do that.
We know we have the jobs out there to bring people in,
we know we can improve our productivity in this country,
and I think what we need from government is a change of language.
We need them to actually articulate, alongside the industry,
how important horticulture is for this country.
Top of the RHS wish list is putting horticulture back into education.
Encouraging young people to be interested in horticulture
is in all our interests.
Plants are critical to our landscape and, in the end, to our lives.
Whether we want healthy businesses, sustainable food production
or just to protect our countryside, one thing's for sure -
we need to plug the horticultural skills gap, and plug it fast.
-'Earlier in the programme,
'Adam got a sneak preview around a pop star's farm.'
I've got three chickens. They're laying lovely eggs.
I'm thinking of getting a pig as well.
'JB is part of boy band JLS, but has dreams of becoming a farmer.
'So, now, he's paying a visit to Adam's farm,
'to find out what it's all about.'
-Hi, JB, good to see you.
-Adam, how you?
-All right, really good.
Now, I've got a 1,600 acre tenanted farm here.
I've got a couple of thousand animals to look at, so lots to choose from.
-But first of all, I've got something I want to show you.
Here we are. Now, I know you like your tractors. Look at that one.
Wicked! Love that.
So yours is a sort of baby version.
This is the daddy of the tractor world.
That's what I need if I'm going to get 1,600 acres.
Well, we're not going to go around the farm in that.
-We've got this buggy over here. We'll jump in, shall we?
'JB owns ten acres of potential farmland
'and is open-minded about which animals he could rear on them.
'I reckon I've got some cute newcomers that could win him over.'
Right, we've got some pigs up here
but then we'll go see some cattle, so you might need a stick.
So, we've got some pigs in here. These are Gloucestershire Old Spots.
Leave the gate for a minute.
Although she's not very spotty, we've got the piglets in the pen here.
I'll just chase them out.
-Piglets quite often squeal when you pick them up.
They're really lovely animals.
-So do you know the gestation period of the pig, mating to birth?
Three months, three weeks, three days, isn't it?
Brilliant, you've been doing your research.
I don't need to teach you about this farming lark! Let me put him down.
So what do you think about rearing animals to eat?
Are you happy with that?
Yeah, I think the most important thing is you've got
the authenticity, people know where they're getting their meat from.
-Particularly with all the, you know, controversy in the press.
They're great, aren't they? We'll let them go back inside, they're chilly.
Yeah, they're all huddling together.
'I've got some cattle that need moving,
'and I'm keen to introduce JB to them.'
OK, so what are these then, Adam?
These are Highland cattle that traditionally come from Scotland.
Really lovely, hardy animals that live up in the hills.
Quite a small breed, but very tough. Real survivors.
We've got to move them to a field down there,
so if you want to get round them, make yourself look big,
wave your stick a bit, it's an extension to your arm.
And move them down.
That's it, go on. Are you comfortable with that?
-Yeah, I think so.
-That's it, just sort of wave your stick a little bit.
That's it, you've got the better of that one. That's great.
-You're a natural cow wrangler now.
-You ever herded cows before?
-It's all happening for the first time here.
-There you go.
-Go on, then.
Go on, cows! Go on, then. Go on, then!
Hup! Go on, then! Hup!
Do you ever use dogs to herd them, or just sheep?
Well, we use dogs with the sheep mainly, but sometimes with cattle.
Do you think where I am I'd be able to have cows,
-or would I need a larger plot?
-No, you've got enough room.
You wouldn't be able to have very many. They say one cow to the acre.
The thing with cattle, being large animals,
you need a big handling system to handle them in.
So you could try a few.
It might be worth getting a few steers, castrated males,
and see how you go.
OK, maybe I'll start with some small ones,
cos if it's going to be this cold,
I don't know if I'm going to get on with it!
'Pop stars aren't the only ones who suffer in the cold.
'Some of my sheep are also struggling in these conditions.'
This is a young ewe, she's never given birth before.
She's had triplets, but sadly one died.
She's got these two tiny little lambs,
so we'll take her into an individual pen,
and put the lambs under a lamp to warm them up.
Where are we going to go?
You pop them under the lamp.
Because they're so little, they need the lamp to warm them up.
If I tip her up, we'll give it some milk now.
You twist their necks like that and sit them down. All right.
-And then you just put your legs either side...
..and then the lamb lies down next to her.
You can always flick that foot up so it's out of the way.
Then you just get his head, and if I put the teat in its mouth,
and if you just push from behind its head to hold it into position.
It's sucking now.
That colostrum, the first milk, is like a magic medicine, really.
They need that to get all the antibodies they require
and for sustenance.
'The second lamb is too weak even to suckle,
'so we need to put a tube directly into its stomach.'
You can just have a little listen, make sure it's not in his lungs.
So you can hear it gurgling, if you listen. I'll give him a bit more.
-So that's into his stomach. And then you just tip it in.
Just sort of half-fill the tube.
And that'll just run down into his stomach now
and then, in a few hours, he should be up on his feet.
Skipping about, hopefully.
'JB's only got three chickens on his farm,
'so I'm going to help him build on that.'
So we've got speckles, white Sussex, some blues.
Why don't you have one of each?
These golden ones are nice, these dark ones.
Oh, no! We've lost the other one now.
That's it, brilliant. Well done.
We'll put those in together.
Brilliant. Look at this, I like it that you're leaving the farm
with some animals, JB.
You're doubling your farming enterprise
from your three hens to six.
I know, thanks to you. Thank you, Adam.
'Chickens sorted, but they're small fry.
'What JB really has his heart set on is deer farming.
'Luckily, I know a man nearby who does just that.
'Richard Ward rears deer on a nearby Cotswold farm.
'He's been producing venison for the table for 17 years.
'And he's got one unusually tame stag that he's keen to show us.'
-Great to see you.
-This is JB.
-Hello, JB, nice to meet you.
He's really interested in deer farming.
Thank you so much for showing us around.
I thought they were all a bit wild, what's going on?
Well, generally speaking they are,
but this one actually was an orphaned stag
that we reared by hand and, because he was handled from birth,
he thinks it's perfectly natural to come up and talk to us.
Which is lovely.
So what do you use him for now then?
He is one of the three breeding stags which we use in the herd.
But the only really friendly one, I might add.
And have you cut his antlers off?
Well, as you can see,
yes, his antlers are just about to start growing this year.
These are the antlers - one of the antlers -
which we removed from him last September,
so they go from now, early spring, up to September
and that's how fast they grow.
This would look good on the front of your car, wouldn't it?
I just need the other side, I need the pair.
-Shall we go and have a look at the hinds?
OK, so I think that's probably close enough
before they disappear across the other side of the hill.
-They're just stunning animals, aren't they?
-They are majestic, aren't they?
How much maintenance does it take to farm deer?
Well, very little indeed. Certainly with regard to lambing,
you'd never get close enough to a deer when it's calving.
So you could do with an easier life,
an easier type of livestock to look after.
Definitely, and that's one of the reasons I suppose why
I was interested in deer farming, because obviously I'm quite busy
and generally speaking, you know, I'd want to be hands-on,
you know, be around and actually be able to understand them more.
It's a very easy, gentle form of livestock farming.
So you've seen pigs, sheep, cows and now deer. Where does your heart lie?
I've got some big decisions to make, but I do think...
just looking at the deer, I think my passions definitely lie with them.
-They are stunning, aren't they?
To be fair, Adam's given me some good chickens!
As soon as they start laying, it will... I'll be changing my mind.
It looks like I've lost him to deer farming now.
I'll have to work on one of the other boys from the band. Oritse is next.
-He's going to be a sheep farmer before he knows it.
'And we'll hopefully be catching up with JB to see
'if his farming dream comes to fruition.
'Next week, I'll be exploring the effect the wintry start to spring
'has had on lambing.'
-'While Matt's been having an adventure
'on Suffolk's historic coast, I've been inland,
'exploring the county's picturesque beauty.'
Some people would say no-one has managed to capture this scenery
so well as the 18th-century painter Thomas Gainsborough,
one of Britain's best-loved landscape artists.
Known for his romantic depictions of well-fed cattle,
majestic pools and glorious skies,
each painting reveals his infectious love for the Suffolk landscape.
Thomas Gainsborough grew up here, in the market town of Sudbury,
surrounded by all this glorious open countryside.
You can imagine him here as a schoolboy,
playing in the stream, roaming the fields
and climbing the trees, but always with his sketchbook at the ready.
'Mark Bills is the director of the Gainsborough House Museum
'and Art Gallery here in Sudbury.'
So, here we are in the lovely Suffolk countryside,
and this is where he would have roamed around as a boy, would he?
Actually, one of the things he used to do is play truant,
or spend his summer drawing.
He loved the landscape so much,
he seemed to know every little nook and cranny around.
There's something you see in his paintings,
not only when he was living in Sudbury,
but you see later on the things that recur,
the things that remained in his memory.
So he was a bad student, but a very good artist as a result.
There was an obituary in The Gentleman's Magazine
after Gainsborough died in 1788, and it said that "nature was his teacher
"and the woods around Sudbury were his academy."
But it's a tricky task trying to pinpoint exactly where many
of Gainsborough's landscapes were set, because many of his paintings
were partly based on reality, and partly from his imagination.
'Barry has devoted his retirement to trying to root them out.
'On this farm, he's convinced he's located
'the spot of one of Gainsborough's major landscape paintings.'
Shall we try and marry your photo up with what we see before us?
There we are, look.
-There's the church with the spire.
-Right... Oh, yeah.
And in front of it, just a few feet in front,
there is the house as it was in Gainsborough's time.
And the trees around the church.
This is quite a big hill, though, and I can't see that.
He's exaggerated it a bit. It's a typical thing he did.
You've got a much better eye than I have,
because apart from the church, I can't see many similarities!
See, we've come here in the winter.
-And this is full summer.
Before you knew it, Gainsborough had been here before.
'I'm not sure if I'm as convinced as Barry,
'but I can certainly see how this charming countryside
'fuelled Gainsborough's imagination.'
Sadly for Gainsborough,
he sold very few landscape paintings during his lifetime.
In fact, the whole landscape genre was rather looked down upon
in artistic circles. On the other hand,
portrait painting was held in much higher esteem
and it was a lot more lucrative,
particularly if you could paint the aristocracy.
Gainsborough went on to leave Suffolk
and achieved great renown as a portrait painter.
But in his heart,
he hated the drudgery of what he called "face painting".
I know this looks like a school project,
but, according to Sir Joshua Reynolds,
this was the sort of thing that Gainsborough did.
When he left Suffolk,
he missed his native county so much
that he would recreate countryside scenes
a bit like this in his studio.
So I've got broccoli for a tree, a mirror for a pond
and the source of the light right there.
So wherever he was in the country,
he could paint the landscape he loved so much.
Another ingenious way Gainsborough indulged his love for landscape
was by setting his portraits on rural backdrops.
Mr And Mrs Andrews is one of his most famous examples.
It's in this very spot up ahead that Gainsborough managed to unite
his love of the landscape with his expertise as a portrait painter.
Mr And Mrs Andrews was one of his early masterpieces,
and with this team of budding young artists,
we're going to recreate our very own Countryfile version today.
'My version of Mr Andrews is Gainsborough enthusiast Nick Winch.'
-Still got some feeling in your toes?
This is my position, isn't it? What a lovely dog.
OK, we've got to shed our modern gear, you know.
Take your gloves off, take your coat off.
Ooooh! Need I remind you that this painting was created in the summer
and there's a fair covering of snow on the ground?
I'm not getting rid of these, my hand warmers.
Hee-hee-hee-hee! Right. Ready?
Come on, then. We're ready.
Pick up your pastels and start drawing.
'Emma Roodhouse is a curator at the Colchester Art Museum,
'and she's here to teach me and my team of aspiring artists
'all about the painting.'
-So here's the real deal.
Tell me a bit about this picture,
what's going to be our motivation for Mr and Mrs Andrews?
Well, you were recently married, actually.
It was an arranged marriage, unfortunately it's not a love match.
She would only have been 16 when the marriage was arranged,
so she's not that old in the painting.
Lots more leaves on the trees back then.
Well, back in the summer, rather.
And he's showing himself as kind of a modern farmer,
because you've got enclosed land here with the sheep in the back
and also these ridges, which show they've been cut with machinery
rather than ploughed, so it was him as a modern man as well.
I see, so a commentary on the changing times of agriculture.
Definitely. Gainsborough was very interested in that.
Well, I've got to do some sitting for these children.
Lovely, good to talk to you.
Back to our positions, then, Nick. Here we go.
'I think the dog is relishing his chance at stardom,
'but it's far too cold for me.
'Time to see how my team of artists are getting on.'
-You look like the youngest one here, how old are you?
-What's your name?
-Lucy, can I have a look at your drawing?
-That amazing! So that's me, is it? And who's this?
The lovely doggie!
Lots of lovely big skies.
-Do you think you want to be an artist one day?
That's really good. Lots of trees and things, you fitted it all in.
'It looks like, hundreds of years on,
'Suffolk is still producing talented artists.
'they don't have a habit of playing truant
'like Thomas Gainsborough did.
'If you fancy yourself as a bit of an artist and want to get out
'and about with your brushes in the week ahead,
'here is the Countryfile weather forecast.'
-'This week, we're in Suffolk,
'and while Ellie has been getting up close to some wild hares,
'I've spent the day by the River Deben.
'This boat yard has been preparing to launch a vessel that captured
'the childlike imagination of her owner.'
Arthur Ransome is a hero of children's adventure writing.
Most famous for his first book in 1929, Swallows And Amazons,
a sailor since his youth,
for Ransome, boats were an obsession.
It was this boat, Nancy Blackett - isn't she a beauty? -
that was his pride and joy.
She was bought with the profits from Swallows And Amazons,
named after the lead character,
and was the inspiration for another of his books,
We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea.
And, let me tell you, it's a big day for Nancy, isn't it?
'The refurbished red mainsail is ready for hoisting.
'The fresh paint is dry.
'We're about to launch Nancy for her maiden voyage of 2013.
'Alongside me is skipper, member of the Nancy Blackett Trust
'and big kid Bryan Bonser.'
Obviously, so many people come to get the experience that I'm
about to have here, and, you know, I guess you must never tire of it.
I never tire of sailing Nancy. A lovely boat.
A lot of the members of the trust step into a dream when
they step aboard Nancy because she's the boat Arthur Ransome wrote about.
And people find that very nice and very attractive.
-And do you feel that yourself, when you're in charge?
Well, it's quite a moment and we've got quite a gathering here.
I think everybody is delighted to see that she's back in the water!
-There she goes. Is it time to go sailing, Bryan?
-It is. We're off.
'Nancy here was the inspiration for a fictional boat called The Goblin,
'in which a group of kids accidentally sail to Holland.'
-Permission to come aboard?
-Yes, come aboard, Matt.
-There is a lot of rope around us.
-There is a lot of rope.
-Which bits do what?
-There's seven bits.
"There were more ropes in The Goblin
"than in any little boat he had ever sailed."
This is the main chute, and that controls the blocks.
-And then we've ropes for the backstays.
And then we've a sheet for the staysail...
"But after spending half the morning pulling, making fast,
"casting off and making fast again, John, very happy, was beginning
"to hope that he might not be quite useless as a crew."
The best thing to do is you just give me a piece of rope
and say, "Pull that."
"The mainsail, fold on fold, was lifting off the cabin top."
With the motor switched off, we're sailing.
-Come and take her, Matt. You have the helm.
-I have the helm.
Just pull it towards you.
'But the cold easterly wind
'is putting my sailing skills to the test.'
We've got a depth gauge on the front
and it was beeping quite frantically.
We're going this way, are we? Are we out of the worst of it now?
Yes, we're going beautifully.
We got into a very shallow section there.
We're in sync, me and Nancy, we're in sync!
I think you are, actually, yeah!
Well, that's all we've got time for from on board the glorious
Nancy Blackett and from the Suffolk coast.
Next week, we'll be in Calderdale in West Yorkshire,
where I'll be sampling something of a foodie revival
and Ellie will be on a springtime saunter through Bronte land.
Hope you can join us then.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Countryfile is in the eastern county of Suffolk. Matt Baker explores the boating heritage of the area, as he puts the finishing touches to a very special boat called the Nancy Blackett. She was once owned by the author of Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome, and inspired some of his later work. Matt is hoping she is ship-shape and ready to sail by the end of the programme.
Ellie Harrison is on the only island off the county's coastline, Havergate Island. It is an important site for the RSPB, as it is home to pairs of avocets - but Ellie is hoping to see spring hares boxing. Ellie also finds out about Suffolk landscape artist Gainsborough. Inspired by the Suffolk countryside, Ellie tries to re-create one of his most famous paintings - but how will a group of 10-year-olds measure up against the master?
Tom Heap investigates whether there is a lack of enthusiasm when it comes to plants and getting green-fingered.
Adam Henson is joined on his farm by pop superstar JB from boy-band JLS. JB has bought a plot of land which he is keen to farm, so seeks advice from Countryfile's resident farmer.