Countryfile Summer Diaries marks the arrival of summertime across the British Isles with a celebration and exploration of our seasonal foods and produce.
John Craven is joined by the team - Jules Hudson, Keeley Donovan and Margherita Taylor - to report the key stories from the world of food and farming that are shaping the course of the season this year.
From a secret location, Margherita is on the trail of an exclusive and rather elusive food that is worth its weight in gold. Jules is finding out whether eating ice cream at this time of the year could actually be good for your health. Nearly half the population in the UK has low levels of vitamin D, so Keeley asks if a drop of sunshine could be the answer.
And rookie smallholder Paul Martin provides tips on how to create charcoal for a summer barbecue.
The distant jingle of an ice cream van and a rapidly melting 99 with a flake are archetypal signs that summer is here. Eighty-five per cent of us Brits eat ice cream. But can this indulgence be doing us any good? Jules Hudson is on a mission to find out. For more than one hundred years, Joe’s ice cream parlour has ben producing ice cream in Gower. Jules discovers that their secret for good ice cream is all in the milk. In order to source the freshest milk, it’s all supplied by local Welsh dairy farms. Jules helps round up the cows for milking on Janet Davies’ farm. At this time of year, Janet produces ‘summer’ milk when her cows are kept outdoors feeding on grass. Nutritionist, Gillian Butler from Newcastle University says that this ‘summer’ milk is much better for us because it has less saturated fatty acids.
For decades we have been warned about the dangers of exposing our skin to the sun and yet nearly half the population of the UK is believed to have low levels of Vitamin D, which we get from sunshine. Now, government health advisers are recommending we take a Vitamin D supplement in autumn and winter. So should we be venturing out more in the summer months? That’s the question Keeley Donovan posed when she headed to Scotland to meet Edinburgh based GP Helga Rhein. She says she’s seeing more cases of Vitamin D deficiency in her patients and suggests we may need to rethink our approach to how we obtain our Vitamin D. Keeley also meets Dr Richard Weller who is conducting studies into the potential wider health benefits of sunshine.
At the North Western tip of Derbyshire, Anita Rani discovers a rather exotic inhabitant at a seemingly ordinary animal sanctuary. Conservationist Carol Heap and husband Roger are the first people in the UK to have successfully bred the giant otter as part of a global captive breeding programme, due to hunting and loss of habitat in the species’ native South America. Anita discovers the unique and playful nature of these endangered creatures as she helps to prepare Panambi, Manoki and cub Meamu a new sand enclosure before feeding them a fishy dinner.
British Cut Flowers
We spend more than £2 billion pounds on cut flowers in the UK each year. Only 10% of those sales are from farms based in the British Isles. The majority of the flowers we buy in the supermarket are imported. Now a new breed of growers are determined to grab more of that market by persuading us that buying local and seasonal cut flowers are best. Margherita Taylor meets one such grower in Guildford, whose blooms are beckoning in brides from all over the country.
At this time of year the landscape is full of summer splendour, but there is a darker side to our countryside. Adam Henson has been getting up close to a tiny but sinister critter that can affect livestock, pets and us – the tick. Adam learns how to safely remove them from the body of animals and looks at the diseases they can spread. He also meets the experts from the Tick Recording Scheme who are building a map of ticks across the country.
Summer marks the start of barbeque season here in the UK. One of the key ingredients for any successful al fresco cook up is a good quality charcoal. As a nation, we get through 60,000 tonnes of charcoal each year, but 90% of it will be imported. Paul Martin learns how to cook up his own charcoal with the help of Dorset-based charcoal expert Jim Bettle. He discovers why producing your own charcoal is best because it is a cost effective, sustainable and fun way to fire up your barbeque this summer.
Vetch Field Allotments
In the spirit of the World Cup Final, Ellie Harrison visits Vetch Field, the former home of Swansea City Football Club, to meet the people giving a new lease of life to the once derelict grounds. The site is now the home of a group of keen gardeners, each with an allotment growing a variety of produce from around the world. As well as getting a good meal, Ellie sees what can be achieved when a community pulls together.
|Series Producer||Andrea Buffery|
|Executive Producer||Bill Lyons|