We have all been told to ‘Stay at Home’ to help prevent the spread of this unpredictable virus which shows little respect to our future King or Prime Ministers, in fact it is not fussy who it infects. The strange thing being certain people seem to be affected more than others, hence the reason we have to Stay at Home.
These past few weeks have been surreal to say the least, the majority of people are finding the situation strange but not too stressful. There will be those who are not having such an easy ride, I am thinking of people living on their own and families with young children who do not have a garden or space to get outside. We do thankfully, have good IT connectivity these days; can anybody imagine life without the internet, social media and of course the good old TV?
As a rugby fan, I thought cancelling all sport was going to be tough, what would I do for my weekend ‘fix’ if I couldn’t watch Exeter Chiefs finally become premiership champions after years of fighting against their greatest competitor, Saracens? Those of you who follow rugby will know that it has been very complicated this year, but I will not go down that particular rabbit hole. Needless to say, it is clear that weekends without sport is not as tough as one might have imagined. Working on the front line in the NHS is tough, something the professional footballer’s union would do well to understand.
So, what have I been watching instead of sport? This has been a game of two halves for me, I have been watching TV that I never knew existed while staying with three elderly family members recently, that was enlightening. All three of them had a strict routine that involved staying active all morning before resting up in the afternoon in front of the TV. It was quite funny because all three of them thought the other two watched rubbish! Guess what, all three of them watched almost the same programmes! I was initiated into ‘Tipping Point’ and ‘The Chase’. Both are quiz programmes that commanded complete silence in all three houses, until they knew an answer to a question.
Now that I am back home, thank heavens for the planner, catch-up tv, More4 and the iPlayer amongst other streaming services. We now have the luxury of being able to watch what we want, when we want. TV still provides the most consistent entertainment for us all in the UK, regardless of Netflix etc. I am enjoying the range of really good countryside programmes now on offer. Top of the list for me is ‘The Wild West’ featuring Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall or ‘King Hugh’ as he is referred to in our house. Remember ‘River Cottage’?
This is wildlife, real wildlife shown to us by people Hugh meets who have dedicated years finding out about particular species local to them. It focuses on the West of England, hence the title, and is where he was brought up and now lives. This 12-part series is on BBC 2, not Channel 4 where he ‘grew up’ in the media world. I have only watched half of the series but am thoroughly enjoying him engage with these wonderful people; the videography is fantastic.
What I like about Hugh is that his ethos is similar to us at FGP. In the past he has harvested roadkill, eaten all manner of beasties from the sea and is not phased by wonky veg. He has the media presence to take the ‘Fish Fight and Ugly Veg’ to the large supermarkets. Whether you agree with him or not he does make you take notice. He is also a mean chef, testament being we are eating his chocolate cake this Easter which is heavy both on calories and flavour. I would love a few beers with this knowledgeable chef, countryman and lover of British wildlife.
Another programme that has caught my eye is a re-run of Robson Green in ‘Tales from the Coast’ which was first aired in 2017 and is very entertaining. He is known for his fishing programmes but this easy to watch series sees him climbing, sea swimming and, my wife’s favourite piece, having a cold shower in a pair of shorts!!
I am also looking forward to ‘Spring Time on the Farm’ on Channel 5 as it promises to raise the challenges faced by farmers and how so many have had to diversify to survive. It is co-hosted by Helen Skelton and Adam Henson, both have farming backgrounds. I suspect we will see numerous births of cuddly looking animals as it is spring time after all, I hope Channel 5 follow this up with ‘Summer, Autumn and Winter on the Farm’ so we can see the full circle of life and maybe try and re-connect a lot of people with the food they eat.
Adam has been a regular on BBC’s Countryfile for some time, he farms in the Cotswolds and comes across as an admirable individual truly committed to his farming vocation. Helen also comes across as genuine and likeable, I truly hope that they will not bring the BBC’s rural ‘ethos’ with them by trying to humanise all animals. Over the years I have watched Countryfile change from being informative and interesting to portraying a bland naïve view of the British rural community with the focus being on minority issues and it’s presenters.
As an aside, it is a sad state of affairs that if you want to watch anything to do with Country Pursuits you have to either watch the excellent Field Sports Channel or rely on YouTube. Why do our mainstream channels stay clear of an industry that supports so many people?
However, whatever you are watching while staying at home let’s not forget that our TV’s do now offer a huge selection of programmes that cater for most tastes, apart from Country Pursuits. I have reached my ‘Tipping Point’ and would like to ‘Chase’ those people that believe they are shielding us from the reality of rearing animals for the food chain. This is why the majority of us are ‘Disconnected’ (read Jim’s article on the web site) from what we eat. Thanks again to our wonderful NHS and all of you working to support us through this bonkers time. Hope the picture of Robson Green cheered a few of you up!