BBC Countryfile Live at Blenheim
"From interchange traffic to posh toasties"
If you need to work your way out of frustration evoked by a rammed Botley Interchange, the grounds of Blenheim Palace should do the trick.
This is the location of BBC Countryfile Live, coming to Churchill’s birthplace in August. A recent preview day provided me, fresh from a situation bordering on gridlock, with an idea of what to expect. This was achieved through a scattering of activities that will be accompanied by many more when the main event takes place.
I started with fishing. I’m sure it’s meant to be calming, but as I clumsily tried to get a bite while exercising the less ‘acceptable’ side of my vocabulary I doubt I showed it to be something tranquil. This part of the day was ran by angling charity Get Hooked on Fishing and the Angling Trust, currently working together on the nationwide campaign that is Family Fishing – all about making fishing something the family can do together, squashing the idea that it’s something for the foul-hat-wearing, lone man with a love for egg and cress sandwiches.
Fisherman Sam was my guide. He tried to boost my confidence, telling me it was two years before he became as accomplished as he is. Given that I was moving on to Mitsubishi 4X4 off-roading in ten minutes, I resigned myself to the fact I wouldn’t become a pro that day.
Being driven through Blenheim woodland in a Mitsubishi 4X4 by AA DriveTech Training Director Selwyn Kendrick was a welcome change to spluttering down Oxfordshire A-roads in a filthy Corsa. Selwyn approached sizeable mounds at speeds I thought too low to suffice, and yet the vehicle made it over them with notable ease.
Ease is not a term I’d associate with another preview day activity. The 2016 STIHL Timbersports British Championship is going to be held at Countryfile Live. The STIHL team, equipped with axes, saws, logs, mammoth arms and “that’s a good handshake” handshakes, gave us a taste of the upcoming lumberjack competition. One aspect of this is known as the ‘Single Buck’. Cue an experience of audience participation I was not used to.
Despite having arms like Timon, I care far too much what people think of me to turn down a challenge. Spike Milton, former STIHL Timbersports British Champion and British Team member, stood alongside me (lending a hefty helping hand) as I attempted to cut my way through the log before me. I got there…eventually. No record was broken but my dignity remained intact, more or less.
“It’s not possible to un-train a dog is it?” I asked Adem Fehmi from Dog-ease, as I practiced a few techniques with one of his beautiful gun dogs. I thought it anyone could get a dog misbehaving again it would be me. Adem said it would be fine. He’d also already kindly briefed me on how I could get my mum and dad’s retriever to cope with fireworks – I can’t let them go on with a retriever scared of loud noises, just email me if you have a similar problem, expert that I am now.
My day concluded with a spot of boating on the lake and a chorizo, pesto and brie toasted delight from the Horsebox UK. I’d gone from interchange traffic to posh toasties; as Tuesday mornings go, pretty sound.
BBC Countryfile Live comes to Blenheim Palace 4th-7th August.
Related Articles: Top 10 things at Blenheim this summer