On Sunday we got to have a day of fun at Countryfile Live, which was being held at Blenheim Palace. It was the last day of the four-day event and we were all looking forward to exploring. You may recall that I attended the recent press day, where I got to go in a canoe for the first time in my life. It was time to have fun with Monkey and Daddy P.
Daddy P and I are both fans of the BBC One show Countryfile, and Monkey has a soft spot for Ellie, having met her a few years ago, along with the Gruffalo. What would a day of fun at Countryfile Live bring us?
We live fairly close to Blenheim Palace, as regular readers will know, so we avoided any traffic issues and arrived bright and early. In fact we were very lucky and had access to the event before the gates opened to the general public. This worked brilliantly, meaning we could get our bearing and Monkey could get used to things before the site starting teeming with people. We soon realised that it would be impossible to cover everything in one day, but could see we were all going to have lots of fun.
Looking at the Events Timetable we knew we wanted to see the Countryfile Calendar show in the arena. Seeing the presenters was a must so we checked timings for talks in the Big Barn. As well as seeing Ellie, Monkey wanted to see the animals from Adam’s Farm and the Farming In Action displays. Daddy P had heard me talk all about the STIHL Timber Sports and wanted to check that out, as well as the Mitsubishi Off Roading experience. I would have loved to have spent hours checking out all the stalls selling arts, crafts, clothing, and food. But with two men in tow, that was realistically never going to happen!
The Camera Tower gave us a great opportunity to see the event from above, we climbed up as the gates were opening, a few hours later and we’d have seen a sea of people.
We managed to get front row seats for the Countryfile Calendar show in the Main Arena and got to chat to Grace Savage as she warmed the crowds up, ahead of the show.
We visit Blenheim Palace so often, it’s easy to take it for granted, it is a truly beautiful building, set in wonderful grounds. A perfect backdrop too.
The show itself was brilliant, there were screened intro’s from the various Countryfile presenters, Grace was providing the music and a Farmer presented the show. We were given a visual delight as we moved from one season to another, who knew it could snow in August! Monkey was spellbound, squealing with delight when tractors and a combine arrived and laughing out loud at the cycling sheep.
Towards the end of the show Adam Henson and Tom Peak arrived on the combine harvester. They were to have a hay bale rolling contest, and again, Monkey was in heaven.
We’d spotted the Big Barn early on, and this is where different presenters during the day would be talking about aspects of the show. We got to hear some of John Hammond’s talk about presenting the weather, and listened to John Craven and Adam Henson talk how they’d joined the show. We all really enjoyed hearing about how the shows were made with John, Ellie Harrison, Bill Lyons and Jo Brame. It was fascinating, and Monkey loved it, as we’d seen the process first hand in the past. A big thumbs up from us.
Getting to talk to John Craven and having him autograph a programme was a highlight for Daddy P and I. We grew up with him on Newsround and Swap Shop. I’ve seen him around locally a lot of the years, but have never wanted to interrupt his ‘off work’ time.
Although it was obviously busy at Countryfile Live we never felt totally overwhelmed. We got to see and do everything that was on our ‘must’ list. There were plenty of places to get food and drinks from, even those queues were no worse than other major events. Toilets there was plenty. I didn’t queue once for them, result.
We’ve been to Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park to see his rare breads, a few times. I knew Monkey would want to visit the Adam’s Farm area of the show. I have a child who likes to observe, rather than join in. But there was a petting area for children to get up close to the animals.
What we did get to see and enjoy …..
Watching the Stihl Timber Sports had all of us riveted and Monkey was sat there cheering on the different competitors. He was in heaven walking through the Farming In Action section. In fact we revisited the area a number of times. We saw the saw mill in operation and an old hay baler in action. There were plenty of opportunities to sit in the cabs of various agricultural machines, but again my son is an admirer from a distance. The John Deere stand was always going to figure high up on his agenda, I’m still not sure how we came home without the hay baler he wanted! We had a wonderful time in the Wildlife Zone. We chatted to a lady from Butterfly Conservation for ages about butterfly eggs and Monkey loved looking at all the caterpillars slowing destroying her cabbage plant. Monkey helped to make a beeswax candle too. We even got him off roading for the first time and he loved it. We spent a little time watching one of the displays in the Dog Arena and Equine Village, we missed many more.
What did we miss? Loads! With over 600 exhibitors we were never going to do it all. I’d have loved to get Daddy P and Monkey out in a canoe on the River Glyme and for us all to try fishing. The National Trust, Woodland Trust and RSPB were all running the kids of outdoors and nature themed activities we love, we just ran out of time to fit everything in. Cooking demonstrations, various talks, I even missed a talk about maps.
The day drew to an end all too quickly and we managed to grab the very last Galloping Horses ride of the day. The rest of the fun on the Village Green and the vintage rides had sadly passed us by.
A day of fun at Countryfile Live? You bet. It was brilliant, we all loved it. In fact, being local, I know a lot of families who attended over the 4 days and they all enjoyed it too. It had the feel of The Royal Show that used to be held at Stoneleigh, but with the added interest of the Countryfile team. It was definitely worth looking at the map and timetable first thing, and planning out our priorities for the day. Yes there are so many things we would all have liked to have seen and done. But we had a brilliant day. We arrived early and left late, and with a 6 year old who didn’t moan at any stage throughout the day, at all. See you again next year, same time, same place! It’s in the diary.
disclosure: we were given press passes by the Countryfile Live team in exchange for an honest review