Hey TOG fans! If you weren’t already aware from our extensive social media coverage… we got to go to Countryfile Live at Castle Howard last month and it was GREAT.

It was a somewhat epic journey for Holly and Jess who were driving up in the Bradder’s Bus from the south. Epic, mainly for Holly who did the whole 8 hours of driving through torrential summer rain. As we creeped further and further north, the chill began to get into the bones of these two, cold-shy southerners. We were not equipped. Thankfully, the bus has an oven in it, so we knew that if things had got really bad we could warm our hands in there (we don’t recommend doing this). We picked up Debbie (AccessTOG Ambassador) en route – a northerner born and bred, she couldn’t understand the fuss we were making. But it’s summer, Debs! we said, it should be sunny. Welcome to Yorkshire, Ladies, she replied.

Bradder's Bus
Bradder's Bus

Anyway, it turns out that the sun does shine in Yorkshire and we were thrilled to wake up to clearer skies and some relative warmth in time for our jaunt around the Castle Howard grounds. Debbie was itching to have a wheel around in her DaVinci wheelchair, so it was a good thing we got the Bradder’s Bus almost right to the entrance.


9:00 – The Animals
It was animal heaven stepping into Countryfile Live! With the shire horses on our right and the farm animals on our left, we were almost spinning in circles not knowing where to turn. We probably spent an excessive amount of time in the petting farm. Debbie was disappointed not to see any guinea pigs scuttling around, however we were extremely excited about the piglets and calves.

Adam and Debbie
Jess and Holly
Save Our Bees!

10:00 – Mobiloo

It was great to see a Mobiloo at the Countryfile Live Show. Mobiloo is an attended mobile toilet service with hoist and changing bench meaning that people with disabilities can attend events such as this safe in the knowledge that there are excellent toilet facilities which meet the needs of everyone. Unfortunately the Mobiloo was tucked at the back of the first aid tent and out of site for visitors. Maybe next year CountryFile will advertise it better that this service is available for people with disabilities.

11:30 – RSPCA
We met Inspector Geoff Edmond who unexpectedly crowned Debbie the unofficial guinea pig ambassador of the RSPCA. Debbie was thrilled and will be using her new title to ensure guinea pig presence at next year’s Countryfile Live.

We also caught up with Holly Barber and exchanged stories of our Litter Hero adventures.

We headed to the Time for Change stage to hear Geoff speak about the dangers of plastic pollution to wildlife. You can read more about the shocking effects of plastic on wildlife that Geoff discussed here.

12:30 – The Woodland Trust
We were given some free trees to take home and plant! Holly took a cherry tree whilst Jess and Debs went for field maple.

Unfortunately, Jess’s field maple was waved in the face of a peckish shire horse who helped herself to a portion of tree.

13:00 – North York Moors

It was great to speak with the staff from the North York Moors. There may be opportunities for us to work with this National Park next year creating and filming more wheelchair friendly walks. So far we have filmed a lovely walk from the Sutton Bank Visitors Centre and a coastal walk at Ravenscar. It is such a  beautiful area that we want to be able to tell more people about it.

14:00 – Lunch
With so much to see and do we ended up having a late lunch. There were so many food stands wafting their waves of deliciousness our way, it did take a while to choose. What would it be… a hog roast or a halloumi wrap? Or both?!

It was also really encouraging to see lots of stands promoting local produce (although this definitely prolonged our decision making)!

15:30 – The authors of the Wainwright Prize 2019
We headed to the National Trust Theatre around mid-afternoon for some refreshing pints of Wainwright Golden Beer. It was perfect – the golden sun was shining, the golden beer was flowing and our faces were probably a little golden (or red) after a drink. After the refreshments, it was finally the moment we had all been waiting for… the winner was about to be announced!

This year’s shortlist showcased unprecedented talent and literary creativity for the evermore popular genre of nature writing. We have to say, we felt pretty bad for the panel this year… we definitely wouldn’t want to be judging the winner of such a wonderful shortlist! Who would be the winner of the £5000 prize? …

The Easternmost House by Juliet Blaxland
Our Place by Mark Cocker
Out of the Woods by Luke Turner
Thinking on my Feet by Kate Humble

Time Song by Julia Blackburn
Underland by Robert Macfarlane
Wilding by Isabella Tree

Wainwright Book Prize
© Wainwright Book Prize

After much anticipation, Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison announced that the winning title was Underland by Robert Macfarlane. We agreed that despite the high standard of the shortlist, Underland was undeniably a cut above, and after having been shortlisted for the prize four times in a row, Macfarlane’s 2019 win is certainly a well-deserved one!

Wainwright Book Prize
© Wainwright Book Prize

17:00 – The Ferris Wheel
We were more disappointed that the ferris wheel, although advertised as accessible, was not. It was furthermore frustrating when the staff seemed very unapologetic.

17:30 – Gin o Clock!
It was well and truly time to head to the food tent where We snacked on tasters of different chutneys and jams, crisps, popcorn and baked goods. If truth be told, we were really there to sample the gins… With some lovely distilleries offering out their flavoured unique blends and weird and wonderful flavours, how could we say no? Debbie even found a gin made from sweet potatoes, would you believe?!

18:00 – Home time
If we’d stayed any longer we would have been too full (and too tiddly) to drive home.* What a wonderful day of fun at Countryfile Live! We look forward to heading back next year.

*Disclaimer: our designated driver did not partake in alcohol consumption.