Hot on the heels of the news that I’ll be speaking and organising some family-friendly activities at the National Trust’s Top of the Gorge Festival in June, I’m absolutely delighted to announce that I’ll also be speaking at BBC Countryfile Live this summer.
To say this is a big deal for us is a huge understatement. Last year more than 120,000 people visited Countryfile Live – a testament not only to the huge success of the Sunday evening BBC TV programme itself, but also to how our passion for the outdoors and our beautiful countryside continues to flourish as a society. As in previous years, Countryfile Live will be televised on BBC1 with even more coverage on the BBC website. As you can imagine, I was just a teeny bit excited when I was approached to do this.
What’s even more exciting is that (takes a deep breath), rather than opting to squirrel me away into some obscure corner of the Countryfile Live site, like the car park, I’ve been asked to speak on headline festival sponsor Quilter Cheviot’s main stage. On the Saturday. Like really!
Yes, I’ll be part of a four-person panel speaking about inspiring the next generation to love and care for the outdoors. I’ll be joined on the panel by 12 times (soon to be 13 once he’s guided Ben Fogle and Victoria Pendleton to the top) Everest summiteer and personal man–crush Kenton Cool. Also joining me will be renowned solo adventurer, Phoebe Smith. Phoebe has quite literally taken her bivvy and sleeping bag all over the world, from portaledging in the Bavarian Alps to the glaciers of Svalbard – the last stop before the North Pole. Last, but certainly not least, I’ll be joined by Dwayne Fields. A proud ambassador for the Scout movement, Dwayne was also the first black Briton to reach the North Pole. As you can see, that’s some company I’ll be in!
Other speakers appearing on the Quilter Cheviot Theatre stage over the course of the weekend at Countryfile Live include broadcaster Jeremy Paxman, Countryfile presenters Anita Raniand and Ellie Harrison, double Olympic Gold Medalist, Victoria Pendleton, actor and comedian Paul Whitehouse, and SAS veteran Rusty Firmin. With such variety there’s something for everyone.
In addition to my excitement of being added to this amazing line–up of guest speakers, I’m also excited about spending the weekend down at Countryfile Live because, once my speaking responsibilities have concluded, I’ll get the chance to wander the festival with Nat and the kids. Consequently, we’ll get to experience the vast array of awesome activities and exhibitions ourselves.
Set in the grounds of beautiful Blenheim Palace, CountryfileLive certainly has an amazing backdrop for everything on offer. The length of the list of things to see and do is, quite frankly, astonishing. Whether you fancy an afternoon canoeing or kayaking on the River Glyme, which flows through the Palace grounds, or an adrenaline fueled off-road driving experience, or a wander through the Wildlife Zone, building a bug hotel in the process, or maybe you fancy meeting and interacting with some farm animals on Adam’s Farm; as I say, the list of experiences is rather impressive.
If all of this awesomeness isn’t enough, the BBC Introducing stage will be up and banging out some of the best new live music the UK has to offer. We’ll definitely be checking out some of these up-and-coming acts, probably accompanied by a cold pint from the Craven Arms onsite pub, named after legendary Countryfile presenter John Craven.
The food at Countryfile Live looks top notch too. As well as live demonstrations from some of the UKs best-loved chefs, where we’ll be able to pick up some top tips, there will also be a wide range of carefully selected eateries to fulfill the constant need of my greedy taste buds throughout our stay. I have to say that I’m particularly excited about checking out the British Charcuterie Tent, where I’ll be able to pair British cured meats with British beer and cider. Warning: I may be there a while!
I’m so, so excited about heading down to Blenheim Palace to speak on the main Quilter Cheviot Theatre stage on the Saturday. I’m sure it’ll be an amazing experience. However, just as important for me is the chance for me, Nat and our two beautifully crazy kids to spend a weekend together, camping at the festival and spending some quality outdoor time together. The fact that there is so much on offer for families with children of all ages is just brilliant, and will mean every single one of us has a great weekend.
If any of you are planning to go to Countryfile Live this year, do come and check out my talk and say hi. If not, look out for us when it’s televised on BBC1. You never know who you might see.