My Countryside interview: Sean Fletcher

The Countryfile presenter discusses his pig-rearing childhood chores, cycling with his Dad in the Outer Hebrides, and exploring the gorgeous Gower

TERMS AND CONDITIONS
AGREEMENT – This agreement between the undersigned photographer (hereafter “Photographer”) and the undersigned client,
(hereafter “Client”) governs the assignment described in the accompanying price estimate/images, and along with these Terms
& Conditions, constitutes the entire agreement between the parties concerning that assignment.
ESTIMATES/BIDS – The fees quoted by the photographer are for the original job description as presented by the Client. Any
subsequent changes,whether made orally or in writing, may result in additional charges. The accompanying quote is a good
faith estimate of the time and expenses the Photographer anticipates.
INDEMNIFICATION – Client herby indemnifies and holds the Photographer harmless against all liabilities, claims, and expenses,
including reasonable legal fees, arising from the Client’s use of the Photographer’s work.
COPYRIGHT – Grant of any reproduction rights to the Client is conditioned upon receipt of the payment in full. All right not
expressly granted shall be reserved by the photographer.
ADDITIONAL USAGE - If Client wishes to make any additional uses of the photographs not covered in the initial agreement,
Client shall obtain permission from the photographer and pay an additional fee to be agreed upon.
EXCLUSIVITY – The photographs will be exclusive to the Client for the term of the licensing agreement, but no to exceed 5
years. The Photographer may use the photos in his own marketing materials at any time.
CANCELLATIONS, POSTPONEMENTS – In the event of a cancellation or postponement of a shoot by the client or subject after
quote has been accepted/PO issued, Client shall pay all expenses incurred by the Photographer up to the time of the
cancellation. If a shoot is cancelled within 24 hours of the departure for the shoot, client shall pay 50% of the anticipated
photographic fee and 100% of the anticipated fees of any subcontractors booked for the job.
AUTHORSHIP – A credit of ‘Oliver Edwards’ shall accompany his photographs whenever practical.
TEARSHEETS – Client will provide Photographer with either digital of print copies of any publications his photos appear in upon
publication.

When I was 12, my parents decided to move from a town to a smallholding and breed pigs. My dad continued to work in London, which meant a long daily commute for him, while my mum’s commute was 20 seconds to the farm. With the help of a retired farmer, we kept about five sows and a boar. As a young man learning about life I always thought that boar had a good deal, until he got a bit old and was replaced by a younger model. We reared their piglets for pork, and also had about 200 free-range hens for eggs, which we sold by the roadside. 

Advertisement

While my friends were helping their parents with household chores, I was bottle-feeding young heifers, or mucking out the pigs, firstly by hand, and then with our old but sturdy Ford 1000. It was a wonderful time in my life, and I don’t think I quite realised how lucky I was. I do now. 

At various times we had beef cattle, and I clearly remember one adventure with a herd of lively young bulls that had escaped. I say adventure – it was more like a nightmare. As anyone who’s dealt with bulls will know, they tend not to be very agreeable. All I could think was, why on earth didn’t we castrate them? 

I returned to a pig farm not long ago to do some filming. I loved everything about it, even the strong smell. It took me back to my youth. Nowadays the country tends to mean walks and beautiful scenery. Two places stand out for me – the Brecon Beacons and stunning beaches of the Gower Peninsula. Walking, relaxing, taking in the open spaces – the ultimate detox for our busy lives. 

When I lived in Cardiff, I’d drive north towards Brecon and within an hour I would be walking in some of the most wonderful countryside Britain has to offer. I even walked up a snow covered Pen y Fan with my heavily pregnant wife. Two weeks later she had our son. Nothing was going to get in the way of our walk. 

TERMS AND CONDITIONS
AGREEMENT – This agreement between the undersigned photographer (hereafter “Photographer”) and the undersigned client,
(hereafter “Client”) governs the assignment described in the accompanying price estimate/images, and along with these Terms
& Conditions, constitutes the entire agreement between the parties concerning that assignment.
ESTIMATES/BIDS – The fees quoted by the photographer are for the original job description as presented by the Client. Any
subsequent changes,whether made orally or in writing, may result in additional charges. The accompanying quote is a good
faith estimate of the time and expenses the Photographer anticipates.
INDEMNIFICATION – Client herby indemnifies and holds the Photographer harmless against all liabilities, claims, and expenses,
including reasonable legal fees, arising from the Client’s use of the Photographer’s work.
COPYRIGHT – Grant of any reproduction rights to the Client is conditioned upon receipt of the payment in full. All right not
expressly granted shall be reserved by the photographer.
ADDITIONAL USAGE - If Client wishes to make any additional uses of the photographs not covered in the initial agreement,
Client shall obtain permission from the photographer and pay an additional fee to be agreed upon.
EXCLUSIVITY – The photographs will be exclusive to the Client for the term of the licensing agreement, but no to exceed 5
years. The Photographer may use the photos in his own marketing materials at any time.
CANCELLATIONS, POSTPONEMENTS – In the event of a cancellation or postponement of a shoot by the client or subject after
quote has been accepted/PO issued, Client shall pay all expenses incurred by the Photographer up to the time of the
cancellation. If a shoot is cancelled within 24 hours of the departure for the shoot, client shall pay 50% of the anticipated
photographic fee and 100% of the anticipated fees of any subcontractors booked for the job.
AUTHORSHIP – A credit of ‘Oliver Edwards’ shall accompany his photographs whenever practical.
TEARSHEETS – Client will provide Photographer with either digital of print copies of any publications his photos appear in upon
publication.
Sean heads down to Tor Bay on the Gower

From Cardiff, we’d also get to the Gower in just over an hour. In summer we’d harvest strawberries from a pick-your-own farm on the walk to the beach and gorge on them in front of the clear blue sea. It takes more planning now we live in London but we still strive to do it as often as we can.

The dolphins I’ve seen jumping out of the water off the Pembrokshire coast make the best natural sight you could dream of. 

My worst experience in the countryside was getting lost walking on Boxing Day without proper outdoor gear or a mobile phone, at Castell Carreg Cennen in South Wales. It wasn’t enjoyable as it got dark and very cold very quickly. We ended up climbing over fences and stumbling through streams in the pitch black. It would have been fine on my own, but my wife and kids were with me and, having studied geography, I’ve been labelled the family map-reader … well, I lost my bearings that long day and night. 

View over the harbour from McCaig's Tower, distillery chimney prominent, Oban, Argyll and Bute, Scotland, United Kingdom, Europe.
Sean and his father cycled to Oban, before catching a ferry to South Uist

When I was a teenager my dad took me on a cycling holiday to the Outer Hebrides. To call it a challenge is an understatement. We started in Fort William, and after climbing Ben Nevis we made our way to Oban by bike, South Uist by ferry, then battled the winds on two wheels up to North Uist, staying in youth hostels along the way. I vividly remember one was an old croft and in the morning we walked up a nearby mountain. From the top I could see an entire river system, from its boggy source, to a mini estuary feeding the Atlantic Ocean. It was like a real life textbook diagram. That was one of the main reasons I studied geography at university.  

If I could change one thing about the countryside, it’s the demise of rural communities and villages. If we lose village post office, shop and school, while house prices rocket way beyond locals’ price range, and supermarkets squeeze farmers’ profits, we’re going to change rural Britain for the worse. The rural-urban debate feels very imbalanced at the moment. In Wales it also affects the language, as Welsh speakers are driven out of their communities.

Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture paints a perfect picture of sea and land. For a modern choice, I find listening to Gabrielle Aplin’s first album, English Rain, conjures up images of the countryside (and rain).

Advertisement

Cream or jam first on a scone? Jam – skip the cream and eat double the scones.