News and events: 11 – 18 April

From glow in the dark pigs and English cannabis fields to eating the landscape on foraging days; Kim de Selincourt rounds up the best of our quirky little countryside



Orange you glad you’re a sheep?

The Mail reported today that a desperate Devonshire farmer took action against sheep rustlers by dip dying his flock. Orange. Much to the amusement of passers-by, farmer John Heard painted the blackface ewes in a harmless orange dye to deter thieves. The sheep are worth around £140 each, and over the last few years losing sheep has cost farmer John almost £30,000. But even this is not the most extreme case of farmers distinguishing their animals. As the Guardian reported, that farm yard animals have taken an increasingly exotic turn, with some being injected with jellyfish DNA to make them glow in the dark.


England’s secret drug plantations

In our British countryside marijuana plants are being grown for medicinal use, reports the Telegraph. British company GW Pharmaceuticals has joined forces with Swiss drug group Novartis to sell the cannabis-based drug across Europe. Allegedly growing near Cambridge area, the effects on the areas wildlife are currently unknown. The drug is already used in the treatment of Neuropathetic pain and Multiple Sclerosis, and it is hoped that it also will gain approval to be used by cancer patients.

The Bee Team

The Independent has reported that floral roads will be created for bees. Red clover and lesser knapweed will be planted to attract bees, and the first of these paths will grow in Yorkshire. The Plan Bee campaign from the Co-operative, aims to restore native wildflower meadows, 97% of which have been lost over the last few decades.

Government pays out for farmers

Cornish farmers will receive £40,000 from the Prince’s Countryside fund, reports the Cornish Guardian.
Emergency money will go to ARC Addington and the Farm crisis network, after a poor season and bad weather. Because of the situation farmers are now in, applications for grants have risen 350%. The Farm Crisis Network will receive £15,000 while ARC Addington is to be awarded £25,000.

Darwinian Defra project grows

Over the next four years more than £25m government funding will go to Defra to protect animals in developing countries. In the last nine years Defra’s Darwin Initiative has already worked to protect flora and fauna in 156 countries. The majority of Defra’s projects are focused on Asia, South Africa and South America, as these areas are felt to have the most biodiversity, while not having enough resources to protect it.


Edible Landscape

This fascinating day of foraging led by Andy Hamilton, will teach you what is edible in our landscape, as well as medicinal uses and folklore surrounding plants. Starting at 10am from St Wenburghs in Bristol, by the end of the day at 2pm you will have knowledge on over 50 different plants. The day costs £35, however if you were interested in an introductory session, former Countryfile columnist Andy also runs a lunch break crash course for £5. The next meeting is in Bristol’s Castle car park on 5 May at 12.30pm. For more information, call Andy on 0117 9540788.

Dinner at the Chateau – Gravetye Manor, West Sussex, 15 April

If you fancy a touch of indulgence, the Gravetye Manor is opening its doors on 15 April for a four course Beaucastel Dinner with wine, for £125. The Beaucastel Vinyard is considered by some to be the premier estate in Chateauneuf du Pape. For more information or to book, call 01342 810 567

Secret Garden, West Combe Valley, 15 April

West Combe Valley boasts a secret bluebell walk on 15 April, and you’ve been invited. Voted the top small visitor attraction in the south west by the South West Tourism Excellence Awards, entry to the gardens is free, so for details call 01823 413923.
If just one walk isn’t enough to satiate your cravings for the little blue beauties, Countryfile’s Kim de Selincourt has uncovered the top 10 bluebell walks for the season.

Ceilidh Celebration, Edinburgh, 16 April

Get to Edinburgh by 16 April, and you can experience the Ceilidh Culture festival. Enjoy traditional arts from local and international talent, and get involved with ceilidhs explained for beginners. The celebration has been running since 25 March and has concerts, folk music and workshops, as well as street markets with crafts, food and drink.

On your bike Bakewell, 17 April

Catch the last cycle Sunday of the season, which leaves 17 April at 9.30am from Bakewell’s agricultural business centre. The session is free, and aims to get adults of any age excited about cycling. Organizer Carol Parsons hopes that people who are nervous about riding or have never cycled before will come along and learn. To check availability of places or if you need to borrow a bicycle, call 0114 2412 775.


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