News and Events

Part 2: 3 Boys vs 1 fence

Trevor gives us a sneaky, and hilarious, behind the scenes peek filming the latest series of The Three Hungry Boys, due to air in January on Channel 4.  In this series Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall challenges the boys to drive a battery-powered converted milk float (aka ‘Daisy’) from River Cottage to Lands End. With no money and no food on board, it took them five hungry weeks and resulted in a few hair-raising moments…

It was the last day of our 5-week trip and the end was in sight, literally. The jutting headland of Land’s End was plainly visible in the distance but rather than making a beeline for the finish, we had more pressing matters on our mind. We had in our possession one monster lobster, one giant crab and a haunch of venison and they all needed to get in our bellies. We’d promised ourselves a feast of epic proportions to finish our trip and that is what we intended to do.

Seeing as we were cooking the best produce that the South West has to offer, we had to find a suitable spot to do the meal justice. We weren’t about to pull over in any old lay-by on the side of the road. We had to find somewhere special with a killer view and some peace and quiet.

The day before we’d had a tip about a simple field with a stunning view over Land’s End and Sennen Bay so we headed off to find it. We arrived at a farmer’s campsite and initially things didn’t look promising, there was the usual farmyard filled with machinery and farming paraphernalia but no stunning view. We crossed our fingers and carried on through the farm. This detour had taken a while and now time was tight – we had to slow roast the venison to release the flavours but we also had to be at Land’s End before dark which meant we couldn’t hang around.

Driving out of the farm down a track we all let out a sigh of relief, ahead of us was a large empty field and over the brow we could see Sennen Bay stretching away from us. We carried on down the track looking for a level patch of land to pull up on when we realised it wasn’t quite as perfect as we had first thought. Blocking our view was a small group of caravans and tents clustered into the corner of the field. Seeing as we had come this far we weren’t about to give up and there was a gap in the hedge that led into another smaller field where we could get an uninterrupted view and we would be by ourselves.

Daisy was pointed toward the gap and it was pedal to the metal, or whatever the equivalent is in a three and a half ton milk float. As we got closer, Thom pointed out that there was what looked like an electric fence lying on the ground. There was a brief conversation as to whether we should stop and make sure it was A) off and B) secure enough to drive over. However, the usual Hungry Boy logic prevailed and instead of doing the sensible thing we decided to carry on and see what happened. We drove over the fence and thought we were home and dry when suddenly Tim, who was driving, slammed on the brakes. As you could have guessed the fence had got tangled under the van and we were now dragging it along with us. Realising that we could go no further we stopped to see what the damage was.

Being the nearest to the door I put my hand on the metal door handle only to find that I couldn’t let go and that I now also had a quite significant electric shock pulsing through my body.

“AAAAARARARARARAAGGGAGGAGAHH” was the only sound I could muster. I’ve been shocked by fences before but this was by far and away the worst I had ever encountered. I don’t know what kind of cows they were keeping in this field but I imagine they are now very well behaved.

I’d managed to push the handle just enough to get the door open and by using my shoulder Thom and I were able to bundle through. Thom, instantly skeptical of the severity of the shock, began to laugh and accused me of being a wuss – until he put his hand on Daisy at which point he made pretty much the same noise I had and also did a little dance.

After getting over our shocks, we set about surveying the damage under the van and it didn’t look too bad. The fence was wrapped around some of the axle but it looked like it could easily be unhooked…that is, if we could have touched it with our hands which, of course, we couldn’t.

We asked Tim to back up to see if that would help. This wasn’t a very good idea. Daisy jerked back slamming the door shut at the same time as lifting the fence up from the ground to around shin height. This had the result of trapping my legs inbetween the fence, again sending shocks through my body. It felt like my legs had turned to jelly and I was going to fall so I put my hands out to steady myself. Unfortunately the only thing I could lean on was the metal side of Daisy, which was also electrified. So there I was in a field with an electric fence wrapped round my legs, with my hands firmly pressed against an electrified van soaking up the volts. There were some very choice expletives heard in that field at that moment. I literally had to jump out of the fence and as I walked back around the van the sight of Tim, Thom, and the crew crying with laughter greeted me.

We didn’t know what to do, Tim was now trapped in the van as the door was still electrified and even using your sleeves to open the door gave you a bad shock. Everyone had a go at opening it but instantly recoiled when they got a shock, leaving him stuck inside complaining that his leg hairs were standing on end due to the electrical charge.

The only option left to us was to try and untangle the fence using something that doesn’t conduct electricity and our range of options was fairy limited as we were in a field. So that was how we ended up with 2 grown men rooting about under the van poking tiny sticks at an electric fence. Every time a piece of the fence would come loose it would invariably hit someone else and a lot of swearing would follow. We spent a good 15-20 minutes like that until we were finally free and Tim and his now normal leg hair could drive the van to our lunch spot.

We arrived there relieved but still a little twitchy from all the shocks vowing to next time put the effort in and do things properly. The lunch that followed was a perfect combination of unspoilt views and delicious food but I have a sneaking suspicion that it tasted all the better because of all the hard work we had put in to get there…