What would be this summer’s most forlorn profession? Ice cream salesman. Lapping away at chilly, sweet, flavoured goo has never been my favourite dining experience but get some sun on my neck and I’ll soon believe it is an essential ingredient of a balanced diet.
So we’ve been filming with a Yorkshire based ice cream business as the hub of our investigation into the cost of the summer that wasn’t. Their sales have been cut in half: eroding the workforce, hitting their milk suppliers and even the builders and decorators who’ll not see the work from their now cancelled parlour expansion scheme. It’s a snapshot of what I suspect is a massive blow to rural Britain.
From farming to fell running, from bird watching to beekeeping, music festivals to county shows
they are all at the mercy of the elements. Making money from the outdoors is the USP of rural
Britain and this year the climate has been hostile. For cities the weather has been miserable; for the
country it’s been merciless.
We are marshalling as many figures as possible including crop losses, tourism woes and flood
damage to try and reach a credible total cost for the washout. But the more you look the further the
ripples spread. In wet fields, the feet of cows and sheep can get soft, infected and overgrown. It’s
like pastoral trench foot. We saw a three inch wooden shard take advantage of this weakness to
drive up into a cows hoof. A man equipped with a machine to clamp, lift and tilt one tonne of cow
removed it but his bovine pedicures are becoming regular and costly.
Insects have suffered too. Now, I know they may not be the primary object of your sympathy when that rain spattered sphere appears at the beginning and end of the CountryFile weather forecast but we will share some of their pain. To find out how you’ll have to watch yet also wait as we take an Olympic break and return in the golden afterglow of our medal harvest!