Saturday, 28 November 2009

Farming and the Media

I don't come from a farming background. I wasn't brought up brushing ponies or feeding sheep but I do have some farm work experience. I was a milkmaid for a few months and I worked on a sheep farm in Australia for a bit. As I'm trying to report on issues in agriculture and rural affairs I've been looking at how they are already represented in the media. Listen to my radio feature to find out more.
That's me with Dai Davies the President of NFU Cymru and then with Glenda Thomas from FWAG.

The Farmers Guardian and Farmer's Weekly both do a good job reporting farming issues but they are only read by people in the farming community. Here in Cardiff there is a weekly supplement in the Western Mail on a Tuesday. How can this be representative? I'm sure the story is the same for other parts of the country. Local media treating countryside matters as something they have to add, just to tick a box. Other supplements cover job listings, celebrity gossip and housing rentals. I can't believe that Rural Affairs reporting gets put into the same category! I guess it's not all bad news. The BBC has made Countryfile their flagship Sunday night show by moving it into a prime time position. But maybe more could be done? I've recently encountered The Country Channel and of course there is Horse and Country TV which shows that there is a market and an audience for Agricultural News. I'll just keep plugging away and carry on letting people know my findings.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Carbon Farmprints

Last night I went to Lakeside Farm Park to attend the WFU Open Meeting "Carbon Footprints in Farming". The event was led by FWAG Director Dr Glenda Thomas.
Glenda informed us about what actually goes into creating carbon footprints. Also what percentage farming contributes to the carbon footprint of the whole food cycle.
There were also other panelists at the event to discuss the issue. They included NFU Cymru President Dai Davies and AM Andrew RT Davies.

The talk identified 'carbon sources' and 'carbon sinks' in farming. Basically what creates Green House Gases (GHG) and what soaks them up. For example tractors are a carbon source and soil biomass is a carbon sink.
Glenda noted that Farming accounts for 9% of the UK's Green House Gas emissions and the food production process accounts for 18%.

Then Glenda broke down the whole process of the food chain from farming to retailing, cooking and catering and what areas produce the most carbon omissions. Glenda took the potato as an example and surprisingly the point of the potato life cycle that produced the most GHG was when the potato was being cooked in the home. This suggests that actually maybe it's not farmers carbon footprints that need to be under attack, but the general public.
Quite often farms do a lot of recycling and re-using. Some of the people at the conference commented that people that have grown up in rural communities are taught from a young age to be environmentally aware and not waste energy or food. There was a strong sense that it is not farmers that need to be re-educated about carbon footprints but the consumer.
Farmer's already have a lot of processes in place to reduce carbon emissions and they are working hard to do more.It seems that farming is in the spotlight more than other businesses that could be cutting down on their carbon footprint. We can all do more to reduce Green Houses Gases not just business and industry.

To lower farming carbon emissions it would be best to invest in long term projects. This is becoming increasingly difficult with falling product prices. Supermarkets are continuously squeezing producers in a world where consumers just look for the cheapest price. A survey carried out by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) shows that 55% of people think of the price and value for money when buying food compared to 26% who care whether it is locally grown and just 21% who think about the welfare of the animal. It seems that as consumers we are quite happy to point the finger when we disagree with a certain farming method but we will carry on buying the cheapest products rather than the ethically sound produce that we asked for. The word hypocrisy springs to mind.

In the discussion afterwards Dai Davies mentioned that if he had one wish it would be "for Tesco to produce food on the same amount of land with the same regulations as farmers and try and produce a profit". These words sum up the amount of pressure farmers are under from supermarkets and consumers to produce organic, eco-friendly, free range products yet not getting a fair price for their efforts. A farm can't just turn organic over night, it takes time and money to put the stamps of approval in place. Dai also said "Agriculture is the answer to climate change and not the problem" When there have been reports in the media that, to save the world we must become vegetarian, it suggests that eating meat could become as socially unacceptable as taking drugs or petty theft. Has it really come to this?

Dai called for a inquest into farming planning regulations to make it easier for farmers to build small energy farms or wind turbines to help create eco friendly power. There are schemes that look into renewable energy on farms but at the moment there is limited funding available for it. The balancing act that farmers face seems to get tougher all the time.

There was also a debate about intensive and extensive farming. Reports have shown that intensive farming produces less of a carbon footprint than extensive farming. But in a market that is driven by the consumer I don't think they would be happy with the thought of cows huddled up in a shed all the time being pumped with grain. The idea of cows running free in the fields is much more appealing to the mass market. Then there is the argument that a lot of the grain that is produced in the UK is used for cattle fodder when it could be used to feed people. But one farmer I spoke to at the event said there just isn't the demand on cereals and grain for human consumption in the UK and that most of his crop is used for fodder on other local farms as that's where the market is.

At the end of the meeting we looked how farmers can reduce their carbon footprints.

  • managing nitrogen input and ensuring it has a benefit
  • don't convert forest to agriculture
  • identify and breed stock that are genetically suited to production efficiency
  • maximize the final product per unit of input.
Most of the above farmers do already. It was an interesting discussion. But what works for one farm may not work for all. The difficulty I believe in cutting carbon emissions on farms, is that each farm will have to be looked at individually as there wont be one global solution. Farmers can do more but then so can everybody else. Climate change is a big worry at the moment and we all need to work towards being more environmentally friendly.

Monday, 23 November 2009

The Ramblings of Briohny

I've been finding out more information about the Marine and Coastal Access Act which is set to see a path created around the coast of Great Britain. Access to the English coastline will be much improved but here in Wales work has already begun on creating a continual path around Wales.

The Wales Coastal Access Improvement Programme was launched in 2007 to ensure that we can all enjoy the natural beauty of the Welsh coastline. Over 70% of the Welsh coast already has good coastal access. The Welsh Assembly Government are leading the way for British walkers.

I've been a keen walker every since, yes I hold my hands up and admit it, I was a Cub. Then on to Scouts and completing my Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award. So joining a walking club like the Ramblers was the next logical step.

I tagged along with the Cardiff Ramblers and braved the elements and set off on a 8 mile hike along the Gower. We parked at Port Eynon and then descended onto a coastal path which took us 4 miles up the coast before heading inland in a circle route back to Port Eynon. It was absolutely breath taking.
It had rained heavily in the morning, the sky was grey and grumpy. But this provided the perfect moody backdrop for the glistening rocks and the jets of sunlight that were trying to penetrate the darkening sky. The wind was fierce and for most of the walk all of the group found it difficult to walk without getting swept along. At one point I could actually lean into the wind! The great winds meant the waves were big and strong, crashing fearlessly onto the rocks. It was as if Neptune himself was showing us the absolute power of the sea. Tremendous.
It wasn't just the sea that seemed to be showing its might, the horizontal rain was attacking my face, it really hurt! Luckily the rain came in small blasts so I managed to dry off before getting completely soaked again. We were lucky and found some shelter in a valley so we good stop for lunch. I got out my trusty 'sit-mat' out and then tucked into some well deserved sandwiches. After a short stop we set off again on the slippery paths. The ground was sodden and squelched under every foot, streams running off the grass down into the sea. We took a path inland to begin the loop back to Port Eynon. It was only a mile or so after coming off the coastal path that we came across a right of way over farmland.
What made me chuckle was the sign that was on one of the stiles that we had to use "Beware of the Bull". I chuckle because you do hear of people putting up such signs to deter ramblers from using the footpaths. But indeed there was a bull in the field, a big black one at we cautiously set off over the field hoping not to be caught out by a big black bull. The next thing I heard was shouting and yelling and at first I thought someone may have been being chased by the bull. But I turned around and it was a farming yelling at us to stop. Immediately I thought he was shouting at us to get off the land and that he had put the "Beware of the Bull" sign up because he didn't like walkers. So I went over to the gentleman to try and figure out what he was saying. And a gentleman he was. The farmer informed us that he had some fresh calves in the next field that were days old and he didn't want us to frighten the mother and calves. So he kindly led us over the field along a route that wouldn't disturb his cattle. I've worked on a farm before and I know how protective cows can be over their calves. They often become more aggressive; much scarier than a bull I can assure you! I was extremely impressed by the farmers attitude and it just goes to show you never know what's around the corner when you go out for a ramble!
We eventually stumbled back into the car park at Port Eynon, all exhausted but elated at what a great walk it had been. I felt privileged that I'm able to enjoy the coastline of Wales. It sounds cheesy but I felt proud of our country and it's beauty and if the Marine and Coastal Access Act can preserve it, then that can only be a good thing. Diane Davies who is the secretary of the Cardiff Ramblers spoke to me about Welsh Coastal Access.
Briohnylivewalk by bribriwilliams

You can also see a very blustery snippet of the walk on YouTube.

The Birds and The Briohny

The Marine and Coastal Access bill was passed on November 12th ensuring coastal areas of Great Britain will be protected.
Environmental groups such as the RSPB Cymru have welcomed the act and are encouraging the Welsh Assembly to act swiftly to create marine conservation zones.

With this in mind I joined Stella Wells from the RSPB on one of the nature walks at Forest Farm along the Taff Trail in Cardiff.

It was a cold and damp morning and I didn't know what to expect from a nature walk, especially as it involved bird watching. I'm going to be honest when I think of bird watchers I think of people with too much time on their hands wearing silly hats. I used to class bird watchers in the same category as train spotters and stamp collectors. Not any more.
For one, as it was raining I found myself wearing a silly hat and even though it was a miserable morning I had rather a good time!
We met at the Warden's office on Forest Farm road and from there took a short walk around Forest Farm to see what birds we could spot.
Whenever someone spotted a bird we would all stop and get our binoculars out to see what was flying about. I have to say, on this particular, there was not much. Because of the recent heavy rain the river was high so there were no birds perching on stones to hunt for food. I think all of the birds were hiding in the undergrowth to get out of the rain and wind. They must have had a good laugh at us all walking around trying to be as quiet as possible trying to catch a glimpse of our feathered friends. As a complete novice when it comes to spotting birds I was extremely impressed with the amount of bird knowledge that was circulating the group.
Stella managed to identify different species by their colourings, shape and of course bird song. I was amazed and slightly envious of her skills. But we did manage to see a few birds including long tailed tits, jays and of course the friendly robin.
We did get some rather odd looks from other walkers as we all stopped and gazed through the undergrowth to spy on a lonely heron that stood perfectly still staring back at us. By this point I was genuinely excited as I have never been so close to a bird with such posture and character. It wasn't the use of binoculars that opened my eyes on this journey but the enthusiasm of the group that surrounded me. If it weren't for these people it would be harder to know different species of bird that live in hear in Cardiff.
Walking around Forest Farm it was not easy to ignore the litter and rubbish that was clogging up the habitats of these beautiful creatures. It's not just the birds that are affected but whole ecosystems that are swung out of balance. The walk finished after a couple of hours and I felt humbled by the experience.
I'm glad there are bird watchers in this country that will fight to keep Britain's sky full with birds.

I spoke to Stella about the Marine and Coastal Act to get her thoughts on the matter.
Stellainterview by bribriwilliams

You can also watch a little bit of the walk on You Tube

Friday, 20 November 2009

True Taste

Have a listen to find out more about the True Taste awards!

Last night the Welsh True Taste awards took place in Abergavenny. It was a dazzling affair bringing together true foodies of Wales. A list of all the winners can be found on the True Taste website.

At the reception I met an array of people, from producers to promoters. There was a speech by the Minister for Rural Affairs Elin Jones which she commented that the awards recognize businesses that have reached a certain quality of product and just by being nominated they have done "exceptionally well". And after talking to various people at the ceremony I'd have to agree with Elin.
Everyone that I spoke to had a real passion for the Welsh food industry. The award ceremony seems to spurs companies on to be extremely successful and the best at what they do. I sipped on local Monnow Valley Brut and nibbled on fish pie canopies produced by Cardiff Caterers EJ Caterng. I felt privileged to amongst the people the people that produce the food and drink I love.
I spoke to Jeff Reader and Alexandra Tebby from Puffin Produce who supply Welsh Asda stores with their award winning potatoes. Jeff told me he "always looks for the Welsh label" when buying food and he often chooses Welsh over other leading brands. Alexandra informed that their contract with Asda has improved over the years. They can carry on supplying local stores and not just to Asda. Puffin Produce won the Gold Award in the Large Fresh Produce category, so I'll have to try and grab a pack of their potatoes and put them to the Sunday Roast test!

I also met some bodies from the Welsh Assembly who told me of the enormous preparation that goes into organizing such a huge event. They surprised me by telling me that anyone in the EU can enter the Welsh True Taste awards because it is EU funded! So maybe next year we'll see a winner from Germany or Italy...I wonder how that would go down?! Certainly not as well as the lovely food I had last night. The True Taste awards was a great event. It brings together so many people from rural communities in a celebration of Welsh food and drink. I can hardly wait until next year!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

When Briohny Met Barry (aka Shaun Williamson)

I've got to admit, it's not the best picture of Shaun Williamson and it's not the best picture of me, but hey ho, you can't have it all!

The stage production of the long running TV sitcom PORRIDGE came to Cardiff this week at The New Theatre . Shaun Williamson plays the iconic Fletch and puts his own stamp on this classic character. The original writers of the TV series Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement wrote the stage play and Shaun even mentioned that they still email script alterations from LA where they are!

Fletch is a big role to take on but Shaun does it with style. Shaun brings his own cockney charm to the character and manages to portray the dark clouds of prison life and the silver linings. The comedy is of the same style as the TV series but has modern twists to capture the mixed audience of young and old. The play is a great homage to the TV series.

deer oh deer oh deer

I visited a deer farm near Cardiff on Wednesday. I can't reveal the address because of deer poaching problems in South Wales. Even the shop that I stopped in to ask for directions warned me of visiting the farm. The shopkeeper immediately said "you can't go there" to which I had to reassure him that I had an appointment.

Deer Poaching has become a major problem in South Wales. The police and other organizations such has the forestry commission have joined forces to create Operation Antler. It's a scheme that encourages people to report deer poaching or if they suspect someone is obtaining venison on the black market. Operation Antler also reassures the rural community that something is being done about this poaching problem.

The farm I visited has been the victim of deer poaching. I was described a horrific scene by the farmer. One day they had been walking amongst the grounds only to find a dead stag that had it's head sawn off. Its body just left like an empty crisp packet lying on the floor. Sickening.

Deer stalkers are trained to shoot deer in the most humane way. One bullet to the head, instant death. The farm we visited said that their marksman had been there for five years and had never had to use more than one bullet to kill a deer, an excellent record. Deer stalking is a highly technical skill that must be perfected.
When deers are poached they are usually not killed in the right way causing immense distress and pain to the animal. If you think you've seen any deer poaching please call crime stoppers on 0800 555 111.

The deer farm I visited has been a deer farm since 1640 and has 80 acres of land that the deer happily roam around. The venison produced is organic and is sold personally by the people that rear the animals. When asked what was the best way to cook venison, I got a truthful yet slightly odd reply!
"the best way to cook venison is to undercook it"

They you have it! There are lots of quality assured venison farms out there, so please make sure you use a reputable supplier when you buy venison.


If only i'd been a young fact, I think I can join, maybe I will...

I, along with my partner in rural crime Becky Whitefoot met Kate Miles who is the chair for Glamorgan YFC. In the space of a couple of hours and a quiet cocktail I learnt more about the organization and it's role amongst society and not just in the farming world.

One of the first statistics that Kate gave us was that less than 50% of YFC members site agriculture as their first business. It highlights the growing strains on the farming industry. Even Kate who has been a member of the YFC since she was a teenager is now a solicitor. Kate pointed out that it's not that the farming life isn't appealing it's just that it's unsustainable. Many young adults can see that you can earn a lot more money by doing a lot less work if you stay out of farming. Subsidies in Wales have helped farmers but it still isn't enough to entice young ambitious workers into the industry.

I used to work as a Dairy Maid and spoke to a Gentleman Milker who spends half the year in Spain and works for 6 months as a Relief Milker in the UK. He assured me he could "get work all year round" if he wanted to, due to the high demand of workers. The farming industry needs to do more to regenerate itself which the YFC works towards.

Not only does the YFC work as a social tool for young farmers, it also provides a much needed learning ground for core life skills and responsible farming. Events such as calf rearing competitions, hedge laying, tractor skills and public speaking are common on the YFC calendar. Then the more exotic features such as international farm meetings, variety shows and drama competitions are also on offer. The Young Farmer's Club is so much more than cider and silage. The diverse and unique opportunities that are available help personal development and provide a sense of community which is lost amongst so many of Britain's teenagers today.

Let's hope that the Young Entrants Scheme set up by the Welsh Assembly Government can help to bring more people back to farming. But even that scheme has its flaws and set backs. The budget for the scheme has been cut and usually the entrants have to raise 50% of the revenue before the grant scheme can come into play. The hill is getting longer and steeper.

So for now most farmers will just have to rely on the groups like the Young Farmers for support and training.

If you are a young entrant thinking of applying or you have applied and not found the project useful why don't you get in touch? We'd love to hear from you

Countryside Alliance

Ho hum Ho hum. Here's a link to the countryside alliance newletter I was featured in...enjoy!'s-tale,-news-for-wales,-october-2009/

Thursday, 5 November 2009


What? A Journey With Ray Mears

Where? St David’s Hall Cardiff

When? Monday 2nd November

It was my first visit to St David’s Hall and I didn’t really know what to expect, especially as I was going to watch A journey with Ray Mears. Was it theatre in the round where Ray would build a bonfire and the audience would have to move around to see him cook various animals? Or would the auditorium be turned into some jungle like world in which Ray would lead us through and point out all the edible plants?Well, I can tell you, it was neither of those.

Essentially the evening was based around a power point presentation. Ray talked us through a series of interesting photos of his favourite Northern explorers. It may sound like a night round your aunties looking at holiday snaps but I assure you it wasn’t. Having said that, the first half of the show did plod along quite slowly, mainly due to the fact that Ray was going over the background story of what he was going to tell us. A story of exploration, determination and courage.

The Northern Explorer’s that were discussed were Samuel Hearne and David Thompson. Two British explorers’ from the 18th Century that opened up Canada. The Hudson's Bay Company and the fur trade turned Canada into an important trading post. With the increasing demand for fur there was an increasing demand for knowledge of the land. What tribes were out in the wilderness that the white man could trade with? Hearne and Thompson found out.

Ray told us how they managed to navigate through some of the most treacherous conditions on the planet and manage to stay alive amongst native tribes. Ray highlighted the difficulty of their expeditions as they were doing it at a time when there was no high tech equipment, no maps and no guidance. It was only their survival skills that kept them going. Well and the women. Ray mentioned that the women taken on expeditions carried all the packs, did all the cooking and basically did all the work. So nothing has changed then. The explorer’s sometimes didn’t even feed the women, as ‘they would get fat licking their fingers as they cooked’. Again, nothing has changed!

Even so, Samuel Hearne and David Thompson truly are two of Britain’s unsung heroes. It is their journey that Ray Mears tries to emulate in his current television series Ray Mears’ Northern Wilderness. Ray takes us on a journey over the mountains, through the lakes and on a beech canoe until we finally reach the far north. Here Native Inuit’s teach him how to go ice fishing, build a snow house and join in with traditional rituals. The Native people still teach their ancient survival skills to younger generations so they do not fear the country that surrounds them. Along with this Ray also pointed out his best survival tip-determination.

A fascinating story. Ray warned us at the start of the talk that it was serious and not in the slightest bit light hearted. I guess when you are talking about surviving in temperatures as low as -70 C there is no room for jokes.

The evening was like one of his television episodes. Great if you are a die-hard Mears follower. He even did a question and answer session followed by a book signing to ensure his fans got true value for money. I don’t think enjoy is really the right word to describe the evening. I feel more knowledgeable and lucky that I can reach into my cupboard for a can of soup when I’m hungry or get a hot water bottle when I’m cold. I’m glad I saw the show. Ray Mears’ is an amazing guy and exactly like he is on television. Simply Ray Mears.

If you want to know more about Ray Mears check out or what’s on at St David’s Hall

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Oakland Organics

Chick chick chick chick chicken, lay a little egg for me. Or don't lay an egg, just get fat so I can kill you an eat you!

I visited a farm in Bonvilston near Cardiff to see what really happens to a chicken before it gets to supermarket shelves. Oakland Organics is a meat and poultry farm that has won a host of awards, especially for its ethically produced chicken. Becca and John run the farm and let their chickens roam free range to seal the ethical stamp.

So I went along to see the start of the chicken journey.
The chickens are reared for about

12weeks before they are killed. This ensures they have enough meat on them and not that much fat for a great taste. Watching the chickens being killed shocked me at first. I didn't really know what to expect. The chickens are stunned in the head and then their throats are cut to make sure they are definitely dead. The chicken has to be bleeding profusely to comply with the vet regulations.

After they are dead they are, well, almost blanched in a revolving cage to soften the body so the feathers can be plucked easily. The majority of the feathers are removed by a machine that whizzes around as you hold the chicken over it. The rest is done by hand.

On the right is the plucking machine and of course the end result-plucked chicken.
I actually killed 3 chickens with the guidance of Farmer John. At first it was slightly odd but I just kind of forgot about the fact they were animals and just got on with it. It was like I was on a extremely important mission and if I didn't do it terrible things would happen. It was a strange experience. I have spoken to people that have said that they couldn't do it but to be honest, if you are going to eat meat, you have to know where it comes from and how it ends up on your plate. The plucking was slightly therapeutic. Having to pull out every last one before they could be butchered was quite a difficult task. The amount of work that goes into preparing each chicken was surprised be but I'm not sure why! Its just reminded me of the importance of buying meat from reputable sources. Giving the producers a decent price for their ware as they are giving you top quality produce. It's all about care. Oakland Organics put the time and care into producing the meat so consumers should put the time and care into purchasing it and preparing it.

Pheasant Fun and F1

It seems like a recurrent theme combining rural affairs and racing, but it just happens that way!
Saturday took me to Somerset on an adventure. Over the summer I helped to set up and look after pheasant and partridge pens that would house hundreds of game ready for the start of shooting season. I joined a shoot as a beater. Which basically meant scaring the birds into the air so that people could shoot them. That is putting it simply

It took a team of about 12 beaters, assisted by a half dozen gundogs to make sure the game birds flew in the direction of the guns. Birds are like any other living thing, unpredictable! So it was quite tricky making sure that no pheasants flew off into the sunset. Obviously there were a few that got away. We did five drives altogether and on the whole it was a successful day.

One incident that has stuck in my memory happened on the last drive of the day. A walker passed through the land where the shoot was taking place. The walker and his dog stopped in the field that we were directing the birds into, ready to be shot. The under keeper informed the gentleman walker that there was a shoot on and he should probably find another spot where he could rest. The walker ignored the comment and continued on his journey. So then the under keeper went and had a word with the walker and lets just say the conversation was not pleasant.

The game keeper was trying to explain that it may not be safe to be where he was to which the walker started cursing about shooting and informing us that he wanted to 'f*%k up the shoot'. And os we just carried on with the shoot as planned. It was an odd situation to witness. On one hand all the beaters, keepers and shooters had put in so much time, effort and money to make the day a good one. So to have it turn upside down due to one man and his dog seemed a shame. On the other hand, there was nothing we could do about the walker. He was on a public right of way and as he did point out, there were no signs up saying there was a shoot on so how was he supposed to know to avoid the area on this particular day?? Tricky.

It's the second time I have seen different country pursuits conflict with each other. The notion seems to be that everything that goes on in the countryside seems to run along side by side, but it often isn't the case. For example ramblers and farmers definitely don't go hand in hand. It's something that I seem to get stuck in the middle of as I like it all!

The great thing about joining a pheasant hunt is the glorious food and drink that accompanies the day out. Sloe gin and soup at midday, followed by a pheasant feast after the hunt. Cream mashed potato wit horse radish with lashings of red wine. Job done. I've even took home a brace which now have to pluck and gut, wish me luck!

Now to the second half of the weekend. Sunday was the last race in the Formula One calendar. Abu Dhabi was the venue and Yas Marina was the circuit. This was the first race held at this desert track, but what a premier it had. It was a tremendous sight. Two years in the making and it has been worth all the time and money. The hotel with its amazing light display and the fabulous bridge that overlooked the circuit.

To add to this already special occasion, I was lucky enough to watch the race at the Williams factory near Wantage. It was a class act. I was greeted by the sight of formula one cars from Williams' extensive racing history. Nigel Mansel, Aryton Senna and David Coulthard are just of the drivers that have raced for Williams and I was proud to be amongst their racing heritage.

After be dazzled by all the polished metal of the motor vehicles it was then time to relax and watch the F1 on a giant screen with regular updates from the Williams team and even a live link up with a member of the Williams team. Whilst the race was on you enjoy a superb three course meal which compensated for Lewis Hamilton retiring from the race. Let's hope it's not a sign of things to come for next season.

The race itself was brilliant. No one knew what kind of race the new circuit would offer, especially the 'underground' pit lane. I have to say, Abu Dhabi should be proud. The race track was varied, exciting and as it's situated in the middle of the desert there was a risk of sand on the circuit which added another element of uncertainty into the mix.

The highlight of the race had to be the last few laps. The newly crowned F1 champion Jensen Button had managed to more up into third and was closing the gap with Mark Webber in front. By the last laps Jensen tried to over take Webber and catch him out on a few corners but the feisty brit just couldn't manouvere around the Red Bull. Jensen had to settle for third place but I'm sure he wasn't too disappointed, being world champion was good enough. Sebastian Vettel won the race confirming his second place spot in the championship.

At the Williams conference centre I had a go on an F1 simulator which was brilliant. It wasn't exactly like driving an F1 car but it gave you a pretty good idea of how hard it is. For one, you are pretty much laying down in the car like you would do in the bath tub. It's very strange!! I kept tilting the steering wheel too much and just forgetting which way I had to turn! I didn't score a great lap time but it was so much fun. It was a really good day. It's nice just being slightly more involved with the race and it's a good alternative to actually watching the race at the circuit. It was certainly a lot cheaper than a ticket to Dubai would have cost!

I can't actually believe it's the end of the F1 season already, what am I going to do on Sundays??