The Penguin Q&A: Adam Henson

The Countryfile presenter and farmer shares his inspirations and how he wrote his book, Like Farmer, Like Son.

Adam Henson

Where did you grow up, and what was it like?

I grew up at Bemborough Farm, which is situated near the village of Guiting Power in the heart of the Cotswolds.  This remains my home today, surrounded by beautiful rolling hills, drystone walls and limestone villages.  It is a place that I have always loved and although I have travelled all over the UK, in fact all over the world, the old adage ‘there is no place like home’ rings true for me.

What was your childhood ambition?

I always wanted to be a farmer and from a very early age my Dad involved my four sisters and I on the farm, making working with livestock fun and exciting.  As a great fan of westerns on television, my dream was to be a cowboy, but I wasn’t very good at riding, so I decided the best thing was to be a cowboy on a motorbike.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by people who have the ability to communicate and tell a great story.  My Dad was one of those people, who had a wonderful voice, and whether the punchline was sad or happy his timing was impeccable.  I love the countryside, farming and wildlife and one of my favourite people to watch on television, who is a great communicator, is Sir David Attenborough. 

What would be your desert island book?

I am not an avid reader, but if I was stuck on a desert island and wasn’t foraging for food, making shelters and trying to light a fire, I might well have time to read.  It would have to be a novel that I could read over and over again, and I am still looking for the perfect book.

Adam Henson with Guersey kid

Not many people know this, but I’m very good at…

When I was young and fit I thoroughly enjoyed rugby.  It is a game that I have played ever since I was 8 years old and wherever work has taken me, I have always tried to join the local club.  Although I have never played first class rugby, I did manage to represent Derbyshire when I was working at Chatsworth House and then went on to play for the Three Counties (Derby, Notts and Lincs). 

What do you always carry with you? And whenever you travel?

As a boy I was always told that I should carry a penknife, a piece of string and a 10p piece in case I needed to make a phone call.  Of course now we all have mobile phones, but I do try and have some cash in my pocket just in case. Whenever I am out on the farm I always keep a penknife on my person, or in my truck, in fact it is a Leatherman multi-tool.  A piece of string is always handy as you never know when you might need to tie up a gate or hurdle to keep the livestock from escaping. When I travel, apart from all the essentials, I usually take some farming magazines to read because in my everyday life I rarely get the chance.

What moment in history would you have wanted to be present at and why?

I was born in 1966, but I wish I was born twenty years earlier as the sixties were a great time and I love the music from that era.

Can you tell us about a problem you hit with one of your works and how you got around it?

Like Farmer, Like Son is a story of how my father’s and my life were so entwined, with personal stories and tales of my childhood and my Dad’s somewhat difficult childhood. Dad was very pleased that we were telling our story together, but sadly became ill during its writing. Dad was diagnosed with cancer in July and died in October 2015, so never got the chance to see the finished article.  For me, and the family, this was an incredibly difficult time and to continue telling the story was even more emotional.

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