Reuben: Life in the Dales: French connection for Reuben

Thursday: Reuben: Life in the Dales (Channel 5, 8pm)
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Life on a farm is notoriously not conducive to having time off – one can’t simply book a few weeks away for a holiday and assume the animals or crops will fend for themselves while you’re gone.

And therefore, 20-year-old Reuben Owen, the son of Our Yorkshire Farm’s Amanda and Clive Owen, has never had a holiday abroad before.

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Until now, that is. In the latest episode of his solo series, Reuben, girlfriend Sarah Dow and best friend Tommy McWhirter sail for France for an overseas excursion.

It's holiday time for Reuben OwenIt's holiday time for Reuben Owen
It's holiday time for Reuben Owen

It’s a working holiday, of course – not just in terms of the fact it’s a Channel 5 TV show but also because it’s all linked in with Reuben’s attempts to grow his heavy machinery business.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no time to kick back and have a little fun.

Tommy gets hold of a GoPro action camera to capture the milestone adventure as the three mates start their long drive from the Dales to Dover in Reuben’s second-hand Land Rover.

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Leaving the ferry behind in Calais, the friends’ road trip will take them to Normandy and the Loire Valley.

All three of the pals love rural life back home in the hills, so they head to a vineyard to see how the French countryside compares to their own terroir.

At Chateau des Chaintres in Saumur, vineyard owner Gael de Tigny invites them to help with the grape harvest on his family’s 44-acre estate.

Grapes are an unusual crop in Yorkshire, but here it’s very much the bread and butter of agriculture.

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Meanwhile, it has always been a dream of Reuben’s to drive a skinny French vintage tractor – an unusual ambition for a 20-year-old perhaps, but one which suddenly seems feasible.

And so Gael gamely allows Reuben to tow a fully loaded trailer with his quaint machine – with 1,000 bottles’ worth of grapes on board.

With his dream now realised, Sarah and Tommy convince Reuben to camp for the night.

However, they choose a site which is next to a field where a combine harvester works into the small hours.

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The trio have a sleepless night and despite a warming hot chocolate round the camping stove, Reuben’s reservations about camping seem as though they may have been founded.

The following morning Tommy gets to fulfil his own long-held ambition, to drive on the famous Le Mans racetrack – albeit in a go-kart – and manages to claim poll position.

Then, after visiting a tank museum and learning that the very first war machines were similar in design to Reuben’s tractors at home, he’s humbled to discover that he has a war hero in the family when the group visits a First World War memorial site near the Somme.

By turns entertaining and moving, this has been a delightfully wholesome series so far.