Rocky road & ruchie rolls

Loving families exist in all shapes and sizes, whether perfect circles or rickety rhomboids. Some are tiny like my ‘side’ of the family, others extended and exuberant. Some are successfully fashioned from lifelong friendship bonds (like those lovely ‘aunties’ that aren’t really aunts) and some even through business links. I certainly consider Scottish Food Guide members as ‘family’ in their own way. A family bereavement, as was the case for us last month, certainly makes you reassess life and count your blessings and, much as it will embarrass them, I am going to sincerely thank my son and daughter for their amazing support these past few weeks. Later in the month, and whilst all still gathered, there was an opportunity for happiness too…

On February 16th 2023, almost fifty years after he built it, my Dad was present for the unveiling, formally marking his incredible achievement. The sign reads…

Dougal gave the following speech before friends and family joined him on the walk down his road to ours for refreshments, “When I was doing my 6am shift each morning, picking and shovelling before catching the Edinburgh train to do my day job, it never occurred to me that some day, someone of rare discernment, should make it a personal mission to recognise this merest scratch on our planet’s surface as worthy of not only a proper road sign, but a commemorative plaque as well! Thank you, David for all your time, trouble and diplomacy.”

Handsome 95year old Dougal with his great-grandson

I grew up loving this pretty coastal village. We frequently visited friends there and when it seemed impossible to find a weekend cottage, my family flitted across the Forth when I was a teenager, buying a family home with no vehicular access! Our removal required everything being offloaded at the harbour then trundled round the path much to the amusement of passers-by. My dad is a retired Civil Engineer, in the business of building roads and bridges, so when he observed a steep track could perhaps be ‘benched’ into the hillside between the disused quarry above and the homes below, he set about drawing up his blueprint and the rest is history.

What has come to be known as Dougal’s Road became a personal project, definitely ‘hands on.‘ Dad embarked on a two year, spare time pick and shovel mission, with no mechanical aids and no public funding, between 1976-78. Nowadays such a feat would be recorded on mobile phones and his daily progress posted on social media but in those days they didn’t exist and locals walked by with a few words of greeting as my dad chipped away. A good friend said it reminded her of Noah building the Ark! On one occasion Dad did source some explosives and a couple of shotfirers to do the needful. The police were duly notified, lookouts (including me) posted nearby and charges placed – with a large old carpet happed round the boulder to limit flyrock. The shot was fired, the ground shook, the noise reverberated and anyone who imagined they saw a low-flying carpet heading out to sea might just have assumed they had over-indulged at lunchtime. After much toil the road was passible with care for our wee pickup. About that time the nearby hotel was sold and Dad helped them out by driving down some of their flitting.

Vintage photo taken by Dad with me driving that wee Honda! circa summer 1977

From that day to this it acquired a sobriquet of ‘Dougal’s Road’ and now it’s official. Over the years it has enabled access for Coastguard, Police and Ambulances. Dougal’s Road may not be the North Coast 500 nor Route 66 but it has its own rustic charm, the views are spectacular and it well deserves its place on the Aberdour map. Our sincere thanks to Councillors David Barratt & Alice McGarry (retired) for their fabulous gesture.

Some of the loaves entered in this year’s Championship

Winners Announced Scottish Bread Championship 2023

Judging in action

Doughs risen and baked, boxes loaded and labelled, loaves were lovingly delivered to Bowhouse in Fife for the Scottish Bread Championship judging in February. Mission accomplished. Well not quite as this year we went on to hold Scotland’s inaugural Scottish Real Bread Festival a few days later – a day of festivities and fun, crumbs and celebration of Real Bread but more of that later.

We received a record number of entries from three dozen bakers submitting 138 entries – more than double previous years – from Perthshire, Moray, Lothians, Aberdeenshire, Deeside, Glasgow, Argyll, Trossachs, Sutherland, Ross & Cromarty & Fife. Our move in terms of venue and month proved a great success, February coinciding with Real Bread week and our sincere thanks to our sponsor Edinburgh Bakers Trust and founders Andrew Whitley of Scotland The Bread and Wendy Barrie of Scottish Food Guide Thanks too to Douglas Scott for his invaluable assistance on the day.

Judges, with thanks to Douglas Scott

This year our diligent team of judges, giving freely of their time, were:Neil Forbes, Chef Director Café St Honore Walter Mowat, Slow Food Scotland, Elizabeth Drummond Young, Edinburgh Bakers Trust, Professor Wendy Russell, Rowett Institute, Chris Young, Real Bread Campaign Co-ordinator, Professor Lindsay Jaacks, University of Edinburgh, Anna Chworow, Nourish & Neel Paul, writer, working on Curry On, about immigrant food and culture in new lands. The standard of entries was exceptional and the judges had a hard task, culminating in awarding 24 Gold medals across 8 categories with many Silver and Bronze Awards en route. The winning loaves were …

Supreme Champion: New York Rye Sourdough by Company Bakery, Edinburgh

Reserve Champion – Beremeal Boule by The Culinary Kiwi Bird, Insch, Aberdeenshire

Ben Reade, Company Bakery with Mairi Gougeon MSP © Chris Young

Full results here …and the Champion Certificates and Gold Awards were kindly presented by Mairi Gougeon MSP at The Scottish Real Bread Festival on the Saturday where we had a terrific turnout with over 1,000 visitors taking part in bread related discussions and activities, workshops and tastings. Chris Young from the Real Bread Campaign was keynote speaker, John Castley talked about his schools programme Breaducation, Flour to the People, Scottish Grain movie, Diversity for Human Health from Professor Wendy Russell, and Ballads and Bannocks also took to the stage during the day.

Andrew Whitely introducing the winners

Elsewhere there were activities for children involving art and threshing, mill tours and bread workshops. Scottish Cheese Trail was present along with Cairn O’Mohr Fruit Wines Something Corny , Scotland The Bread manned a bread stall selling a selection of loaves and among the other stalls was Bosse Dahlgren explaining his heritage grains project at Ardross Farm with tasty bakes to sample. For another slice or two from the Bread Champ, listen to Scots Radio

I’m delighted with the support, footfall and enthusiasm for the festival, particularly given it was our first ever bread festival, speedily planned to catch Real Bread Week with modest funds. I look forward to building and evolving the Championship and Festival for 2024. Grateful thanks to all involved and the able band of volunteers.

Mairi Gougeon MSP with Bosse & the Ardross grains on Scottish Food Guide stand

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