Tam's Tall Tales

- Scotland Swelters in July

Sidalcea and blue skies
in the Walled Garden, Culzean Country Park, south Ayrshire

Scotland Swelters in July
As I write, Glasgow is gearing up for the Commonwealth Games (see graphic on the) and Edinburgh's arts festivals will be under swing in a few days time. Both cities are enjoying a prolonged period of brilliant weather - long may that continue. Glasgow in particular has seen temperatures over 80F (27C) on several days this week. That may not seem much to those of you coping with 100F (38C) but we're not used to temperatures except when we go to the Mediterranean (or Florida) for or annual holidays (or vacation if you prefer). So instead of the Commonwealth Games being disrupted by heavy rain, travel was disrupted by excessive heat causing points failures on the railways.

Scottie and I were initially unsure how this little collection of 'don't bother holding the front page' style of stories would go down, but we are both really grateful to the e-mails we have had from readers from all over.

We were both really touched by a lovely note from an expat lady who was taken with the wee story about the Ayrshire early potatoes:

" O my, what wouldn't I give for a plateful of Ayrshire spuds! I have never seen wee, tottie spring potatoes here. My father would grow potatoes in the garden and he'd howk the 'baby ones' out of the ground with barely any skin on them which could be easily skimmed off with your thumb.

He'd put them in a wee pot with fresh carrots and onions, sneak into the bedroom where (unusually) there was a fire, and cook his stash, not ever to be shared! Of course my mother had plenty for our dinner. It was just his little private routine to enjoy his gardening labours.

Yes, those little potatoes had a special flavour, a sort of mild sweetness, as I recall.

Here, the potatoes are generally huge (what else in America with everything bigger and 'better' (ahem!)) from Idaho. There are bigger red potatoes, russets and Golden or Yukon Gold. To me, none tastes as good as the Ayrshire spud, especially the new potato. If I had more money than sense, I'd have a bagful mailed to me from Ayrshire when the first crop was lifted!"

A 'Morayshire quine' who moved to New Zealand writes:
I enjoyed all that you have written - just wish that I could have some Ayrshire tatties. I grew up in the north of Scotland and was very fond of my tatties and I seem to remember that British Queens and Duke of York were our first tatties, followed of course by Kerr's Pinks which I still think are the best. NZ tatties are gey waxy. And I often think about my tattie-howking days.
Thanks to everyone who has written - please stay in touch!

Please give me whatever feedback comes to mind via tamfromrampant@gmail.com.

Tam O'Ranter
May 2014

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