7 July 1995

HOT STUFF AND

HIGHLAND HEAT

WOODEN chests very similar to these were once made to ship gold to Portugal when the Portuguese occupied Brazil, says Garry Murrie of Eco-Crafts, who makes the boxes from "slabs" the first cuts from a tree trunk that are usually thrown aside at the sawmill.

Garry has recently returned home to Rait, Perthshire, after spending 12 years in Brazil where he made rustic furniture.

His chests (price £25-£70) utilise scrap materials – the hinges and hasps are cut from old oil drums and close over an old fence staple.

A NEW breed of sheep "designed" in Scotland to produce high quality wool without compromising meat quality made its commercial debut at the show.

The Lomond, which has evolved through crossing hybrid merino – with both Australian and European genes – with Shetland sheep, is the result of a six-year project headed by Perthshire farmer Fergus Wood. "As a director of the Scottish woollen industry and a farmer, my attention focused on the fact that 97% of the wool for fine garments is imported from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. I wondered if we could source wool of a similar quality from sheep that are primarily kept for the production of prime lamb for the table. At a time of uncertainty of how long subsidies at their present level will be with us, it is sensible to look for added value."

Average wool yield per shearing is expected to be 4kg and the target price for the premium wool is £3.50/kg.

The wool is sold through the British Wool Marketing Board and two Scottish wool textile companies, JC Rennie of Mintlaw and Mackinnon of Scotland, have signed an exclusive five-year contract to buy it. It is expected that 6000 garments made from the fibre will come onto the market next year.

At present there are 24 farmers in the Scottish Fine Wool Producers group, mainly farmers with established Shetland or Cheviot flocks who are crossing some to the Lomond but we are now getting people who want to buy the half-breds," says Mr Wood.

SUEDE and leather wear to die for were among the clothes and accessories being modelled daily in the fashion shows run in the Rural Crafts Association tent at the Royal Highland Show.

Farmers daughter Janet Ibbotson (left) has been designing and making beautifully cut garments for 25 years and no two are exactly the same. She exports to Japan, where buyers ask her for more same-similars. But in Scotland showgoers were pleased to find something different and prepared to pay for it. A stunning suede coat with knitted lambswool cuffs, scarf and hood costs £575, a blue suede jacket chequered with stitching, £350, and a one button three-quarter length coat in shower-proof suede with stitched detailing is £580. All can be made to measure.

Janet Ibbotson (0181-693 3809).

A TEAM of young butchers from Scotland have won the Nations Championship organised by the Meat Training Council.

Ronald Greig (Portsoy), Steven Logan (Airdrie), John Sinclair (Ballater) and Ronald Stalker (Dalry) (left) beat teams from England, Wales and Ireland with their creative cuts of meat. A piper played in the team for the trophy presentation by MLC chairman Don Curry and Wilson Ferguson, president of the Scottish Meat Traders Association.

YOUNG Farmers Club teams had to prove their skills in ATV driving (above), crop recognition and husbandry, sheep shearing, livestock assessment and building a picnic table (right) in the BP in Scotland Farm Skills Pentathlon. East area was the overall winner.

ETHEL McCurrachs demonstration in the Scottish Womens Rural Institutes tent brought back memories for some of the spectators who watched her make mealy puddings, a sort of sausage made from oatmeal, suet, onions and seasonings.

On some farms a mealy pudding would make a mid-morning snack, on others it was cooked and served with a stew, or alongside meat or stuffed into poultry.

It takes a stone of oatmeal to fill a whole round of skins and that makes a lot of puddings. Oatmeal used to be bought by the boll (one-and-a-quarter hundredweight) and kept in a girnal, a wooden box with a close-fitting lid. This box also stored the mealy puddings in the days before freezers and fridges were commonplace, and they would keep fresh for weeks if stored well down under the oatmeal, making them a boon for the rural housewife.

"The puddings take an hour to boil," says Mrs McCurrach, who uses her grandmothers filler and an old recipe when making her puddings. "They are delicious and if given the choice between a mealy pudding or the out-of-season jet-lagged vegetables that are often served today, I know which I would choose."

Left: Some like it hot at the Highland Show, others take cover! Above: The Household Cavalry perform a musical ride.

There wasnt much of a breeze to set these unusual wind chimes tinkling. Made by Kerry Dunn from Netherlea, Perthshire, from spoons, forks, glass balls and bottles, they cost from £14.50 to £15.