As a farmer's daughter the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh has been an annual pilgrimage from a very early age. I didn't quite know how early until I recently quizzed my Mum about my first visit. Turns out I went as a bump in her tummy. A slight bleed resulted Mum being taken from the showground by ambulance and admitted to hospital. Meanwhile Dad stayed at the show for the rest of the week and never even mentioned to their fellow Young Farmers Club friends that Mum was in hospital! Typical farmer. Any fellow farming children must read this hilarious Farmer's Weekly article. 10 thing's only a farmer's child would know. I guarantee it will ring true.
Whilst the Highland Show has always been a must do for the farming community, over the years it has expanded to provide something for everyone. Of course farming is still the main event but it also encompasses an outdoor living and countryside area, shopping & fashion, entertainment, children's activities, renewable energy and food & drink. A girly road trip was in order to attend this year's event. We only managed a day, out of the four day event, which was fantastic but you really need more time to see everything to its full potential.
Plenty of photo opportunities along the way. Where else could you be snapped with a giant haggis, a kelpie and a coo? A highlight is always a visit to the bee and honey tent which is located just as you enter the showground from the west car park. Great fun dressing up as a bee keeper, tasting honey and learning about the vital work that bees do.
We headed to the Food Hall next to get a good look round before it got too busy. Plenty of tasters of both food and drink on offer and a good selection of exhibitors from throughout Scotland encompassing rapeseed oil, cheese, meat, whisky, gin, ice cream, beer, preserves, porridge and more. It would however have been nice to have seen the hall itself kept purely for Scottish food exhibitors and a Visitors Maquee elsewhere in the showground for those from further afield and those selling non food products.
You are always spoiled for choice when you begin to feel peckish. This year the RHASS had introduced a Food Charter policy as part of being a Homecoming Event. In essence this meant that pretty much all food had to be produced in Scotland. This certainly seemed to result in an overall improvement of the quality of food on offer. My favourites were Whitmuir The Organic Place, Summerhouse Drinks, Gooseberry & Elderflower Iced & Light.
Time for a bit of networking and I was delighted to see the showground from the perspective of the Sponsors Lounge and get the opportunity to find out more about Eat, Drink, Discover Scotland. Food and drink have always been an integral part of the Highland Show experience. Within its remit to promote the interests of land-based industries the RHASS has decided to launch the only national food and drink show in Scotland specialising in exclusively Scottish produce. www.eatdrinkdiscoverscotland.co.uk
Eat Drink Discover Scotland will be a three-day foodie extravaganza, with hundreds of exhibitors showcasing top notch Scottish produce, a stellar line-up of celebrity chefs and a packed programme of demonstrations, tastings, talks and sampling sessions. Taking place on 12-14 September, the show will be a flagship event in Scottish Food and Drink fortnight. Advance tickets are now available online priced at £12.50. On the gate price is £15. Under 15's and parking are free.
I've already got the dates blocked off in my diary to attend. I might need all three days to cover it all. Particularly love the sounds of the three cookery theatres. Celebrity chefs, masterchef finalists and Great British Menu competitors take the stage in theatre one. Theatre two is kitted out as a cookery school were you can sign up for a hands-on masterclasses for £25 (or £40 if two of you cook together). Theatre three is home to Scottish food and drink producers who will host a range of skills demos, samplings and tastings such as craft bakery, game butchery, cocktail making with artisan spirits and intricate chocolate work. If that doesn't tempt your tastebuds I don't know what will.
Home from a great day out with sore feet and slightly sunburnt shoulders. Dates for the diary for next year are Thursday 18th to Sunday 21st June 2015. Alas we never met the poster girl but did see some gorgeous hairy heilan' coos with cool air rather than hot air blowing.