Did you know that shortbread is said to have been invented by Mary Queen of Scots in the 16th century?
Although shortbread was prepared during much of the 12th century, its refinement is credited to Mary, Queen of Scots.
She had a team of French chefs who took time to perfect the recipe. Originally, the cookie was large and round. Then many variations of size and format came around.
When shaped into triangles, they were given the name of “petticoat tails” and was great for individual servings. The French chefs at first called them “petits gautelles” (small cakes) but the name was ultimately anglicized into petticoat tails.
In Shetland, it is a tradition to break a decorated shortbread cake over the head of a new bride on the entrance of her new house.
Shortbreads are now a world favorite!
Walkers Shortbread Factory, on the outskirts of Charlestown of Aberlour, in the Speyside region of Scotland
While touring the Stratspey area we had a great shopping experience at Walkers Shortbread Factory while discovering a wonderful world of cookies, shortbreads, oatcakes, cakes and tarts.
Could not resist buying cookies and superb gifts such as those beautiful Walkers teddy bears! Bought more than one …
‘In 1898 our great grandfather, Joseph Walker started out with the mission…
“To bake the world’s finest shortbread”
To this day we carry forward this tradition of baking the finest shortbreads, biscuits, cakes and oatcakes, using our founder’s original recipes.
- The Walker Family ‘
The company is now run by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Walkers has begun construction work on a new 3500 sq m factor at its Fisherton site in Aberlour, in an effort to increase capacity.
It is easy to recognize Walkers products by its packaging, which features a background tartan pattern and Scottish traditional figures, scenes and objects.
‘Popular figures used on Walkers’ boxes and tins include Bonnie Prince Charlie and Flora MacDonald. Some packages feature the two separately and others depict a popular painting by S. Joy including Bonnie Prince Charlie and Flora MacDonald in a poignant farewell.
In the treasured Scottish tale of female heroism, Flora saved Prince Charlie by helping him escape from Scotland after his defeat at Culloden in 1746. So he would not be recognized, she disguised him as her maid. The painting featured on Walkers’ products shows the final farewell as the prince leaves Scotland.’
This awesome elephant sculpture sponsoring Walkers trademark in the botanical gardens inspire us to get a package of tasty shortbreads to enjoy with a cup of tea!
And for those who would like to bake their own, we’ve found this great video:
“My Mother’s secret shortbread recipe – best shortbread in the world…”In the family since three generation..”
A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.
Nature in Scotland with its unique landscapes, rich fauna and flora, is one of our favourite subjects and today I’d like to draw your attention to the Scottish wild cat, a magnificent creature called the ‘Tiger of Scotland’ still roaming wild in the forest of the land. But for how long will it be roaming there, nobody knows for it is an extremely endangered species.
(The Scottish wildcat Source BBC News Highlands & Islands 2013)
Highlands & Islands
21 May 2013
Scottish wildcat could be extinct ‘within two years ‘A scientist who has developed a genetic test to identify pure Scottish wildcats has warned that the species could be extinct within two years.
Dr Paul O’Donoghue said cross breeding with feral and hybrid cats made extinction a certainty unless “urgent” conservation activity took place.The University of Chester biologist said pure wildcats should be trapped.
We didn’t see any wild cat during our seven trips to Scotland but we would have been extremely lucky to see one peeking out from some solitary and remote shelter only known to him and still more lucky to be able to take a picture of it for the wild cat is not only rare and as its name indicates it is very wild.
The wild cat of Scotland Source Highland Tiger
As it is better to see a wild cat (or other wild animals) within the limits of a park or a zoo than none at all we’ve planned to visit the Highland Wild Life Park and Edinburgh zoo in our next trip to Scotland.
We currently have three Scottish wildcats in our collection, two males and one female. In February 2013 three males and one female moved down to Edinburgh Zoo.
In August 2013 we welcomed the birth of two wildcat kittens into our collection. They have been named Ness and Einich.
Our cats in the Park can often be found on a tree branch, in the aerial walkway or in one of the stone cairns in our Forest Habitat. They are fed mainly on rabbit. The rabbits’ furry skin is left on to provide roughage and interest, with extra ‘carnivore’ vitamins added for health. As meat eaters, wildcats spend long hours sleeping and digesting their food during the day.
Mike Tomkies, a great naturalist and writer, is among the best defenders of the wild cat cause.
As a fan of Mike Tomkies and of Moobli, his faithful and beloved german shepherd, I’m very happy to find here a good opportunity to pay homage to master and dog . Mike Tomkies who lived with his dog in Wildernesse, a wooden house he had built on Eilean Shona, a remote island off the west coast of Scotland, had adopted two little wildcat kittens and taught Moobli not only to live on friendly terms with them, which finally proved quite easy (‘Proof of a Tender Heart’), but also to track wild cats (among other animals) in the wilderness.
Moobli Mike Tomkies Jonathan Cape edition 1988
Below is an extract from ‘Proof of a Tender Heart’, Chapter 5 of Moobliby Mike Tomkies published in 1988 . I encourage you to read the book and Mike Tomkies other books. As far as I’m concerned, since it was offered to me, a few years ago, by Iain and Margaret it follows me everywhere in my travelling library.
It was clear after just a few days that [Moobli] was happy to be back at Wildernesse and would soon settle down. How well he would take to the presence of two spitting wildcat kittens was my only concern.
Wildcats are said to be untameable. They may look superficially like giant specimens of the ordinary domestic tabby, but with bushy black-banded tails and vicious claws an inch and a half long, the true Scottish wildcat can be a ferocious creature. In centuries gone by the wildcat inhabited large areas of England and Wales, and kings in the Middle Ages granted licences for the hunting of wolves and wildcats. By 1881 the wildcat was recorded as extinct south of the Scottish border. Although still rare, and now not to be found south of a line from Edinburgh to Glasgow, there is evidence of a small increase in numbers in recent years. Even so, I had been extremely lucky on just one occasion to see a wild cat in its natural environment for long enough to be able to photograph it.
On my return from Canada a local tradesman friend had offered me a pair of wildcat kittens which he had found abandoned by their mother in a ditch. The prospect of studying wildcat behaviour, about which there existed so many contradictory scientific pronouncements, although the sum of our knowledge was small, seemed almost irresistible, yet two fierce spitting tigers that could grow to as much as 16lbs in weight was not a responsibility to be taken on lightly. There was certainly a burgeoning vole population on which they could feed, and I would not want to keep them penned for long, but I had to think about Moobli.
We boated down the loch to inspect the kittens. Perhaps they were only domestics gone wild. They flared, even at the tender age of about seven weeks, as I gazed down at them in their box. Three Highland experts had said they were convinced that these were pure Scottish wildcats, and judging by their bright blue eyes and thick black-ringed tails, not to mention their attacking stance, I thought they were right. The opportunity was too good to miss, and I have told the full story of what became of them and their three litters in my book Wildcat Haven. Their effect on Moobli was remarkable, and that is all I will touch here.
I took the wildcat kittens home in a box with wire netting sides, which I set down in the kitchen. On the second day I let the two little spitfires go loose on the kitchen floor and then brought in Moobli. I was sure he would have to be trained to resist a natural instinct to chase after them. I sat with one arm tightly round him, so that he would not feel jealous, and to my surprise he accepted their presence quite easily. In fact, he was fascinated by them. As the 8-week-old kits tottered about, sniffed firewood logs, mistimed feeble leaps at one another and hissed if we made the slightest movement, Moobli stared at them with large brown eyes beneath furrowed brows. He could sense their youth and weakness. When they fell over while climbing the fireplace fender, he kept looking from them to me, as if wanting assurance that they were all right. He showed no belligerence towards them. When he moved forward carefully to get their scent, and they spat and struck out with their claws, he looked hurt and retreated with a whine, disappointed that they did not wish to play with him.
Some seven years after abandoning the life of an international journalist for a life in the wilds, Mike Tomkies began a remarkable experiment, rearing the most ferocious animal to roam wild in Britain – the Scottish wildcat. The true wildcat is now an endangered species and only to be found in inaccessible parts of the Scottish mountains. It may look like a giant domestic tabby, but with its bright red tongue and vicious claws, it is a formidable and fearless opponent of mankind. It is justly noted for being untameable. To begin with, Mike became the custodian of two spitfire kittens, found abandoned in a ditch when only a few weeks old. Even before they were fully weaned in his kitchen, they could be approached only with extreme care, usually with thick gauntlets as protection against the ravages of tooth and claw. He named them Cleo and Patra, and built them a sturdy natural pen between his lonely cottage and the west wood. The kittens were only seven months old when a spitting and snarling ten-year-old tomcat arrived from London Zoo to change all their lives.Mike resolved to breed a wildcat family and prepare them for a return to the wild. In the years that followed little of the scant scientific theory on wildcat behaviour was bourne out by his careful observations. An update of the lengthy appendix which discusses wildcat populations, history and research on the breed including issues of genetic purity is included in this new edition.Mike’s extraordinary adventures in raising and releasing no fewer than three litters, two pure wildcat and one hybrid from a domestic male gone wild, are full of incident, at times hilarious, and deeply moving. The runt of Cleo’s second litter demolished Mike’s last defences by giving him her total trust and affection while fiercely retaining an utterly wild and independent nature, so he became first to ‘tame’ a wildcat. This unique story of communion between man and animal is taken from two books that have long been out of print – “My Wilderness Wildcats and Liane”, “A Cat from the Wild” – revised and updated by the author and illustrated with many new photographs, all in colour.
WHERE TO SEE WILDCATS
Wildcats are extremely elusive and of course, there are not that many of them! To glimpse one in the wild is therefore a rare and exhilarating privilege. You can improve your chances by:
Being in Scotland!
Being out at dawn and dusk.
Visiting preferred habitats such as woodland edge, rough grassland, moorland fringe.
Being in an area that holds good prey numbers. Wildcats main prey are rabbits and voles.
Being quiet and still – view from a car if practical.
Being persistent – wildcats can range over large areas.
I’m very happy to be back again on Scotiana after celebrating New Year Day in Berry, France, not far from Aubigny-sur-Nère, a favourite place of us not only because it is a very picturesque town with its half-timbered old houses but also because of its historical links with Scotland.
Welcome 2014 ! Scotiana’s team is happy to celebrate this great moment in time with you! Happy, Healthy & Peaceful New Year and may all your wishes come true ¸.•*¨*•♫ “Long may your chimney smoke.” [When people had coal fires, if the chimney was smoking it meant they could afford coal and keep warm.] [...]
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