Apr 232015

By Julia Ghisoni.RowiesRollsPancakes

Fa is it maks the best rowies?
Is it Murdoch Allan or Thains?
Or the Aberdeen Buttery Co.?
Or Aitken’s, I jist dinna ken
Far div ye ging for proper pies,
In proper pastry casings?
Ye dinna get them in Gregg’s
It’s Chalmer’s, Thain’s or Aitken’s ?
Pies wi’ chicken curry
Scotch pies, mince an’ tattie
There’s naethin’ sae fine for yer denner
Than a steak pie in a saftie.
The finest wee baker in Cults
Is soon tae be no more
Will Sainsbury’s sell decent pies
Fan Kelly shuts his door?
Div ye min The Baker’s Oven?
Mitchell Muil, Strathdee?
Low’s the baker in Torry?
Granite City Bakery?
Pies wi’ beans an’ tatties
Pies wi’ macaroni
Bridies, stovies, sassidge rolls
Pies wi’ mince an’ skirlie
The Gordon Baker, The Bedford
The Greenfern an’ The Byron
The Newton Dee an’ JG Ross
Oh fit rare, fit fine min.
There’s naewye like the ‘deen
If ye wint fine pies, it’s a caiker
Bide awa’ fae Gregg’s
An’ support yer local baker
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Sep 132013

On a whim and a wave of memories of his love for his childhood bike, Gary Sutherland calls his younger brother Stewart and proposes that they go for a wee run, just like they did as bairns. This time it’s not a Christmas morning 5-mile round trip to Duffus from their home village of Hopeman on brand new bikes. This time it’s around Scotland. Despite neither having been astride a bike for years, the response is, ‘Yeah, OK’. And so it begins. David Innes reviews.

Life CyclePart travelogue, part buddy movie storyboard, Life Cycle celebrates the simple pleasures and sense of achievement to be had by travelling, seeing the world from a different perspective and all via self-generated pedal power.

Sutherland’s narrative captures the joys of achievement, cholesterol-stuffed Scottish breakfasts, pints and companionship, even when he and Stewart are struggling with the gradients between Ullapool and Durness.

He dislikes hills. He grimaces at headwinds. He detours miles to visit a good coffee shop. He’s a proper cyclist all right.

Although sometimes the in-family anecdotes and snatches of conversation veer into ‘you had to be there’ territory, there are some gems.

Gary and Stewart have found a Callander bakery selling butteries. Yes, civilisation and Ambrosian lard-laden soul food that far south.

‘Do you think butteries are good for you?’ asked Stewart
‘Oh aye,’ I said, even though they’re nothing but butter and salt, ‘I reckon you could power your way round Scotland on butteries alone’.
‘I’d like to see you give it a go’.
‘I reckon I’d be able to do 10 miles to the buttery’.
‘That’s pretty impressive’.
‘It’s also a lot of butteries’.

Although two-wheeled trainspotterly stattoes like me would love to have had daily progress charts, tables of averages and maps of the journey included as an illustration of the tour, that isn’t the purpose of Life Cycle. In some places it’s almost cathartic as the struggle to self-motivate each morning and the mental and physical anguish of tortuous hill climbs are described.

Life Cycle is a tale of a couple of weeks one summer re-affirming life’s simplicity and familial ties. No more, no less. This is encapsulated in the description of a long and welcome descent after a day of excruciating climbing in Sutherland.

My eyes were fixed on my wee brother, flying free amid this majestic landscape. It was one of the finest sights I’d ever seen. It was all worth it for this.

Now and again there can be too much seemingly-anodyne detail given, but on publication of A Journal Of The Plague Year and Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe was acclaimed for bringing journalistic verisimilitude to the fledgling novel genre. Gary Sutherland is in good company.

So, as we cyclists feel winter on the back of some chillier September mornings, as the shorts are consigned to the back of the drawer and the winter gloves are looked out, what better time to reflect on the pleasures of summer cycling and take inspiration for one’s own road trip once the days lengthen again? You may find it between the easily-read pages of Life Cycle.

Life Cycle: A Bike Ride Round Scotland and Back to Childhood. Gary Sutherland.
Birlinn Books. 214pp. £9.99

Feb 102012

By Belle Mont.

Oh stunning is the vision that the CGP has shown
Of a futuristic plaza where the land that we all own
Lies waiting for the digger to tear it all asunder
It’s Mounthooly in the firmament, with parking spaces under

A theatre. A forest. Gardens by the acre.
A rowie tree with sponsorship by Aitken’s, Torry’s baker?
Trips on ships on Denburn’s tides from the former Trainie Park
On noble graceful clippers just like the Cutty Sark?

A cottage made of gingerbread? A Lagavulin fountain?
A petting zoo – with unicorns – below Malteser Mountain?
It never rains, the breeze is warm, one never needs a brolly
Thanks to Callum, Oban’s is a poorer McCaig’s Folly

A Granite Web, renowned world-wide, or is that even wider?
A web designed and realised by a maniacal spider
High-maintenance, and dear to clean, with all those nooks and crannies
Nodded through for me and you, by feart brown-nosing mannies

A monolithic Concrete Web with a permanence of gales
Shops with garish frontages proclaiming last chance sales
Litter in the flower beds, the ramps a ‘boarder’s dream
The urine of a Friday night in constant steaming stream.

Think forward two decades or more and stroll along its edges
And tell your bairns or grandchild, “Here once grew flowers and hedges
Ripped apart, the verdant heart, to leave this barren hole
A city, formerly in bloom, now a town without a soul”.

Jun 242010

Here is a list of ten better uses for the 50 million quid. Please let me know what you think or if any amendments should be made or whatever. I’ve got an artist drawing a few of them up for added funniness!!

1. Buy enough rocket fuel to send a certain executive board into deep space and, if that is not enough money, raise business rates to pay for the rest!

2. Give £1000 to each household in Aberdeen so we can all party our way out of recession.

3. Invest in research to resurrect Scotty from Star Trek back from the dead and get him to beam undesirable councillors up! Would make a change from beams of sunlight supposedly shining out of their backsides!

4. Pay for the new Aberdeen Football Club stadium and use the change to pay Cristiano Ronaldo to play the second half against Rangers.

5. Spend it on a fleet of tanks with huge water cannons loaded with vast quantities of quick setting soundproofing foam to spray on vehicles pumping out excessively load boomf-boomf music.

6. Add an extra 50p to the budget and pay for the Lord Provost’s winter clothes collection!

7. Build a time machine on the cheap and go back to the 1800’s where we could pay for 1000 city squares with the leftover cash!

8. Buy every person in Aberdeen with a disability a new souped-up electric wheelchair, decked out with performance tyres, race car seats and leather trim as an apology for closing down day-centres!

9. Demolish the Bon Accord centre and replace it with a huge fountain flanked by gold statues of Willie Miller, Joe Harper, Denis Law, Jim Leighton and Alex Ferguson, each mounted on a giant rowie held in the beak of an even bigger seagull! An artist’s impression would be good. Maybe we should put aside £25m for the consultation, and run a design contest?

10. And finally…Pay for a tenth of the CSP shambles!

…. So what do you think? Do you have a better ( or sillier ) way to spend £50? Write to us with your ideas

Article by Ross Cunningham

Illustrations by Anita Inverarity