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Salad Cream

As a service to visitors, both from home and abroad, we will over the summer months give a glimpse of some Scottish towns, castles, houses  etc well worth visiting. We start this week with Cupar, the former county town of Fife, which has a long and illustrious history as a Royal Burgh from 1328. It was Fife's market centre and the seat of justice from the Middle Ages. Today reminders of the past are still apparent and the town enjoys excellent shopping, leisure facilities and parkland. The Cart Haugh, along the banks of the River Eden, and Duffus Park, with the Douglas Bader Gardens, are the town's tranquil green spaces.
 
The Royal Burgh of Cupar grew up around the castle of MacDuff, well known from William Shakespeare's, splendid but historically inaccurate, play MacBeth. The first castle was built, probably around the 11th century, on Castlehill, where the Lady Burn meets the River Eden.There is no trace of a castle now. Because of its central location, and the presence of the river, Cupar became firmly established as the county town of the Kingdom of Fife, with County Buildings and Sheriff Courts - hence the local expression 'He that will to Cupar, maun to Cupar'.
 
Cupar was also  where Sir David Lindsay's play 'Ane Satyre o the Thrie Estatis' was first performed in 1535 on Castlehill. The play, which is still peformed today, was hugely popular at the time as it poked fun at the Three Estates of the 16th century. Until the Burgh School was erected in 1727, Castlehill was a public open space. The Fluthers, now a car park, was also public ground where, at one end on the Bow Butts, Cupar men practiced archery.
 
In 1428, James II, King of Scots, confirmed Cupar' freeport at the mouth of the Motray Burn.The Royal burgh traded with Flanders and the Flemish people, settling in and around Cupar, brought weaving skills to the area. Cupar's markets sold cattle, sheep, hides, wood and grain produced in the surrounding farmland of the Howe of Fife. The Corn Exchange, built in 1862, provided a meeting place for the farmers.
 
Cupar's old Tolbooth - the weigh house and jail - stood at the junction of Crossgate and Bonnygate. One night in 1813, the Provost demolished the Tolbooth before the local law Officers could opose him. The County Buildings and Burgh Chambers on St Catherine Street, now used by Fife Council, were built instead. The Tolbooth's cells were replaced in 1813 by a new building in Coal Road overlooking the River Eden. When a further replacement was built in 1843, the jail became the headquarters of the militia before becoming the premises of Watt's, a seed merchant, and still stands today.
 
Cupar, which is easily reached by car or train, sits in the midst of the glorious rolling farmlands of the Howe of Fife. The attractive village of Ceres, grouped around its Bow Butts and three miles to the south-east of Cupar is home to the Fife Folk Museum. The Village also has an Independence Monument in memory of the men of Ceres who fought at Bannockburn in 1314. Every year in June the village holds a free Highland Games to commemorate their return from the battle. Nearby is The Hill of Tarvit Mansion House and Garden which is owned by the National Trust for Scotland. Built by Sir Robert Lorimer, it is a fine Edwardian mansion which is well worth visiting.
 
The past wekend's sunshine is hopefully a sign that we can enjoy many outdoor activities this year. For picnics and salads this week's recipe for Salad Cream should prove to be very useful. Our thanks to the Ewes Institute of the Dumfriesshire Federation  SWRI for this easily home-made recipe. 
 
Salad Cream
 
Ingredients : 1 tablespoon mustard; 1 tablespoon plain flour; 2 eggs; cream; 1 tablespoon sugar; 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1/2 cup vinegar
 
Mix mustard, sugar, flour and salt together. Add the eggs, then vinegar. stand in boiling water and stir until mixture thickens. Allow it to get quite cold, then add cream until the mixture is the required thickness. The Ewes Institute claim the salad cream will keep for 12 months.

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