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As we enter the Burns Supper season we look at how the Burns’ generation regarded Robert Burns (for modern views please see Scottish Quotations).  

After the poet’s death a traveller in Scotland reported a conversation he had with an old countryman by the roadside. When the name of Burns was mentioned, the old man’s back straightened and a fire came into his eyes and he said -

“He had the heart of man in him. He was all heart and all man. And there’s nothing, at least in a poor man’s experience, either bitter or sweet, which can happen to him, but a line of Burns springs into his mouth and gives him courage and comfort if he needs it.”

He spoke for us all.

When Robert Burns first went to Mauchline he wrote a jolly jingle about the ‘Belles of Mauchline’:

Miss Miller is fine, Miss Markland’s divine,
   Miss Smith she has wit, and Miss Betty is braw;
There’s beauty and fortune to get wi’ Miss Morton,
   But Armour’s the jewel for me o’ them a’.

One of the Mauchline Belles, Jean Armour, became immortal as spouse of Scotland’s greatest son, but Robert Burns touched all their lives. Some seventy years after the verse had been written, the old women who had been the youthful Miss Morton, lay dying. Her grand-children stood around the bed. Waiting for the end, they spoke in hushed tones of past times. “Do you remember Robert Burns ?” one of them asked. A smile lit the drawn and wrinkled face. The woman’s dying lips moved –

“Ay” she said “Brawly that!”

Almost nothing else needs said, what better way to remember Robert Burns – Ay, brawly that.

No Burns Supper would be complete without a piece, or two, of shortbread and this week’s recipe makes a simple but delicious Shortbread, which goes very well with a Fly Cup out-with the Burns Season.


Ingredients:  8oz margarine; 10oz plain flour; 2oz cornflour; 4oz caster sugar

Method:  Pre-heat oven to 160 deg C/ Gas Mark 3. Rub margarine into flour and cornflour until mixture is fine crumbs. Stir in sugar, Form into a ball and roll out (approx ¼ inch). Cut into circles or shapes. Bake for 25-30 minutes, When cool dust with caster sugar.

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