High in the mountains of Scotland – during the early winter months – the annual harvest of wild deer is under way.
It’s a legal and mandatory cull which landowners must undertake as part of UK wide deer management strategy. This has evolved over many years to achieve and maintain healthy deer, other wildlife and plant species populations.
At the forefront of food developments in the last 15 years, Scottish based Highland Game has tirelessly led the way and created a wide, healthy and nutritious range of venison products.
Over the coming weeks, we’re documenting the journey of venison, from hill to plate .
In this short blog you can see the difficult the work of the Highland Deer stalker who has to go out in all weather conditions reach the deer.
It was once described as ‘the eighth wonder of the world’ and rolling up the hotel driveway, passing it’s beautifully manicured golf courses, it’s hard not to be impressed by the scale and presence of Gleneagles.
Of course it’s fame and prestige precede it, yet to be absolutely honest, my happiest memories of Gleneagles were attending a number of Scottish farm weddings here in the late seventies and early eighties which were great social events.
It’s massive sprung dance floor, has also left and indelible impression in my mind and which I seem to recall being particularly well received by gently mannered, yet boistrous Scottish farmers who loved dancing the night away to the ‘Duke of Perth’, ‘Military Two Step’ and ‘Strip The Willows’ as their kilts swirled and the dance bands birled.
Ah yes, ones salad days, indeed!
Of course it also has also been the forum for great events in the history of our modern world, and the Gleneagles Agreement was one, which I particularly recall during the dark days of apartheid.
So it was, if not exactly like visiting an old friend after many years absence, at the very least a pleasant return on business, to undertake a series of meetings and film recee on behalf of my clients Perth and Kinross Council and the Green Tourism Business Scheme
Waiting for me in a smart business suit at reception was Fiona Smith, who as well as looking after all health and safety, food safety and fire safety, also has the role as co-ordinator for all matters that fall under Gleneagles ‘Going Green’ policy.
After all the usual formalities I asked Fiona to dispense with the Diageo Corporate hat and speak to me about why she ended up in the driving seat for the hotel’s many green initiatives.
And so ensued what can only be described as a whirlwind tour – back of house – through a maze of interlinking corridors to every nook and cranny of the hotel.
Now my friends will tell you I’m not short on puff when it comes to get up and go, and even at fifty five, I feel I can hold my own with many half my age .. well, maybe those in their forties anyway!
So when Fiona explained that as well as having total belief and commitment to apply innovative green solutions to every aspect of Gleneagles business
And with that we were off again at Mach five! From kitchens to restaurants, storage areas to laundry rooms, biomass boilers, to the florists, the shooting school to the equestrian centre, the Glenmor Village and back again to the hotel. Meeting the head chef, Alan Gibb, then Scott Fenwick who is in charge of the entire golf and estates throughout the complex and then back to meet her colleagues in every office that no one had managed to hide in
Ok, so I was wiped, out dynamo’d, and then she was off into the ether to her next meeting.
My only hope is that when we return to film, someone, somewhere will be mindful of this film director’s countenance and age, and put Ms Smith in traction.
Just for a few hours, please?
Graeme MacDonald is a man on mission!
It has been suggested by many that he is Perthshire’s most enthusiastic and committed local food advocate while others have counseled that he is also one of the county’s most committed green exponents.
The truth, I suspect, is he embraces these titles with a knowing smile as responds to next matter on his busy agenda.
Graeme is the manager of Duchally Country Estate which sits amidst 27 verdant acres, of glorious tree heaven, a couple of miles from the A9 near Auchterarder.
I met him on the last day of an extended film recee for a project commissioned by Perth and Kinross Council and the Green Tourism Business Scheme.
He is an eloquent, articulate and enthusiastic individual who believes in getting the very best out of whatever he does, and the GTBS is no exception.
Before we took a walk around the estate we had a bite of lunch where he immediately extolled the benefits of supporting local suppliers and the quality and freshness of their produce. That extends all the way through to the kitchen where Head Chef, Colin Paterson is equally as zealous in his approach to his splendid dishes and using grown herbs from the estate to compliment his menu.
Both men feel very passionate about illustrating the provenance of their food and build that into the overall philosophy of Duchally including taking part in ‘Perthshire Breakfast’ scheme which dovetails naturally with their own values.
With fifty five, two, three and four bedroom luxury lodges Graeme is ringing the changes with a radical approach to expensive new LED lighting in every building which uses a fraction of the present energy requirements.
Although it might seem as if it’s little more than a glow in the dark the bottom line returns show significant energy savings and cost benefits too.
As we leave one of the beautifully appointed lodges he stops mid tracks and point slowly into a wooded glade where in the middle of the afternoon one of Duchally’s many red squirrels has perched itself on a feeder as if right on que for the camera.
Like all his fellow partners in the GTBS initiative at the other resorts, Graeme has a natural and seemingly infinite store of incredible enthusiasm and belief, in not just the immediate benefits of the scheme to his guests and his business but also to the wider community too.
Over the years I’ve interviewed thousands of individuals around the world about an amazing range of subjects, which encompass the diversity of life and on our planet.
Listening to the enthusiasm, and optimism of Graeme, and the other resort practitioners involved in this scheme, offers that most incredible aspect of the human condition, hope and integrity!