Peebles to be spoon-fed with festivals

L-r, Val Brunton (owner of The Sunflower Restaurant in Peebles) with Lulu Benson.'Val is part of the Peebles Food Festival and Lulu the Chutney Festival, seen here with large wooden spoons made for the Wood Festival. All three festivals are running on the 22nd to the 23rd of October.
L-r, Val Brunton (owner of The Sunflower Restaurant in Peebles) with Lulu Benson.'Val is part of the Peebles Food Festival and Lulu the Chutney Festival, seen here with large wooden spoons made for the Wood Festival. All three festivals are running on the 22nd to the 23rd of October.

THIS weekend Peebles is hosting the Peebles Food Festival, the first International Chutney Festival at Neidpath Castle, and the Scottish Conker Championships on Tweed Green at the start of the Tweed Valley Forest Festival.

So squirrel away autumn’s plenty at the Peebles Food Festival, from tomorrow until Sunday.

The festival features a farmers’ market on Sunday with more than 25 stalls selling Scottish and Borders produce, tastings of wine, whisky, beer and sausages, afternoon teas at Cocoa Black and the Tontine Hotel, Ready Steady Cook for kids, and Masterchef cookery with Tony Borthwick of the Michelin starred Plumed Horse and Tony Singh of Edinburgh’s Oloroso restaurant. Collect a raffle ticket and you could win a day voucher for Stobo Castle luxury spa.

Forsyths Butchers and Val Brunton of Peebles’ Sunflower Restaurant have teamed up to concoct Border beer sausages, such as beef and Traquair Bear Ale, wild boar and Broughton Brewery’s Black Douglas, venison and Game Bird from Scottish Borders Brewery, and pork and apricot with Thistly Cross cider – all available to munch during a Scottish beer tasting at the Eastgate Theatre at 7:30pm on Saturday.

Any fine Border ingredients may fill the goodie bags of Ready, Steady, Cook starring local chefs at 7:30pm tomorrow in the Eastgate Theatre, followed the next day at 11am by Junior Ready Steady Cook, where Peebles’ primary school pupils compete to prepare healthy, local meals.

All tickets for the Peebles Food Festival are available at the town’s Eastgate Theatre and online at www.eastgatearts.com, and you can find more information on the weekend’s food events and stalls at www.peeblesfoodfestival.com.

What would be an excellent relish for the Peebles Food Festival? Perhaps the first ever international Chutney Festival, One World, One Chutney, on Saturday and Sunday at Neidpath Castle?

Aspiring global chutney champions can pit their own 1lb jar of tracklements on the battlements against entries from Zimbabwe, Shanghai and Turkey, and vie for the total prize fund of £1,000. The International Chutney Awards have three classes: posh for professionals, scary for amateurs and baby for under-16s. The closing date is today. To enter, go to www.oneworldonechutney.com or contact organisers Charlotte Fairbairn on 07754 163941 or Lulu Benson on 07747 791931.

Neidpath Castle is also open to visitors on the weekend of the chutney festival.

The piquant two-day programme of events packs food, words and lots of sauce, with stalls selling esoteric chutneys, jams, jellies, pickles and preserves, biscuits, cheese, hog roasts, and cider, vinegar and beer tasting.

Zebedee Helm, cartoonist from The Lady, is displaying his chutney cartoons alongside live music, vintage clothing, bookstalls, literary talks, and the launch of the festival’s own novel called, for ease of reference, One World, One Chutney.

For children there’s pumpkin rolling – and hurling tomatoes across the Tweed with a trebuchet – a type of medieval war slingshot.

The International Year of the Forests is being honoured by the Tweed Valley Forest Festival, an eight-day celebration of the Borders’ trees and wood-lovers in and around Peebles from Saturday until Sunday October 30.

Draw your conkers at high noon on Saturday for the Scottish Conker Championships on Tweed Green, where hardened conkerors can enter four categories: junior, youth, adult and rogues for doctored conkers. Winning smashes will be awarded elm burr conkers handmade by wood turner Bruce Frost from Wood Works in Peebles.

A weekend wood market is selling unique Scottish wooden crafts, and pieces of wood for your own project, direct from the carpenters at Peebles’ Tweed Green and Community Centre from 10am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday. Children of all ages can design and build a treehouse in the free big draw on Tweed Green from 11am to 4pm on Sunday.

For more on the week’s events at the Tweed Valley Forest Festival, such as biking in the forest at Glentress, leaf printing at Robert Smail Printing Works in Innerleithen, the Woodlanders exhibition and talk at Eastgate Theatre, the Dog Factor dog show at Kailzie Gardens and ghostly Halloween fun at Traquair and Bowhill, visit www.forest-festival.com.

There will be a free minibus shuttling visitors between all three festivals.