How do you doodle a Dandie Dinmont? Here’s where to find out!

Alasdair Hutton, pictured with illustrator William Gorman, will be reading from his new book at Abbotsford on Friday, September 20.
Alasdair Hutton, pictured with illustrator William Gorman, will be reading from his new book at Abbotsford on Friday, September 20.

A children’s storytelling session and workshop in how to doodle a Dandie Dinmont takes place next Friday (September 20), at Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott.

Alasdair Hutton, the voice behind the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, has written a new children’s picture book, which is set at Abbotsford and features Scott’s terriers and young children.

Alasdair Hutton's new book.

Alasdair Hutton's new book.

The idea for the book came when he was invited to a gathering of Dandie Dinmont dogs and their owners at the Shirra’s former home, near Galashiels.

On hearing about the dogs and their place on the list of vulnerable native breeds, he promised to write a children’s book featuring the distinctive terriers.

‘Mustard & Pepper’ has been published by independent company Curly Tale Books, based in Wigtown.

And Alasdair is returning to Abbotsford next Friday to launch his book in the place where it all started.

Alasdair Hutton will be reading from his new book at Abbotsford on Friday, September 20.

Alasdair Hutton will be reading from his new book at Abbotsford on Friday, September 20.

“I was at Abbotsford to celebrate 200 years since the publication of Scott’s second novel Guy Mannering.

“In the book, the character Dandie Dinmont – whom the dog breed Sir Walter Scott loved is named after – had several terriers, all of whom were called Mustard or Pepper.”

Joining Alasdair on Friday will be the book’s illustrator William Gorman, and together, they will be holding short events at 2pm and 3pm, in the estate’s visitor centre, with Alasdair reading the book and talking about Sir Walter and his dogs.

This will be followed by a short fun workshop with William showing everyone how to draw a Dandie Dinmont doodle.

There will also be the opportunity to get a copy of the book signed by author and illustrator.

The charming story, aimed at young children, features the children and dogs of Sir Walter Scott with the grounds and house at Abbotsford as the scenic backdrop.

When Sir Walter’s youngest daughter loses her necklace during a game of hide and seek, her brothers and sister take turns to find it along with their dogs – but will Mustard and Pepper save the day?

For the book, William made a careful study of the distinctive breed, along with Sir Walter Scott’s home at Abbotsford.

The result is a selection of beautiful watercolour paintings perfectly fitting the traditional style of the story.

Alasdair said he was delighted with the illustrations.

He told us: “William is a frightfully good artist and he went to a great deal of trouble to be absolutely accurate in the drawings – from the dogs to Abbotsford House.”

Alasdair, who lives in Kelso, worked as a journalist and broadcaster in Australia and Scotland, represented the South of Scotland as an MEP for 10 years and also served as a local councillor in the Borders, for nine years as convener.

He is the author of The Tattoo Fox and a Treasury of Scottish Nursery Rhymes, as well as books for adults, including The Greatest Show on Earth.

Publisher Jayne Baldwin said: “We have been absolutely delighted with the reception the book has had so far. It’s been winging its way all over the world!

“Undoubtedly William Gorman’s illustrations have captured the charm of this delightful breed of dog.”

Mustard & Pepper is available, priced £7.99, from Abbotsford and independent bookshops.