Torphins nutritionist meets slow food cyclist

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Deeside nutritionist and chairwoman of the Aberdeenshire Slow Food convivium, Dr Chris Fenn, met eccentric foodie Tim Keates, who is creating a ‘food chain’ of Britain’s best, as he cycles from one end of the country to the other.

The Great British Food cycle is a celebration of good quality, local food, and fits well with the philosophy of slow food.

The journey is slow in every sense. Tim’s bike is a 1930’s Grundle Model T with only a single gear and rod brakes. Thankfully he has added a comfy saddle, and had a new wicker basket made to carry his food deliveries.

Tim hasn’t had the best of weather on his journey. His tweeds are specially-made and lightweight - but become heavy when wet.

Tim set off from John O’ Groats earlier this month, and his route took him through Huntly, Inverurie and Stonehaven.

He met Fiona Fraser of Huntly Herbs who gave him a jar of their award-winning chutney. Dr Chris Fenn met Tim as he cycled through Stonehaven. Chris works with local producers and the Crannach Bread stall at the markets.

“We had hoped that Tim would cycle into the farmer’s market, and meet some of the local producers - and do some tasting,” she said. “Tim has been making slow progress and didn’t make it in time. However, we waited for him, and he made a grand entrance as he arrived in Stonehaven.”

Tim was concerned about having enough energy each day, and Dr Fenn has been giving him some advice. She made Tim a supply of her special Fenn Flapjack energy bars.

“Tim is burning about 6,000 calories each day,” explained Chris. “It is hard work, especially on his old style bike - I know because I enjoy cycling and wanted to try a different bike.

“Even on a slight incline it is impossible to cycle and you have to get off and push. These days we are used to clicking into another gear, but in the 1930’s it was normal to get off and push.”

Tim is carrying a 200 year old sourdough starter, which he “feeds” every day, and is sharing with individual and artisan bakers along the way. Two portions of the starter have remained in Aberdeenshire. One is being used by Calum Buchanan, who bakes his own bread for Buchanan’s Bistro, next to Woodend Barn in Banchory.

Doug Cookson, artisan baker at the Crannach Bakery and tea shop near Ballater, took the other. The sourdough starter originated in Russia, and was brought back to the UK by Andrew Whitley, of the Village Bakery, in Cumbria.

Andrew is keen to share the starter with other bakers, and teaming up with Tim on his Great British Food cycle is a perfect way to do the deliveries.

Visit for a blog post about her meeting with Tim, and more information on Tim’s progress down to Lands End.