Thursday, 29 April 2010

The potato story

No, not that potato story... We all know that they were discovered first by Sir Francis Drake. You didn't think that it was Walter Raleigh did you? Oh no! You see, Sir Francis stopped off in Columbia in 1586 after another run in with the Spanish Armada. He needed to collect provisions for the journey home, and one such was a bundle of potato tubers. The rest, as they say, is history and had nothing whatever to do with Walter Raleigh! Besides, the term 'discovery' is a bit misleading when you consider they'd been cultivated in South America for at least 7000 years.

But still, the humble spud is quite remarkable when you think about it. No other crop (at the time Drake brought his tubers home) was as easy to grow, nutritious and economical. And just look at it now! Crisps, chips, jackets, roasted, mashed, boiled, fried.... potatoes have come a long way in a short amount of time.

Which is also true of the McCain Potato Story Bus, which has arrived this week in McCain's home town of Scarborough, on the North Yorkshire coast. Now, Scarborough and I go back a long way. It's probably the nearest thing I've got (as an oft-travelled individual) to a home town, and I have to confess to spending winter evenings shivering on the terraces watching my (now defunct) 'home' football team at - yes, that's right - the McCain Stadium on Seamer Road.

So when The Potato Story got in touch to ask if Charlie would like to grow a few potatoes of his own I thought, why not? We've only got a small yard, but we grow what we can: a couple of tomato plants in hanging baskets, runner beans along the fence. Why not add some spuds, I thought? So they kindly sent a couple of tubers allowing us to add to our gardening repertoire. And their largesse doesn't end there, because they're giving away a Little Angels garden tool kit to one lucky reader of Bringing up Charlie. Simply tell us what you're growing in the garden this year and you could win just the thing to encourage a little green-fingered help.

And if you're in the area, you can find out a whole lot more about the humble spud by hopping aboard the bus. But if you miss it (or you're nowhere near Scarborough) don't worry as there's plenty to see and do on the Potato Story website.

Whatever would Sir Francis Drake have made of it?
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