The legendary Aitken’s Morning Roll bothy ballad

rowie, buttery, morning roll

The cause of it all: 70 per cent fat, 30 per cent salt, 100 per cent pure gastronomic bliss. The rowie, buttery or morning roll. Aitkens do them best.

The more alert of you will have noticed that a YouTube link to the documentary Bothy Life appeared on this blog a few days ago – and quickly disappeared again.

Frustrating, I know, especially for foreign readers who can’t get access to iPlayer, but I was asked to remove the link for copyright reasons and because it caused problems for Jack Archer, who made the film.

UK viewers can still, until 23 January at least, see it on iPlayer at .

However Jack has been in touch with a wee consolation prize – the full version of the Aitken’s Morning Roll Song as he filmed it at Allt Sheicheachan during the making of Bothy Life. In the event, for reasons of length, abusive language and musical taste, it hit the cutting room floor (if there is such a place in these digital days), but Jack has resurrected it and YouTubed it for posterity.

For the uninitiated, and as explained at the start of this clip, the Aitken’s Morning Roll Song started out as a harmless wee song about… well, you can guess. To that our resident piper, Ian Shand, added an extra verse about Neil Findlay, who looks after Bob Scott’s Bothy.

Then it just exploded, more than doubling in size as Kenny Freeman wrote yet more verses, about a number of the regular characters in the Eastern Highlands branch of the MBA.

Jack filmed the first full performance, which is presented here, but the damned thing has just kept growing and the last performance I heard, at the Bob Scott’s Bothy Mark III 10th anniversary ceilidh, was over 10 minutes long! That’s long enough to put some prog rock epics to shame!

But enough preamble. On with the show…


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20 Responses to The legendary Aitken’s Morning Roll bothy ballad

  1. Stu Max says:

    Superb work!

    P.s. Neil. For your overseas readers struggling to watch the programme on I player, I’d recommend using the following extension for google chrome internet browser. It basically routes the overseas computers address to make it look like its in the UK

    Loved Bothy Life. Incredibly homesick now!

  2. Great stuff – wish I’d been there. I always miss out on stuff like that. Those morning rolls look pretty nice and 70% fat and some salt (and wi’ some butter on) is just what you want before you go walking in my book!

  3. John Bygate says:

    Brilliant Neil, we are now immortalised in verse as well as the telly.

  4. Mark says:

    Pity this,or part of it, wasn’t on Bothy Life. Mind you I wouldn’t fancy eating one. I value my cardiovascular system!

    • Ach, all stories and TV programmes are the same: if it’s a good story you’re telling there’s always far too much good stuff to fit into the time/space available, so there’s always good stuff left out. To be fair to Jack, this was probably cut a) because of Knowlesy’s colourful language at the start and b) because there are a lot of in-jokes which would mean nothing to a general viewer. That’s quite apart from any considerations of musical taste!!
      And get some rowies inside you: just what you need. 😉

  5. piper says:

    Pure pleasure once in a while will dee ye nae hairm ……half a dizin Aitkens rowies , washed doon with a pint of full cream milk .

  6. Bob L. says:

    It wisnae jist Aiberdonians that loved Rowies!….I loved the co-opie anes!

  7. piper says:

    Bob , that,s a bit like having a Macallan dram , then someone handing me a bells ?

  8. Peter A says:

    An introduction – for those who haven’t a clue what your on aboot =
    [ to the same tune ]

    The Eastern Highlands hae this song, its very very long
    It micht gang on for ever, – but you can sing along.
    Its a’ aboot the morning roll, or rowie if you like,
    If you want to get some, just jump on yer bike
    Ging ower the brig tae Torry, and pedal up the brae
    Mind and tak yer baggie, or you’ll hae 5p tae pae
    On the way you’ll pass some loons, they may swear and curse
    They’re a’ thae eff’ing Highlanders, there’s ane in ilka verse.
    When you reach Glenbervie Road, you’re almost at your goal
    Hae a sniff o’ the morning air and you’ll smell morning roll
    Forget a’ thae fast-food stores and chinky takeaway
    You’re in the land of plenty – at Aitken’s Bakery

  9. piper says:

    i like that Peter .

  10. Peter A says:

    Once you start its difficult to stop.

    Donald Trump came wandering, the Cairngorms to view
    He planned a brand new golf course, through the Lairig Ghru
    ” We’ll have to shift some stones, ye ken, and maybe drain that moor.
    The golfers will all love my wee clubhouse they call Courour “.
    But the Eastern Highlands had a wheeze, they trapped him in a hole,
    And took him up the Devil’s Point, to give him ” his morning roll “.

  11. william says:

    hello again / a short time ago I asked if anyone could tell me the name of the chanter tune played in bothy life / if I have had a reply I have not seen it so I am asking again / I also would like to know the chanter make and where could I get the music / the person to ask would be piper Shand so if anyone can tell me how to contact him I would be most grateful / I must add that I am not very good with computers / thank you

    • Hi William, I did email a reply to you, but it may have gone adrift. I spoke to Jack Archer, who made the film, and he replied: As for the chanter, I asked Jim about this at the time and he said the thought the tune was called ‘The Dudac’. It was taught to him by a guy called Grant Milne and he thinks its of Middle Eastern origin. I’ll ask him about the make of his chanter. I haven’t heard back yet about the type of chanter, but it may be that Ian ‘Piper’ Shand might recognise it. He’s on this site now and then so will probably see the post.

  12. piper says:

    Hi William , Looking at the chanter in question , i dont think it is a wooden chanter , It looks more like a modern plastic chanter , as there is a bright reflection from the candle light , but i could be wrong ? i have a wooden chanter ( lawrie ) which is old , but i take a plastic chanter to the bothies . .

  13. Pingback: Utterly buttery: the Scottish pastries ‘that look like...

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