Michelle Maddox is the brains behind Abernethy's 'Clootie McToot Dumplings'. She grew up on a farm, and as a child she could often be found tending to livestock, making butter (old school stylee with paddles) or hanging out with her brother on the back of a tractor. So, it's fair to say that she is used to a bit of hard graft. Which is just as well because she has plenty of it as chief dumpling at Clootie McToot.
Michelle's day begins at 4 am when most of us are slap bang in the middle of our REM cycle. She stumbles to the kitchen and makes herself a ginormous cup of the tea before preparing all ingredients - fruit, eggs and all the rest - that make up a scrumptious clootie dumpling.
That's all before she wakes up hubby and the kids, makes them breakfast and makes sure they are en route to where they need to be. Then when she's done, she dons the chef whites and steps back into the kitchen.
I think it was Harry S. Truman that said: 'If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen'. He was almost certainly talking metaphorically but Michelle literally loves the 30°C heat at Clootie HQ.
Once all the clooties are made she skelps them for luck before popping them in a pot where they are boiled alive (only kidding, she kills them first!). When they are done she de-cloots them, dries them out, then leaves them to cool. She then switches into mum mode, collects the kids, helps them with their homework and makes them dinner.
Later on that night, it's back to the kitchen to package the dumplings and put them on the shelves before putting the kids to bed. Phew! Time to relax, Michelle? Not a chance - Clootie accounts and paperwork are the final jobs of any day.
Michelle used to work for the Citizens Advice Bureau teaching financial capability in Perthshire schools, so she puts these skills to good use, finishing up in time to watch an hour of telly before heading to bed at 11 pm.
Miraculously, she somehow found some spare time to answer our Workdays and Weekends questions!
Tell us the weirdest / funniest thing that has ever happened to you at work?
We are launching a wall of fame in the shop, which is clooties depicted as famous Scottish actors and personalities. In hindsight, I should have designed a wall of shame, as every so often we pull a clootie dumpling out of the pot that has developed into a strange, often very funny shape. We have had hearts, a figure of eight, squares, and on occasions dumplings that resemble certain bodily parts. Can you imagine the giggles of packing them into a vacuum bag for protection??!!
What signals the start of your days off?
Days off are very few and far between. However, if we have a day off we spend it as a family. Our last day off we all went on a shopping spree. Hubby, the boys and I bought a few items. However our daughter... she is a shopping queen! She bought a whole new wardrobe. On some family days, we include Ralph of French bulldog and go to as many I worked on the Food and Drink Show in early 2000 with Antony Worrall Thompson and Oz Clark. Antony used to call me Heidi as I had long blonde hair. dog-friendly places as possible.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I worked on the Food and Drink Show in early 2000 with Antony Worrall Thompson and Oz Clark. Antony used to call me Heidi as I had long blonde hair. During this time, I lived in Catford in a house share and my favourite meal was rice, beans and plantain.
What is at the top of your bucket list?
Travel! I would love to do something like the TV programme ‘Race around the world’. To have the opportunity to travel around the world with no modern technology and just cash. This would be amazing, challenging and would certainly beat lying on a beach!!!
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
Working for an Estate agent when I moved back up to Scotland from Suffolk. Oh my!!! I managed to wing the interview and was offered the job. I had no knowledge or interest in properties. However, I was responsible for meeting the clients, signing contracts, measuring the properties, taking photos and valuing. Oh!! the first client I had, I went around their beautiful home taking photos, only to find when I went back to the office that I had left the lens cap on!!! I quit after a month.
Who or what inspires you?
Nick Vujicic. His message was to love life and live without limits.
Tell us about the day you’d love to live again?
I suspect as life moves forward one might choose a different day each time. The day I met my husband to be, our wedding, the birth of each child. However, there is one day I would love to live again so that I could change one thing. My father chose to take his own life over the telephone to me. As I dropped the phone mid-conversation and jumped in my car to get to his house quickly (only a five minutes’ drive.) I was held up at temporary traffic lights. When I arrived it was too late. I never got the opportunity to say 'I love you'.
Every day offers something different and all the 'today's' excite me more than the 'yesterday's'.What’s the best part about your job?
The best part of my job is …well… just about everything. It does not feel like a job at all. Every day offers something different and all the 'today's' excite me more than the 'yesterday's'.
Complete this sentence; the best things in life are not...
... available to buy. Love, Laughter, family, friends, hugs and happy memories. And of course, a big bowl with steaming hot Clootie McToot Dumpling and creamy custard. My idea of heaven!!!!
Lee McKay Doe is a psychotherapist and counsellor based in Perthshire offering person-centred therapy at Therapy with Lee in Scotland.
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