A chat with Matthew, Rudi, Connor and Oli

Matthew, Rudi, Connor, and Oli have been coming out to our community gardens for three or four months now. They got involved as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Awards and have been a massive help in creating our community gardens in Peebles and Stobo. They turn up every Saturday, come rain, shine, hail, sleet, or snow, and get stuck into any jobs that need doing. It’s been really nice getting to know them and they will all be members of our community garden team for as long as they wish. A couple of weeks ago I sat down with them for a little chat about what we have been doing and about the broader topics of food and community. It is always fun talking with the lads and I knew it would be an interesting chat. They didn’t let me down. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did…


What is food? Is it something to enjoy? Something to fuel your body? Or something to fill a hole?

Matthew, Rudi and Connor: 1. Something to fuel your body. 2. Something to enjoy. 3. Something to fill a hole.
Oli: 1. Something to enjoy. 2. Something to fuel your body. 3. Something to fill a hole.

Are you interested in cooking and is there anything you think you cook really well?

Connor: I’m interested in cooking.
Oli: I’m not so interested and I can’t really cook anything really well. I can cook simple things. Like microwaving beans or making toast.
Connor: I can make a good steak pie.
Rudi: What, pastry and everything?
Connor: I don’t make the pastry but I make everything else.
Rudi: No, but I made flapjacks once. That counts.
Matthew: I quite often make fried eggs for breakfast. Occasionally I make dinner.
Oli: I have made stuff in the past like shortbread and flapjacks. And I made hummus once. Oh, and guacamole. But I don’t remember how to make any of that now.

Do you like watching TV cooking programmes?

Rudi: No. I find them boring.
Matthew: No
Connor: Yeah, I like watching Masterchef.
Oli: Not really, no

What is your favourite main course and dessert?

Connor: Chicken and leak pie – my mum’s. Banoffee Pie.
Rudi: Pizza. Homemade pizza made with naan bread. Jamaica Cake. The whole packet.
Oli: Lemony salmon. With olives. Toffee pudding with ice cream.
Matthew: Gammon steak with a fried egg and pineapple. Chocolate fondant with ice cream.

Has the food you enjoy changed over the years?

Oli: Yeah, definitely. I have become more open to trying different kinds of food.
Connor: Me too.
Rudi & Matthew: The same.

What do you consider ‘healthy eating’?

All: Fruit and veg.
Oli: It’s natural.
Matthew: After you have a steak you don’t feel the best. You feel heavy.
Oli: But salad is too light. You need to eat other things as well.
Matthew: It needs to be balanced.

Do you think it is important to develop healthy eating habits?

All: Yes.

Do you eat a healthy and well balanced diet?

All: No.
Matthew: Oliver in the street!
Oli: I don’t eat the greatest stuff in the street. Lots of chocolate.
Connor: I saw him eat a banana yesterday.
Oli: Yeah, I am trying to eat less chocolate.
Rudi: I had three cream eggs the other day, back to back.
Oli: That’s like 120 grams of chocolate!
Matthew: I’m trying to improve at lunchtimes. I am taking my own packed lunches with healthier things now. It’s win win as I still get lunch money, my parents are happy and I eat healthier. Before I just bought food in the street.
Connor: I’ve been eating healthier at home because my mum is on a diet. So pretty much everything we eat is healthy. Sometimes it gets a bit boring.

Do you consider yourself to be a fussy eater?

Matthew: No.
Oli: No.
Connor: No.
Rudi: Kind of. I don’t really like fish. I don’t like the flaky texture of it.
Connor: I don’t like tomatoes.
Matthew: I will eat anything that is in front of me.
Oli: Yeah, even if I don’t love everything I will eat it.

Do you have any food allergies?

All: No.

If you had £5.00 in your pocket to spend on food at lunchtime, what would you buy?

Connor: Steak bake from Greggs and then over to Semi Chem for sweets and juice. Irn-Bru. You can get two bottles of Pepsi for £1.00.
Matthew: You can get a thirty pack bag of crisps for £4.00.
Oli: I’d probably try and buy a nice sandwich from Sainsbury’s or Greggs. With a small bit of chocolate. And then I’d probably get some fruit as well. And a drink.
Matthew: It’s changed since Christmas because I’m trying to eat healthier. Like a BLT sandwich. And a fruit bowl.
Rudi: You never get that!
Matthew: And a fudge donut from Greggs.
Rudi: I know exactly what I’d buy. A sausage, bean and cheese melt from Greggs.
Oli: Oh they are so good! I love them.
Rudi: And then I’d go over to Semi Chem to get a flavored water and a £1.00 bag of misshapen chocolate.
Matthew: It’s all the rejects from Cadbury’s. Really cheap.
Oli: That’s so much chocolate!
Rudi: Yeah, about 300 grams. I don’t eat it all myself.
Oli: You share a bit of it out.
Rudi: That would all come to £2.70.
Connor: Mine would be £3.50.
Oli: Mine would be £3.00 ish.
Matthew: Sandwiches are really expensive.
Oli: That’s so annoying. All the healthy stuff is expensive.
Rudi: Healthy stuff is so expensive. A pot of fruit is £1.80.
Matthew: A small one.
Oli: But if you buy individual fruit that is pretty cheap.
Rudi: If it was cheaper I would get healthier stuff. I tried to get healthy things for £3.00 and all I got was a pot of fruit and water.
Connor: I would eat healthier if it was cheaper.

Do you prefer eating at home or in a restaurant?

Connor: It depends what it is.
Oli: And which restaurant it was as well.
Connor: If it was something like steak pie I would probably want it from a restaurant but if it was something like pizza I would prefer it from home.
Matthew: If you went to a restaurant every day you would get fat.

Where is your favourite place to eat out or get a takeaway in Peebles?

Connor: The County. And Ozkams Kebabs.
Matthew: Yeah, probably The County. And Prince of India.
Oli: I quite like Weatherspoons.
Rudi: The Indian. Shukria.
Oli: Yeah, Shukria is really good.

Do you ever skip meals or do you have three regular meals a day?

Connor: I always have three regular meals.
Matthew: Sometimes I skip breakfast.
Connor: Actually I skip breakfast quite a lot.
Matthew: If you get up late you don’t have time.
Oli: I always have breakfast.

What’s your favourite vegetable/fruit?

Oli: Potato. Mango.
Matthew: Potato. Pomegranate.
Rudi: Bell peppers. Pomegranate.
Connor: Potato. Strawberries.

Are you or many of your friends vegan or vegetarian?

All: No. None.
Oli: I used to have a next door neighbour who was a vegetarian.

Are you a fan of typical Scottish food? What national dishes from your country would you recommend to the world?

Oli: Haggis, neaps and tatties.
Connor: I am a big fan of haggis, neaps and tatties.
Rudi: I’m not a fan of haggis.
Matthew: Shortbread.

Do enjoy trying typical styles of food from other countries? Any favourites?

Matthew: Indian. Chicken bhuna is my favourite.
Rudi: Indian.
Oli: I like Chinese.
Connor: Yeah, I like Chinese too.
Rudi: I don’t like Chinese. I don’t like the sauces. Too many flavours together.

What is the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?

Matthew: Horse meatballs when I was in Iceland.
Oli: Crab in Spain. It was quite nice.
Connor: I’ve tried squid. I didn’t like it though, too chewy.
Rudi: There’s nothing I can think of.

Is it important to you that your food is locally sourced or organic?

All: No.
Connor: If I see something and it looks nice, I get it.
Rudi: I would say it is important to get British food but not necessarily as local as The Scottish Borders.
Matthew: Quite a lot of food can’t be grown in Britain.
Rudi: I would want meat from Britain.
Matthew: Chicken from USA is full of antibiotics.
Connor: Food doesn’t need as many chemicals if it is local.

Are you interested in growing your own fruit and vegetables?

Connor: I’ve never done it before so I don’t know much about it.
Oli: I once grew strawberries but they weren’t very good. I’d be interested in growing.
Rudi: Possibly.
Oli: One of my mum’s friends grows pretty much everything in his back garden.
Matthew: I like the idea of it.
Rudi: I’d like to continue with our Stobo community garden even after the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Oli: The same. I’d like to see it develop.
Connor: Yeah.
Matthew: Me too.

Do you see any benefits to growing your own food?

Connor: Fresher.
Oli: It tastes a bit better.
Matthew: I’ve not really had much experience of eating home grown food. But it would be better for the environment as they won’t have to ship food around.

Climate change and environmentalism is big news at the moment. How concerned are you about the effects we are having on our environment?

Oli: Pretty concerned. We have a negative influence on the earth.
Matthew: Yeah. When I’m older I want to get into Oceanography which will be looking at the effects of climate change and pollution on the oceans.
Connor: Yeah, I’m concerned.
Rudi: Single use plastic is a big problem.
Matthew: The beaches are covered in plastic.

Do you see any problems on the horizon related to food production and consumption?

Oli: I am not concerned about the production of food, but I do see problems with the packaging of food.
Matthew: There is a lot of food waste. Farmers have to throw away a lot of their produce because, for example, it is misshapen. GM crops are a bit odd.
Oli: If it just makes the food grow quicker I don’t see a problem but it shouldn’t affect the taste.
Matthew: I am not sure if I trust humans to genetically change a plant.
Oli: I would need to do more research into this.

How would you define ‘sustainability’?

Matthew: Not cutting down the rainforest. Putting back what we take out.

Is there anything that you think we could or should be doing differently individually or nationally?

Matthew: There’s too much traffic in cities. In Holland people cycle a lot more.
Oli: Reusing plastic.
Matthew: I think we should just ban plastic bottles altogether.
Connor: More electric cars. But they need to be cheaper.
Oli: More cycling.
Matthew: More public transport. And better. Electric buses.
Rudi: Hydrogen powered cars and buses. You still need coal power for the energy to charge your electric car.

How would you define ‘community’?

Oli: People coming together and sharing some things.
Matthew: Helping each other.
Oli: Loyalty.
Rudi: Peebles community is not very close.

Do you feel part of your local community and do you think this is important?

Oli: I dunno. I think it is important.
Rudi: Not really. But it is important.
Oli: I feel like people would help each other out in Peebles but you don’t feel at all connected with each other. Peebles is split into different areas.
Rudi: And different age groups.
Matthew: There are small communities within Peebles. There’s a biking community. I think community should be supported more.

Is there enough for young people to do in and around Peebles?

All: Yes.
Rudi: Swimming pool, mountain biking.
Oli: The Gytes
Rudi: It is quite exercise-based.
Oli: Massive parks. And lots of creative clubs.

Do you see yourself staying in a small town or do you fancy living in a city?

Oli: I’d like to stay in a small town.
Connor: Both have their pros and cons.
Matthew: I don’t think I’ll want to stay in one place.
Connor: If you live in a small town you have to travel far to get to big shops.
Matthew: I think I’d like to travel around.
Oli: I’d like to do a bit of travelling. I quite like living near a shop. I live right next to Premier.
Matthew: I go to Edinburgh for shops.
Rudi: I don’t really like any of the shops here.
Matthew: I like Decathlon.
Connor: Game.
Rudi: All the shops on the High St are really samey. I would like a music shop.
Oli: I would like more variety of shops. I quite like going to cities to do a few things. But I wouldn’t want to live in one. Too hectic.
Connor: It’s a lot quieter in towns.
Rudi: I like Peebles because mountain biking is on your doorstep. Some people have to travel miles for any decent mountain biking.

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