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The Murly Tuck: The Aberdeenshire cafe where Valentino Rossi has his own seat

The big breakfast: Muckle and tuckle breakfasts are going down a treat at The Murly Tuck Cafe.

With a table dedicated to the legendary Italian motorcycle racer Valentino Rossi, The Murly Tuck Cafe certainly has some va va voom.

From bikers and bairns to cyclists and centenarians, many a “muckle” (or tuckle) breakfast has been speedily devoured at table 46, Rossi’s now famous race number.

Table number 46: Gill is a huge MotoGP fan so she has dedicated a table to racing legend Valentino Rossi who has always raced with the number 46.

And just like the fast-paced world of motorcycle racing, the quirky wee cafe in Tarves is bustling with activity as customers from far and wide travel to try out their renowned breakfasts and down-to-earth and tasty grub.

Here Gill and Alfie Gray tell Society why they love running their wonderful wee cafe and why everyone, especially Valentino Rossi, will always receive a warm welcome.

Dream customer: Everyone is welcome at The Murly Tuck, especially racing legend Valentino Rossi. Photo supplied by Gerhard Schiel/AP/Shutterstock.</p> <p>

What is the story behind the café?

This building was the old school house before it became a doctors surgery. When the doctors moved out to Pitmedden the building was bought by the Tarves Development Trust. As Tarves is a heritage village, the Trust wanted to keep the building in the community for the future. Then in January 2016 word spread that they were looking for someone to run a business from the premises. We live just round the corner so we thought that if we didn’t go for it, we would always walk past and wish we had done it.

Have your cake and eat it: Feast your eyes on these sweet treats, all made from scratch.

What is your background?

My husband Alfie worked in retail and I was a mental health support worker. Together with our day jobs we also ran a Bed and Breakfast in Errol in Perthshire so we’ve always loved the idea of having our own cafe. It was back in 1991 when we first moved up to Tarves through my husband’s job at Asda. After a few years, we had to move back to Dundee for my husband’s work but we really missed the village so we made the decision to move back up and we’ve been here since 1998.

Leap of faith: Gill and her husband Alfie haven’t looked back after taking a chance on the cafe.

What’s it like to work in a building with so much history?

It’s lovely as there’s an awful lot of history attached to the building. It’s been so many things, it’s been a shoemakers, an electricians store, school, doctors so there’s been quite a few changes to the building over the years. There’s old photographs up on the wall from when it was the school house back in the 1800s. Also, right next door to us is the Tarves Heritage Centre which has lots of history, they’ve even got a room made up like an old school room with old desks.

Cuppa and cake time: It’ll be hard not to drool over the mouthwatering display of home baking.

Where did the name Murly Tuck come from?

The old lady that lived in our cottage before us left some magazines about the history of the village and the surrounding areas. My husband was reading through one of these magazines one day and there was an article about the Cottar Bairns (the children who lived in the farm cottages) and how they lived and what they ate and what their lives were like back in the early part of the century. One of the things they ate was this thing called Murly Tuck. They would put a metal grill on the front of the coal fire to toast oatcakes and all the bits that broke off and crumbled were put into milk and that was called Murly Tuck. We just thought it had a right good ring to it. If we had a pound for every time someone asks what Murly Tuck is we could probably retire.

Berry bakes: Enjoy a slice of fruity goodness at The Murly Tuck Cafe.

What can people expect when they set foot inside the Murly Tuck?

Our main thing was to make it a very approachable place so that anybody could come in. When we opened there were two cafes within a couple of miles from us that were a bit more high end so we wanted to be the place where you could come in and get a right good breakfast or a bacon roll and be somewhere the farmers could pop in and get a takeaway.

A slice of mint chocolate heaven.

Can you tell us about some of the tasty food offerings you have?

We’ve built our reputation on our muckle and tuckle breakfasts.
So the muckle breakfast is a large breakfast with added extras like blackpudding, haggis and tattie scones. We also do a tuckle (small) breakfast with sausage, bacon, egg, beans, mushrooms and bacon. We do breakfast up until 1.45pm so that’s something that has gone down quite well. We also do things like bacon and blackpudding rolls, homemade soup, sandwiches, paninis and things like beans on toast and eggy bread. We try to keep it quite traditional and shy away from getting too upmarket or trying to be too posh.

Sweet tooth: The perfect coffee and cake combination.

Can you pop in for a wee cake and coffee too?

Yes, all of our baking is done here. We’ve got a very small kitchen but we do all our baking in house so everything is homemade.

Full of character: The cafe oozes warm and homely vibes.

How did you cope with lockdown?

I have to say that if it wasn’t for the grants and furlough we wouldn’t have been re-opened after the first lockdown. We were getting pretty close to the bone by the time we opened again last August but we managed.

Pull up a pew and enjoy some homemade grub.

How did it feel to re-open again?

It was quite difficult to get the motivation to get going again but once the doors opened and everyone started coming back, it made it all worthwhile.

Is the Murly Tuck much more than a cafe?

Yes people have told us that there’s more of a buzz around the village again since we re-opened. A lot of people are just meeting up with friends again so they’re coming here to do it rather than being at each others houses.

Fuel up on a hearty breakfast.

Do you feel happy when you lock up each night?

Yes happy and tired.  I’m 60 and I sometimes feel that it would be nice if there was a younger person doing all the running around but maybe that’s what’s keeping me going.

Do you get visitors from far and wide?

Before Covid we had people visiting from New Zealand, America, all over the place.

Baked with love: Everything is made on the premises.

Does the cafe have any quirky features?

Well my husband and I are MotoGP fans so we’ve got quite a lot of little motorbike things in the cafe. I’m a huge Valentino Rossi fan so one of the cafe tables has a MotoGP sticker with the number 46 on it which is the number he has ridden with his entire career. It’s always a talking point as people say why have you got a table 46, you don’t have 46 tables. The funny thing is that Valentino Rossi also gets called the doctor so as the cafe used to be a doctors surgery we always joke that maybe he would come and visit one day. I would love to get a photograph here with him.

Have you got any future plans for the cafe?

I think we just need to keep doing what we’re doing for as long as we’re able to do it.

For more information about The Murly Tuck, check out their Facebook or Instagram page.



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