THE trophies have been polished, the beasts washed and final prep work – including the all-important 'filling of the kist' – has been done. Now it's a downhill run to the industry showcase that is the Royal Highland Show, which opens its gates next Thursday.

This past few years have seen it being used as a scene of political dog fights, mainly regarding Brexit – indeed it was to an incredulous show three years ago that the result of the 'referendum' was announced.

While there will, no doubt, be the political angle to be played, it is welcome that the show 'proper' comes back to take centre stage. For the people who live, breathe and exhale this industry, it is the culmination of hard work, entrepreneurial excellence and fortitude.

That is especially true of the stocks-people who maintain a standard of showmanship (mostly sporting!) and breeding excellence which makes this country, even yet, the envy of the world. Months of preparation and hard work lead up to this pinnacle – the chance to win a ticket at the 'Highland'.

For many it is a bit of fun, but for others it is a sound business decision to show. Nothing adds a few noughts to the end of a sale cheque than a big, fat Highland Show winning rosette.

So, here's to another successful event ... definitely the biggest and best in the calendar. Cheers to that from the kist of The SF.

Empty rooms!

THE OTHER certainty this year, is the usual and seasonally-led uncertainty facing Scotland's cropping land.

It is looking in good heart at the present – maybe even as good as we have ever seen it – but as this week has shown, the weather still has a few bad hands to play before the crop is in the shed.

On a brighter note, the tattie men can look at empty stores with some satisfaction. The drought-hit poor crop of last year in the south has meant that while the Scottish crops helped save the day, there's not much left in the tank to take forward to next year.

If the weather conspires to help, here's hoping that the empty stores will be much needed for a stonking crop this year. Plus, given the continuing strength of the whisky market, there's cause for more celebration in the cropping camp. Slainte ... again!