BEST BEACH

St Cyrus. Apart from being one of the most stunning on the east coast – I’ve never seen sunsets like it, anywhere – it’s where my dad used to play as a wee lad. I can sometimes make out the ghost of my granny on the clifftops, ringing her brass bell to tell him to climb back up and get his tea.

HeraldScotland:

The East Sands in St Andrews has many happy memories. And the beach below Kinghorn caravan site, though I haven’t been there for 50 years, so it may have changed slightly.

BEST BUILDING

It was Glasgow School of Art. What a splendour it was. What can I say. My heart was broken. To set it on fire once was a tragedy; to set it on fire twice implies Dundee involvement. I’m joking. Obviously. Of buildings just about standing: The Customs House in Dock St in Dundee has been left to rot, apparently, but it’s a glory we can’t afford to lose, given we bulldozed most of the others. I hope the council – who’ve done so much better with this kind of thing recently – are onto it.

BEST CHILDHOOD MEMORY

Visits to Craigtoun Park with my mum and dad as a bairn. An impossibly vast garden of endless wonders and delights. Fairy villages, big trains, an Italian castle with a shop that sold a choc ice called Midnight Mint; boats, hidden ornamental gardens, the best crazy-golf course in Scotland, cheese toasties ... It still is, in its charming, a-bit-run-down way. I always had to be dragged greetin’ back to the car.

HeraldScotland:

BEST WALK OR CYCLE

If I can get my bad ankle fixed again, cycling out the Shiellhill Road to The Drovers in Memus in summer for dinner and a pint, and then back, a lot more slowly. Or the path up through Glen Doll into Corrie Fee is always a fine stroll.

BEST VIEW

Looking down to the Tay Estuary from Auchterhouse Hill in the Sidlaws, and then turning round to see Kirriemuir keeking through the trees: it’s the only place you can see Dundee and Kirrie from one vantage, so I’m technically never more at home. Or looking down into Assynt from Stac Pollaidh up towards Suilven, which always brings out the sobbing patriot.

BEST SHOP

Dee Valley Confectioners in Ballater seems to hold out the promise of selling every childhood delight you thought lost to history, but it’s always shut when we’re in Ballater. One day. Otherwise, Guitar Guitar in Glasgow.

HeraldScotland:

Lord, you can take me now. My second favourite shop is Guitar Guitar in Edinburgh. Etc. The trick is emerging without a remortgage.

BEST STREET

Architecturally, The Mile in Edinburgh, because it’s impossible not to discover something new. There’s always some new close you haven’t explored, and you never know what’ll be lurking down there in the shadows: a wee pub, a wee church, a sudden heart-stopping view, a strange little restaurant, or your early death. In terms of too-personal-to-explain, aching-palm, eerie poignancy, Craig Road in Tayport, where my grandfather used to live. But in terms of what just makes me straightforwardly happy: Shore St in Ullapool pre-midge season with a pint and a fish supper.

HeraldScotland:

Or home, i.e. Kirriemuir High Street. Best wee toon in the world.

BEST SCOTTISH DELICACY

Is this even a question? I mean does anyone ever answer anything other than ‘the Fisher and Donaldson’s fudge doughnut’? If they do, they’re never had a fudge doughnut. Anyway: the fudge doughnut. There are fair imitations available of this fat-sodden, crème anglaise-pumped delight, but check out the real thing, at least once. Your intake should be limited to about six a year. Fine to consume them all on the same day.

BEST CAFÉ

I used to love the Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, but that’s gone corporate canteen now. What a shame. It was the nearest thing we had to the V&A café in South Kensington. Otherwise I always feel quite serene in the café at the Kelvingrove.

The Chocolate Tree in Bruntsfield if I’ve done something virtuous enough to deserve chocolate, which is rare. The Bach, a Kiwi place in Dundee, is absolutely storming. Also the best coffee I’ve had in these parts.

BEST PLACE FOR ALONE TIME

The shed in the garden, is the sad and truthful answer. It’s a hell to my own taste. There are some grudging concessions to acceptable furnishing, but mostly it’s just a ton of stupid gadgets. Or the pier in St Andrews, in one of those rare gaps when the students have gone home and the golfers haven’t yet shown up. Or the Roman road in Caddam Woods in Kirrie with the dog and some random podcast where two angry men agree that everything is rubbish.

Alternatively, Guitar Guitar in Glasgow with six fudge doughnuts.

 

Toy Fights: A Boyhood by Don Paterson is now available. See Don at Paisley Book Festival on February 18 and at Topping & Company in St Andrews on February 22.