Cook and food writer Ghillie Basan on magical memories of Braemar

The village of Braemar in Royal Deeside.

Why do you go there?

It is such a pretty part of Scotland and manages to capture a bit of everything I love: mountains, heather, birch woodland and pine forests, rivers and rocks, herds of deer and other wildlife.

I have many happy memories spent with family and friends in the nooks and crannies of the surrounding hills and glens.

How often do you go?

I used to go often as my parents retired there. When my father died, I looked after my mother. So, I was there practically every day.

How did you discover it?

My parents decided to buy a house in Braemar before we returned to Scotland from living in Africa. Their work was going to be Glasgow-based so they felt we would all need a place with a feeling of space to escape to. And thank goodness they did.

HeraldScotland: Ghillie Basan, cook and food writer. Picture: Ross Johnston, courtesy of Birlinn LimitedGhillie Basan, cook and food writer. Picture: Ross Johnston, courtesy of Birlinn Limited

We had a lot of fun in our school holidays, swimming every day in the rivers and lochs – I think that’s called “wild swimming” nowadays – walking and camping in the Cairngorms, picnics in the rain, picking berries and wild mushrooms, and skiing in blizzards at Glenshee.

What’s your favourite memory?

Hogmanay was always a hoot. Our house was outside the village so we would ski into the village with our kilts and long dresses tucked into our ski pants and jackets. It was all downhill on the way in – a different story on the way back but the drink helped.

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There would be parties and dances in different houses, so we would just flow from one to the other. Everyone was always delighted to see you.

Who do you take?

Nowadays, I go to Braemar with my adult children to revisit the places and memories of their childhood too and to walk in the hills.

What do you take?

My camera and my wallet. The first because the area is so picturesque, the second because the village has changed hugely in the last 10 years and a coffee now costs a bit of money.

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The place to go, of course, is the sumptuously refurbished and artistically flamboyant hotel, The Fife Arms.

What do you leave behind?

I would like to say I leave my work behind. But the reality is I am always networking in some way. I do collaborate with The Fife Arms so, unless I am walking high up in the hills, my work does creep into things.

Sum it up in five words.

Picturesque. Nostalgic. Victorian. Busy. Pine-scented.

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What other travel spot is on your wish list?

The Outer Hebrides.

A Taste of the Highlands by Ghillie Basan is published by Birlinn, £25

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