Mike is an entrepreneur, board member at V&A Dundee, and has been an interviewer in the past 11 series of The Apprentice. 

When I was nine I lived between Arisaig and Morar on the north-west coast. Across the road, through a gorse-lined pathway, was a beautiful wide bay called Camusdarach Beach. It was always deserted and I would spend hours there. Years later it became a location for Local Hero. In 2019 I revisited the beach and it was just as I remembered it: pale, fine sand, clear and warm sea, and pleasingly deserted.

This is an easy one for me, given I’ve just joined the Board there, but the V&A Dundee is the most extraordinary building. Designed by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, it’s situated on the banks of the Tay and inspired by the sheer rock faces of Scotland’s north-east coast. There is nothing else like it in the world and I feel proud to have it in my home town. Every time I visit my heart skips a beat.

Edinburgh’s Victoria Street, leading down to the Grassmarket, is my favourite. I am lured down the curved hill by the colourful shop facades and the aroma of maturing fromage coming from IJ Mellis Cheesemongers.

The National:

During my childhood we lived in numerous towns, including Torphins in Aberdeenshire in the early 1970s. Occasionally, we would drive to Banchory for a treat. Our shopping trip would end with a visit to the toy shop, where I would choose a new green plastic soldier for my growing army. Afterwards we would enjoy High Tea at the Burnett Arms Hotel, savouring egg sandwiches and all the cream cakes I could eat without being sick.

I've always loved the walk through the Hermitage in Perthshire. Standing in Ossian’s Hall – an old folly – with the river thundering down a waterfall in front of you is a special moment. Then onwards to the Rumbling Bridge, an aged stone bridge with a dramatic gorge beneath. And finally circling back down to Inver, a tiny village with a campsite (where I spent many summers in my teenage years).

I love looking up at the Forth Railway Bridge from North Queensferry. Whenever I’m there I always think of the late Iain Banks, an author I was a massive fan of. He lived in the shadow of this amazing piece of Victorian architecture and wrote a sprawling, dreamy book inspired by it called, appropriately, The Bridge.

The National:

Can I choose two please? Topping & Company, the perfect embodiment of an ideal bookshop, and Valvona & Crolla, the legendary Italian deli. They are conveniently located only seven minutes apart near Calton Hill in Edinburgh. Topping offers shelves with ladders, piles of books, cosy browsing spots, and the smell of literature. Valvona & Crolla, owned by the same family for a century, resembles the bustling Zabar’s on New York’s Upper West Side. The aroma of fresh basil, olives and cheese fills the air. With a new book under my arm and some delicious piccante gorgonzola dolce in my bag, I am a happy shopper.

Having lived away from Scotland for the best part of 35 years I would have to say to the people of this great nation you have no idea how good your fish and chips are! In London the haddock is dry and rubbish and comes battered with the bottom part of the skin still on. And the chips are undercooked. It is dismal. 
But for me Scotland’s finest delicacy is the deep fried white pudding. Whenever I bring English visitors to Scotland I always try to take them to a good chippy, ideally by a harbour. Hello Anstruther! I have them eat at least a small portion of battered mealie pudding, doused in salt and malt vinegar. The taste of a nation!

For all the great independent coffee shops there are in Scotland, my heart belongs to Fisher & Donaldson. And, if I had to choose one location it would be South Street in St Andrews. The coffee and tea are spot on but the star attraction is the baking: the famous fudge doughnut, the coffee tower … both terrific but I am going for the rhubarb pie every time. My Granny and Grandad lived in Lochee in Dundee and grew their own rhubarb. For me the taste of that fruit stewed takes me to the happiest of places.

One of the Lomond hills behind Kinnesswood, near Scotlandwell, holds a special place in my heart. One summer’s day when I was about 20, I climbed it after being fired from my job as a record company press officer. Armed with only a bottle of water and a notebook, I reached the top after an hour-long climb. I sat in glorious isolation, overlooking Loch Leven and the hills beyond, pouring my thoughts about the future on to the pages. As I lay back on the heather, gazing at the cloudless sky, immersed in catharsis, a glider suddenly appeared from nowhere, flying just 50 feet above me, jolting me out of my reverie. It’s a perfect spot for solitude, as long as you don’t mind occasional interruptions from passing aircraft!