THIS summer recess has been a period of deep reflection for me, allowing me more time to immerse myself in the unparalleled beauty of my constituency of Banffshire and Buchan Coast. Far from the bustling corridors of Holyrood, it has been an experience that has both grounded and rejuvenated me.

Spending the summer in my constituency has deepened the immense pride I’ve always felt for this vibrant area – a gem filled with remarkable people who infuse it with life and energy.

Perhaps my fondness is heightened by my keen interest in family history. My own roots and those of my ancestors are intertwined with the local landscape.

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As I went through towns and passed landmarks, familiar place names where my ancestors dwelt constantly caught my eye, evoking a sense of deep-rooted connection. These names serve as vivid reminders of the hardworking, resilient individuals who came before me, laying the groundwork for the community we cherish today.

I’ve shared some of my journey through a series of social media posts under the title Making the Most of the Coast to showcase what makes Banffshire and Buchan Coast a place of enduring splendour.

One memorable experience was my lunch at The Boyndie Visitor Centre, a community project that has transformed a semi-derelict Victorian school building into a bustling hub of activity.

Aiding in job coaching for adults with additional support needs, it embodies the very essence of community, serving mouth-watering meals in gorgeous surroundings.

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But it’s not just about food – it’s also about spirit and the soul. The calming atmosphere in PETAL, a store in Banff, greeted me with wonderful scents and an array of natural products aimed at enhancing body and mind. Similarly, The Banff Deli delighted my senses with delicious food.

My meeting with David Jackson, regional director of VisitScotland, re-affirmed what we already know – the constituency is not just a local treasure but has the potential to be a global tourism destination. Businesses such as Down on the Farm, featuring a vintage railway carriage for overnight stays, prove we’re more than capable of offering a diverse range of experiences.

We have scenic places such as Fordyce, a village that has weathered centuries and still stands strong, and natural reserves such as RSPB Troup Head. And let’s not forget Pennan (below), whose famous red phone booth rings in the hearts of film buffs and casual tourists alike.

The National: An iconic scene from Local Hero, shot in Pennan

We have many TV and film crews visiting us for our location, with Screw recently being filmed at Peterhead Prison Museum!

With the Moray coastline from Cullen to Buckie, it’s an unforgettable place to visit.

So why am I sharing all these thoughts? Because it’s important to recognise the inherent worth of our land and its people, especially as we talk about Scotland’s possible future as an independent nation.

We have a booming tourism sector that not only could but would sustain us. It’s crucial we invest in this, support our local businesses, and make our beautiful lands accessible to both Scots and global citizens alike. This will not just boost our economy but serve as a pillar that holds up the structure of an independent Scotland.

It is a privilege to be able to travel abroad and enjoy other cultures but is there any better sight than the green lush hilly landscape and coastal splendour when flying home from abroad? From our jaw-dropping landscapes to our deep-rooted heritage, we are a country bursting with life, capable of sustaining itself.

As we move into an era of change and possibility, let’s not forget what makes Scotland truly glorious – its land, its people and its unyielding spirit.

I was particularly inspired as I pondered on the march and rally for an independent Scotland in the EU, being held this Saturday in Edinburgh.

This event, organised in partnership by Yes for EU and Believe in Scotland, aims to unite the Yes movement for a single cause – Scotland’s independence, and its re-entry into the European Union.

A fab line-up of speakers and performers has been confirmed, including First Minister Humza Yousaf, actor Brian Cox, folk singer Iona Fyfe, and other leading figures from politics, arts and the media. It promises to be a joyous, family-friendly event; a celebration of Scotland’s vibrant culture and a collective call to action to determine our future.

Such events not only stimulate political activism but also underscore the vital connection between our landscapes, our people, and our quest for independence.

The rich experiences I’ve had this summer in my own constituency have only deepened my belief in what Scotland can offer the world, and in what we can accomplish as an independent nation.

And what a future it could be. Imagine harnessing the natural splendours and rich resources of our coastline, which I’ve been able to experience first-hand this summer, to sustain a self-reliant, flourishing country.

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Scotland possesses incredible untapped potential for renewable energy, tourism, and the circular economy – something I have spoken about with local business owners, constituents and experts in numerous forums.

As the day of the march draws nearer, I feel more resolved than ever to dedicate myself to this cause. It’s time to realise the full potential of this extraordinary land we call home. And so, we will march – march for our right to choose, to reclaim the promise lost to Brexit, and to write the next chapter of Scotland’s history as a part of the European family of nations. Let’s make the most of the Scotland that we love.

In the words of Robert Burns, Scotland is my “dear, my native soil”. And just like him, I find myself overwhelmed by its beauty, its people, and its limitless possibilities. Let’s continue to make the most of our coast, our lands, and our country. Because, truly, there’s no place like home.