Chris Tarrant 'I was locked up in a Spanish prison and beaten by the Guardia Civil'

28 MY LIFE IN TRAVEL

Going to Cornwall aged about four. My grandfather would drive us down in his old Austin and we'd stay in Mevagissey, with its steep hill leading down to the harbour. The Austin had a failing handbrake and we were always worried that one day we would end up in the harbour.

Best holiday?

At the Empire Hotel & Country Club in Brunei for New Year 2003. It's a five-star hotel and we had an enormous suite with a private swimming-pool and a room for each child. My son Toby, who was 10 at the time, even had his own butler!

Favourite place in the British Isles?

I've been going salmon fishing in Kelso, Scotland, for over 20 years. I go at least twice a year.

What have you learnt from your travels?

I've learnt how incredibly lucky we are in the Western world, and how much we take for granted. My experiences of poverty in Africa and South America still haunt me - the images of millions of people with young families living in unfathomable squalor.

Ideal travelling companion?

Ingrid, my missus (pictured above). We have always loved travelling together. She doesn't mind roughing it and I suspect thrives on it. In fact, we get on better when we are travelling.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

Culture vulture - I get bored lying on a beach all day. I love anything historical, as well as swimming and windsurfing.

Holiday reading?

I'm an obsessive reader. I take a rucksack of books and read them cover to cover. I really enjoy Frederick Forsyth.

Where has seduced you?

Canada. I first went 15 years ago and have been back twice a year since. Canadians are great - Americans without the hype.

Worst travel experience?

In my student days, I was locked up in a Spanish prison for two nights and beaten by the Guardia Civil.

Worst holiday?

Crete. The first evening, I ate a dodgy rabbit dish and spent the rest of the two-week holiday not far from the lavatory.

Worst hotel?

An (allegedly) five-star hotel in Venezuela. The sheets were dirty and wet, there was damp on the walls, and there was a fight next door at 2am. A bride had run off with the best man, and the furious husband was breaking down the door!

Favourite walk/swim/ ride/drive?

The coastal drive on Highway 1 from LA to San Francisco, in an open-top sports car with The Eagles at full volume.

Best meal abroad?

Ingrid and I once dined on a pontoon in the middle of the Zambezi. We ate delicious food with silver cutlery by candlelight, surrounded by the cries of the African bush.

Dream trip?

China is the one place that I'm desperate to visit, but you can't experience it on a short holiday.

Favourite city?

Melbourne - it has the nicest people living there.

Where next?

Nicaragua. I'm going there in a couple of months' time.

'Tarrant on Top of the World: In Search of the Polar Bear', by Chris Tarrant, is published by Orion, £18.99

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