Exotic foreign travel - it all stopped in 1994 BC

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The Independent Travel
Sophie Grigson's current British passport is the old fashioned black sort, and was first stamped on Christmas Eve 1990. It was the year her mother died, and having always had family Christmases up until then, she decided she wanted to do something completely different. So she flew to Thailand with a friend and spent Christmas in Bangkok. Their Christmas dinner was from a street stall and eaten at a table underneath a flyover in the middle of traffic. To accompany the meal, which Sophie says was wonderful, they had a rather good bottle of white which they'd brought with them.

In those days Sophie was writing the daily recipe in the Evening Standard. Just before she flew to Thailand she saw a press preview of Channel Four food programmes. One was about the man who was to become her husband - William Black, the fish importer. Says Sophie: "I fancied him something rotten and asked a mutual friend to arrange a blind date." When Sophie returned from her holiday she had lunch with William, and married him a year-and-a-half later.

As a food writer Sophie has been on press trips to some fabulous places - there are stamps for Mauritius where she went to see sugar cane being grown and Colombia where she went canoeing in mangrove swamps and ate a delicious crab and coconut dish at a beach restaurant. Her subsequent career as a television presenter has also taken her abroad. In 1993 and early 1994 she and her husband made the cookery series Travel A La Carte. Pregnant with their first child, Sophie travelled to Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, Hungary and Turkey. After their daughter was born in January 1994 they finished off the series in Norway and Spain. Sophie's latest series, Taste of the Times, didn't take her so far afield. She laughs, "I had high hopes that we'd be off to Italy to see Parma ham and parmesan being made but we did it all in this country".

The couple now have a second child and Sophie looks rather wistfully at the exotic stamps in her passport - which she terms "BC - before children". She is looking forward to the time when her children aren't so small and sleep better in strange places. Says Sophie: "We are booked to go to the Amazon Basin for the millennium. Any party would be a let down so we thought we'd be somewhere interesting . It will be our first big trip with the children. We are going to an extraordinary place called La Selva which is right in the heart of the jungle,where they are happy to have children. Our youngest will be four-and-a-half and that's just about bearable!"

'Taste of the Times' starts at 8.30pm on Thursday, 17 April on Channel Four and runs for six episodes.

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