My Life In Travel: Freddie Flintoff, former English cricketer
'There's more out there than lying around a pool'
Ben Ross is Head of Travel at The Independent. He has worked for the paper for over a decade, and began reporting on travel in 2001. Before joining the travel desk full time, he ran The Independent's special projects department. He started his journalistic career at the BBC working for its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.
Saturday 01 October 2011
First holiday memory?
Butlins in Bognor Regis is one of the first memories – we used to love it. I think I once won the bonny baby contest; I don't really remember that, though. I grew up in Preston and my auntie had a static caravan over the border in Scotland, so we went there about five or six times. It rained a lot.
Miami. My wife Rachel and I stayed at a hotel called the Delano [on South Beach]. I had a broken rib, so I couldn't move too much. We just chilled out by the pool and ate nice food.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
Blackpool. I grew up down the road, so we used to spend a lot of time at Blackpool when the illuminations were on. Now I take my own kids there as well; it's not really changed a great deal over time.
What have you learnt from your travels?
The first time I went away from home, I was about 15; I went on a tour in South Africa for a month. To experience South Africa at that age was amazing. From then on, I saw the sights of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Australia and the West Indies. Just seeing different cultures was one of the things that stood out. You see how people live differently, and cherish what you've got.
Ideal travelling companion?
Rachel. We spend a lot of time travelling together, and we lived in Dubai for 18 months as well. She's more organised than me; she remembers tickets and passports and all that carry on.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenaline junkie?
I get a bit fed up just sitting around. Last year, I started in Acapulco in Mexico and went through America to Canada doing extreme sports for six weeks [for the TV show Freddie Flintoff Versus the World]. I was getting up and doing random things every day: bull riding, drag racing, skydiving. The intention wasn't to become an adrenaline junkie, but I actually found myself enjoying it.
Greatest travel luxury?
I don't have anything that I have to take everywhere. I started travelling from such a young age – every winter from aged 15, I was away for three or four months – that I became quite used to it.
Where has seduced you?
When the chance to go to Botswana came up [for forthcoming TV show Alone in The Wild], it was something I really wanted to do. I like animals and wildlife, but I always thought you go to see them in a zoo or a safari park. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did, spending a week alone in the bush. Having done the show, I think holidays in future will probably be slightly different. When my kids get older, I'd like to show them there's more out there than sitting on a beach or lying around a pool.
Better to travel or arrive?
It's all about getting there. Aeroplanes are just a means of getting somewhere; you're just wishing the time away.
Worst travel experience?
In India, we had to make an emergency landing at the wrong destination. I slept through the whole thing, and when I woke up most of the lads were white with fear; I knew something wasn't quite right.
In the early days for the England under-19s, we stayed at a place called Saiban in Pakistan, about three hours outside Lahore. We were put up in a biscuit factory. I was captain so I pulled rank and claimed the room that didn't have the rats. In the end, all the lads just came and stayed in my room because the rats were everywhere.
Cameron House, at Loch Lomond. I went there earlier this year with my wife for a few days. Everyone wants to go abroad, and I think people forget what we've got over here. The view of the loch was unbelievable, and so was the restaurant – the Cameron Grill.
On my motorbike, I can put my helmet on, get away from everything and just ride. I don't go anywhere in particular.
Best meal abroad?
I love curries. There is a curry house called Trishna in the back streets of Mumbai that specialises in seafood curries. It's not flash, but the food is amazing.
I'm lucky, I've been to a lot of places. But I think I'd love to go back to Botswana with my family. I was surrounded by amazing scenery – elephants, giraffes, lions – and it was just me. I'd have loved to have shown it to someone else, or to have had a conversation with someone at the time about what we were seeing.
Preston. I'm a Preston boy. All my family and friends are there. I wouldn't say I'd go on holiday there, but I'm very proud of coming from there.
We're thinking of going away somewhere at Christmas as a family, and will probably go to America. A few years ago we spent three months in Florida and we loved it.
'Freddie Flintoff: Alone in the Wild' is broadcast on Wednesday at 9pm on the Discovery Channel
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