Annette Badland: My Life In Travel

'It's thrilling being on a bus crammed with people and animals'
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The Independent Travel

First holiday memory?

I come from Birmingham, so as a landlocked Brummie, it was seeing the sea at Talybont in Wales. The sea has always been a strong force for me - if I want to think about things I tend to go off to the coast.

Best holiday?

I once did a long trip down the west coast of Turkey from Istanbul to just below Bodrum on various buses and trains. I did similar trips on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and the Canadian Rockies around Lake Jasper and Lake Louise. I like holidays with a little bit of adventure.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

St Agnes in the Isles of Scilly. There are all sorts of geographical features within a very small island. It's absolutely beautiful, too.

What have you learnt from your travels?

That you can't do everything. Also not to buy an expensive suitcase.

Ideal travelling companion?

Sir Ranulph Fiennes - he would get you into scrapes and back out of them again. That would be if I couldn't take my partner, of course. Travelling together can be difficult because he's an actor, too.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I'm not a beach person, so I suppose I'm a bit of a culture vulture - I like trying to find out about the place I'm in.

Greatest travel luxury?

My partner. Or leaving enough room in the suitcase so that I can bring luxuries back.

Holiday reading?

It tends to be travel guides while I'm on holiday. I also like to buy things that relate to where I am, such as Federico Lorca in Granada and George Sand in Mallorca.

Where has seduced you?

Istanbul. When we arrived it was early in the year so there were hardly any tourists around and we were besieged by people in the markets wanting to sell us stuff. I fell in love with the Hagia Sophia - not the main museum but a smaller one hidden down a back street. We then travelled down the coast but returned by boat into the port and it was just wonderful.

Better to travel or arrive?

If you're just flying it's definitely better to arrive. However, if the journey is part of the holiday, like travelling through Mexico, it's an adventure. It's pretty thrilling being on a bus crammed with people and animals.

Worst travel experience?

I once knocked some people off a moped in Portugal. I was driving on the wrong side of the road and there were no lights on the road or on the moped. I was mortified. They tore me off to the local prison, which was terrifying. Thankfully they let me go because the accident wasn't as serious as we had thought.

Worst holiday?

Camping in Wales when I was a child. One year we sat in the tent for a week while it poured with rain.

Worst hotel?

A hotel in Merida on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. I arrived at night and walked along a veranda to find my room, which had a single bed with a dirty mattress, a deafening fan and a brick-and-concrete bathroom in the corner - cockroaches came out of the taps when I turned them on.

Best hotel?

A hotel which is sadly no longer in existence called Little Thakeham near Storrington. It's a magical place with a Lutyens garden surrounded by orchards. Because it had been a home it felt really welcoming and unpretentious. It has since gone back into private ownership.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

A mule ride in the Grand Canyon, driving along the Icefields Parkway in Canada, swimming naked off Victoria Island again in Canada and walking along a lane in St Agnes, which is just beautiful and serene.

Best meal abroad?

The best meals are always unexpected. I had a fantastic nine-course meal at a parador in Spain, with dishes including goat.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Check the loo and the sheets and then go out for a meander to find out what's around.

Dream trip?

I'd like to go on the Orient Express, then to Bhutan down into India through Kerala and on to New Zealand and South America.

Favourite city?

Venice. It's exceptional and romantic. Malaga was unexpectedly wonderful; I went just before Christmas when it was decorated with fantastic religious artefacts.

Where next?

On a tour of the UK. After that I'd very much like to go to Sicily or the Peloponnese.

Annette Badland is touring with the Peter Hall Season, which begins in Bath on 21 June (01225 448844; www.theatreroyal.org.uk)

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