Giles Foden: My Life In Travel

'I love the smell of the dust as you go through the bush in a Land-Rover'


First holiday memory?

Going with my parents to Portugal in about 1969. I'm not sure whether it's an actual memory or one that has been reconstructed from a photograph. I have visions of being there in a carrycot on the beach.

Best holiday?

That would have to be my honeymoon, in the South of France. I can still remember the smell of fennel and thyme and the view of vines stretching off into the distance. We stayed in a village called Aragon, near Carcassonne. I also remember a very happy holiday with my parents in the Seychelles. I was about eight or nine, and I remember that there was a man digging up pirate treasure on the beach.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

North Devon - it has stupendous cliffs and views. Also the ploughed fields of Warwickshire, where my father's family were farmers.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Always remember that you are a traveller and that you're passing through somebody else's space. More generally, I have learnt that all life is like travelling and that every action has an impact.

Ideal travelling companion?

I would like to have gone somewhere with Dr Johnson, but I'd settle for someone equally witty and amusing today. Unfortunately, such a person no longer walks the earth.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I like a mixture of everything. I grew up in the African bush in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda, which is my thing. I love the smell of the dust as you bump along in a Land-Rover. I go back there often.

Greatest travel luxury?

A fishing rod.

Holiday reading?

I often pick something quite challenging. I read Wordsworth's The Prelude on a beach in Greece, which mixed oddly with the scent of sheep's cheese and retsina. During another holiday in Zanzibar, I read Paradise Lost, which was appropriate as that stretch of African coastline is mentioned in it.

Where has seduced you?

Africa. I remember going to a particular ebony grove in northern Zambia a few years ago. We had a wonderful safari guide called Robin Pope, who made us sit down and be quiet. It was a very moving if not eerie experience. One felt that human beings and animals had been coming to it for thousands of years.

Worst travel experience?

I once went on a press trip where most of the other journalists were sub-editors from the tabloids. In the bar of the Kampala Sheraton, one of them decided to pull down his trousers and moon at the bar girls. That was pretty awful.

Worst hotel?

A truckers' stop on the border between Kenya and Uganda. It was a gruesome experience. You had to lock yourself in a cage at night to avoid being robbed.

Best hotel?

The Mount Nelson in Cape Town. It has these wonderful gardens and, of course, you are right at the foot of Table Mountain. Churchill stayed there on his way to the Boer War.

Favourite walk/swim/ ride/drive?

Swimming out into the sea at Heddons Mouth in North Devon. It's a very beautiful place and pretty bracing.

Best meal abroad?

I can't think of a specific meal, but my favourite country for food has got to be France. I love those restaurants in the middle of the village squares.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Buy a drink.

Dream trip?

Fishing, anywhere in the world. I go fishing quite a lot.

Favourite city?

Paris - street for street, it's the most pleasant experience.

Where next?

I've been toing and froing to Uganda a lot recently for work, which I expect to continue; I'll probably go back for the Commonwealth Conference in November. In the interim, I've been invited to a literary festival in South Africa and shall also make trips to Ireland, Madeira and Devon.

'The Last King of Scotland', based on Giles Foden's novel, goes on general release in cinemas on 12 January

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The beat is on: Alfred Doda, Gjevat Kelmendi and Orli Shuka in ‘Hyena’
filmReview: Hyena takes corruption and sleaziness to a truly epic level
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable