Hamish Clark: My Life in Travel

'I don't mind staying in a rickety old hotel - it makes me laugh'
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The Independent Travel

First holiday memory?

In Ullapool on the west coast of Scotland; the sand is incredibly soft and white, and it's where the North Atlantic Drift hits Scotland. The water is a Mediterranean-blue and I remember being naked - I was very young - and blinded by the sun.

Best holiday?

A trip to South Africa a couple of years ago. I travelled along the Garden Route from Cape Town. We also stayed on a sheep station, which was a hotbed of fossils - there were cave paintings depicting the migration of the Zulus. There was also a huge slab of stone that a soldier had inscribed his diary into.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Scotland. I love the Highlands and the Western Isles in particular. When the weather's good it's phenomenal up there.

What have you learnt from your travels?

I love every time the plane takes off. Most of the time I travel it's for work and I've been lucky because it's taken me all over the place. Rather than worrying and planning, I like to just to do it and keep going. That's the best way to learn.

Ideal travelling companion?

When I was in my twenties it would probably have been Sebastian Flyte from Brideshead Revisited, but now I think I'd quite like to go away on my own because I've never done it.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I don't enjoy beach holidays. I'd love to go to the Alps during summer and rent a house and stand outside with a coffee in the morning, taking in the view.

Greatest travel luxury?

If I'm in Scotland I'll have my wellingtons and a Barber coat.

Holiday reading?

I love reading, particularly George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman novels.

Worst travel experience?

I had just finished a six-month shoot and had to go straight to Auckland from Inverness. Because I was exhausted, by the time I got on to the plane I had a full-on cold. Strangely, I knew the steward, who kept bringing me fruit and tissues.

Worst holiday?

I was working as an insurance clerk in Edinburgh and saw an advert for a bus trip to the South of France. When I arrived, it was cold and grey and you could hear gunshots at night. I was full of excitement at the prospect of seeing the Med, but as I came over the dunes I saw what amounted to a sewage-filled puddle; it was a great disappointment.

Worst hotel?

I usually don't mind if it's a rickety old place - it makes me laugh.

Best hotel?

There's an inn on the West Coast of Scotland, but I won't divulge the name. It has huge, roaring fires and baths in the bedrooms and you pull up old fish crates to sit on in the bar where they serve unbelievable food.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

When I first arrived in South Africa, I was taken up in a helicopter and saw penguins and sharks, which looked like tadpoles. It was incredible.

Best meal abroad?

Hout Bay, South Africa. I went to one of the townships for New Year and had bought a lamb for the people I was going to visit. They barbecued it and we ate it around the fire while kids sang and danced; it was very moving.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

I go to my room, unpack and take off every piece of clothing that I travelled in and change into clean clothes. Then I go out and get my bearings.

Dream trip?

The North American plains, where the last Sioux campaign took place. I have visions of enormous skies and wind waves rolling across the prairie grass.

Favourite city?

London. I've lived there for 11 years. When I arrived I was so excited because I had studied English Literature and had so many ideas of what London would be.

Where next?

I'm working until December, but I'd like to go somewhere sunny in January. Failing that I'd like to rent a cottage in the UK and sit and do nothing.

Hamish Clark stars in 'Donkeys' Years' at the Comedy Theatre, London (booking until 16 December: 0870 060 6637; www.theambassadors.com/comedy)

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