Juliet Stevenson: My life in travel

'I've read a lot about Captain Cook's expeditions. I'd love to have been there'

My whole childhood was about travel.

My father was in the Army; he was posted-on every two years or so. When I was about six weeks' old we were posted to an Army base in Germany and then, when I was about two and a half, we went to live in Australia for two-and-a-half years. My first memory of a holiday is of being on a huge boat, because we went to Australia on a liner. All sorts of strange ceremonies took place; at one point all of the children were dropped in a huge tank of soapy water, and then we had to dress up in fancy dress.

Australia has a special place in my heart.

When my son was born, my youngest, about 13 years ago, I said yes to a film in Australia and we all went out there. I wanted to prove that you can have babies and adventures and a career. I was working in the Outback and at the end of the filming we all flew up to Port Douglas and we found the most amazing apartment on Four Mile Beach. We hired a car and drove all the way up the far north-east coast to Cooktown, which is about as far as you can get – it was a very wild drive. The Endeavour River comes out into the sea there and we would take a little rowing boat with a local guy and, with the baby strapped to my chest and my six-year-old daughter, we'd go out fishing. I think we did that for about six weeks. I remember being completely happy and thinking at this moment I am absolutely in bliss because I had this gorgeous new baby and all the kids with me and my husband, Hugh –all in this amazing place.

It would have been great to travel with Captain Cook.

When things were going well – not so much when he was fighting with the natives. I've read a lot about those early expeditions of Cook's. I would have loved to have been on that boat, travelling with him because he was very intelligent. And when he landed in places, he didn't learn antagonistically; he was very canny and cooperative.

juliet_stevenson_getty.jpg
Juliet Stevenson (Getty)

I don't like the way some posh hotels treat their employees.

Two or three years ago I was doing a film on the coast of Goa and I stayed in the poshest hotel, but it wasn't the best. I was so uncomfortable about that level of luxury while I was filming in a slum all day. It was sort of impossible to calibrate. It was a very odd experience. I was working very long hours so I used to bump into the staff at 5.30 or six in the morning as I was leaving to film and they were cleaning these endless corridors.

Mackerel cooked on an open fire is the best meal I've had abroad.

It was on Glassilaun Beach in Ireland, which is beautiful. That day, we'd gone out on a fishing boat with a couple of Irish guys with nets. We got off the boat in the late afternoon and went back to the beach with the mackerel and my husband lit a fire. He's big into all that outdoors stuff. He lit the fire and then cooked the mackerel and we were the only people on this beach. And the sun was going down – it was an amazing sunset. The children were throwing mackerel skin to the dog and the dog was trying to catch the seagulls that were swooping down to have a bit of the fish as well. And I remember thinking: "It just doesn't get any better than this."

I love Vancouver – you can be sitting in the sea in the morning and skiing in the afternoon.

Wherever you are you have access to a beautiful, long, white, sandy beach and clean water. And you've got bicycle paths next to the beach so you can cycle around the whole city. Vancouver also has these ancient woodlands called Endowment Lands with bicycle tracks through them and massive redwood trees. And then you get the mountains which have snow so you can ski.

I always have a great sense of pride in my city when I cross Waterloo Bridge.

Everyone should walk out and stand in the middle of Waterloo Bridge on a sunny morning and then do exactly the same thing at about midnight. You get an incredible sense of London's cutting-edge architecture that we have embraced, and the sense of time, and of the city having grown and evolved over many centuries.

Juliet Stevenson is starring in 'Happy Days' at the Young Vic in London until 21 March (youngvic.org)

Comments