Mel Smith: My Life In Travel

'I love sitting beside the Caribbean Sea with a book in my hand'
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The Independent Travel

First holiday memory?

Norfolk. I have a double-barrelled memory of driving to Great Yarmouth with my parents and stopping off in Norwich to see a son et lumière performance at the cathedral.

Best holiday?

Barbados. I have a house there but I've been going to the island as a tourist for 25 years and it's the place I associate with my best times abroad. I love sitting about 30 yards from the Caribbean Sea with a book in my hand.

Best holiday?

London. I lived in Los Angeles for a while and it was always great coming back.

What have you learnt from your travels?

That I must learn a foreign language; I suppose it had better be Mandarin.

Ideal travelling companion?

Either my wife or someone who makes me laugh all the time, like my friend Brian Gilbert, who's a film director. He makes me laugh without saying anything because he finds everything funny and has the most exceptionally wonderful basso profundo laugh.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

Even though I go to Barbados at least twice a year, I like visiting cities. I feel as if I spent the first 40 years of my life wandering around with my eyes closed, so I would like to revisit the cities I went to during that time.

Greatest travel luxury?

I suppose now it's an iPod. My PA made me get one and put all my music on it. Within six months it became a must.

Holiday reading?

I read a lot of history and biographies and American crime thrillers.

Where has seduced you?

I loved cruising along the coast of Norway through the fjords.

Better to travel or arrive?

Definitely arriving at your final destination. I used to go back and forth to LA about 10 times a year, which I got used to, but generally I don't relish travelling. I do like trains, particularly the speed and the fact you can walk around and look out at the scenery.

Worst travel experience?

Bad things seem to happen to my travelling companions rather than me.

Worst holiday?

The Isle of Sheppey. I used to go when I was a kid because my grandmother had a static caravan there. Although I enjoyed the seaside, I always found the whole thing very dull.

Best hotel?

The Savoy. Because it's essentially a training hotel, it's full of enthusiastic staff.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

From the beach to the house and back to the beach again in Barbados.

Best meal abroad?

Eating very simply but indulgently in Tuscany. I went there to write a script with Griff Rhys Jones and we ate somewhere different every day.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

I normally change clothes within a minute of arriving and then fall asleep in them; or if I'm Barbados, I take them all off then go outside and fall asleep!

Dream trip?

I'd love to go to the Beijing Olympics.

Favourite city?

Sydney. I like the lifestyle and the people.

Where next?

Touring with my play then I'll probably go to Barbados in December.

Mel Smith stars in 'An Hour and a Half Late!' which tours the UK this month at the Richmond Theatre, the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, the King's Theatre, Edinburgh, and the Theatre Royal Windsor (01225 448844; www.theatreroyal.org.uk)

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