'My hire car got stuck in the mud during a deluge in Tuscany'

First holiday memory?

Going to Abersoch in North Wales with my mum and dad. As I grew up in the north of England it was one of the nearest beach holiday destinations. We used to go with a cousin of mine and play cricket on the beach. I seem to remember it always being sunny.

Best holiday?

New Zealand after the 1998 Australia cricket tour. My partner and I hired a car and drove from the top of the North Island down to Queenstown on the South Island over three weeks. I particularly loved Wanaka in Central Otago and the Marlborough district.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

I like the Lake District. My other half is from the Caribbean so she likes warm weather and balks at the prospect of holidaying in the UK.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Most of my travels have been cricket-oriented, so have usually been to Commonwealth countries. They've all got something different to offer. India is wonderful, with a massive diversity of landscapes as well as disparity between the rich and poor. I've come to love the Caribbean too. It's good to keep your eyes and ears open when you travel.

Ideal travelling companion?

Charles Dickens. I've just finished reading Dombey and Son and I'd like to pick his brains about it. I'm intrigued by the breadth of characters in his writing.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

We've got two young kids so beach holidays tend to be easy. Personally I prefer something a bit more cultural.

Where has seduced you?

One of the most beautiful islands I've been to is Jamaica. It gets a bad rap but the scenery is great. The north of New Zealand's South Island is lovely too, as are the beaches just to the north of Sydney, particularly Whale Beach.

Holiday reading?

I'll read absolutely anything.

Better to travel or arrive?

Anticipation is a good thing so I think it's better to travel. As a kid I remember the excitement and hopes before going away.

Worst travel experience?

We went to Tuscany one September and managed to hit it in the middle of an unbelievable deluge. Our hire car got stuck in some mud and we had to abandon it.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

I try and find a café and have a cold beer. Then I get my notebook out and have a look around.

Greatest travel luxury?

Music means nothing to me so I like taking books and a notebook.

Worst holiday?

Nagpur in the middle of India. There wasn't anything to see or do there.

Worst hotel?

A guesthouse in a place called Kurunegala in Sri Lanka. It was pretty horrific. Because I was the captain of the team at the time I was given a single room, but it was the type of place where you were desperate for a bit of company.

Best hotel?

Strawberry Hill in Jamaica has amazing views. It's 3,000ft up in the Blue Mountains.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

I'd love to drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles and from Melbourne to Sydney. I like the sea.

Best meal abroad?

A meal at a restaurant called Salt in Darlinghurst, Sydney. We had a 12-course tasting menu, which was very grand.

Dream trip?

I'd love to visit Kashmir when the violence settles down, and the Napa Valley.

Favourite city?

London, because I live there most of the time and it's a fantastic city that keeps you interested in life. It has a fantastic mix of theatres, restaurants, people and cultures.

Where next?

After going all around Australia for the Ashes - Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney - I'm just off to Hobart. Then I'll be in the Caribbean for the World Cup in March and April.

Michael Atherton is commentating for Sky Sports during its exclusively live coverage of England's tour of Australia