My Life In Travel : Antony Worrall Thompson

'I'd like to journey across the Arctic by sled with a group of huskies'


First holiday memory?

Worthing. We couldn't afford a lot when I was young so we stayed in a pokey hotel. It was very windy and rainy, with waves crashing on the shore, but it was quite exciting.

Best holiday?

Jamaica is a beautiful place. I've been a couple of times and stayed at Strawberry Hill and Goldeneye, where Ian Fleming used to write his books. It overlooks the sea and has great service. I really like the people, they're laid-back and friendly.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

I love going to the south of Ireland around Ballymaloe and Ballycotton, where we often rent a cottage overlooking the harbour. You can watch the boats come in early in the morning. It's very serene.

Ideal travelling companion?

Apart from my wife, it would be Jodie Foster. She's my heroine, because she's intelligent and gorgeous.

Better to travel or arrive?

Definitely to arrive. I hate travelling, from the waiting around to the poor airline food.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

A bit of all three. There are times when I like to crash out on the beach and I enjoy culture depending on where I am - China, for example, has an amazing history. I love white-water rafting, which I did on the Zambezi in Zimbabwe a while back.

Where has seduced you?

Nepal. I've been a few times because my grandfather was in the Gurkhas. There are some wonderful towns, which are like going back to the 13th century. I visited my grandfather's friend who was still alive at the age of 108, and had a picture of him on his dressing table.

Worst travel experience?

Flying from Indonesia to Australia on Garuda in the days before I could afford the luxury of business class. It was like travelling on a bus, and the service was really poor.

Worst holiday?

Probably a holiday in Mallorca in the early Seventies. It was in the era of kiss-me-quick hats and embarrassing Brits at the hotel. I said I would never take a package holiday again after that.

Worst hotel?

The Midland Hotel in Birmingham. We went to the room and the bed was unmade; it was obvious that a couple of the staff had been bonking in there. Everything was poor, from the room to the food.

Best hotel?

The Oriental in Bangkok is probably the most efficient. The general manager has been there for about 30 years. The service is fantastic.

Favourite walk/swim/ ride/drive?

My favourite drive was New York to Los Angeles, which I did over a month or so. It was like retracing things that you see in the movies of middle America. It was scary but fascinating and we diverted to see places like the Grand Canyon.

Best meal abroad?

On the beach in Trenchtown, Jamaica. We were taken by the general manager of the Strawberry Hill hotel to a metal shack on the beach. Locals were tearing in on their boats and slapping fresh fish, lobster and shellfish on the barbecue. We ate it overlooking the sea with a can of Red Stripe beer. You couldn't ask for anything better.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Check out the loos! Or check I've got my return ticket in case I have to make a quick getaway.

Dream trip?

I'd like to see the Arctic with a group of huskies. I did husky training in Lapland and it was the most peaceful, blissful way of travelling.

Favourite city?

Jaipur, because of the amazing scenery. It was also built on a grid system well before New York. My grandfather was a military advisor to the Maharaja of Jaipur so we were treated quite royally when we visited.

Where next?

Australia. We're going to Sydney, Adelaide and Hayman Island on the Great Barrier Reef. It's beautiful and the scuba diving is incredible.

Antony Worrall Thompson hosts ITV1's 'Daily Cooks' every weekday at 3pm and 'Saturday Cooks' every week at 11.30am

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