My Life In Travel: Alan Titchmarsh

'The best point of any holiday is the first meal; that's a magical moment'


What is your first holiday memory?

What is your first holiday memory?

Biscombe, just outside Blackpool. It was what my parents used to call "the select end" of the town. I grew up in Ilkley in Yorkshire and that was the nearest place on the coast.

Where have you had your best holiday?

It was on Young Island, a tiny island just off St Vincent in the Grenadines. It is beautiful. They bring fresh banana bread and cinnamon bread to the table every night and the catchphrase of the holiday was, "Care for de crust?"

Where is your favourite place in the British Isles?

I'm a great fan of the Isle of Wight because it seems to encapsulate everything that's British. It's got good walking, cycle rides, good beaches and good sailing. I like it so much that I bought a flat in Cowes.

What have you learnt from your travels?

That I live in the best place. I love travelling, but I do love coming home.

Who would be your ideal travelling companion?

Family and friends that you know very well. It's a mistake to go on holiday with people that you don't know very well. It would be a disaster to go away with people who are very picky.

Are you a beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I like a bit of beach and a bit of culture. I like the beach for a couple of days just to flop and then I like to get out and explore.

What is your greatest travel luxury?

Travelling business class if it's over three hours. Going to, say, Mallorca I can grit my teeth for two hours, but if I'm going somewhere like the Caribbean on a ten-hour flight, then I have to go business class otherwise it takes three days to recover. I'm lucky enough that I can now afford such luxuries.

What do you read on holiday?

I always take a PG Wodehouse, which is very comforting reading because you always know where you are with him. If you've got a duff couple of paperbacks and a PG Wodehouse as back-up then you don't feel too cheated.

Where has seduced you?

Venice. It really lived up to expectations. I like water anyway and it struck me that Venice is in a time warp and what you are seeing is what you would have seen 150 or 200 years ago. It is a wonderfully romantic city.

Is it better to travel or arrive?

Arriving, without a doubt. The best point of any holiday is the first meal, when you sit down in an Italian street café for example and your bottle of wine is opened and food arrives; that's an absolutely magical moment.

What has been your worst travel experience?

Eight hours at Palma airport. You just want to go home when a holiday ends, so there's nothing worse than being stuck in an airport.

Where have you had your worst holiday?

We went to Mauritius a few years ago. The holiday itself wasn't bad, but everybody fell ill at various stages, so we were never on the beach at the same time. My youngest daughter got badly sunburnt, two of us had food poisoning and I started throwing up on the plane home.

Where is the worst hotel you've stayed in?

During the 1960s, my parents took us to a boarding house in Edinburgh that was absolutely awful. My sister and I had to share a double bed, which had springs that creaked.

And the best?

The Ritz in London. We have one night a year there as a treat. It's deliciously over the top.

Where is your favourite place to walk, swim, ride or drive?

My favourite walk is along the South West Coast path around Penwith and Land's End in Cornwall. I like it for its flowers, bird life and sea views. My favourite swim is off Samson in the Isles of Scilly. The Hampshire lanes are good for riding and my favourite drive is from Pollensa to Soller in Mallorca. The scenery is amazing and there are about 60 hairpin bends.

What is the first thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Eat. I have a reputation with my family that when we're going to a restaurant on holiday I walk very fast. I do enjoy my fodder.

Where would you go on your dream trip?

New Zealand. Their outdoor lifestyle really appeals to me.

Where is your favourite city?

Rome. It has got the most amazing culture, shopping, food and natives. I love Italians.

Where are you going next?

The Maldives. You have got to head south for some winter sun in January or February.

Alan Titchmarsh's new eight-part series 'British Isles: A Natural History' starts at 9pm on Wednesday on BBC 1

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