My Life In Travel: Bernard Cribbins
Saturday 12 December 2009
First holiday memory?
When I was a lad, our holidays were always during Oldham wakes week when the cotton mills closed down and everyone decamped to the seaside. We'd go to Blackpool, Southport or New Brighton. I remember having just learnt to swim and being dragged out of the sea by mum because I wouldn't get out of the water. It was magical. When I was a little older working in the local repertory theatre I'd have a holiday with my mates; we'd go youth-hostelling and hitch-hiking in Ireland, which was great fun.
After filming The Country Wife with Helen Mirren in 1977, my wife Gillian and I went off to Sri Lanka for a month, which was totally brilliant. We'd been advised to stay at a guesthouse called Thambapanni near Mount Lavinia. When we told Sarah, the woman who ran it, what our plans were, she arranged for us to stay with her relatives in places like Kandy and Yala, where we got charged by an elephant. It was an absolutely wonderful holiday.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
I'm a fisherman, so I like places like the River Test in Hampshire, which is wonderfully peaceful. I used to walk and climb up in North Lancashire, Yorkshire and Derbyshire and that country is stunning.
What have you learnt from your travels?
Don't fill your rucksack with too many heavy things.
Ideal travelling companion?
Gillian. Otherwise there are two or three mates who are fun to be with – they'd come along and share the driving.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
I haven't had a holiday for years but I still duck and dive and get around the UK with work and fishing.
Where has seduced you?
Sri Lanka was the most magnificent holiday because of the variety. We saw the Buddha tooth relic in Kandy, the rock at Sigiriya and the enormous Buddha rock carvings. Hong Kong was fascinating and I'd love to have seen a bit more of Mexico; the museums in Mexico City were fascinating.
Worst travel experience?
I was doing a film about shark fishing off the coast in County Clare in Ireland. Another boat came alongside and told us to get out because a force nine storm was coming in from America. In half an hour we were caught in 40ft-high waves. The captain Seamus had to turn around a reef and we went sideways down this enormous wave. It was very nerve-racking. When we came back into the harbour it was full of people applauding; we were all in tears. We were privileged to see a feat of seamanship that day.
There have been lots with work; if you're working late at night you really don't want to be woken up by someone drunk knocking on your door.
Gillian and I had a lovely time staying at little motels in Port Douglas and Cairns in Queensland in the 1970s. The motels and campsites were great and so friendly and welcoming. People would invite us to join in with their barbecues.
I used to have favourite walks in the North of England. We'd take a minibus out of Oldham to the West Riding and walk over those great hills. If I'm watching cricket at Old Trafford I can see them in the distance.
Best meal abroad?
I had fantastic food in Australia and Sri Lanka. Sarah would cook some wonderful meals – we'd always have what the locals were eating: fresh seer fish and fragrant curries.
First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
Put the stuff down and go and have a look at the view from the window. Then see what's on the menu.
I'd love to go back to the Seychelles to fish there, which I didn't do when I went last time.
Perth, because of the parks and architecture. I liked Sydney too; it's a bustly old place with lovely views.
Gillian and I have decided we do need a holiday. Perhaps we'll go back to Sri Lanka.
Bernard Cribbins is starring in 'Doctor Who: The End of Time'. Part One is at 6pm on Christmas Day on BBC One; part two will follow on New Year's Day at 6.40pm
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