My Life In Travel: Bob Harris, DJ
'Nashville is my second home: I love the music scene'
Saturday 06 February 2010
First holiday memory?
I would have been 12 and it was at a hotel in Eastbourne with my parents. I found out that the son of the hotel owners was not only my age but also a massive Buddy Holly fan. He had all Buddy Holly's singles and I spent the entire two weeks with him playing rock'n'roll singles.
My wife, Trudie, and I went to the Seychelles in 1993 when our son was about 18 months old. We absolutely loved it there; the scenery was so beautiful and lush. It also reminded me of the lyrics of the Blue Mink song "Melting Pot" because the population's skin tone ranged from white to black and everything in between. I really loved the fantastic mix of people there.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
The north Norfolk coast, particularly around Blakeney. You have wonderful beach walks because it's so flat and the sea goes out for miles. It's absolutely beautiful and windswept.
What have you learnt from your travels?
To explore, because travelling – seeing new things and meeting new people – is a great education.
Ideal travelling companion?
My wife, Trudie. We have three children, and that changes your travel plans a bit. However, I go out to Nashville every year with Radio 2 and this summer they are coming with me and we'll do a road trip from Tennessee to Texas afterwards.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
I'm probably a combination of all three. I do love being by the sea but not being too sedentary. I enjoy movement in a holiday, not to be stuck in one place.
Greatest travel luxury?
A business-class ticket.
I don't take books with me much when I am on holiday. I don't like to sit reading; I'd much rather be on the move.
Where has seduced you?
Nashville; it's my second home. I first went in 1999 and this year will be my 22nd trip. I love the music scene and I have a lot of friends there, many of whom are musicians.
Better to travel or arrive?
I used to love air travel. In the 1970s, there was much more freedom with it. The paraphernalia of flying is much less enjoyable now, so I'm much happier to arrive these days.
Worst travel experience?
A ferry journey from Sicily to Naples when we thought we'd got a cabin but it turned out we hadn't. We had to make do on the deck but it was freezing and we only had summer clothes. We weren't allowed to go back to the car so we ended up sheltering from the wind beneath a blanket underneath the cab of a van that was near the deck. We got dirty, oily and cold.
I've stayed at some ropy hotels in the States, but I've got a great selective memory, so nothing sticks in my mind, thankfully.
When we used to go to Los Angeles for The Old Grey Whistle Test, I stayed at the Beverly Wilshire a couple of times, and it was superb.
More recently, I've enjoyed staying at the Pastis Hotel on the outskirts of St-Tropez. It's a little family-run boutique hotel and is beautifully designed and friendly; they'll cater to any whim and it's absolutely beautiful.
Driving the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Best meal abroad?
Trudie and I were driving through France to Spain and we had been followed by a snowstorm which eventually overtook us so that we drove into it. We stopped in a village that was almost snowed in and when we got to the hotel they had to open up a room for us. The restaurant was shut so I went to a pâtisserie and bought some freshly baked cakes, sandwiches, tarts and wine. I took it back to the hotel and we had this amazing and unexpected picnic huddled around a heater in our hotel room.
We went to the Fish Pot in Barbados last year, too, which is just a really amazing seafood restaurant.
First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
I love commandeering a room and making it my own, so I unpack immediately and put my things out around me.
It's our forthcoming road trip in the States. We'll start off in Nashville and drive down to Louisiana, stopping in New Orleans. There's also an old historic Indian trail that we're hoping to follow.
Nashville. I do like Toronto very much, too – it's very vibrant and there's a touch of Europe about it. It's a really good cultural city with great music.
One ambition that I've not fulfilled is to follow the England cricket team, so I'd like to go back to Barbados when they're playing out there and join the Barmy Army for a week.
Bob Harris is a patron of Cancer Research UK's Sound & Vision event, which takes place at Abbey Road on 25 February. For the chance to bid for the last remaining tickets and music memorabilia, visit soundandvisionebay.com
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