My Life In Travel: Chris Addison, comedian
'New Zealand was completely bewitching'
Saturday 05 November 2011
First holiday memory?
Sitting on the cannon in Fishguard, Pembrokeshire. We used to go every year for our holidays and stay in Newport. A few years ago, I walked the Pembrokeshire coastal path with a friend; it was the first time I'd seen the cannon in 20 years. I'd completely forgotten about it and all these memories came flooding back.
I also remember visiting Carningli hillfort, an ancient stone monument, which my brother and I once set out to climb with nothing but a mint Club biscuit. We were so small that we got lost in the bracken and had to clamber onto rocks to find our way out.
Rome. I went last Easter with my family. We stayed in an apartment just off the Piazza Navona so were right in the centre and there was no big production about taking the kids out for the day. You walked out the front door and there was ice cream and excitement – everything they wanted.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
Bristol is a fantastic city. It feels like there's a lot going on and looks very impressive. It's a maritime city, without being a strictly coastal and feels like it's got a proper sense of itself. I also love Lyme Regis in Dorset. It's perfect for visiting with young kids.
Ideal travelling companion?
My wife. When I'm on tour, I'm very aware of her absence when I see something that I want to go "look at that!" to somebody. We're both into the same things: taking long leisurely lunches, dragging our kids around museums and going shopping.
What have you learnt from your travels?
To appreciate home and keep a sense of excitement about where I live. Whenever I cross the Thames coming into Victoria station on the train, I put my book down and imagine that I am seeing it through the eyes of people who've not seen it before.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
Culture vulture. I found Florence absolutely staggering in that respect. I couldn't quite believe how beautiful and strange it was. Somebody gave us a tip before we went: get up really early, buy a coffee and an ice cream from a café, and go up the Duomo in the early morning light. You sit up there and watch as the square gets busy. It's one of my favourite memories.
Greatest travel luxury?
Buying fresh food at local markets. One of things I love about Italy is the quality of the produce there – especially in the south. It's exciting waking up in the morning, buying fresh bread and fruit, taking it back to the villa, and working our way through it. It's a luxury having the time to do it.
A thriller or a historical novel set in wherever I happen to be. So in Venice, I'll read something by Donna Leon. In Sicily, it might be the Inspector Montalbano novels by Andrea Camilleri. In Rome, there's thousands to choose from, but Robert Harris is excellent. I love reading things that make sense of, or add a little sheen to wherever you are.
Where has seduced you?
New Zealand. We went for our honeymoon and it was completely bewitching. We started in the North Island, which is beautiful, but the more you carry on south, the better it gets.
We stayed on Lake Taupo in this nice little B&B where the door opened onto the lake. It's totally quiet and the water's really blue because it comes off the glaciers. We also flew in a light aircraft over Mount Cook, which was fantastic.
Better to travel or arrive?
Arrive if you're travelling with children. But at other times it's something of a treat being removed from the ability to do anything else except watch films, eat food, have a drink and nap.
Worst travel experience?
A gig in Dundee about 15 years ago, when I was travelling with Ed Byrne. He doesn't like to be organised, so we pitched up at this rather grand looking Victorian hotel. The reception had a bullet-proof shield, which should have been the first clue. We went up the threadbare staircase, where there was a vase of dead flowers at the top. I couldn't find the towel in my room, until I realised it was rolled up in the window, blocking a hole. There was definitely an element of The Shining about it.
The Park Hyatt overlooking Sydney Harbour. It's the poshest place I've ever stayed in my life. I got put up in a Diplomatic Suite. When the receptionist confirmed the price, I saw my wife's face drop. It was only when the butler had delivered us to the suite that I told her it had been paid for by someone else.
Along the coastal road from Weymouth to Bridport. On your right is beautiful English countryside. On the left it's like being on a magic carpet above Chesil Beach. It's absolutely glorious.
Best meal abroad?
A meal in Brittany when I was younger. My dad ran into a work colleague, quite by accident, at the local fish market and he invited us to his house for a traditional Breton meal with his family. It was one of the most astonishing things: a table piled high with shellfish, ratatouille, and then this enormous butter cake.
I'd love to do a road trip from San Francisco all the way to Los Angeles. That would be amazing.
New York. When I was last there, I had dinner with a friend on the Upper West Side and then I walked back through Midtown, along Broadway. I stopped at The Peculiar Pub on Bleecker Street for a beer. They've got a great jukebox and it's completely unpretentious.
To Manchester to visit family. I'll also see my godchildren who live just outside the Peak District. I love it there – the air is fresh, the walks are good, the pubs are snug, and you can see Manchester in the valley below.
'Chris Addison Live' is available on DVD from 14 November. His tour, 'The Time Is Now, Again' starts on 16 November (chrisaddison.com).
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