My life in travel: Dallas Campbell
'The Namibian desert is pretty special – the sand dunes roll on for miles'
Saturday 05 April 2014
Dallas Campbell presents Treasure Hunters, a new two-part series on BBC1, starting on Monday at 9pm.
First holiday memory?
Skiing in the Scottish resort of Glenshee in the Seventies. I don't remember an awful lot because it was a complete white-out, but my main memory is of having one wet sock and it being really cold. It was quite miserable.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
I appreciate Britain much more now than I did when I was younger. In my twenties, travel was all about going outside the UK and having adventures abroad. But now, I fantasize about holidays here. If you really twisted my arm, I'd probably say the Cairngorms, because I lived there for a bit and worked as a ski instructor. It's windswept, wild, rugged and beautiful.
Visiting a friend who was doing an exchange at an American school in Connecticut when I was 18. It was a rite of passage: two 18-year-olds, hanging out, falling in love, and being badly behaved. We hitchhiked around New England and had a mad adventure.
We spent time in New York, too. I remember flying into JFK for the first time being utterly blown away by the scale of it. It was a life-changing experience. I was there for a month and just totally fell in love with the country and the people. I'm still in contact with many of them today.
Ideal travelling companion?
At the moment, because much of my travel is work related, my ideal travelling companion is a brilliant producer who plans everything for me. Someone who gives you a call sheet saying "turn up at this time", "stand here" and everything's done for you. Also the best cameraman in Britain because they make everything look fantastic. A good crew become your family, your friends and your therapists. It's great having that support network.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
I do like a bit of adrenalin. I was filming once and had a seven-hour stop-off in Auckland, New Zealand. We could either sit at the airport or get out and do something, so the researchers and I decided to bungee jump off the Auckland Harbour Bridge. We flew off strapped to some bits of elastic, bounced back, went back to the airport and flew home.
I'm a big factual reader so I love popular science books. I write reviews for BBC's Focus magazine, so I have a big stack to read. Right now, I'm reading Adam Roberts's book on the origins of life. Then I also have a pile of books that I should read and haven't, such as The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Where has seduced you?
Namibia. I was there recently filming in the desert. It's pretty special. You've got these incredible sand dunes which roll on for miles and miles. But the country also has the Skeleton Coast, which is windy, with great breaking waves and lots of shipwrecks. I haven't spent a lot of time there, but it's somewhere I'd like to go back to.
Worst travel experience?
I was filming in rural China a couple of years ago. We'd had a really long day and it was very cold and damp. We were in this rickety van and had been driving for five hours – absolutely exhausted, hungry and tired. Finally, we saw the hotel, which looked quite nice. It was only after we checked in to our rooms that we realised there was no glass in the windows.
The Albatross in Gander, Newfoundland. There was a blizzard and I remember finding this nice little hotel. It was basic but the people were lovely. I've stayed in some posh hotels, but the Albatross sticks in my mind, because they were so charming and made their own fish pie.
Best meal abroad?
On a Brazilian cattle ranch a couple of years ago. At the end of the day, the farmer's wife would cook for everyone. It was all meat and potatoes, vegetables and salad – nothing fancy, but very simple, sturdy stuff and utterly delicious.
I really want to go to Mars. There are companies that want volunteers to go. I think it would be quite fun – although there wouldn't be much to do.
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