My Life In Travel: Dame Kelly Holmes

'I lost my luggage and had to compete in someone's sweaty spikes!'
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The Independent Travel

First holidaymemory ?

I went camping with my mum and stepfather, Mick, in Tintagel, Cornwall, when I was about five. It was great fun, especially when a huge storm flared up one night and the tent nearly flew over the side of the cliff.

Best holiday ?

My last proper holiday was in Singapore in 1997, so that's why it was probably my best, but it's also a beautiful country and the people are so friendly. The hotel I stayed at, the Pan Pacific, was beautiful. The only thing that dampened things was needing to have root canal treatment half way through.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

I love Kent, where I live, but there are plenty of great places in the British Isles, such as Yorkshire, Dorset and of course London. The area I live in is semi-rural with old stately homes such as Hever Castle and Penshurst Place.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Most of my travel has been as an athlete. not seeing a great deal other than hotels and tracks. I tell my "On Camp with Kelly" girls that they must keep their racing spikes and racing kit with them, because if they don't and bags go missing, they'll miss the race. I once lost my luggage on the way to a meet in Gateshead and had to compete in someone's sweaty spikes!

Ideal travelling companion?

Anyone who enjoys the same things as I do. I like finding out about a country's culture, as well as relaxing in places such as Camps Bay, South Africa.

Greatest travel luxury?

First class flying. I don't travel in it much but I occasionally get upgraded, which is a real luxury. I travel business class on long-haul flights and wouldn't want to go back to the back again, sorry.

Worst travel experience?

Getting food poisoning in New Zealand in 1998. I was there for a race, but couldn't compete because I was so ill.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I'm a culture vulture - when I was an athlete, I spent about nine months of the year travelling for training camps, racing and physiotherapy. Unfortunately some of the trips were just fleeting visits.

Holiday reading?

I don't really read anything apart from magazines and newspapers.

Where has seduced you?

South Africa - it's like my second home.

I love it and miss not training there any more. I started going in 1996, and I lived there from the end of 2002 to 2005. I love it for the warmth, the excellent training facilities and relaxed lifestyle. I took the girls there for their first mentoring camp.

Best hotel?

We took the "On Camp with Kelly" girls to see the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne last year and stayed at The Mansion Hotel at Werribee Park. It is set in stunning gardens on the outskirts.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

Driving from Stellenbosch to Franschhoek in South Africa. They are probably the most stunning hillside views I have ever seen.

Best meal abroad?

A roast dinner that a friend's mum cooked me in South Africa - delicious!

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

When I was an athlete I would go for a little jog to loosen up my legs. Now I usually get straight to work on whatever I am travelling for; my last trip was to Warsaw as a judge for Miss World 2006.

Dream trip?

To see Father Christmas in Lapland.

Favourite city ?

I love the buzz of London and the multicultural society. And Rome has amazing architecture.

Where next?

To Eugene, Oregon. I'm taking one of my "On Camp with Kelly" girls, Dani Christmas, over to train with my last coach, Margo Jennings.

Double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes mentors young athletes through her 'On Camp with Kelly' initiative, sponsored by Norwich Union ( www.norwichunion.com/athletics)

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