My Life In Travel: Darren Gough, former cricketer and presenter

'Dream trip? Riding on horseback in Canada'
Click to follow
The Independent Travel

First holiday memory?

Being a northern lad, most of my early holidays were spent at Butlin's. I remember going to Rhyl in north Wales; I won a football tournament and got a free holiday to Butlin's in Scarborough. My mum and dad were chuffed. I was 11 and I think that's when my parents realised I might make it as a sportsman.

Best holiday?

Canouan Island – or "Turtle Island" – in St Vincent and the Grenadines. You fly to Barbados and just hop across. The resort is right on the beach and you stay in villas and ride around on golf buggies, which my kids loved. It was a typical Caribbean holiday with loads of catamaran trips. When we were last there, some turtles had hatched and we helped put them in the sea, which was definitely a highlight.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

I'd have to say Inverness-shire. It's one of those things that we do every year. I love the fresh, clean air there, sitting in a lodge with a small TV, going fishing and quad biking through the countryside. Last time, we went cross-country skiing, which I was absolutely pathetic at. We rent a lodge at the Macdonald Aviemore Resort – it's fantastic.

What have you learnt from your travels?

When I was younger, all I wanted to do, was go away and enjoy myself. I've been round the world five or six times with cricket, when you never really take in your surroundings. Now I'm older, I've started to notice things that previously wouldn't have interested me. I've started to appreciate things more.

Ideal travelling companion?

Freddie Flintoff – we get on so well. We want to do a television series where we travel around India on motorbikes and visit orphanages and do cricket clinics with the kids there.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I was a beach bum when I was younger, but I'm turning into an adrenalin junkie. I've recently tried dirt biking and I've been cliff diving in Acapulco and taken part in a professional wrestling match in Mexico. I'm just starting to love all that stuff. The only thing I put my foot down at is anything to do with snakes.

Greatest travel luxury?

Travelling in a minimum of business class. I'm not bothered about the hotel, as long as the bed's comfortable. I'll fly with anyone if it's only short-haul. But, because I've had so many operations on my body, flying isn't enjoyable unless it's in business class or above.

Holiday reading?

James Patterson. I've read every one of his books. I never used to enjoy reading when I was younger, but I went to Pakistan in 2001 for a cricket tour and got into it there. I'm also interested in the Tudors, so I've read loads of historical books about that period.

Where has seduced you?

I like Abu Dhabi. It's still got soul and feels very much like the Middle East. I stay at the Emirates Palace – a fantastic resort, very over the top, with huge rooms. It's usually overpriced, but fantastic in the same breath.

Better to travel or arrive?

I love arriving at the airport three hours early, getting on the plane, and enjoying the whole build-up. Both my kids love flying too, so it's a massive excitement for them.

Worst travel experience?

I was on tour with the England cricket team. Ronnie O'Reilly, our physiotherapist, Wayne Morton, and I had to fly back from Victoria Falls to Johannesburg in a small four-seater plane during a huge thunderstorm. It was the worst two hours of my life, chasing away from the elements; I actually thought it was the end.

Best hotel?

The Madinat Jumeirah Resort in Dubai. The architecture is amazing. A river runs through it and it's got the best spa I've ever been to in my entire life. I spent a whole day in there.

Favourite ride?

Biking through Aviemore. Trying to get my kids to go cycling at home is almost impossible, but there – on the country roads with the fresh air – it was fantastic.

Best meal abroad?

India; I love a curry. People give Indian food a lot of stick because they think they'll get ill, but I loved it. Authentic food, cooked by local people, eaten with your fingers in the proper way – it just tasted amazing.

Dream trip?

I'd love to go through the Rockies and do a bit of skiing with my wife or ride around on horseback and see the beauty of Canada. I've heard it's fantastic and I've never been, so it's somewhere that I definitely want to visit soon.

Favourite city?

For beauty, I like Adelaide. And I also have to say Christchurch because I spent six months there learning my trade when I was 19. It was my first experience of living on my own abroad; I learnt a lot in that six months.

Where next?

I'm off to see my sister-in-law on the Gold Coast in Brisbane. And we're also planning a trip to Thailand. I've found a fantastic villa, so hopefully that's where we'll be staying.

Darren Gough recently motorbiked around Lesotho delivering medical supplies with Get On Africa (