My Life In Travel: Edwina Currie

'I love deserts. I did charity bike rides in the Sinai and Negev, and it was magical'


What is your first holiday memory?

What is your first holiday memory?

Going to Cardiff to stay with my Auntie Becky. They didn't have children, so her house was "do not touch" territory: bits of crystal and figurines. My mother was always terrified that we'd break something.

What's been your best holiday?

The best was the Millennium Eve holiday I took with my mother. We went to French Polynesia and joined a cruise ship. It had a mainly French crew, and at noon on New Year's Eve (midnight in France), we heard the champagne corks popping below decks. We were docked in the bay of Hiva Oa, where Gauguin lived and is buried. Simply magic.

Are you a frequent traveller?

In practice I am, because we have a house in France and we go across whenever we can. It's in the Loire, and I've had it for 14 years now.

What's your favourite place in the British Isles?

It's rapidly becoming Liverpool again. I was born and brought up there, and I left when the place was really, metaphorically, being reduced to ashes. Now there's a vibrancy about it. Everyone's excited about the European City of Culture stint in 2008.

What have you learnt from your travels?

That I love deserts. I did a charity bike ride in the Sinai and Negev deserts, and it was a magical experience. I like the sense of deserts being completely unspoilt and containing some of the secrets of civilisation - the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Persians. I stood on the walls of Jericho, which were built 8,000 years ago. It's extraordinary, thinking how people lived, fought, died and made progress.

Are you an independent traveller?

Yes, but we go with groups for charity events. We're doing a bike ride in Poland in September for the Marie Curie charity, riding from Krakow to MarieCurie's birthplace in Warsaw. There are details at www.polishbikeride.co.uk, and places are available.

Are you beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

Culture vulture. History fascinates me - the whispers in the air, the old feuds, the old loves. There's something magical about standing at the foot of Mount Sinai and looking up as the sun goes down. I told myself: "If I close my eyes and then open them again, I shall see Moses raging at the worshippers of the golden calf." It was extremely creepy.

How do you travel - organised tours and package holidays, or do-it-yourself?

It varies. I've got to think about what to do for our wedding anniversary weekend, and I'll research it on the internet: I think that www.expedia.co.uk is brilliant. They're fast and reliable and there's a lot of information.

What do you read on holiday?

Big novels or big biographies. The Pickwick Papers was a great one. I read bits out to the other passengers. Dickens is always good fun because he's such good company.

Is it better to travel than to arrive?

Oh, no. I hate travelling. Sitting in the coffee bar at Heathrow Terminal 1, queues everywhere, police officers with machine guns - it's fairly clean, but the ladies' loo left something to be desired. This is the equivalent of Grand Central station on a bad day.

What's the worst thing that's happened to you on holiday?

We had to escape from a coup in Bangladesh in 1990. I'm sure that if the High Commissioner had realised there were problems, he wouldn't have invited a bunch of British parliamentarians. During an audience with the president, he passed us a note saying: "There's one jet on the runway and when it leaves they're going to close the airport." At the airport, we did the British memsahib bit and elbowed our way to the front, where we were told there were no seats left. But we got in first class.

What's the most over-rated place you've been?

Anywhere with beaches. I get burned, I get bored, I get sand in everything. That's why cruise ships are preferable. There's a nice, clean pool with no crabs in it.

And the most under-rated?

Lots of places in Britain. South Derbyshire, where I used to be the MP: the Great Trent Valley, with Repton, which was the capital of the kingdom of Mercia, and Melbourne. I once said to them: "We ought to develop tourism." They said: "We don't need it."

Where would be your trip of a lifetime?

My husband grew up in Lagos, in Nigeria, and we'd like to go and have a look at where he was a little boy. The other dream is to follow the path of Alexander the Great to the Hindu Kush, through places like Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Fermented ewe's milk in a tent in the Mongolian outback. Why not!

The world ends tomorrow - where do you regret never having been?

Africa, I think. I've been to Egypt and South Africa, but we have tried to get to Kenya twice and not made it. I'd love to go to Botswana, to the territory of the No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.

Where are you going next?

Belfast, to drum up support for our Marie Curie bike ride. The money people raise is postcoded for their local hospice, and we need more from there.

Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss