My Life In Travel: Katie Derham, BBC radio and television presenter
Friday 11 May 2012
First holiday memory?
Farm holidays on the Llyn peninsula in North Wales. I remember enormous teas, going on the Ffestiniog railway and visiting the slate museum when it was raining. I suspect it must have rained rather a lot if we ended up in a slate museum.
On another holiday, we rented a rambling old house on Lake Windermere with another family. It was an old National Trust property called Belle Grange. I remember huge rhododendron bushes perfect for dens, a death-trap rotten jetty which was out of bounds, and a large curtained bay window where us children would perform shows.
Last year, some intrepid friends sailed across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. My husband, John, the children and I sensibly joined them there and we had the most idyllic time sailing around the British Virgin Islands. It was the perfect mix of adventure, great company, hidden beaches and rum punch.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
The Solent. I love sailing and have spent many bracing weekends pottering around Hamble, Yarmouth, Beaulieu and Lymington with John. I'm not sure there's a prettier English view than the Beaulieu river in the late afternoon sun, sitting on the lawn at Buckler's Hard, where Nelson's navy was built. We've found some great pubs, too.
What have you learnt from your travels?
Not to plan too much or attempt to cram too much in. Having said that, I rarely follow my own advice. I'm the queen of buying guidebooks at the last minute and plotting.
Ideal travelling companion?
John and our children. So far, we've never been on a trip that hasn't been a success.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
If pushed, the lure of a beach and a book is very strong, though I love a combination of activities when I'm travelling.
Greatest travel luxury?
Turning left on the plane. Sadly, this rarely happens.
Quantity is as important as quality. My biggest fear is running out of reading matter. I suspect I'll succumb to a Kindle soon, if only to save on excess baggage.
Where has seduced you?
Brazil. It's always been part of my family history. My father was born there and his grandfather had moved there in the 1890s. When I finally got to visit as a student, I was utterly hooked. Back then there were huge social and economic problems, but there was still a sense of happiness in the air, a real joyfulness, and pride in living in the most beautiful country in the world. These days, that pride rightly extends to being one of the most successful economies in the world, too. I love it and return whenever I can.
Better to travel or arrive?
I love travelling and exploring, but when you're sailing, half the fun is arriving somewhere new every day. It's the best of both worlds.
Worst travel experience?
I've stayed in some pretty ropey backpacker hostels over the years – one near Gallipoli in Turkey really stands out. I've also slept on airport floors and in railway waiting rooms to save money, but I still wouldn't change a thing.
The Ksar Char Bargh, Marrakech. John and I stayed there earlier this year. It was an oasis of elegance and tranquillity. The service is immaculate and the hammam was unforgettable.
The coastal drive along Highway 1 in California from Los Angeles to San Francisco, which John and I did on our honeymoon. Beautiful.
Best meal abroad?
There's a medieval hilltop village in northern Provence called Le Poët-Laval. Right at the top, just below the ancient fort, is a hotel called Les Hospitaliers. We found it almost by accident, on holiday with our daughter Natasha, when she was just two months old. We had lunch there, sitting on a terrace with what can only be called commanding views of the Drôme mountains and lavender fields – as we ate the first of several delicious courses, we vowed we would come back. And we have, almost every year since then. It's always great, but nothing will beat the sense of amazed discovery that day.
It's a long list, but I'd love to go to Vietnam, take a riding holiday in Montana, sail around the Greek islands, and also see St Petersburg in Russia and Granada in Spain.
Rio de Janeiro for the music, dancing, stunning scenery and the smiles.
I'm presenting the Proms again this year, so any summer holiday fun with my children will be within shouting distance of the Royal Albert Hall. But I'm sure we'll also be found messing about in boats in the Solent at some point.
Katie Derham presents the BBC Proms 2012 on BBC 2 and on BBC Radio 3. Tickets go on sale from 9am today at bbc.co.uk/proms
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