My Life In Travel: Lauren Laverne, DJ and TV presenter
'I am a firm believer in enjoying the journey, even airports'
Saturday 23 May 2009
First holiday memory?
My Auntie Jean's caravan in Alnwick when I was about four. There was perilous marshland nearby that I was warned could suck a child under in seconds. We went to a firework display at the castle one night – the lady next to me had a gold tooth, which I was hypnotised by. I couldn't stop staring; she noticed, turned to me and smiled and I was absolutely terrified, I thought she was a witch.
The first time I went to Ibiza with Mr Laverne. He used to DJ for a living so had spent a lot of time out there. We went up to the north, which is really lush and beautiful. I've always had a real affinity with Spain – despite being somewhat ghostly in complexion – so I knew I'd love it, but it surpassed my high expectations. We rented a little villa and lit fires every night, ate lots of huge, fat tomatoes, read books and practically never saw another human being. Not your typical Ibizan odyssey but we loved it.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
The Lake District. After Auntie Jean gave up her place in Alnwick, my mum and some of her brothers and sisters clubbed together to buy a caravan near Ullswater, in which we spent every spare second between about March and November. Easter was a bit of a knees-up and I remember 28 of us sleeping in the caravan on one memorable bank holiday weekend. I fell asleep between two of my cousins on the floor, while my aunties Eleanor and Lol told stories in the dark.
What have you learnt from your travels?
"Travelling" has become a horrible shorthand for a kind of middle-class, gap-year desire to gawp at lives we imagine to be innately authentic because of their poverty. If I hadn't joined a band [Kenickie, which broke up in 1998] I doubt I would have gone anywhere. I'm glad I did because the travelling I have done has changed the way I look at home and at my own life. It's a cliché, but you only get perspective on those things when you are removed from them.
Ideal travelling companion?
My husband. The fact that we really enjoy driving together, listening to the radio, is one of the enduring strengths of our relationship. We've talked about doing a proper driving tour of "old, weird America" one day.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
None of the above. In nominative terms I suppose I am a ponderer. Holidays are for thinking. One step away from a tartan blanket and a fold-up chair, I know, but there it is.
Greatest travel luxury?
Books, music and food. What else is there?
One of my favourite things is only to take books I've found at my local charity shop when I go away. It gets you out of that "customers also bought" thing when you buy books online. I discovered Chuck Palahniuk's Choke in this way and I really admire his work. I also picked up The Old Curiosity Shop a couple of years ago, never having got round to reading any Dickens, and that was an absolute revelation.
Where has seduced you?
New York. I first went when I was 19 and upon arrival one of the first people we saw out of the cab window was Quentin Crisp, impeccably dressed, leaning against a bollard somewhere incredibly gritty. We went for dinner in Little Italy and I got danced around the kitchen – which was full of cauldron-like vats of spaghetti – by the maître d'. He deposited me back in my seat with a rose. My band played a gig and then we went out dancing with Drag Queens at Lucky Cheng's. Awesome.
Better to travel or arrive?
I am a firm believer in enjoying the journey. I even like airports and service stations.
Worst travel experience?
I woke up mid-air, on a plane, with no memory of where I was going or why. It was a very hectic and slightly confusing time of my life. Turns out it was Paris.
I wouldn't say any of them have been appalling. Even the time I had a big fight with a particularly truculent ex in Barcelona I ended up having a right laugh drinking cocktails on the Ramblas with a bunch of sailors.
When I first started coming to London, I was put up in some places that would really make your hair curl. I remember a place in Regent's Park, me in one bed and my friend Marie in the other, lying in the dark watching the plug-in heater spit blue sparks out on to the highly flammable polyester blanket.
The Samling in the Lake District. I love it so much I actually dream about going there, which we did recently for two blissful days.
Favourite walk/ swim/ ride/drive?
When we're at my in-laws' house in Craigellachie in the Highlands, I love running up into the hills behind. Everything up there is so utterly vast it boggles the mind that it could be part of the same landmass as London.
Best meal abroad?
One of Mr Laverne's Ibizan feasts, out on the terrace overlooking the sea.
First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
Check out the bathroom. If you're doing your ablutions somewhere unfabulous you are not on holiday.
So many. Now that our son Fergus is getting a bit older it's really exciting to imagine taking him to my favourite places. Mr Laverne is desperate to go to Machu Picchu and early signs indicate that Fergus has inherited his daddy's fearlessness.
London. There's no place like home.
I wouldn't fancy long-haul while Fergus is too little to enjoy it, so we're talking about a trip to Tuscany.
Lauren Laverne has designed a Mamas & Papas pushchair for auction, with proceeds going to the War Child charity. Celebrity designs can be bid for in Mamas & Papas Cardiff and Colliers Wood stores ( mamasandpapas.co.uk ).
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