'I'm now completely enthralled by Turkey'

First holiday memory?

Going to Rothesay Bay in Scotland as a kid. We would go the sand with our pails and try to build sandcastles, and I remember we weren't very adept at it. The weather was generally quite chilly. Happy days – and exciting, so exciting, to go on holiday.

Best holiday?

This year I discovered Turkey and I'm completely enthralled. In four days in Istanbul we went to the Topkapi Palace, we looked at the Blue Mosque... it was absolutely fascinating. I like symmetry, which Ottoman designers used in their houses: you go in the front door, you have a huge lounge sitting room and all the rooms come off that.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Dorset is somewhere where I go quite a lot. I have friends there and we go on these lovely walks. Whether it's in the autumn and you're watching the trees turn, or whether it's in the summer when it's very calm and meditative, it's really wonderful and good exercise.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Having left school at 15, travel has been my education. I really do believe that it's very important. It's an education to see how other people live, to taste different foods.

Ideal travelling companion?

I'd like to travel with Barack Obama. I don't think his wife would approve, but I think it would be extremely stimulating. The man has a great mind and I am just a huge fan.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

A little bit of beach bum and a little bit of culture vulture. I'm an adrenalin junkie anyway, so I take time off when I go on holiday.

Greatest travel luxury?

On long journeys, it's definitely to be able to go first class and sleep. That is the greatest thing ever invented. But I'm still waiting for that "beam me up, Scotty" experience. Cut out all that schlepping on the cars and the planes and the trains and the buses.

Holiday reading?

Holiday is the time I read most. I've just finished The Devil in the White City by Eric Larsson – it's a thriller about Chicago's first world fair.

Where has seduced you?

Turkey: I would go back anytime. I went from Istanbul to Bodrum and we took a gulet and went around all the peninsulas and bays. I would do that again in a heartbeat. I've kind of fallen in love with Turkey.

Better to travel or arrive?

Arrive. Because of my work I travel a lot – I'm not a person who spends most of the year in an office and gets excited about getting on a plane.

Worst travel experience?

When I got on the plane at JFK during 9/11. That was scary. Sitting on the Tarmac, waiting, thinking why is this plane not taking off? Then finally the captain asked us to look out of the window and we saw the smoke. I was lucky enough to be on British Airways and they put me in the lounge. But nobody knew what to do, how to get out. All people did was look at the huge screens and watch the devastation and hear the news repeated. Later, we got on the freeway and there was no traffic, there was nothing in the air, there was no sound. It was crazy.

I went to a motel and got to my room and locked the door and watched the TV and just cried watching the television and thought: "What's going to happen?"

Worst holiday?

When I was very young my brother, myself and a friend went to Portugal. I'd rented a house on the Algarve, and we arrived and there were people already there. But, funnily enough, in the little house next door, there was somebody I knew – Peter Grant, who managed Led Zeppelin. His family were there, so we slept in the garage, the three of us. The garage was teeny-weeny, with no window.

Worst hotel?

In New York, many years ago. It was awful because I can't stand creepy crawlies, and the cockroaches were the size of my palm. I didn't sleep. I don't remember where it was, what it was, anything about it; everything pales into insignificance but the cockroaches stay very vividly in my mind's eye.

Best hotel?

The Four Seasons in Istanbul. To wake up to that view of the Bosphorus in the morning...

Best meal abroad?

I haven't been to el Bulli [the Catalonian restaurant run by Ferran Adrià which has three Michelin stars], but I'd like to go; I've heard so much about it.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

If I arrive in the middle of the night then I unpack. If I arrive in the day – whether it's a skiing trip in the snow, or whether it's in the sun – I want to get out into the fresh air, to breathe it in.

Dream trip?

I'd like to go to China. Just because I've never been. It's so up-and-coming, so industrious. I'd like to do as much travelling as possible before there comes a time that I say: "Oh, I can't be bothered with all that!"

Favourite city?

London. I love everything about it. There's so much greenery, so many parks – I have a dog, you see. I was in Islington yesterday, and the houses there are gorgeous. I like some new architecture but I think I like big old buildings that are solid.

Where next?

I'm going on tour all round the country, with Here Come the Girls.

The 'Here Come The Girls tour', featuring Lulu, Anastacia and Heather Small starts on 22 November. See gigsandtours.com for more details.