My life in travel: Lynda La Plante, novelist and screenwriter
'First class helps limit obstacles at the airport'
Saturday 14 January 2012
First holiday memory?
Bournemouth. I remember the taste of the ice cream and the wonderful pier. My father insisted that you never needed to book ahead with hotels, so we drove all the way down from Liverpool to find there were no rooms available. In the end we managed to stay in this extraordinary place that was nearly falling down.
Antigua. I stayed at the Carlisle Bay hotel in a wonderful bungalow right on the beach. The weather was glorious, the restaurants fantastic and we spent our days waterskiing and scuba diving. It was very relaxing.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
The Isles of Scilly. They're perfect for families with young children. You have a wonderful train ride down to Cornwall and then you can either get a helicopter or the ferry from Penzance. It's one of the most perfect holidays. You just need to keep your fingers crossed for the weather. We went beachcombing and took a boat trip to see a seal colony.
What have you learnt from your travels?
Only pack what you require. You see people arriving in airports with a cargo of suitcases and wonder how long they're going for. I go to a lot of far-flung places, so I've learnt to be savvy about what I put in my suitcase.
Ideal travelling companion?
The actress Lynda Bellingham, a close friend of mine. She always keeps me entertained. She has visited me at my house in the Hamptons before, and I adored having her.
However, the holiday was a bit of a farce – I managed to get the time difference wrong when I set my clocks. So Lynda and I lived in a twilight zone for three days where we were getting up at 2am to go shopping and wondering why it was still dark outside.
Greatest travel luxury?
Money. It's very costly to go to any of these glorious places, so without finances you couldn't make it. If you can afford to fly first class, it helps limit the obstacles at airports.
Half of my holiday reading is usually for work. Aside from that I like biographies. I recently read The Crimes of Charlotte Brontë by James Tully, which was fascinating. I love anything about Napoleon, too.
Where has seduced you?
Australia. Part of the joy of being a novelist is that you go on book tours. I've been all over to Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold Coast, Brisbane and more. It's always glorious because of the openness of the people, and the friendliness of everyone I've met. If I were younger, I would emigrate there. The opportunities are great.
Better to travel or to arrive?
Arrive. I went to India recently and landed at Delhi airport. Everyone warns you that there will be thousands of people; you won't be able to find your travel agent; it'll be very hot and absolutely jammed with people. But, since they've built the new terminal – which opened for the Commonwealth Games in 2010 – it's absolutely beautiful, with silks floating down and religious idols.
Worst travel experience?
A storm I encountered on a flight to New York. The plane ended up being diverted to Boston, where we waited for three hours on the apron. Talk about passenger dissatisfaction: it was mutiny. Everyone was furious, worrying that their relatives wouldn't know where they were. The staff were very pleasant, though, and served us champagne, so it ended up all right.
I'm a very careful traveller, so I've managed to avoid a bad booking. With the advent of the internet, you can find out everything you need to know with a little pre-planning. My advice would be: go online and don't book blind.
The Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles is very sophisticated. You see people getting married in the grounds and sometimes very famous guests in the restaurants. Also, the Montage in Beverly Hills is luxury beyond belief. It has an extraordinary rooftop pool and the rooms are so elegant.
An equestrian holiday in Cheshire. I rode every morning on a large chestnut horse called Red. I would have been exhausted, but thankfully the hotel I was staying in had a wonderful spa.
Best meal abroad?
A restaurant called Nick & Toni's in the Hamptons. They cook things like roast chicken with crispy roast potatoes on a big Tuscan-style stove. I love the food there. Also, The Pier in Sydney where I ate freshly caught fish in a basket while looking across the harbour.
Necker Island. I'd love to go, but only on the condition that Sir Richard Branson was there. I think he's a remarkable man and I'd love to meet him.
New York. If I had a day there, I'd walk around Central Park, go shopping in Bergdorf Goodman and spend the night at the Carlyle hotel.
San Francisco. I'm off on a family holiday. I'll take a tour of Alcatraz, the former prison, and see the city.
Lynda La Plante's Above Suspicion continues on Monday at 9pm on ITV1
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