My Life In Travel: Martin Clunes

'I enjoyed a magical horse ride along the beach in New Zealand'

First holiday memory?

Going to stay with my grandparents in Sedlescombe in East Sussex; they used to take us down to the beach. My father also converted a pig shed in Mallorca when I was three or four, so we used to go on holiday there. It was great – very unspoilt.

Best holiday?

For the last five years except one year out, my family and I have been to Soneva Fushi in the Maldives. We even try to stay in the same room. We didn't used to be like that until we went there. Holidays are very precious and expensive so at least we know we've got a guaranteed successful holiday there. My daughter Emily learnt to snorkel and ride a bicycle there.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

I really love the West Country. I did a lot of my rep work at the Old Vic in Bristol and that's when I started to dip a toe into the countryside around there. I have loved it ever since.

What have you learnt from your travels?

To listen and try to have an understanding that people are going to be different to you and react in different ways to how you might expect. You shouldn't be disappointed by that.

Ideal travelling companion?

Emily and my wife Philippa – we travel together quite often and always with a real sense of excitement. We once drove down to Spain with our dog and it was a wonderful odyssey. Emily is a very good traveller.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I hope I'm going to grow into the cultural thing, but at the moment the beach is fine for us all. There'll come a time when Emily won't want to come on holiday with us so it's then that we'll do things like explore Europe.

Greatest travel luxury?

A camera, iPod and credit card.

Holiday reading?

Holidays are the only chance I get to read for pleasure; I usually take some fiction.

Where has seduced you?

Soneva Fushi is a very seductive place. You really have to sell something to get there, but it's great value for money because there's nowhere else like it.

Better to travel or arrive?

To arrive, but I still get excited about air travel and always have done since I was a child. However, I think I suffer from the condition known as Non-Specific Travel Anxiety which basically makes me take my passport out of my pocket four times before I get to the airport – there's a lot of trouser patting that goes on.

Worst travel experience?

I once did a play that toured around war-torn Yugoslavia. We were in Belgrade and I had to fly to Prague to be in a Disney film. I got to Belgrade airport and it was full of children dressed in camouflage. The flight was delayed with no explanation for four hours. It was a strange, lonely time and slightly unnerving. I found the bar where they were showing Sherlock Holmes – who was played by my cousin Jeremy Brett – on a TV so I sat and stared at him speaking Serbo-Croat.

Worst holiday?

Coming back from the Turks and Caicos we had a stopover in Miami and the hotel turned out to be a complete hole. We had chosen a hotel that was the size of a tower block but had somehow snuck its way into the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection. It was horrid.

Worst hotel?

Some of the hotels in former Yugoslavia were pretty rank: Eastern bloc-style buildings with grumpy landladies.

Best hotel?

Soneva Fushi. The Peninsula Beverly Hills comes a close second. I used to stay there a lot. It's in the middle of a fairly unassuming part of West Hollywood but is very smart with a lovely swimming pool on the roof and everywhere smells of lilies. I've got fond memories of it.

Favouritewalk/swim/ ride/drive?

I did a film in New Zealand for which I had to ride a horse, so I had to get to know my horse first. I went to a ranch near Bethells Beach, north of Auckland and went for a canter along the beach then came in through the undergrowth and woods and up a hill; it was a magical ride.

Best meal abroad?

The first meal I had at Rick Stein's Seafood Restaurant in Padstow. We got the water taxi over from Rock at sunset and had the most amazing seafood. The whole evening was absolutely wonderful.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Check out the hotel bathroom.

Dream trip?

I've long had a hankering to go to Madagascar.

Favourite city?

I rather like Paris. I have memories of wandering for hours and getting blisters.

Where next?

I'm off to film in Cornwall for the next few months.

Martin Clunes' series, 'Islands of Britain', is available on DVD from Monday

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When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
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He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
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I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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