My Life In Travel: Martin Shaw, actor

'If it's possible for a building to convey sensuality – then the Alhambra does it'

First holiday memory?

Looking out at the sea on a trip to Margate. I remember enduring the greatest discomfort when the weight of the water pulled my nappy down. We also used to go to the Golden Sands holiday camp in Rhyl and stay in a caravan. It was the late 1940s, so it was almost a wartime experience.

Best holiday?

Newquay, when I was about 10. I learned to surf on a very flat wooden bodyboard. You could lie down and fly right up to the shore. The weather was great too, so we spent all our time on the beach.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

A tie between south-west Scotland and Mid Wales. I love any elevated scenery and that particularly beautiful green colour that we get.

Ideal travelling companion?

I'm a huge fan of the Patrick O'Brian series of Aubrey-Maturin novels, so I'd like my companion to be Stephen Maturin. His mind and understanding of natural history are just so attractive – it would be a great learning process.

Greatest travel luxury?

A first-class ticket. I've done years of slumming it, hitchhiking and discomfort in the past. Then you experience first-class travel and think "why would anyone ever do anything else?", especially if you're in a plane. I certainly wouldn't go economy any more, unless I absolutely had to.

Where has seduced you?

The Alhambra in Granada. If it's possible for a building to convey sensuality, then that's it. It's a deeply seductive, beautifully crafted palace. You've got the wonderful shrine and gardens, but it's really the colours and the architecture that are very sexy indeed.

Better to travel or arrive?

Unless I was journeying on some beautiful, old-fashioned luxury liner, I'd much rather arrive. Every time I go to New York City, I have the same experience on landing. It's a sort of involuntary excitement, like having a very strong cup of coffee.

Worst travel experience?

A nine-hour train ride from Delhi to the Punjab. It was very hot, uncomfortable, not particularly hygienic and seemed like the longest journey I'd ever known.

Worst hotel?

I spent three months in Prague in 1975 making a film. At that time, the city was part of a front-line Communist state and I was billeted in a hotel, which had been Gestapo headquarters during the Second World War. The windows were welded shut so you couldn't get any air, and there was no word in Czech for vegetarian – which I've been since 1971. Living in that hotel made me realise who Franz Kafka was.

Best hotel?

The Bath Spa and The Royal Crescent – both in Bath. The latter for the old-world elegance of the service , the wonderful rooms and the building itself. The former for all the same reasons, plus the beautiful grounds.

Favourite ride?

There's a ridge along a hill in the Home Counties, where I was once given charge of a retired racehorse. Together we rode back and forth along this narrow path at a full gallop and it was one of the most exciting, beautiful rides ever.

Best meal abroad?

I was in Spain filming The Golden Voyage of Sinbad in 1972, when vegetarianism was still a very strange, misunderstood thing. I was in a restaurant with the rest of the cast and I asked the waiter if he had anything that didn't have meat, fish or eggs in it. He looked at me as if I was mad, then reappeared 10 minutes later with a bowl of beautifully arranged fruit, with every kind you could imagine, and little cubes of ice in between. It was the loving care with which it was served that made it so memorable.

Dream trip?

A flight in a Second World War plane. I've flown in a Lancaster before, but I'd love to go on a proper trip in a really big old aeroplane, ideally a Transatlantic flight, with a stop on either Greenland or Iceland.

Favourite city?

Anything you want to do in any city in the world you can do in Sydney. It has a fabulous climate, lots of culture and that glorious harbour. You could sail all day and not touch the same spot of water twice.

Where next?

To my retreat in Scotland for the wilderness and some quiet.

Martin Shaw stars in the new series of Inspector George Gently, which returns to BBC 1 later this month

News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

    £25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-Qualified Accountant) - Manchester

    £23000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat