My Life In Travel: Martina Cole, novelist

'The first time I visited Sydney, it blew me away'

First holiday memory?

Going in the caravan with Uncle Jimmy and my mum to Herne Bay in Kent when I was about six. We'd been to Ireland before, because my family are Irish, but we'd never really been on holiday. I remember playing for hours with the other children at Reculver Towers, this big Roman fort. And every time I hear that song "Wichita Lineman" now, it brings back the memory of my parents dancing on that holiday.

Best holiday?

We always have great big family holidays. Last year I took my grandchildren to Los Angeles, then on to Las Vegas where I took them to see Bette Midler and we met David Copperfield. We ended the trip with a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. It was fantastic to see the children's faces. We flew back across the Hoover Dam as it was getting dark and the whole of Vegas was lit up.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

I'd probably have to say Eastbourne. I've got a beautiful caravan in Pevensey Bay on the outskirts. I write when I'm down there because I can hear the sea. I've got a boat in the harbour, so we sail to Brighton as well.

What have you learnt from your travels?

That as much as I love to see the world, you can't beat Britain. I've got a place in Cyprus, where it's hot all the time. We have a pool and I spend the whole summer there, but I always miss England.

Ideal travelling companion?

David Bowie. He was my first big love. Imagine being on a lovely cruise with him! I'd ask him all the things I've wanted to about his music and find out what he's really like in person. It would be wonderful.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I like the beach, depending on where I am. I took my daughter to the Amalfi Coast last year, and there's so much culture there that we didn't need a beach. But otherwise, if there's a beach and nothing else, I'm happy.

Greatest travel luxury?

Johnson's baby wipes. I use them to clean the grandchildren or to take my make-up off. They go everywhere with me, especially if I'm in the middle of nowhere, they're really practical.

Holiday reading?

I've recently opened a bookshop in Karakum, Cyprus – so I've got everyone and anything in there. I read Emma Donoghue's book Room on the plane, ordered it for the shop, and bought six copies to give to friends. I also love the Tudors. I've just started getting into a historical novelist called Margaret George; she's American, but she's got such a good grasp of British places and history. Books are an essential part of my everyday life, but especially on holiday, it's wonderful to be able to immerse yourself.

Where has seduced you?

The first time I arrived in Sydney, it just blew me away. My father was a merchant seaman and as a child I'd heard so much about the city from his travels. It was amazing to see it for myself. I remember sitting there on the first night, in the harbour with views of the Opera House, witnessing the things I never thought I would get to see as a young girl.

Better to travel or arrive?

I like travelling, it's just such a nice experience, especially in first class. If I'm going long haul, I like it to be nice.

Worst travel experience?

I was going to speak at this tiny library in the middle of nowhere in the North of England. I hadn't been published long and I was travelling on my own. I arrived at this really scary hotel and kept expecting ghosts to jump out of the walls; I didn't sleep all night. It was freezing and I was packed and ready to go two hours early.

Best hotel?

It's a three-way tie between the Cape Grace in South Africa, the Four Seasons in New York and the Kempinski in Du bai. Another one I really loved was the Goodwood Park Hotel in Singapore – a really beautiful place.

Favourite drive?

Through the Deep South from Memphis to Nashville. I went with my friend who's mad for the blues, so we did Beale Street in Memphis and visited Graceland. I went for her, but I ended up having such a good time that I'm looking for a house now on the Mississippi River. I love the food and the Southern hospitality.

Best meal abroad?

One of the best meals I've had was overlooking Sydney Harbour. I had shrimp to start, shrimp for main and shrimp for dessert. Another day I got taken out on a yacht and all we ate was homemade beef and salmon rolls; it was one of the best experiences of my life.

Dream trip?

I've been to most of the places that I've ever wanted to, but there's one thing I'd like to do with my son and grandson: a rail trip in Japan. We love trains. Later on this year we're going from New York right across to San Francisco on Amtrak. It's going to be fantastic.

Favourite City?

Buenos Aires. It's so exciting, for its mix of danger and beauty. I haven't been for years, but it would be brilliant to go back.

Where next?

I'm planning a book tour to Australia and New Zealand, probably with a stop in Dubai and Singapore.

Martina Cole is speaking at Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate (21-24 July; harrogate-festival.org.uk) Her new book, The Family, is published by Headline, £7.99

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
News
i100
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
people
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
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
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little