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

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
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

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    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...

    Day In a Page

    Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

    Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

    In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
    Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

    How has your club fared in summer sales?

    Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
    Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

    'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

    Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
    The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

    The best swim shorts for men

    Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup