My life in travel: Mary Anne Hobbs

'There's a kind of peace in Kyoto that's intensely beautiful – I'll never forget it'

Music journalist and DJ, Mary Anne Hobbs, presents BBC 6 Music's Recommends show every Wednesday from midnight to 1am (bbc.co.uk/6music).

First holiday memory?

Butlins in Minehead. They'd just had a fire, so half the place was burnt out. My enduring memory is that there was so much litter at the bottom of the pool. I was terrified to put my feet down.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Many years ago, I went to the TT motorcycle race on the Isle of Man. I had been tearing around on a Ducati 916 and stopped for a cup of tea at a little café at the southern tip of the island. I don't remember the name, but I do recall sitting on a hill that was strewn with wildflowers, the banks rolling down to the sea.

At the bottom, there were seals and a little cottage. I remember a man emerging, getting into his boat, rowing out and dropping his crab pots into the water. It seemed as close to paradise as you could ever possibly wish to be in the UK.

Best holiday?

When I was touring as a DJ, I went to Japan. I had a few days off and went to Kyoto, to see the Buddhist temples and the ancient architecture. There's a kind of peace there that's intensely beautiful. When I came back to Tokyo that night, I ate at a restaurant called Gonpachi, which featured in Kill Bill. It was the only rest time that I had on the Japanese tour, but I'll never forget it.

What have you learnt from your travels?

That we hear every day about wars all over the world, but actually when you travel, you see there's much more of a sense of kindness, compassion and empathy than is ever reflected. Any stranger, almost anywhere on the Earth, will try to help you if they can.

Greatest travel luxury?

An unexpected upgrade. I was once flown to interview David Bowie in New York. I had made a documentary with him when he was 50 for Radio 1, which he really enjoyed, so he later requested that I come out to do another. When I arrived at the airport, I was upgraded to first class. It's only ever happened to me once, but I couldn't believe I was being offered a complimentary massage on the plane! The steak on that flight was one of the best I've ever eaten. It was really exciting.

Holiday reading?

The last one was Neil Young's biography, Waging Heavy Peace, which has a very gentle, atmospheric tone. Also, Patti Smith's book Just Kids is all about her experiences as a young woman in New York, living with Robert Mapple-thorpe, that transports you back to the Sixties.

Where has seduced you?

Somewhere that I haven't been to yet – the Mirrorcube Tree Hotel in a place called Harads in Sweden. It's surrounded by natural forest. The tree houses and mirror cubes are built to be harmonious. The idea is that the hotel doesn't disturb the natural environment, but you can apparently see the Northern Lights, which is something I dream of.

Best hotel?

Malmaison in Manchester, because it's got such a rich rock'n'roll tradition. If the walls of that bar could speak, they would tell a thousand stories. I always used to stay there when I was DJing at The Warehouse Project parties, so it holds lots of exciting memories.

Favourite drive?

The Pacific Coast Highway, between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The road snakes all the way along the California coastline, past the most incredible seafood restaurants and biker cafés, which appeals to me enormously .

Best meal abroad?

Lobster, straight out of the sea, on a tiny little island just off the coast of Negril in Jamaica. It was cooked on an open fire by a group of local fishermen. I ate it sitting on a branch that extended into the ocean with my feet in the sea. It was paradise.

Where next?

In Norway, there's a festival called the Ice Music Festival, that takes place in February in temperatures of minus 30C. All the instruments are carved from ice. They actually melt as they're being played. Everyone who's been says it's one of the most remarkable experiences.

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