First holiday memory?
A holiday in the New Forest with my parents when I was about six or seven. My parents rented a house there and we did the sort of things that families did back then. We had friends who lived at Sandbanks near Poole, so we went and saw them.
My wife and I didn't really go on holiday for about 20 years because my life chasing the Formula One circuit was like one big holiday. I did all the races between 1978 and 2001, and we'd visit 15 or 16 countries every year, which was absolutely fantastic. These days, we do quite a lot of cruising – we've had some great holidays on board the Hebridean Spirit in particular. There was an excellent Monaco Grand Prix cruise a few years ago, which went on to Sardinia and Sicily. The company, food, weather and ship were all fantastic.
What have you learnt from your travels?
Before the war, it was very unusual for people to have been abroad, but I was forever dotting off around Europe in my school holidays because my father raced motorcycles. One of the reasons I think we had the war was because of people's ignorance about different cultures. I've learnt that we're all the same, whether we live in England or India: we want a family with a roof over our head. We should be tolerant of one another.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
The Isle of Man, because that's where they hold the TT races. It is also a fabulous little island in its own right, with the most glorious countryside, some nice hotels and very hospitable people.
Ideal travelling companion?
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
I don't think I'm any of those things. In my youth, my ideal holiday would have been to lie on the beach from sunrise to sunset. These days, I'm a boring old bloke who sits around on ships.
Where has seduced you?
The United States and Australia. I have seen a lot of the US and there are parts that I can't stand, but there are also places such as New England that are absolutely wonderful. I like Australia even more so, because we speak the same language, which we don't with the Americans. I like the food and wine and the laid-back way of life.
Greatest travel luxury?
Good accommodation, good food and some peace.
I'm just mowing through Ian Kershaw's 1,600-page, two-volume biography of Hitler. I also take umpteen motorsport magazines.
Better to travel OR to arrive?
To travel – I do enjoy travelling enormously.
My favourite drive is the Isle of Man TT course. As you climb Mount Snaefell, you see some fabulous countryside. Also, for me, it absolutely oozes memories.
Worst travel experience?
Staying in a nameless hotel – I literally don't want to remember the name – in Jerez. I was staying in an airless, windowless room with a bed and nothing else, in 40C heat. It was ghastly.
Some Japanese hotels can be quite grim, I have found. A typical room will have been been designed for a typical Japanese traveller, who is about two-thirds smaller than me. The rooms and the modular bathrooms are very small. I always feel more foreign in Japan than anywhere else.
The Royal Mirage in Dubai is very luxurious. It has about three swimming pools, a damn good beach, good food, and you're looked after like royalty and made to feel very special.
Best meal abroad?
A meal at a nameless motel in Taupo, New Zealand, where I had oyster soup. The food was very good but the company was fantastic and the location was superb. I was competing at the Targa New Zealand rally, and we'd had a tiring but successful day. It made for a wonderful evening.
I'd love to hire a Winnebago and drive across Australia.
I've been to all the Australian cities many times, except Canberra. I like Adelaide; it's small but big enough not to be a village, with lovely parks, coastline and mountains nearby.
I'm going on a Christmas and New Year cruise on the Queen Victoria, around the Caribbean, then I start work in Australia in March.
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