My Life In Travel: Neil Oliver, author, broadcaster and archaeological expert
'Sorrento was just idyllic, lounging about in the sun'
Saturday 14 November 2009
Neil Oliver is an author, broadcaster and the archaeological expert on the BBC series Coast
First holiday memory?
Being on the beach at Ayr, near where my family lived, between the ages of about one and six. We spent countless times there and I loved it. There are various tragic photographs of me there in little trunks with a pudding-bowl haircut.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
I love Lindisfarne and the Northumberland coast – it's a very tranquil place. I like the fact it's connected by a tidal causeway so some of the time it's an island and some of the time it's connected to the mainland.
My wife Trudi and I had a holiday in Sorrento on the Amalfi coast not long before we had our first child. It was just idyllic. We lounged about in the sun, swam in the sea and had lunch in cheap and cheerful cafés.
Ideal travelling companion?
Trudi. We don't travel together as much as we'd like because with a six-year-old, a three-year-old and a one-year-old it is difficult. It's great once we get there, but the travelling is bedlam.
What have you learnt from your travels?
After seeing so much of Britain through filming Coast, when I travelled abroad again I realised all the more how I am starting to like the look of Britain. So I think travelling the wider world has made me fonder of Britain.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
We spend quite a lot of time on the Fife coast near where we live, in places like East Neuk and little villages dotted along the coast – they're like little hills on a thread. It's easy for us to get to and it's a very relaxing place.
Greatest travel luxury?
Hand-baggage only – it spares me baggage reclaim. In a fantasy land it would be first class everywhere.
I read magazines but not books so much, if I'm honest. Because I have to read so much for work, often being on holiday is not having to read anything.
Where has seduced you?
The island of Mingulay in the Outer Hebrides. It's almost the most southerly island in the Hebrides and has been abandoned for the best part of a century. We visited for Coast in calm conditions and walked to the island's only village. It has been swallowed up by the sand: I was knocked sideways by it.
Better to travel or to arrive?
I prefer to arrive. When we're busy doing something like Coast, we're travelling all the time. I can't understand anybody who enjoys flying or airports.
There isn't anywhere that has been that bad that I wouldn't go back. But I don't really like crowded places like holiday camps.
It would remain nameless but I do remember being in a spectacularly dreadful hotel. It was in eastern Kent on the sea front and it was a concrete horror.
A place in Wells-Next-The-Sea, in Norfolk: a fantastic hotel in the most beautiful location but I can't remember the name. There were little separate bungalows, which were old buildings that had been beautifully renovated. It had the loveliest atmosphere and the restaurant had top-class food with lovely staff.
Walking from St Ives to Zennor in Cornwall in my teens. I remember getting extremely sunburned but it was fantastic – all along the cliffs past the tin workings, with crashing waves and swooping birds.
There's also a fantastic walk by Loch Lomond on which you climb up Conic Hill, a fair-sized hill. At the top, you're looking at the southern part of Loch Lomond and it's truly spectacular – which more than justifies the hour it takes to get up.
Best meal abroad?
I've recently come back from our honeymoon in Paris. We stayed in the Marais and we'd take tips from the concierge of where to eat. The food was stellar.
First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
Buy a local paper to see what scandals are gripping the town I'm in.
I've always wanted to travel around the coast of South America, all the way down to Tierra del Fuego.
Edinburgh – the most beautiful city I have ever seen. How many cities have a castle perched on a volcanic outcrop?
London. Then I'm doing a series next year about the pre-history of Britain.
"A History of Scotland" by Neil Oliver is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, priced £9.99
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 The way the police have treated Cliff Richard is completely unacceptable
- 2 Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
- 3 Michael Brown shooting: Ferguson police shoot and kill second young black man
- 4 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 5 Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad and potatoes for Jagermeister and vodka
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
£6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...
£17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...
£23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...