My life in travel: Russell Norman

'Running across the bridges of New York showed me a different side of the city'

Russell Norman and his restaurant, Polpo, will host a Venetian banquet at Wilderness Festival in Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, on Saturday 10 August. Weekend tickets £146.50 (wildernessfestival.com)

First holiday memory?

A family holiday to Gandía outside Valencia. My stepfather decided he would take us all to Spain in a pillar-box red Cortina Mark 1. We drove from Hounslow, west London, to Southampton and got on a boat which sailed through the night across the Bay of Biscay to San Sebastian. The car broke down at least once, but it was an adventure.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

We bought a cottage last year in rural Kent. It was built in 1699 and has a little garden with fields on one side, the Little Stour river on the other, and the village church in the background that chimes on the hour. It's lovely to have somewhere to escape to that's an hour's drive from London.

Best holiday?

My honeymoon to Venice. It's a city that my wife Jules and I had visited a couple of times and has subsequently become very important to my business because we've opened three restaurants that are influenced by the wine bars and backstreet bacari of Venice. It's a beautiful city at the best of times, but we got such glorious weather that it was a huge treat to do as a newly married couple.

What have you learnt from your travels?

That I don't switch off. My holidays have become merged with my business. Jules tells me that I ruin Venice for us, because I go into a restaurant and, all the time, I'm not just taking in the food, but the details, the table settings, everything. I've come back from so many so-called holidays with luggage stuffed with notes, photographs and menus.

Ideal travelling companion?

Jules and my family. However, I also really enjoy travelling alone. When I worked for Caprice Holdings, there were occasions when I had to fly to New York on my own. I thought I was going to hate not having a companion, but it was a complete revelation. I found myself dining alone at the Gramercy Tavern, exploring restaurants recommended for lone diners and reading a lot.

Greatest travel luxury?

I'm a real stationery geek so I love picking up notebooks. They're always interesting because they give a little snapshot of that particular journey. They're like little postcards to myself.

Holiday reading?

The book I remember enjoying most on holiday, was completely incongruous. It was a bucket-and-spade holiday in Ibiza, which I'd booked last minute. I read Kazuo Ishiguro's The Unconsoled, which is a breeze-block of a book with an odd, dream-like quality. I was completely transfixed.

Where has seduced you?

Florence. Before I went, somebody mentioned Stendhal Syndrome, which is a phenomenon that was coined with specific reference to Florence and describes the feeling of overwhelming, almost stupefying fear at somewhere being too beautiful. That's exactly the effect it had on me.

Best hotel?

Hotel Espléndido in Port Sóller, Mallorca. It's a 1930s Art Deco hotel that has been refurbished by a smart Swedish company. I stayed there this year with my wife. We treated ourselves to a two-level suite that had its own Jacuzzi on the roof. It's one of those hotels which manages to pull off five-star quality while being really casual.

Favourite run?

I've done the Venice marathon two years in a row now. For the first one, I was in New York during the training period. One morning, it was such a glorious day I decided to run across the three Downtown bridges: Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg. I saw parts of the city I'd never seen before.

Best meal abroad?

A little restaurant overlooking the bay in Assos, on the Greek Island of Kefalonia. Jules and I had hired an apartment and every evening we'd go down to this restaurant which we could almost touch from our balcony. We'd have very simple grilled fish, that was so incredibly fresh, straight out of the sea, cooked with white wine.

Where next?

Wilderness Festival next month. I took my wife to Glastonbury a couple of years ago so this year we did a bit of research and decided to go to Wilderness as a family. Serendipitously, I then got a call from the festival organisers asking if I wanted to do a banquet. So, I'm going partly to relax and partly to feed hundreds of festival goers.

News
peopleJonathan Ross has got a left-field suggestion to replace Clarkson
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballDoes Hodgson's England team have an identity yet?
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
  • Get to the point
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

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss