My life in travel: Sandie Shaw

'In Rome, we ate fresh figs off the trees. I've never tasted anything like it'

Singer Sandie Shaw releases her new album Long Live Love: The Very Best Of Sandie Shaw on Monday (Salvo Music)

First holiday memory?

Being on the seaside in Whitstable, Kent. We used to go with aunts, uncles, and grandparents and all stay at a holiday camp.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

The Isle of Wight. We fly into Bembridge airport on a little plane and ring them before we land. The people at the airport book us a taxi and a restaurant, we have some lobster or crab somewhere, then jump back in the plane and fly home.

Best holiday?

Cuba. I went with two husbands (an ex and a current) and our joint offspring. For some reason, [the actor] Albert Finney was there with his girlfriend, so we were all in this disorganised group tour together. We spent some great times in Havana listening to music and had a big roast on New Year's Day in a little village.

What have you learnt from travel?

French, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese and Japanese. I'm fluent in two of them and the rest I learnt when I was touring. As I got older, I started revisiting places as a traveller rather than as a tourist and got better.

Ideal travelling companion?

My current husband, Tony, because he's really curious and also my daughter, Amy, because she speaks more languages than I do and she's fearless.

Holiday reading?

I've just finished The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman and Jerusalem: The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore. I also took three copies of Build It magazine and an issue of Grand Designs on my last trip, because I'm building a house in Grenada.

Where has seduced you?

I'm a promiscuous traveller. Everywhere I go I find a house I want to buy. Tony threatens to blindfold me when I walk through the streets. I like to experience destinations and live there for a little while. I'm not good at being a tourist.

Better to travel or to arrive?

It depends how you're travelling. I had a fantastic holiday once on the old Orient Express train to Istanbul. It was amazing except they would wake you up at two o'clock in the morning to do passport control in your pyjamas.

Worst travel experience?

I love the adventure: it doesn't matter if it's good or bad. When we landed in Grenada once, there was nobody to be found at the place we were staying. I rang around everybody I knew on the island and eventually a naval commander came and picked us up. We stayed with him and got drunk on all the whisky I'd bought at the airport.

Best hotel?

Il Salviatino in Fiesole. I took Tony there for his 60th birthday so they brought out birthday cakes with breakfast. The waiters are all dressed in suits and they have a terrace overlooking Florence. It's great if you're starting a romance.

Best meal abroad?

A place in Italy when I was 17. I never used to go out to dinner when I was younger because we didn't do that in Essex. Then my record company took me out somewhere under the vines in Rome. We ate fresh figs picked off the trees and incredible pasta. I had never tasted anything like it.

Where next?

Israel. Tony has relations there so I thought I would go as part of a family, rather than as a tourist. I want to get a proper feel for it.

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