My Life In Travel: Sarah Parish

'Rome is a great city for people watching'

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The Independent Travel

First holiday memory?

A school trip to Paris. I remember it because Dexy's Midnight Runners were at No 1 with "Come on Eileen", which we played constantly on the coach until the teachers went berserk.

Best holiday?

A villa holiday in Montepulciano, Tuscany, after the second series of Heart and Bones. The cast got on so well that we decided to go away together. It coincided with my 31st birthday too. They brought this big table into the garden, put floating lanterns in the pool and sang "Happy Birthday" to me.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Lower Wield in Hampshire – where I live. It's a tiny village with an extraordinary atmosphere, lots of young people and a fantastic pub called The Yew Tree. Everybody knows each other and there's always some big do on the weekends.

Ideal travel companion?

My husband. We're similar in that we don't just like to sit by the pool. Belize was perfect for us; we spent half the time in San Pedro diving in the Blue Hole and then the other half in the jungle.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

Adrenalin junkie. I used to go rock climbing near Croyde in Devon where there are some good sea cliffs. I used to love the thrill.

Greatest travel luxury?

A really good SPF sun cream. I'm actually quite olive skinned, but I have loads of freckles. The more I go in the sun, the more I think they're all just going to join up one day.

Holiday reading?

Crime thrillers. The last great one I read was The Killer of Little Shepherds by Douglas Starr, about a 19th-century French serial killer – and the forensics and criminal profiling that led to his capture.

Where has seduced you?

New York. I loved the buzz – all the theatres and the people, the bluntness and rudeness of it. My dream would be to do a play on Broadway.

Better to travel or to arrive?

I've got better at doing journeys. The more long distance you do, the more it doesn't seem like such an ordeal. Nowhere in the world feels inaccessible now – but I still always prefer to arrive.

Best hotel?

The Clift, San Francisco. It's got big squishy beds, a great bar and I've got lovely memories of staying there. Also, the Mondrian in Los Angeles, for the parties at the SkyBar. I stayed there once during the Golden Globes and had such a glamorous time – even though I felt like a fish out of water!

Favourite walk?

Ox Drove Way, near where I live. You can walk from Lower Wield to Bentworth, through beautiful fields and paths overgrown by trees .

Best meal abroad?

Hoi An, Vietnam. My husband and I had been surfing all day so we were really sunburnt, tired and hungry. We went to a tiny little restaurant that looked over the harbour, an absolutely magical place – and ate this lovely chicken dish.

Dream trip?

India. I've never been before and it's one of the places that seems deeply fascinating. I think the colours and smells would be a world away.

Favourite city?

Rome. I love the winding streets that suddenly come out on to a huge piazza. It's a great city to watch people in, too. I especially love the Italians because they're so big and theatrical.

Where next?

My father-in-law is looking for a villa to rent in Portugal next summer.

Actress Sarah Parish stars in the new ITV1 series Monroe, which continues on Monday at 9pm.