My life In Travel: Stephen Tompkinson, actor

'Hot-air ballooning over Africa was spectacular'

First holiday memory?

Going to Largs in Ayrshire with my family. It was a very good place to tour from – we'd go on boat trips to Oban and Rothesay and drive to places such as Stirling and Glasgow. We went for three years running around 1976 and stayed at the Castle Hotel, which is sadly no longer there. They seemed like endless summers.

Best holiday?

For the past two years I've done hot-air balloon trips across parts of Africa and Australia, which have been spectacular. The panoramic view you're afforded from up there is pretty special, especially over parts of Africa where there can be no sign of man for miles around. However, there was one landing at 40mph that was a bit hair-raising.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

The Highlands of Scotland and the Lake District are two places that I love, for the landscapes.

What have you learnt from your travels?

To have a positive attitude and let things come to you. You shouldn't strive too much to achieve things and then the trip becomes yours.

Ideal travelling companion?

I'm a huge fan of Stephen Fry and I'd like to have travelled around the US with him; he could have done with another Stephen to spar with! That would have been lovely.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I can spend a couple of days on a beach then I get a bit bored. I like a city-by-the-sea where I can go off and explore. I like to walk rather than go on organised cultural trips. Saying that I will always take the city bus tour because you get to see all the highlights; I thought the free bus and tram tours in Melbourne were particularly impressive.

Greatest travel luxury?

Being 6ft 2in, I'm not very good in economy. If I can, I'll treat myself to a business-class seat because a flat bed can make the world of difference.

Holiday reading?

I love reading when I'm on holiday. At the moment it's a bit of a busman's holiday – we're going make a TV series of Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks this year so I'm reading those. There are 19 novels to be made and we've only done one so far.

Where has seduced you?

The place I like going back to is San Francisco, because it's such a story city. You start at the ocean and then a few blocks later you're in Little Italy at the church where Marilyn Monroe married Joe DiMaggio. Some of the cafés there have jukeboxes that only play opera. A couple of more blocks later, you're in the biggest Chinatown outside Asia, then a few more and you're in Haight-Ashbury with all its history – plus so many films have been shot there. I like the attitude of the people, too.

Better to travel or arrive?

I quite enjoy travelling, it can be a good chance to catch up on films you've missed or books that you haven't got round to reading. It's escapism and I still get a buzz out of flying – it's quite miraculous.

Worst travel experience?

A few places that we stayed in Africa during the balloon trip – one particular place in Tanzania had a room that looked like it was out of Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof with stains on the floors, walls and ceiling that CSI would have had a field day with.

Worst holiday?

Everyone has met rude Parisians; people's attitude can spoil holidays. I've had a few experiences in the UK like that.

Worst hotel?

One in Brighton that was trying to run before it could walk, but was still charging running prices.

Best hotel?

The Ritz-Carlton in New York, which has direct views over Central Park. It is done to such a beautiful standard. They advertised the thread count of the bedlinen and I thought it didn't make much difference until I got into bed, at which point I would have quite happily stayed there for the duration of the holiday; it was phenomenal.

Favourite ride?

I would recommend hot-air ballooning over anywhere. The views and the serenity when the burner is off is unbeatable. You're being gently pushed by the wind rather than fighting against anything, so you barely feel yourself moving, even at 20 or 30 miles per hour. It was the closest thing imaginable to a magic carpet ride.

Best meal abroad?

I had a lovely sushi meal at Le Touessrok hotel in Mauritius that was presented on a miniature boat, which was pretty impressive. It felt very healthy, too.

Dream trip?

I try to go to a new place every year and one thing I've always fancied is going to see the aurora borealis, particularly having seen Joanna Lumley's documentary, which was really beautiful.

Favourite city?

San Francisco.

Where next?

Las Vegas. Perhaps because I grew up in Blackpool I can see beyond the tacky. I'm so impressed by the architecture – it's ridiculous. The Luxor hotel is a 400-foot-high black glass pyramid with a light beam that is claimed can be seen from Space. I don't gamble, so we're going to go on a helicopter ride over the Boulder Dam and the Grand Canyon and back over the Strip at sunset as the lights are going on.

Stephen Tompkinson stars in 'Wild at Heart', starting tomorrow at 8.30pm on ITV1

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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
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

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - OTE £36,000

    £12500 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Knaresborough ...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaning Manager - York and Bradford

    £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Drivers

    £18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003
    Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

    Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

    Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

    Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
    Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

    Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

    Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
    New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

    Dinner through the decades

    A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
    Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

    Philippa Perry interview

    The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

    Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

    Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?