My Life In Travel: Una Stubbs, actress
Una Stubbs 'I like the style of Lake Como – geraniums in tins look gorgeous there'
Saturday 05 April 2008
FIRST HOLIDAY MEMORY?
Going to Butlins holiday camp in Clacton-on-Sea when I was about eight years old, with my brother and sister. It was in the 1940s and Butlins was a new concept back then. I remember enjoying the experience very much; my father dived in with all the things for children to do and he would encourage us to join in as much as possible.
I used to take my children to the Akti Myrina resort in Lemnos every year from the Sixties through to the Eighties. It was the only hotel on the island and was made up of little cottages where they'd lay breakfast in your garden. Then everyone would go to the beach and because we went every year, the children would make friends with other children from all over Europe. It was lovely.
FAVOURITE PLACE IN THE BRITISH ISLES?
I recently stayed with some friends in Cornwall and it was the first time I'd ever been down there. I couldn't believe it when the train finally pulled in to Penzance – it was just so beautiful. I have dreamt of going to places like Saint-Tropez but after seeing Cornwall, when the weather's wonderful, I can't think of anywhere nicer to be.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT FROM YOUR TRAVELS?
That it's nice to come home. I haven't varied my travels much lately, because my son and his family live in northern Spain, so my travels abroad tend to be there.
IDEAL TRAVELLING COMPANION?
My sons and daughters-in-law, because we laugh together a lot. They organised a wonderful birthday trip for me to Asturias in northern Spain. We stayed in a little cottage in the countryside and we had a great time together.
BEACH BUM, CULTURE VULTURE OR ADRENALIN JUNKIE?
I love the sun, but I prefer to be under a tree in the shade. Seeing the sea is lovely and I certainly like to look at the local architecture of a place. Italy is my ideal place to enjoy that combination, particularly Florence, Venice and around Lake Como.
I always take books with me. When I'm on holiday, it's quite nice to read something that I haven't managed to get into at home – something heavy, like War and Peace. I'm reading A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov at the moment, and recently loved a book about the artist Joan Eardley. I particularly love reading about artists, particularly the Scottish colourists.
WHERE HAS SEDUCED YOU?
I loved Italy. I went with an art group and we travelled all over, taking in the countryside, the cities and the coast. It absolutely knocked me back, particularly the scenery around Lake Como. I liked the style of the place – you can see a tin of geraniums outside a house and it just looks gorgeous.
BETTER TO TRAVEL OR ARRIVE?
I enjoy taking train journeys in Britain and I always organise myself with a picnic before I set off.
One time when I was working, I was put up in a brand-new hotel in Turkey and everything went wrong. The tiles in the bathroom scrunched under your feet, the lights flashed on and off all of the time, there was no heating and the water came out of the taps brown. Rather than a "do not disturb" sign, there was just a sign with a picture of a spanner on it, so that you could let the staff know that things weren't working in your room.
FAVOURITE WALK / SWIM / RIDE / DRIVE?
I'm a city person, so I love walking in cities, particularly New York and London. I enjoy the friendly atmosphere, and the architecture and the galleries.
BEST MEAL ABROAD?
Anything that my son cooks, because he's a fantastic cook – he makes things that you can't stop thinking about. I love Spanish food and if I'm eating out, I love J Sheekey in London.
FIRST THING YOU DO WHEN YOU ARRIVE SOMEWHERE NEW?
If I am in a hotel, then I hang my clothes up, stock the bathroom, then look out of the window.
I think I would quite like to go to Milan on my own and pavement-watch. When I have more free time I'd like to do more weekend breaks to cities like Prague and St Petersburg.
London is my favourite city, I'm loving living here at the moment. I have lived here since I was 16, when I moved here for work. It's going through a wonderful period at the moment, it's very exciting.
I'm going to stay with my son and grandchildren in Spain and then I start work again at the Old Vic, where I'll be appearing in Pygmalion. When I've finished a job, I tend to rush back to Spain to see my family.
Una Stubbs joins others from Nescafé's adverts for the cover of its loyalty magazine to celebrate its 70th birthday ( www.nescafe.co.uk)
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