My Life In Travel: William Orbit, musician and record producer
'In Sofia, they had to hose ice off the plane'
Saturday 30 January 2010
First holiday memory?
A camping holiday with my family in Scotland when I was about eight; there was a storm and our tent blew down. I spent the night in our little Standard Eight car with my parents and my younger brother. I must have been hallucinating from not having any sleep because I kept asking my mother if the car was rolling along from the wind.
Renting a villa in Barbados with my then-girlfriend and her two sisters. We had two elderly gentlemen looking after our meals; we would have morning swims in the clear blue sea and while we frolicked and splashed we could smell our breakfast being cooked in the house. I remember riding a jet ski and wondering why birds were fluttering around me just above the waves. They were actually flying fish.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
I love the coast of Norfolk. I went camping there as a teenager in the 1970s and picked strawberries to make some cash. The sound of the sea was constant and everyone cooked on open fires.
What have you learnt from your travels?
That no matter how much I travel, my wanderlust will never be satisfied – I am eternally curious about the people and places I've not yet seen.
Ideal travelling companion?
I have had a great time touring with bands and other musicians and it's always been rewarding taking holidays with friends and family. However, I really enjoy travelling alone and being free to meet different companions along the way. I enjoy the unexpected.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
I'm a culture bum. I can be quite happy just soaking up the vibe. I can't do the sunbathing thing on the beach; it makes me feel uncomfortable. I like to see museums, especially small ones of local interest, and I like to follow maps and walk around the streets of a new place.
Greatest travel luxury?
Earplugs and eye shades. But as for luxury I'd say my Sennheiser noise-cancelling headphones, which are truly appreciated on long-haul flights.
Usually a classic like Thomas Hardy, so I can savour the richness of the language. Or poetry, such as Tennyson, which is great for travelling because I can dip in and out and read the same passages several times.
Where has seduced you?
I have a great fondness for Paris. But Ireland has seduced me.
Better to travel or arrive?
Arrive and kick off my shoes. But I do like the thrill of setting off somewhere new; the mode of transportation has a bearing on the enjoyment of the actual travelling. I always like trains.
Worst travel experience?
I went on a midwinter holiday to the Far East and I was booked on a really low-cost flight, but I only realised how budget it was when we stopped at about five airports on the way. At Sofia (this was in Bulgaria's Soviet days) all the passengers filed into a terminal which looked like a concrete parking lot. It was freezing cold but we were all wearing light holiday clothes and had to wait there for hours. At 4am, an unsmiling hulk of a woman ushered us on to the runway, where we had to wait while they steam-hosed ice from the wings. The only food on board was some sort of chocolate which tasted like wax.
When I was persuaded to book into a health retreat in Arizona. The climate was great and the scenery was incredible – but the health farm was insanely expensive and boring. There was too much pampering and healthy living for my liking.
Claridge's, where I stayed when I visited London during the years I was living in America. It ticks all the boxes for me, including best bed linen.
My parents have a tiny cottage in Suffolk and there's a lovely four-mile walk from there to Southwold along a riverbank and through woods and fields. It's perfect when followed by fish and chips.
First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
As soon as I'm out of the airport I notice how the different climate feels on my skin, and take stock of the changed air and what it smells like and feels like to breathe in. And I am acutely aware of the different sounds around me.
To travel by submarine under the North Pole, with a night on an aircraft carrier first.
I'm lucky to live in London, which is my favourite city. It's got everything I want and need: friends, nightlife, great galleries, restaurants, and the Groucho Club. After that I'd have to say Paris.
I'm travelling to LA to visit a little dog, which is another story in itself.
To celebrate Chinese New Year on 14 February, the year of the tiger, Tiger Beer is sponsoring The Tiger Lucky Eight, a series of collaborations taking place across the UK. William Orbit is part of the art collective Luxor, alongside former English National Ballet dancer Anna-Mi Fredriksson and the artist Pauline Amos ( tigerbeer.co.uk/yearofthetiger ). William Orbit's new compilation for Ministry Of Sound, Odyssey, is also available now.
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