My summer holiday: who's going where

School's out and the race to the airport is on. So will it be sun, sand and Harry Potter or peace, quiet and Chairman Mao? Louise Jack and Jonathan Bray find out who's going where this year - and what books they'll be packing


Dom Joly, Comedian

I'll be spending two weeks in the Gabon on my own soon to indulge in my new obsession, scuba diving. I learnt last year. There are risks, maybe shark activity, but I'm more scared of spiders than sharks. My wife is Canadian and later in the year I'll be taking my family on our annual trip to Muskoka, Canada, the coolest place in the world. We travel by boat round lakes. We go everywhere by boat there, it's all very Swallows and Amazons. Books I'm taking are Jonathon Coe's The Closed Circle, My Early Life by Winston Churchill and I thought it was about time I had a go at Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

Guy Chambers, Songwriter

I hate flying, in fact I don't like travelling at all if I can help it, so this year I'm taking my wife and three children to Devon. We've never been before. We don't have a regular family holiday destination though my wife and I often go to Venice. We've just had a break at the Cipriani, which was amazing, the best hotel in the world. This summer we are renting a house near Minehead for a couple of weeks. We are right by the beach. Maybe we'll go and visit a farm, explore pubs but with three kids under five we won't be going far afield. I'll take a copy of The Stanley Kubrick Archive to plough through and some Kubrick DVDs.

Lowri Turner, Broadcaster and author

My boyfriend and I are going to the south of France. We are going for a week and it will be our first holiday alone together since we've had children, so I'm hoping for a very romantic break. I'm not the sort of person to stick on hill-walking boots or do anything energetic like cycling. I prefer a pleasant drive for a nice lunch or sitting on a beach. We have rented a gîte, well away from it all, close to the Spanish border. We may venture out to visit a friend who lives in Beziers but otherwise it will be a week of peace and quiet. I have no idea what I'll be reading; I don't organise that beforehand, I just buy everything at the airport.

Sue MacGregor, Broadcaster

There is a wonderful hotel I've been to many times near Amalfi, south of Naples. I'm going with friends. We hire a car at Naples airport and get the adrenalin going with the drive between Sorento and Salerno where we are faced with Italian buses coming straight at us at high speed on a narrow road with a huge drop to the side.

Some days may be spent walking up the steps cut into the hills to local villages, a good way to walk off the pasta. I love to visit Ravello, hideaway of Greta Garbo and Gore Vidal among others, and adore sitting on the steps that lead up to Amalfi Cathedral, in the evening sipping something Italian and watching the world go by.

I'll be taking some winners of the Orange Prize for Fiction to read. I'm one of the judges for a new prize for the Best of the Best to celebrate 10 years of the competition. The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville, When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant and Helen Dunmore's Spell of Winter are just a few of the seven or so books I'll pack but I'll be lucky to get through two of them.

Louise Rennison, Teen-fiction author

My holiday will be spent at the Edinburgh Festival. I like to take a James Bond book there because Edinburgh is a bit of an adventure. I also like Raymond Chandler thrillers; A Long Goodbye is the one I'm reading at the moment. I can just put my pyjamas on, get into bed and start reading and then I don't have to worry about anything else. And I normally have an astrological or self-help book on the go.

Charlie Whelan, Former spin doctor

I find it quite difficult to tear myself away from my home in the Scottish Highlands because it's so beautiful here but later this year I will be heading for Florence. It's a wonderful city, with wonderful architecture and wonderful food. I will only be taking one book, the new biography Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday... I do love a political heavyweight.

Tracey Emin, Artist

I'm leaving on Sunday to go to an old monastery in Nerviano, Italy, 150km outside Rome. It belongs to my friends Mick and Miranda Jones and it's relaxing. I went there last year and got looked after when I smashed my leg and couldn't walk. I love the heat; I'm into the pool, relaxing, drinking rosé wine and champagne, having nice food cooked and generally doing as little as possible. Their toddler Stella is my god-daughter so I'll spend time with her too; I send her cards from everywhere. After that I'll be driven to Ruth and Richard Rogers place in Tuscany where it's another case of being spoiled, relaxing by their beautiful swimming pool. Then I'll spend time with friends in this country before I head off to the south of France.

It's my birthday in July and I don't like getting presents, so I've asked everybody to give me a book or a book voucher or a CD. It's brilliant because it's your friends choose what they think you should read or would like. Funnily, a complete stranger has sent me a book called Swimming to Antarctica by Eileen Cox, kind of the diary of a swimmer. I'm interested in that focused pursuit of a goal. I'm going to take a crime novel. I like trying to guess the endings and when I guess the plot, I throw it to the other side of the room.

Jeremy Hackett, Tailor

This summer I'm thinking of spending a couple of days in the Norfolk Broads with friends, on a restored wherry. There are only seven or eight of these wonderful barges in the country. As I'm going to be on a boat, I thought I'd take one of the recent biographies of Nelson - although Wind in the Willows seems quite appropriate, too. I'm also off to the Isles of Scilly; somewhere we went on holiday when I was a child. I'm taking The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst, and Nancy Mitford's Love in a Cold Climate with me.

Georgina Chapman , Actress and fashion designer

This year is utterly hectic for me. I've just finished filming The Business with Nick Love and I have to attend to my fashion company as well as the film launch. So I'll consider myself lucky to get away for a weekend break to Sardinia in a small, quiet, very relaxing hotel that has its own beach and is just the most glorious place. It's the kind of hotel that even when it's full you feel like there is nobody else there. Every room is secluded so when you look outside you can't see anyone else and are in your own little world. The food is so fabulous that if I was able to stay for long I might have to be carried out. A short break like that can be so refreshing. I don't know how much time I'll have for books because even though it's my intention to read something worthy, I am absolutely addicted to Sudoku, I have been gone on it since a friend (who shall remain nameless) introduced it to me.

Timothy Everest, Tailor

I travel internationally a lot on business but my summer holiday this year will be a bucket-and-spade affair in Lydstep, near Tenby in Wales. We have a lot of family there so we often go with our two young daughters. I like walking down through the farm, across the golf course and along the beach into town. I've been to beautiful places all over the world for my business and I think this might be an age thing but I am now really enjoying our own seaside. The British coastline is beautiful and my children want very simple things from a holiday; just to be by the water and go round the farm.

We'll also visit Caldey Island, which has an amazing turn-of-the-century monastery. You come through trees and there's this big monastery there, quite odd. I'm not a big reader but I'm sure I will be bedtime-reading the new Harry Potter with the girls.

Terry Pratchett, Author

No holiday this summer, too much to do. Anyway, a holiday from what? I always write more when I'm away from the office. I intend to laze, if there's time. I shall be mostly reading: Flashman on the March, by George MacDonald Fraser. I've read them all. He's getting on a bit in this one; I do hope he can keep his spirits up. Also: London Labour and the London Poor. I read it years ago; real life on the Dickensian streets. Stranger than fantasy. Finally, there's William Lewins's 1865 Her Majesty's Mails. Thank you, Hay-on-Wye, for this wonderful history of the early Post Office, when overnight delivery was considered a miracle. I won't make the obvious gag.

John Carey, Author

We're going to Gascony this summer. It's such a beautiful region; there are lots of wonderful, medieval villages. We visited two years ago for a walking holiday but this time we're taking a car too so that we can see more of the country. For reading matter I shall be taking the latest Ian McEwan, Saturday, and the new Julian Barnes, Arthur & George. I feel a bit behind at the moment: they're both authors whom I try to read everything of - up until the holiday I don't get a chance.

Maggie O'Farrell, Author

I'm going to Lyme Regis where I intend to eat fish and chips, make sandcastles with my son and swim in the sea. It has a steeply banked beach just off the promenade which has clear water and a long stretch of sand. I plan to read Jeremy Gavron's An Acre of Barren Ground. I loved his previous books and this one promises to be just as brilliant. I'm also taking Kate Atkinson's Case Histories. And I'll stock up on books there as The Bookshop on Marine Parade is one of the best second-hand bookshops in the country.

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