Richard & Judy: Our Life In Travel

'We had the worst food poisoning we've ever had in Madeira'


First holiday memory?

Judy: Blackpool. I was brought up in Manchester with very working-class parents and we'd go for the day when I was little. When my parents had a bit more money we'd spend a week there in a small hotel.

Richard: My father was a farmer's son and before my parents had any money we'd go and stay on my grandparents' farm. When I was about five we went on our first hotel holiday to St David's; we loved it.

Best holiday?

A family holiday about six years ago. We took our four kids to California; we flew to San Francisco then hired a bus and drove along the Pacific Coast and inland to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. It was so free and easy and we saw so many things we'd never seen before.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Cornwall. We have a house between Polperro and Looe and we go as often as we can. It's absolutely gorgeous there.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Travel light. On our Californian trip we only took hand luggage. It was the first time we had done it and it took quite a lot of courage but was very liberating. You can usually buy stuff when you get to your destination anyway.

Ideal travelling companion?

Richard: Jesus. If you got sick he could cure you and he could produce wine on the plane and bread if you were hungry.

Judy: Michael Palin. He is such a nice, funny man and so charming; everybody likes him so he'd be a good person to travel with.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

Judy: We like switching off, so holidays are usually by the beach or pool with loads of books. If we're somewhere like Venice we'll go and see churches, and in Cornwall Richard likes using Ordnance Survey maps to go and find Iron Age forts and prehistoric settlements.

Greatest travel luxury?

Judy: Too much! I always take lots of Clarins face creams.

Richard: If we're flying over time zones I take melatonin. It's great for jet lag.

Holiday reading?

Our reading list is hugely eclectic; we like crime novels, biographies, fiction... For our Christmas Book Club we have read a load of autobiographies, like Gordon Ramsay's Humble Pie and Michael Palin's The Python Years. We also both loved Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke.

Where has seduced you?

Luxor, about 15 years ago. We had never been to Egypt before and it was extraordinary - especially visiting Tutankhamun's tomb. We also went to Venice last summer and completely fell in love with it.

Better to travel or arrive?

Richard: To arrive. Although I really enjoy driving, particularly through France.

Worst travel experience?

We went to Madeira a few years ago and didn't enjoy it. The take-off and landing were terrifying, the landscape is extraordinarily forbidding and we thought it had an unpleasant spirit. It rained every day and we got the worst food poisoning we'd ever had.

Worst hotel?

We stayed at a hotel in La Jolla, San Diego, with our two youngest children. Our daughter ran into our room with a hypodermic needle sticking out of her finger that she'd found under the bed. We freaked out and took her for an Aids test but thankfully it was only a diabetic's needle and she was OK.

Best hotel?

We love La Colombe d'Or in St Paul de Vence in France. It's an old farmhouse. Michael Winner is always there and he reckons the artwork alone is worth about £100m. However, it's still lovely and very simple.

Favourite walk / swim / ride / drive?

Richard: In Cornwall, I love walking from our house down the lane to a rocky cove, which was once used by smugglers, up the beach to Polperro to pick up the paper, bread and milk and then back. The views are stunning. There's also a war memorial along the way, which is very moving.

Best meal abroad?

Richard: I don't think I've ever had a bad meal in France. The most enjoyable meals have been at La Colombe d'Or. If you eat on the terrace in summer it's the most romantic place. It's also great for celebrity watching. I'm convinced Liz Taylor was at the next table when we were last there.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Richard: I unpack; I can't stand leaving the bag in the corner.

Judy: I check out the view and the lighting in the room; I hate hotels that have harsh lighting or are very dim.

Dream trip?

Richard: I want to buy a 25-year-old two-seater soft-top Mercedes and set off on a grand tour of Europe into Eastern Europe with Judy.

Judy: I would love to go to South America.

Favourite city?

Richard: Venice was seductive and beautiful.

Judy: I love Nice. It's near our house in France and it's very underrated. It always suffers in comparison to Cannes, but it's more complex and interesting.

Where next?

The States for our 20th wedding anniversary. We're going to LA and Santa Barbara. There's a fantastic hotel there called El Encanto, up behind the Spanish missions, which is just gorgeous.

Richard and Judy's interactive DVD game 'You Say We Pay' is in shops now.

'Richard & Judy' returns to Channel 4 on 29 January, weekdays at 5pm

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