English ac­tor and co­me­dian Steve Coogan on trav­el­ling with Judi Dench and run­ning shoes.

The English ac­tor and co­me­dian on trav­el­ling with Judi Dench and run­ning shoes.

Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - Contents -

My first trip abroad was to Lour­des, France, on a pilgrimage with my Catholic school. It was sup­posed to be about see­ing the basil­ica where the Vir­gin Mary ap­peared to Saint Ber­nadette, but I only re­mem­ber buy­ing a sheath knife and drink­ing cider.

My mother was born in the west of Ire­land and so every year we’d stay with her fam­ily in a farm­house in County Mayo, where I spent most of my sum­mers as a child dig­ging turf, sharp­en­ing sticks with a penknife and dodg­ing the rain.

When I travel, I like to be or­gan­ised. I like things to be folded neatly. I used to throw every­thing into a case and get on the plane at the last minute, but I can’t live my life like that any more. I like to pre­pare be­cause I like low stress. I need things to be serene, or­dered and civilised.

I try to go run­ning ev­ery­where I go. I never travel with­out my gym gear. I like to run and get a sense of the place where I am. It’s the clos­est I get to med­i­ta­tion. I don’t run with mu­sic; I let the si­lence con­sume me.

The best trav­el­ling com­pan­ion I ever had was Judi Dench. It was a bit like a scene from Philom­ena as I be­came her es­cort, ex­cept when we ar­rived in Amer­ica – we were whisked through pass­port con­trol so fast my head was spin­ning. She was treated like roy­alty and all I had to do was hang on to her coat-tails. That ended up be­ing my modus operandi for the whole movie.

I once swam in hot springs with Björk near Reyk­javik. I saw her swim­ming to­wards me through th­ese clouds of steam. It was 20 years ago and I re­mem­ber think­ing that I was lead­ing quite an in­ter­est­ing life.

Rob Bry­don has been to stay at my lit­tle re­treat in the Lake Dis­trict and of­fered me his lit­tle re­treat in France. So po­ten­tially, I’ll hol­i­day at his hol­i­day home and he has hol­i­dayed at my hol­i­day home, but we’ve never been at ei­ther place with each other. That might be de­lib­er­ate.

Rob and I were flown to Italy for Vogue by Anna Win­tour. She loved The Trip to Italy so much she got pho­tog­ra­pher An­ton Cor­bijn to take pho­tos of us at Villa Cim­brone in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast. When we went to the restau­rant there were at least two cou­ples that were there be­cause they’d seen The Trip, and there’s Rob and me eat­ing at the next ta­ble. To them it was like we were al­ways there on the Amalfi Coast eat­ing.

I think al­most in­evitably we’ll do The Trip again. I like the idea of do­ing it in Ire­land so I can milk my Ir­ish cre­den­tials. There’s also the pos­si­bil­ity of go­ing to Amer­ica, but that feels a bit ob­vi­ous. I think we can put the ki­bosh on Wales, but who knows? Any­thing is pos­si­ble. ● Steve Coogan and Rob Bry­don star in The Trip to Spain, the third in­stal­ment in the se­ries fol­low­ing The Trip and The Trip to Italy, screen­ing in cin­e­mas now.

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