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.
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.