When he’s not ver­sus wild, he likes it mild

Caro­line Rees

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - CELEBRITY ESCAPE WALES -

AD­VEN­TURER Bear Grylls, 36, was ed­u­cated at Eton and Lon­don Univer­sity, then joined the Bri­tish army, serv­ing in the spe­cial forces. In 1998, he be­came the youngest Bri­ton to climb Ever­est; he was ap­pointed Chief Scout in 2009. The lat­est se­ries of his tele­vi­sion show, Born Sur­vivor, is on the Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel. He lives on a house­boat on the Thames with his wife, Shara, and their sons Jesse, 7, Mar­maduke, 5, and Huck­le­berry, 2. FILM­ING Born Sur­vivor takes me to places where hu­mans have never set foot be­fore, which is a great priv­i­lege. At first, I get so en­thu­si­as­tic, I think I must take the fam­ily back and cruise around but then it’s full-on for days on end and I can’t wait to get home.

My favourite hol­i­day is to go to North Wales where we own a small is­land with a light­house that has no mains elec­tric­ity or run­ning wa­ter. I try to take a five-week break there in sum­mer. Nowhere beats the coast­line on a still sum­mer evening – you’re not in 50C heat, or in mi­nus 40C cold, and you can run around in bare feet. We bought it 10 years ago, when I was leav­ing the army. We al­most got a one-bed­room flat in Lon­don for £200,000 ($A229,000), but ended up buy­ing the is­land and a house­boat for less.

We have pic­nics most days and jump in the boat to find lit­tle beaches. The Lleyn Penin­sula has lots of Corn­wall-es­que vil­lages and when we want ice creams, news­pa­pers and com­pany, we bomb in on a fast RIB (rigid in­flat­able boat), which the boys love. We sail and ca­noe, ex­plore caves and have friends to stay.

I’ve al­ways loved is­lands, prob­a­bly be­cause I was brought up on the Isle of Wight. I used to climb the cliffs with my dad, and we’d sail and make rafts – things I teach my boys now.

At the other end of the is­land scale, we re­cently had an in­cred­i­ble hol­i­day on the Malaysian is­land of Pangkor Laut, where we spent four days be­ing waited on in a chalet suite, with beau­ti­ful, dis­creet beaches – and a squash court, which was great. If I don’t ex­er­cise on hol­i­day, the re­lax­ation goes out of it. I spent most of the day in the wa­ter with the boys, teach­ing them to dive down deep. We’d chill and read a bit be­fore Shara and I had sup­per to­gether – the chef cooked amaz­ing seafood on the beach. That’s our time.

As a young guy, I went around In­dia with friends, trav­el­ling on the roofs of trains and sneak­ing into closed ar­eas to climb. I had my first glimpse of Ever­est at dawn one day and I was cap­ti­vated by the idea of climb­ing it.

I’ve had end­less hairy ex­pe­ri­ences trav­el­ling. I’ve been caught in rock falls, bit­ten by snakes and once landed on top of a 5mtiger shark when div­ing off my raft. Peo­ple think I must be a night­mare to go away with, but I like mel­low hol­i­days now.

Our hon­ey­moon was in­ter­est­ing. I only or­gan­ised it the day be­fore our wed­ding, think­ing it would be a great way to get a last­minute deal, but we ended up on a one-star hol­i­day near Can­cun, in Mex­ico.

Our room was next to the sew­ers and re­ally stank, and lunch wasn’t in­cluded, so we ended up stuff­ing Shara’s hand­bag full of bread rolls from break­fast.

We played a lot of ta­ble ten­nis and ate a lot of peanuts be­cause we couldn’t af­ford any­thing else.

Af­ter we were mar­ried, we rented a tiny flat in Ar­gen­tiere, in the French Alps, for a whole ski sea­son. We loaded up the Land Rover with dumb-bells, skis and DVDs, and piled out there. We climbed, skied and ate in lit­tle moun­tain huts. Hol­i­days with Shara are al­ways great. I took her on her first sky­dive in New Zealand and we went wadi-climb­ing in Oman, up 60m sheer rock walls, camp­ing in the soli­tude of the desert.

Shara par­tic­u­larly likes city breaks. We’ve done Rome, Venice, Copen­hagen and Paris. We find a back­wa­ter ho­tel, have nice lunches and see the sights. The boys love plan­ning ev­ery­thing and we make it fun. Shara loves a nice bath­room, too, but one we had in Mi­lan had ants all over it. I thought ‘‘ Oh, we’ll just sweep them off’’, but she wanted me to speak to the man­ager – I hate mak­ing a fuss. He said: ‘‘ But I watch you on the TV and you eat the ants.’’ He did find us a bet­ter room, though.

As for fu­ture trav­els, I have a clear goal. We’re go­ing to take a year out when my tele­vi­sion con­tract ends in 2014 and sail the Co­conut Milk Run, south through the Pa­cific Is­lands.

My old­est boy will be full crew by then.

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