Trav­el­ling life

The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - INTERVIEW - In­ter­view by YorkMem­bery

How of­ten do you travel?

I’ve re­cently been to south-western France and Croa­tia with my wife. I hadn’t been to Croa­tia be­fore and I wanted to see Dubrovnik and found it ab­so­lutely fas­ci­nat­ing. I also visit the US reg­u­larly – I know a lot of politi­cians on The Hill [Capi­tol Hill, Wash­ing­ton DC].

What do you need for a per­fect hol­i­day?

I like to go some­where which has a touch of his­tory, and is scenic so I can paint, if pos­si­ble – I painted a canal scene the last time I went to Venice. I also like to take a good book: my favourite work of fiction is Lawrence Dur­rell’s bril­liant but sadly rather out-of-favour The Alexan­dria Quar­tet.

Where did you go on hol­i­day as a child?

We were trav­el­ling be­fore I was born, as it were, be­cause my fa­ther was in the RAF and al­ways be­ing sent some­where. So I was born in Scot­land but my fa­ther was out in Amer­ica for the first few years of my life, and was then sta­tioned in Ger­many. But I re­mem­ber go­ing on a cou­ple of fam­ily hol­i­days to Italy, where two of my sis­ters once lived, very fondly. But in the UK, Scot­land is my choice of des­ti­na­tion.

Your most ad­ven­tur­ous travel ex­pe­ri­ence?

When I was serv­ing in the Scots Guards, I flew out on a VC10 to Salisbury in what was then Rhode­sia at the time of the Lan­caster House Agree­ment, as part of a small ad­vance force be­fore the ar­rival of the Com­mon­wealth Mon­i­tor­ing Force. But it was seen as a rather provoca­tive act and none of the African na­tions would give us “over-fly” rights – so we had to fly via the As­cen­sion Is­lands and then spi­ral down to Salisbury to avoid be­ing hit by a mis­sile be­cause there was still a war go­ing on. That was pretty hairy!

The most re­mote place you’ve been?

Alberta, Canada, dur­ing my Army days, when I went trekking in the far north of the prov­ince – real wilder­ness coun­try. I’ve vis­ited some pretty re­mote parts of Ge­or­gia in the US, too. The state is big­ger than Eng­land but has just 10mil­lion peo­ple, and still boasts a lot of wood­land and sparsely pop­u­lated moun­tain­ous ar­eas.

Your most lux­u­ri­ous travel ex­pe­ri­ence?

I think I might have got upgraded once or twice to first class in the past.

Favourite ho­tel?

The Al­go­nquin, a his­toric Man­hat­tan ho­tel dat­ing back to the 1900s with real char­ac­ter. The New Yorker mag­a­zine used to hold their edi­to­rial meet­ings there, and it has al­ways been pa­tro­n­ised by writ­ers, and you still find all sorts of in­ter­est­ing peo­ple drift­ing in and out. So many ho­tels

Worst travel ex­pe­ri­ence?

I spent a cou­ple of months in Italy when I was 19 and had long hair – hard as it is to be­lieve! – work­ing as a waiter and a dish­washer. I’d try to find a bed wher­ever I could, but of­ten ended up sleep­ing in the back of a friend’s Fiat 600 – not to be rec­om­mended if you’re six feet tall, as I am.

Iain Dun­can Smith MP

Best travel tip?

Don’t get “train fever” – that is, panic about miss­ing trains and that sort of thing. I’ve al­ways been a calm trav­eller. Also, if you’re in the Trop­ics, stick to bot­tled water – so long as the seal hasn’t been bro­ken – and be care­ful about eat­ing things that have not been cooked.

What do you hate about hol­i­days?

I hate hav­ing to come back at the end and un­packmy bags.

Where next?

I’d love to go to New Zealand’s South Is­land, with its mountains, fjords and wildlife – I’ve been told it’s ab­so­lutely spec­tac­u­lar. Iain Dun­can Smith MP is the former Sec­re­tary of State for Work and Pen­sions and Con­ser­va­tive Party leader. He will be speak­ing at the Cen­tre for So­cial Jus­tice fringe event on Oc­to­ber 3 at the Con­ser­va­tive Party Con­fer­ence in Birm­ing­ham.

Iain Dun­can Smith’s trav­els have taken him to Delhi, above, and Alberta, Canada, be­low

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