Trav­el­ling life

The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - INTERVIEW - In­ter­view by Sarah Ew­ing

Alan Titchmarsh TV pre­sen­ter

How often do you travel?

Given the na­ture of the pro­grammes that I’ve done, like Gar­den­ers’ World and Songs of Praise, I’ve cov­ered a lot of the Bri­tish coun­try­side and the UK from top to bot­tom and side to side. It’s such a pity more peo­ple don’t ap­pre­ci­ate what’s on their doorstep.

What do you need for a per­fect hol­i­day?

One that doesn’t in­volve air­ports – that’s why I’ve done a lot of train travel. We oc­ca­sion­ally go down to a friend in the south of France, near Cannes, via rail, tak­ing a pic­nic on­board with us. It’s a re­ally civilised way to en­joy the scenery chang­ing as you’re go­ing along from Nor­mandy through to Provence.

Your ear­li­est mem­ory of trav­el­ling abroad?

Hol­i­days with my par­ents to Black­pool – we al­ways went to Bis­pham, a vil­lage about a mile and a half from the town cen­tre. My mother con­sid­ered it the se­lect end of town, although it wasn’t as posh as Lytham St Annes. I loved the don­key rides, fish­ing for crabs and the lit­tle boat­ing pond. I vividly re­mem­ber al­ways get­ting sand in my egg sand­wiches!

Most ad­ven­tur­ous travel ex­pe­ri­ence?

Ten years ago, I went to Burma – it was the first cruise ship that had been al­lowed in for years. And around six or seven years ago, I went to a rain­for­est and did white-water raft­ing in Costa Rica, and ex­plored the Gu­atemalan jungle. I’m just thank­ful I stayed afloat.

Your most re­lax­ing des­ti­na­tion?

My wife and I al­ways have a win­ter hol­i­day that I call the “fly and flop”. In Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary, you don’t want cul­ture, you just want A few places re­main on this cruise through Hol­land and Bel­gium which in­cludes see­ing the Keuken­hof Gar­dens. to get your bones warm and eat, drink, sleep. We usu­ally go to the Caribbean.

Best hol­i­day ever?

Closer to home, two years ago we switched our hol­i­day flat on the Isle of Wight for a home with a lovely gar­den right on the seafront. We spent all of Au­gust on the is­land this year and my wife com­mented that it was the best hol­i­day we’d ever had.

Favourite ho­tel?

The Danieli in Venice. It has a won­der­ful roof ter­race that looks right out across the Grand Canal.

Favourite city?

Venice, Paris and Rome, but I’m al­ways will­ing to go back to Venice at the drop of a hat be­cause I love ex­plor­ing the his­tor­i­cal build­ings and art col­lec­tions. They each have their unique iden­tity. I love Paris for its wide boule­vards and cafés, and Rome for the an­cient his­tory.

Best health tip while trav­el­ling?

Don’t overdo the booze, es­pe­cially while fly­ing – just be­cause it’s there doesn’t mean you need to drink it. Ev­ery­thing in mod­er­a­tion.

Your travel es­sen­tial?

I take plenty of books.

What do you hate about hol­i­days?

Air­ports – they’re not my idea of fun at all. Some of the staff are lovely, but you do al­ways get one or two that seem to for­get that it’s ac­tu­ally cost­ing you a lot of money to be there and be in­sulted by their surli­ness. Times have ob­vi­ously changed and we need to get used to be­ing strictly vet­ted, but a smile wouldn’t harm.

Where next?

New Zealand – it’s at the top of my bucket list. And New Eng­land in the fall, when the leaves are chang­ing. Mr Gandy’s Grand Tour by Alan Titchmarsh is out now (£20; Hod­der & Stoughton)

In­trepid trav­eller: Alan Titchmarsh has en­joyed white-water raft­ing, be­low, and Burma, above

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