Mountain/desert/jungle/ocean which are you?
If I have a film camera in my hands then it has to be mountains. But desert journeys have a special magic. Jungles make me itch. Oceans make me spectacularly sick.
First travel experience?
A wide-eyed week of wonder in Morocco at the tender age of sixteen. Mugged in Marrakech. Fleeced in Fez. But loved every minute of it.
Hitched across the Sahara to Niger and Mali when I was at Uni. Travelled the Niger up to Timbuktu then got a goat truck back up north to Tamanrasset. Ran out of money in Ain Salah.
Top 5 places worldwide?
Madagascar for the wildlife. Yemen for the architecture. Greenland for the huskies. Alaska for the salmon. Antarctica for a million reasons.
Special place to stay?
The Venice Beach House in LA. It’s a wood built historic inn right down on the water front – the coolest and most laid back place on the west coast of the States.
3 items you always pack?
My mother’s Christmas pudding. My Bolton Wanderers alarm clock. And a Fisher space pen which I never seem to lose.
Passport stamp you're proudest of?
Puerto Toro in Chile. The southernmost town in the world.
Passport stamp most like to have?
Wandered around Timbuktu for hours trying to find someone with a stamp. No luck.
Guilty travel pleasure?
I have a twisted lust for syrup waffles...but only the real Dutch ones.
Window or aisle?
I like the view.
Who is your ideal travelling companion?
Her Majesty the Queen.
Best meal on the road? Worst?
Best meal would be grilled fresh fish caught off the coast of East Africa and eaten on the beach. Worst would be dumplings at dawn at Irkutsk railway station.
Most surprising place? Most disappointing?
Most surprising would be Antananarivo – capital of Madagascar. Most disappointing would be Malta which for some reason I intensely disliked.
Where do You NOT want to go?
Who/what inspired you to travel? Any travel heroes?
Wilfred Thesiger. Shackleton. And the climbing books of Chris Bonington and Doug Scott.
What do you listen to on the road? Any song take you back to a particular time or place?
Whenever I hear the ‘Green Green Grass of home’ I am taken back to Everest. Brian Blessed used to sing it as we climbed the North Face.
What do you read?
Voraciously. Biogs. Novels. Anything I can get my hands on.
Is there a person you met while travelling who reaffirmed your faith in humanity? Anyone who made you lose it?
Countless heartwarming encounters while travelling in deserts and mountains – in Africa and Asia. Sometimes a nomadic family will astonish you with their generosity.
Moments to lose faith? – didn’t enjoy getting mugged at machete point in Dakar, Senegal.
What's the most impressive / useful phrase you know in a foreign language?
Having just got back from a trek through Nepal I would have to say ‘Namaste’.
What is your worst habit as a traveller?
I am addicted to drinking black tea and annoy fellow travellers hugely by having to stop to drink it seven or eight times a day.
Snowbound in a tent in Antarctica, how would you entertain your companions?
I can blow a mean bubblegum bubble.
When and where in your travels have you been happiest?
The journeys I made in my Uni years were really special. Mostly to North and West Africa, always broke, but I was really up for any experience in those days and some amazing things happened to me.
What smell most says 'travel' to you?
The smell of money!
Given a choice, which era would you travel in?
Hard to beat the time we are in. The world is a surprisingly tolerant place when you have a rucksack on your back.
If you could combine three cities to make your perfect metropolis, what would they be?
Barcelona, Aswan, San Francisco
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