The Independent , 20th December 2008

My life in travel: Julian Rhind-Tutt

'I couldn't resist jumping out of a plane in Argentina'

Interview by Sophie Lam

First holiday memory?

Walking on the rocks in Clevedon, near Weston-super-Mare, when I was about six. We went every year, and my dad would take me climbing, then we'd go for an ice cream. My mum would have a knickerbocker glory, my dad a banana split, and I'd have whatever I wanted.

Best holiday?

The Maldives at Christmas. I stayed on Cocoa Island and it was amazing: I thoroughly recommend going if you know someone who has over £1m. You lounge around, scuba dive and sit around eating exquisite food and drinking fantastic wine. It's like a desert island with The Wolseley restaurant in the middle of it.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

There are too many amazing places, but I do like the Lake District. I spent a lot of time in Somerset when I was young, which is beautiful, but when I grew up I had a natural reaction to travel away from there. It was then that I discovered the rugged landscapes of Yorkshire.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Travel is one of the most valuable things you can do, because you learn very quickly that there are more cultures, points of view and diversity among people in the world than you could ever imagine. Travel also teaches you good social skills, of course.

Ideal travelling companion?

My friend Duncan. We have a seemingly complete compatibility, and an endless patience with one another. We come from the same school of English politeness and diplomacy, so it's easy for us to travel together and do difficult things. Also, Duncan is bigger than me and was in the Army, so he can look after me!

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I tend to go on cultural holidays and then get obsessed with doing adrenalin-fuelled activities. I couldn't resist jumping out of a plane in Argentina, for example. And if I go to a beach, I have to walk to the very edge of the pier.

Greatest travel luxury?

A travel pillow and a pair of noise-cancelling earphones.

Holiday reading?

I enjoy reading, and would usually take something by that genius author William Boyd, or a classic, because there are so many that I still haven't read.

Worst travel experience?

When I was a kid, I took a bus from Victoria station to Athens. It was a budget 48-hour bus ride, and I remember the coach drivers swapping places without stopping in the mountains of Yugoslavia. There were masses of people crammed in, with huge 1980s stereos in cardboard boxes that they were taking home. It was probably an important experience in my life as it enabled me to calibrate my idea of what good and bad travelling really is.

Where has seduced you?

Morocco. I went to the city of Ouarzazate, where the "Ozzywood" film studios are, and then we got on some camels and camped in the Sahara, which was extraordinary. Camels are probably more comfortable to ride on than horses.

Better to travel or to arrive?

Definitely to travel.

Worst hotel?

A hotel in an industrial town on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro in which I was put up while working. There was a huge construction site just outside and there were a lot of insects moving in procession across the white tiled floor; there were too many to annihilate in one go. It left me with a slightly uneasy feeling before I went to bed.

Best hotel?

In terms of service, luxury and everything being totally perfect, it would have to be Cocoa Island.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

Los Angeles to San Francisco was a great drive because I did it with my dad; it was very enjoyable.

Best meal abroad?

The best cocktail I've had abroad was in the bar of the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris. Embarrassingly, I tried my very best French to explain what I wanted, then my eyes flicked down to the barman's lapel and I read the name Kevin. He was an extraordinarily talented cocktail barman, and made a fantastic espresso martini. The best meal was in a small village in the middle of the Umbrian countryside. It was one of those incredible Italian places owned by a couple, where there's no name or menu – they just cook what they like.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Go down to the sea, or to the middle of the forest, or climb the mountain. However, there are those who know me who would probably argue that I'd check for the nearest broadband connection!

Dream trip?

One of my dream trips is to go to the Hermitage in St Petersburg. I went to Poland several times before the collapse of communism, and it was an incredible place. It was fascinating to visit it before and after communism. I would love to have seen Russia during its communist times, and I worry that I should have seen it before.

Favourite city?

Paris, because I lived there for some time and was able to enjoy all the cultural and culinary wonders without the pressures of being a tourist. I did unexpected things that I wouldn't do at home.

Where next?

I've been putting off my holiday, so I don't have any plans at the moment. I'll probably go to New York.

Julian Rhind-Tutt stars in 'Crooked House' this Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on BBC4 at 10.30pm, with an omnibus at 9pm on 27 December


Original article