I remember long, warm evenings on Burgh Island just off Bigbury-on-Sea in South Devon. I seem to remember there were only two buildings on the island – the art deco hotel and The Pilchard Inn, an ancient pub where I would sip Pepsi and hang off every word as the local fishermen told tales of adventures at sea. At high tide, the only way to get to the island was by sea tractor, an extraordinary machine, built specifically to transport holidaymakers above 15ft of water. I spent days catching spider crabs and jumping in and out of old lobster pots in nylon swimming trunks.
We’re not particularly adventurous, but we do like a good beach (and my wife loves a good spa). We tend to head to the Indian Ocean; there’s nothing better than sitting in front of your villa watching the sun set as you play on the beach with the kids. We’ve been to the Maldives, the Seychelles and Mauritius and, as long as you stay on the right island, the Maldives is my pick of the three.
We’ll be returning to the Greek island of Zakynthos this summer. Last summer we rented a villa in the north of the island and the kids loved it. All the major development is in the south, so I’d avoid that area entirely. The north is relatively untouched. In the tiny town of Volimes, you’re guaranteed to see a line of old men sitting by the side of the road, Greek-style. It’s the most southerly of the Ionian islands and makes an ideal family getaway as it’s only three hours from London and you’re guaranteed sun from May until September. Loads of kids, great boats, tasty food – just don’t attempt the local wine.
On a skiing holiday in France five years ago I was knocked unconscious after a collision with a snowboarder. It was on the first run of the first day and I had to be airlifted to hospital. I was back on my feet and skiing after a couple of days, but it meant I missed a few days of the holiday. I was wearing a helmet and it probably saved my life.
A Katapillo; forget your normal aeroplane cushions, this is one you can mould into the perfect position.
Earplugs – take them from your in-flight pack. From drunken debauchery to late-night rubbish lorries, you only truly understand their value when you don’t have them.
Mrs White’s Unstung Hero anti-mosquito eau de cologne is the business.
Orlebar Brown swim shorts – even if there’s no beach, there’ll be a pool.
A Nixon Baja watch. I’m not sure why I’d ever need this, but it’s a watch with a thermometer, LED torch and a compass. Just in case you lose your way back from the spa.
I grew up in the shadow of the South Downs in Sussex, which Rudyard Kipling described as ‘our blunt, bow-headed whale-backed Downs’. Spend the day walking the South Downs Way, stopping to catch the last few overs of the cricket in the village of Ditchling, before hunkering down in The Bull for several pints of Harveys. Perfect!
I also love Five Hundred Acre Wood in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, which was the inspiration for Hundred Acre Wood in the Winnie the Pooh stories. Go there and play Pooh Sticks. It’s very nostalgic and reminds me of my childhood.
My next trip is to the Maldives – I’m desperate to stay at The Cheval Blanc Randheli in the Noonu Atoll. It’s an exclusive new property from the luxury fashion group LVMH and was designed by the guy behind the Aman resorts and the Chedi Muscat. It looks stunning.
I’ve been told that there are some islands near Java and Sumatra in Indonesia where they don’t have any currency, but still barter. My kids would soon understand the value of money if they had to work for their apple juice.