I just love it. Most days I look up at the sky and see a plane and wish I was on it. There’s something wonderful about disappearing and discovering somewhere new. Being an Aussie and leaving a world behind, you become slightly nomadic. Australia is so far away and the words ‘going home’ have a different meaning. It’s not like going from London to Surrey – it’s 16,000km and a 19-hour flight. That’s why hopping on the Eurostar to Paris for a long weekend is a joy. In Australia, that’s impossible. Last year for New Year, on Boxing Day, I booked a couple of days in Barcelona and then flew to Australia the same day I got back. How cool is that?
Growing up in Australia, our house was right on the beach so we didn’t go on holidays. We walked out of the back gate and friends came to our house and we went to theirs. I lived with my grandmother because my mum died when I was very young and we saw my dad about twice a year because he was travelling in Europe and America. Then one year, I asked if we could come, too. So in 1974, he took us all to America. We went to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago and Nevada. In California, I saw colour television for the very first time and had an American breakfast in a little café. The chef was very bad-tempered so we called him Cranky Frankie. My father made us write a diary in an exercise book about the trip. They were great memories.
Usually we duck off to an island somewhere and get a bit of sunshine and swim in a pool. We all love Majorca. It’s still got the tradition, has great weather, lots of space, and excellent cycling paths. My four children (aged from eight to 19) know the beaches and the water in the north of the island. It feels safe. The local food is delicious, too – it’s not over complicated. We go out for lunch and dinner, but I also quite like cooking dinner for everyone in the evening. We have what we call a cocktail hour – fizzy drinks and olives in the late afternoon, which usually involves card games like Uno. No electronic games are allowed.
That it’s alright not to have as many rules – it’s fine to get up at 6am and jump in the pool. Realising that everyone should have their own holiday. If there are the five of us, everyone has their own day when they can choose what they’d like to do – if we can afford it. I think that it is a good way for the kids to realise that money is not limitless on holiday. Last year, my daughter said that she wanted to visit the market; it’s her favourite thing. So I gave everyone two Euros and we all bought tat – stuff that would remind them of the holiday, like a fridge magnet or a cheap friendship bracelet – then we had milkshakes!
The Residence Mauritius is one of them. It is absolutely gorgeous. I was there when we got caught by the volcanic ash cloud, so we couldn’t leave. That was difficult, as you can imagine! We went there for 10 days and ended up staying for three weeks. I have never had such a long holiday in my life. Everyone was a bit panicky at first because we couldn’t get off the island, and then we all sat back, looked around and said, ‘Oh well, why do we need to?’ So my two older sons and I spent the week learning to wakeboard. It was great fun.
I take my tiny Paddington Bear suitcase, which I love and I can use as cabin baggage. I did a series called John Torode’s Australia earlier this year and it was extraordinary the amount of viewers who asked where my suitcase came from. It’s by Globetrotter who do proper handmade luggage. Now I wouldn’t holiday without my Boardman bike, which I can pop in a bag. I love cycling. There’s something very nice about viewing the world at that level and that speed.
John Torode has been working with the award-winning McGuigan Wines, developing a Neil McGuigan and John Torode Recipe Collection.
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