Could you manage to list the ten favourite places you’ve ever visited in your life? Before we sat down to plan this year’s big travel adventure, we thought we’d give it a go. Is yours on the list?
N: Hiring a boat in Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas and heading over to the neighbouring island – No Name Cay – which was uninhabited. Moored up on the most amazing beach I have ever visited.
J: Visiting Anne Frank’s hiding place in Amsterdam at 13; just after reading Anne’s diary. Powerful, heartpunching moments.
N: Staying the night in the mountain monastery in Montserrat, near to Barcelona. Once all the tourists had gone, and the moon was shining on the pale rock, it felt like another world.
J: Jumping out of a hot Saab into gaspingly cool, clean summer lakes touring Sweden at seventeen…and realising there were more lakes to dip into whenever we pleased.
N: Visiting the stunning 2,500 year old Persepolis, seat of the Persian Empire, in Iran in the 1970’s, before the country went into lock-down. Just like Jane with her Tonga project, I did a project on Iran for school too.
J: Gazing down at the blue Bay of Angels in Nice from the Colline du Chateau and realising you could still hear children squealing way below, as they ran into the sea.
N: It’s an incredibly odd experience floating in the Dead Sea. The water feels oily and, of course, you are so buoyant. But this day in 1993, whilst looking up at the cloudless sky, it began to rain. I’m not entirely sure how the atmospherics created this phenomenon, but the whole thing was topped off when a coach-load of Soviet opera singers got into the water and started belting out arias in Russian. Just surreal.
J: That first holiday without parents: feeling unfettered, bordering on the feral, to be one of six 16 year old girls trusted to behave in a Camber Sands caravan for a whole week. We didn’t.
N: A school trip when I was 13 to the Swiss alps in summertime – to this day it is probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.
J: Trembling with excitement to be snuggling down in pyjamas, aged six, with my eight year old sister, before a long night’s voyage from London to Scotland in an ageing Ford; in a mini double bed formed by the back seat and a piece of hardboard alongside it; mum lighting cigarettes which she’d pass to Dad all night to keep him awake at the wheel.
N: Waking up on the sleeper to Fort William, wandering down to the dining car and watching the unbelievable highland scenery scroll by. And going eyeball-to-eyeball with a magnificent red stag.
J: Trying to take in the murderous magnificence of Rome‘s Colosseum and its breathtakingly brutal past.
N: Watching my daughters’ faces as we walked round the Medina in Marrakesh – their eyes were like saucers!
J: Feeling true love for Paris, as I stood alone at the top of the Montparnasse Tower and drank in the city below…..
N: Reaching Everest Base Camp in Nepal, in 2012 – the hardest physical and mental challenge that I have ever faced.
J: …..then remembering the vista from the Top of the Rock in New York with two equally excited daughters: taking in its exhilarating view of the Empire State Building; before laughing and singing the night away at Ellen’s Stardust Diner on Broadway.
N: Venice – just everything about the place. My favourite city where, to my mind, ‘decrepitude’ translates directly as ‘beauty’.
J: Realising my youngest daughter Alice, an au pairing 18 year old, was a pretty smart adult, as she negotiated hairpin bends from Geneva up to lunch in the mountains in beautiful Les Gets overlooking Mont Blanc …and then treated me to a spa massage. A breathtakingly wonderful day.
N: A near silent, sunset camel ride in the Sinai desert with my elder daughter (then about 5 years old) sitting in front of me, ending in a starlit dinner on rugs in a Bedouin camp.
J: Standing on a simple but stunning lakeside pier at Pepin, Wisconsin with close friends and family, as eldest daughter Juliet married Jake. One of life’s best ever days.