Seeing I’m a Melburnian and too dangerous to be let out, I thought I’d go through my old photos to see what was there, and came up with some very nice memories.
The spot I’ve felt the most comfortable in is Arthur River, North-west Tasmania. So wild, and relatively untouched, at least when I was there in 2010. Sadly, while organising the cover for my book about my travels around Tassie, The Edge of the World: Next Stop Cape Horn, I mislaid the couple of good photos I had. This one was the inspiration for the cover, anyway.
A few years ago, I attended my nephew’s wedding in Airlie Beach, on the north Queensland coast. If I get to heaven, this is what it will look like. I felt like a movie star, sitting up on the balcony looking out towards the islands of the Great Barrier Reef with a glass of champagne in my hand.
The South Island of New Zealand is described as one of the most beautiful places on earth. It’s true, as I discovered in 2010, when I drove through the Southern Alps to the fiords of Milford Sound.
It was terrifying negotiating the twists and turns of what I considered to be a one-way road but with two-way traffic, a small bridge with a sign, Bridge Under Repair, but with no-one repairing it (I’d have preferred not to know it needed repairing), and the dark depths of the one-way Homer Tunnel. It was worth it though, for ethereal Milford.
I’ve always wanted to throw ‘when I was at Oxford’ into the conversation, so on my first solo trip to England in 2011, I booked a room in Balliol College, right in the centre of town.
Something I love, not unusual I think, is to explore places I’ve seen in my favourite TV series and films, and so I added plenty of those to both my trips to England. At the top of my list was Haddon Hall, a medieval house in Bakewell, Derbyshire, where several productions of Jane Eyre were filmed, along with plenty of movies.
The Manners family left the house in 1700, preferring to live at their other property, Belvoir Castle (as you would), and so the house remained unchanged, making it perfect for period pieces.
Even if you’re not into movie sets, I suggest, if you’re in the Derbyshire area, a visit to Haddon Hall. It’s a beautiful old house and an absolutely lovely spot.
Another place I loved was Lyme Park in Disley, Cheshire, used as Mr. Darcy’s estate in the mini-series of Pride and Prejudice. This is totally different to Haddon, more your palace than house, but with a very relaxed feel to it. There were no Keep Out signs or ropes around furniture. We were given a surprising amount of access to the house, even to the nursery on the top floor, where a little girl was playing happily with some old wooden toys.
Finally, it took two trains and two buses to get from Salisbury to Port Isaac on my return trip to England in 2016, but being a Doc Martin addict, I just had to visit Port Wenn. I stayed in a little room attached to the school, now a hotel, and looked straight across at the surgery. Heaven.