The TV presenter, writer and adventurer is now a destination expert for Celebrity Cruises. Here he shares his favourite places around the world
I’ve always loved the ocean; I’m never happier than when I’m on a ship. When researching my first book, The Teatime Islands: Adventures in Britain’s Faraway Outposts, I spent a year visiting the most remote British islands, like Tristan da Cunha – where only 300 hardy souls live – St Helena, the Falklands and Diego Garcia. I’d love to visit Bouvet Island in the Southern Ocean.
I grasped the opportunity to join the BBC’s Castaway – to spend a year living on Taransay, in the Outer Hebrides. Being a real-life Robinson Crusoe was fantastic. It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth but the weather is chaotic – I went back there for my honeymoon, which was certainly memorable. I tried to buy the island last year but sadly got outbid.
My passion for the great outdoors came from my childhood holidays on Lake Chemong, north of Toronto, where my grandfather had built a cabin. They were very happy years, but I want my children (Lido, three and Iona, two) to have well-rounded holiday experiences so I will be changing our destinations and means of travel – keeping them on their toes.
I have always loved deserts and their climate, I’m not really a tropical man. I filmed Ben and James versus the Desert (on BBC in Dec 2013) this April in Oman – a very beautiful destination in the middle east. There is something very attractive about the isolation of the desert.
I did a solo skydive in Australia last year. I don’t like heights and that jump was quite frankly the scariest thing I have ever done. I wouldn’t do it again – but it was a great experience. Physical challenges provide you with a whole new perspective on a destination.
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