- The 54-year-old recalls fond memories of muddy camps in Northumberland
- His first trip abroad was to Malcesine in Italy on a school skiing trip in 1974
- Recently he went to Kenya with his family on safari, which was ‘magical’
With wife Suzannah in the Seychelles
Continuing our series featuring the holiday memories of famous people, this week author and Gulf War veteran John Nichol, 54, recalls his life of adventures…
First holiday: My Cub and Scout camps from the age of eight until I joined the RAF at 17. They were in muddy fields all over Northumberland. We pitched tents, chopped firewood, carried massive knives on our belts, hiked over hills unsupervised, and cooked over open fires. It was a fabulous time of freedom.
First time abroad: Malcesine in Italy on a school skiing trip in 1974 when I was 12. I think I was the first member of my family to get a passport. Back then you could pop down to your local post office with a photo and they would give you a handwritten, temporary passport that lasted a year.
First school trip: That skiing holiday. It was my first time on a plane, first time in a hotel, first time with such exotic delights as pasta. I loved the skiing but we were also left to our own devices in the evening and I remember buying a bottle of fizzy wine. That definitely wouldn’t be allowed these days!
My honeymoon: Suzannah and I had a wonderfully romantic break in Italy. Our first destination was Castello dell’Oscano in Perugia – our room was in one of the castle towers. We then went to Relais I Due Laghi, a farm-style hotel amid the rolling hills of Campagna.
Best break: A recent family safari in Kenya. It was a truly magical experience to see the wildlife up close and personal.
My nightmare: I have never had a bad holiday. Even when soaked to the skin at a Scout camp, with mud flowing through the tent after a week of torrential rain, I love being away.
Tartan Army: John at a Scout camp in 1978, left. John, 12, on his school ski trip, right
Trip I’ve always wanted to take…
A world cruise on the Queen Mary in one of the top suites. I remember watching Alan Whicker’s TV documentary where he travelled the world on the QE2.
I was spellbound by the levels of luxury and service but never imagined I’d ever do anything like that.
I went on the QE2 twice as a guest lecturer and it was a five-star experience. I put on a stone in a fortnight, so I’d have to stay out of the restaurants for a few days if I ever went on a six-month world cruise.
My perfect holiday companion: Any of my former RAF mates who now fly for the big airlines. They always get upgraded to First Class when they fly as passengers.
John Nichol’s Spitfire: A Very British Love Story is out in May.