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Where's the best place you've ever stayed?
I have been fortunate to stay in many lovely hotels and places around the world - Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, was incredible, especially as I was upgraded to suite due to an overbooking. Two other favourites include the Thai designed Sofitel L’Imperial in Flic En Flac, Mauritius and The Mandarin in Hong Kong. Each hotel has its own individual style; the rooms are amazing and tip top service at all three. However, simply the best place I have ever stayed is Coral Bay, Western Australia. Situated 50kms north of the Tropic of Capricorn, it is a small settlement that lies protected from the Indian Ocean by the Ningaloo reef. The coral starts right at the water’s edge and fish swim close enough to the shore to be hand fed. The variety of sea life on the reef is incredible from manta rays and the shy dugong (sea cow), to sea turtles and whale sharks. I spent an amazing evening quad biking in the sand dunes as the sun set over the Indian Ocean before returning to our camp site and barbequing fresh produce from the local shop.
What's your oddest travel moment?
There's been a few over the years from hilarious to scary ..... however, one springs to mind whilst I was visiting friends in Brunei. Living in an area liable to flooding, their house was built on wooden stilts. Returning to the house after an afternoon at the beach, we found it had collapsed. It turned out a colony of subterranean termites had been living in the one of the stilts and having eaten their way through the wood, it gave way resulting in the collapse!
Have you had a perfect travel moment?
I was on safari in the Maasai Mara and had gone to bed after an incredible day of game drives and viewing. During the night I became aware of noise and people moving, and realised the night staff were knocking on room doors. I heard the word “Leopard”.... it was 2am and a leopard had clearly been hunting, its prey being a small gazelle and it had climbed up a tree just meters from the main verandah to eat it. Sitting on the verandah in the middle of the night drinking hot chocolate watching the leopard who was blissfully unaware of me and the other hotel guests was indeed a perfect moment.
What are your suitcase essentials?
I make sure I have my camera, notepad and pens in my hand luggage. I also always make sure I have a large scarf or pashmina to hand, which can and has been used in the most enormous variety of ways from blanket to sarong to head scarf to roll up neck support. One or two are indispensible and can be used in so many different ways; it just takes a bit of imagination! As a trained First Aider, I’ve always thought one could be used as a sling, a bandage or a tourniquet in an emergency.
Where's next on your wishlist?
I'll go anywhere! However, top of my list is to visit South America and I have a real yearning to go to Chile in particular. I have Chilean friends and would love to have the time to travel from North to South exploring the mountains, lakes, cities, volcanoes, the Atacama Desert and take in the many contrasts both geographically and culturally. The country looks and sounds amazing, and I would end my journey visiting the Magellenic penguins near Punta Arenas. Writing this makes me want to go even more!