My Kind of Holiday: Marguerite Poland

20 January 2013 - 02:02 By Marguerite Poland

Marguerite Poland is an award-winning writer . Her latest work is a memoir, Taken Captive by Birds

Where did you spend your last holiday?

Cape St Francis.

The best thing you did while there?

I climbed the lighthouse, an experience that was exciting and romantic.

Your favourite city abroad and why?

London. We had friends with a flat there and visiting the same neighbourhood year after year made it feel like home.

What must a first-time visitor see there?

Walk up and down both sides of the Thames. It gives you a sense of the vastness of the place.

What should they not bother with?

Typical attractions with long queues. Rather, walk the streets.

Your best holiday ever?

Visiting the World War 1 battlefields of Northern France was a profound and moving experience. We visited small and large graveyards among the farmlands, searching for specific names. It was awe-inspiring.

The worst hotel you have stayed in?

A hotel in Midrand I stayed at during a business trip. The view was a used-car graveyard and the linen was suspect. I thought if I opened a cupboard a body might fall out.

The best thing you have been given on holiday . or pinched from a hotel?

We won a weekend at a game lodge and I was told to leave the window open because a chat had built a nest in the canopy over the bed. His presence was better than being given a basketful of goodies.

One place you want to see before you die?

A World War 1 battlefield in northern Tanzania at the foot of Kilimanjaro. I wrote a novel that ended there and it is a pilgrimage I really need to make.

Have you had any embarrassing moments as a traveller?

On our first overseas trip - our girls were pre-teens - we put our luggage on a particularly fast-moving walkway. The luggage got to the end before we did and all four of us fell over it. It was the first and last time I saw anyone in Paris laugh.

What do you avoid on holiday?

Sitting with strangers at meals and playing hotel party games.