The fashion model and jewellery designer talks about life in the Bahamas, sharing rooms with rats, and how she deals with her kids on holiday. Interview by Ginny Weeks for MSN Travel.
First ever holiday you went on?
Well I vaguely remember being left behind when my parents took my brother and sister to Turkey because I was too young, and I even remember being left behind when they all went to visit the family ancestors in Germany because I was too young and I even remember not being allowed to bicycle down Britwell Hill because I was too young. When I was finally old enough to join the family on holiday it was in the Bahamas, where I got appallingly burned. When my mother took me to the local Bahamian doctor he said she had no right to bring such fair skin to the tropics.
To the snow, because where else would you go when you live on a beach? But is skiing with multiple kids really a holiday? Even when they are your own. I spend my time running between getting the five-year-old onto the ski school bus, while preventing a fight breaking out between the nine and 13-year-old, as I attempt to wake the grumpy 15-year-old, who has stayed up way too late, watching God knows what, on his banned iPad. I then find some child has left their gloves behind. Too late, I think as I bundle them into the care of a ski guide. When I finally reach the slopes myself I realise that in all the chaos it was my gloves that got left behind.
What kind of traveller are you? Don’t mind roughing it or like your comforts?
I’ve done a lot of rough. Youth hostels in the outback of Oz, Indian hotels for £1 per night with no electricity or running water, just a bucket of water left outside your room in the morning. I’ve shared a room with a rat in Burma, and a snake in my bed in northern Thailand, a cave filled with bats at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and experienced a bath in Russia with no plug and ‘matrons’ we had to bribe to get lightbulbs for the bedrooms.
Do you get to go on holiday often?
Because we live on the edge of a pink sand beach I am blessed with an extraordinary lifestyle. Its not often nowadays that we feel the need to go beyond our own garden for a holiday, but that does not mean I don’t jump on and off alarmingly small planes to get to business meetings in New York or London every other week.
Do you use travel as inspiration for your work?
Travel is always a source of inspiration. When I was 18 years old I backpacked around the world. It was the best education I ever received. But I am continually inspired by the nature that surrounds us on the small island I live on. I must be, I have Island Living collections in bath, bedding and jewellery!
How does living in the Bahamas affect your working life?
I like to squeeze as much out of my day as possible. Even though the Bahamas traditionally runs in second, occasionally third gear, I am in fifth, to the horror of my other half who moved to the Bahamas to drink bloody mary’s and read Scott Fitzgerald under a palm tree.
How do you keep stylish in the heat?
Lordy, is anyone stylish in the heat? I wear no make-up, I drink lots of fresh juices and I have a very relaxed wardrobe. I am not sure any of it makes me stylish but it’s a fairly healthy and simple life.
Highs and lows of taking kids on holiday?
I live for my kids, I became a complete person when I became a mother. But I also could happily commit murder most days of the week. Especially on holiday. The lowest point is always the immigration queue, it’s long, it’s tiring and every one starts to push and shove. I inevitably end up reminding my children that the officers carry loaded guns.
What are your beauty travel essentials?
Red-eye drops. I am normally getting off an overnight flight.
Packing – are you a light or heavy packer?
Light, light, light.
Favourite holiday destination?
Impossible to choose. But we did recently go to the island of Canouan in the Grenadines. Unspoiled, with extraordinary topography and more tortoises than humans.
Where’s top of your travel list?
China. All that Hello Kitty fashion and the Great Wall.