My holidays: Keith Quinn

Television presenter Keith Quinn holds up some crayfish at his holiday home in the Wairarapa.
Television presenter Keith Quinn holds up some crayfish at his holiday home in the Wairarapa.

What was your greatest holiday?

In my work, I have done a lot of travelling, so sometimes work feels like a holiday. But when my wife Anne and I led a Rugby World Cup tour group to France in 2007 for eight weeks it was pure bliss. Two years earlier, with our regular "home" holiday mates sailing down the Canal du Midi in France was seven days of eatin', drinkin' and trying to improve our very average French. Wonderful.

And the worst?

People always say to me: "You must hate living out of a suitcase." When I hear that I say, "Stop! Stop! I love it!" So I cannot readily recall a "worst" holiday! Not one.

If we bump into you on holiday, what are you most likely to be doing?

We have a place at Riversdale Beach on the Wairarapa coast. There, you'll find me on the couch, either snoozing or reading.

Or watching sport on TV, of course.

If we could teleport you to one place in New Zealand for a week-long holiday, where would it be?

Oh Riversdale Beach, definitely! We've just had four weeks there over Christmas. All about paua, crayfish, good books, wine and grandchildren charging in and out with their lovely mates. My test cricket batting and bowling at the front of the house improved markedly over the summer.

How about for a dream holiday internationally?

While I would like to see more of the US sometime, I have a hankering to revisit Ayers Rock/Uluru in Australia. I went there 10 years ago and found the whole place an eerie, exhilarating experience. I want to see if The Rock can do it again for me.

What's the dumbest thing you've ever done when travelling?

Quite recently, flying to the Las Vegas rugby sevens, I checked in at LAX airport and was told my internal flight was only 20 minutes from leaving. So I sat down to wait. I was only feet away from the check-in desk, but I must have fallen into a deep sleep right there. God knows what I must have looked like to all the 130 other passengers when they heard the call-up to board. I slept right through the flight's departure - possibly snoring with wide gaping mouth.

Complete this sentence: I can't travel without ...

...having a straight face when the check-in people at the airport say "Did you pack your own luggage, sir?" I always say, "Yes," firmly, knowing all the while Anne has packed my bag superbly!

What's the best travel tip you've ever been given?

My dear late friend John Davies, the Olympic athlete and top athletics broadcaster, used to say: "Quinn, never blow your 'foo-foo' valve." It's always good advice, meaning one should always travel, especially on air flights in good shape, relaxed and not hungover and not drinking too much when on board.

What was the most memorable meal you've had while travelling?

Where to start! There are so many! Possibly the "chef's choice" at Guy Savoy in Paris. The restaurant was rated at the time in the world's Top 10 and still is I think. All the staff there loved rugby. Ex-All Black captain Jock Hobbs was a commentator then and Gavin Service and I were two unknown Kiwi TV travellers with Jock. We were lucky to be there. The maitre d' recognised Jock and there was no charge for 20 (tiny) examples of every course on his menu. Washed down with the best matching wine. Ah, magnifique!

What's the best thing you've brought back from a trip?

When our kids were much younger and growing up, we lived in a great, supportive neighbourhood in Lower Hutt. My absences were many on rugby tours, but the neighbours kept a very close and lovely eye on the Quinns in the street who were kind of "fatherless". In return, I used to bring home little gifts for all the neighbourhood kids of our closest pals; coloured pens, overseas sweets and chocolates, you name it. I was always very welcome up our street.

Favourite airport to land at?

Most of the airports these days are okay to land at. There always seems just a slight bump and you are down. But the worst one of all time was the old Hong Kong Airport. It was horrible, coming down so close to apartment blocks you could see families sitting in front of the telly or cooking their dinner. Those were really scary arrivals.

What's the next trip you've got planned?

I know our original travelling mates from Lower Hutt (from the supportive families from all those years ago) are planning something again soon. I'll just go along with what they decide, but I hear it could be to New York and then back home, via Hawaii. Or another option is to maybe go to Dubai and then on into Europe. Who knows? We will decide sometime soon, but only after serious discussions at home over wine, food and a lifetime of their good company on our earlier trips. And we won't blow our "foo-foo' valves!"

Keith Quinn hosts five episodes of I Was There on TVNZ Heartland. The episodes, covering the 1980s, screen March 17-21 at 7pm.

- NZ Herald

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