The travel show host shares his favourites from the coastal town of Broadstairs in England and Yellowknife in Canada.
Broadstairs, Kent, United Kingdom
What do you love most about being in this town?
It’s like it’s caught in the ‘50s. There is a lovely amusement park where you go on the dodgems or the big wheel and eat cotton candy or hot dogs or fish and chips. And being in the sea after the initial cold. I even like these places in winter, when the bed-and-breakfasts have their doors squeaking. It seems a bit bleak but it’s the British seaside and that’s what I love about it. All these quaint little things make Broadstairs the iconic British seaside.
Your favourite local dish from here and where might we find it?
In Britain, there’s only one dish that you must have when you’re down at the seaside, and you can’t really go away without eating it and that is the traditional fish and chips. Especially in Broadstairs, because they still have the fishing fleets that come in small boats, and if you get a fresh cod, then you are in heaven.
What can you find here that you can't find anywhere else?
There’s the house Charles Dickens stayed at where he wrote David Copperfield, so that’s something you can’t find anywhere else.
What’s the most surprising thing about this town?
It is not a surprise for me, but for other people they would say it’s the quaintness of Broadstairs. More than any other city it takes you back to the time when everyone used to go to the beach. You see these beautiful nostalgic pictures, and it’s like Broadstairs is still in a throwback.
A must-visit tourist spot.
The tacky amusement arcades near the beach, where you have to go on the grabber, where you can hook up prizes with the claw – you don’t win anything, it’s rubbish! But it has to be done when you’re at the seaside.
The perfect spot to unwind here.
The nice thing about these seaside places is that there isn’t much to do. It’s about chilling out, just watching the sea and kids playing on the beach. You look through the shops, you have something to eat, sea-fishing on the piers. The craziest thing you could do here is to have a round of miniature golf.
Where might we find you at 1 am in this city?
I’d be tucked up cosy in bed and snoring away! Nothing opens past ten here!
One thing about the locals.
They are tough as boots and hard as nails, living in such a harsh environment – on the frozen lake and half the year is absolute darkness. And it makes them a little bit mad because they are frontier, pioneer people, and they have to kill a caribou to survive. I mean, I wouldn’t last five minutes there in the winter, but that’s not the point. I love going there in the summer.
What do you find most refreshing about this city?
It’s the fact that it’s so isolated that makes it quite refreshing. It’s in the middle of nowhere but once you’re there it’s got a lovely community vibe.
What’s the most surprising thing about this city?
How crazy the people are! I was a judge at their ‘Ugly Dog and Truck Competition’, where the scratched-up truck had smashed windows and they start the truck with a screwdriver sort of thing, and the dogs have three legs or missing toes, and one guy didn’t have an ugly dog, but he had an ugly truck so he got his ten-year-old daughter, dressed her up as a dog, and they won third prize! That’s how crazy they are but I love that vibe!
Where would you take a first-timer to this city?
Get on a bus. Go about five miles out of town to the middle of nowhere and just lie down on the ground and watch the Northern Lights. It is extraordinary and impossible to describe. It is the most amazing thing you’ll ever see in the sky. It’s like a cheesy episode of Star Trek – it feels like a bad effect because it’s so surreal.
What was the best culinary experience for you in this city?
There is always a good vibe at the Bullocks Bistro. It’s a relaxed atmosphere, and the fish and chips have an Arctic char from the ice and you can’t get it any fresher than that. The taste of the flesh is just off the scale!
What to bring back home.
The Inuit art, with its primitive carvings out of bone, whale’s tusk or tooth, or reindeer antler. They’re not cheap – making them takes ages so they shouldn’t be, but you have to take one home, definitely.
A must-do in this city.
There are loads of must-dos, obviously, including the Caribou Carnival and the Northern Lights, but one of my favourites is to hire a little car, take it out on the ice and just spin it round and round – it’s like being a little kid in a dodgem again. It’s a silly little thing but it’s worth doing.