July 1, 2011 10:01 pm

My perfect getaway

The ideal summer getaway, according to Gary Shteyngart, Lionel Shriver, Andrew Marr, Alexandra Shulman, Jason Wu, Bear Grylls and Tamara Mellon
Salvador Dali, lying down, wife Gala and friend sailing on a boat named after Gala

Salvador Dalí and his wife Gala go sailing with a friend

James A Baker III, former US secretary of state

Where are you spending the summer?

My wife Susan and I usually spend August at our remodelled old homesteader’s cabin on Silver Creek in Wyoming. It is a beautiful place with a wonderful trout stream coursing through it.

What do you do when you arrive?

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Most importantly, we make sure that the mosquitoes have been sprayed. Then, we go for a hike with our dogs and get our fishing gear ready for the summer.

What are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.

What do you like doing on holiday?

We catch and release four types of trout that live in our stream. We take long walks and enjoy watching elk, antelope, deer, black bear, moose and mountain lion. And we entertain friends. We hunt elk in the fall.

Will you be online or offline?

Offline. I have found I can exist quite comfortably and effectively without the internet.

Ideal travelling companion – dead, alive, historical, fictional?

It would be wonderful if any one of my former bosses – Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan or George HW Bush – could come visit. So much has happened in our country and the world since I worked with each of them, so it would be very interesting to hear their takes on current events.

Item you are unable to leave at home?

My yoga mat. It has been my companion at home, on trips and during vacation since Susan convinced me three years ago that at my age I needed to do yoga to be flexible.

Do you eat in or out when on holiday?

We’re a 30-minute drive from the nearest “civilisation”, so we eat in most of the time.

Where would you like to go next?

In November, we’re going on a buffalo hunting safari in Tanzania.

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Bear Grylls , adventurer

Where are you spending the summer?

Our island hideaway in north Wales: 20 acres, no main electricity or water and it has a lighthouse next to our cottage. It is our heaven.

What do you do when you arrive?

Check the water levels, as we collect rainwater off the roof. Full tanks mean deep baths. Then we start the monumental task of getting a four-week supply of food and our bags up the 200ft hill from the jetty.

Mick Jagger with wife Bianca©Getty

English rock singer Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones enjoys a relaxing gondala ride with his wife Bianca, on the Grand Canal in Venice after their wild wedding in St Tropez

What are you looking forward to reading?

Who Pays the Piper (out September 1) by Mackenzie Smith and Andre Agassi’s autobiography, Open – one good ripper of military fiction and one by a tennis hero. Andre has become a friend since I did an event to support his academy and he is great – he wants to visit the island next year, which would be fun.

What do you like doing on holiday?

We tend to have a lot of picnics where we head off along the coastline from our rib. We have great climbing on the sea cliffs on our island and deep sea caves to explore, and then have lots of afternoon snoozes in the Welsh heather grass with the children. I also do my hour’s workout each morning where I run up and down the hills and do pull-ups on a bar over my favourite cave.

Ideal travelling companion?

Jake Gyllenhaal is a good buddy since we filmed Born Survivor together and has a fun outlook on life, fame and adventure.

Will you be online or offline?

Online for an hour each morning to keep up with e-mails.

Item you are unable to leave at home?

My guitar. I love to play acoustic and sing classic crooner love songs.

How do you feel when the holiday is over?

Excited to get back into the groove, sad that the magic is over.

Where would you like to go next?

Back to our island soon!

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Tamara Mellon , founder and chief creative officer of Jimmy Choo

Where are you spending the summer?

I cannot wait to go to the Hamptons. I go to unwind and get away from it all and it’s always very relaxed. The water and beaches are breathtaking and I always leave there completely rejuvenated.

What do you do when you arrive?

I put on my bikini and go to the beach with [my daughter] Minty for our first swim. We are at our happiest by the sea together.

What are you looking forward to reading?

Why Not Say What Happened?, the autobiography of Guinness heiress Ivana Lowell.

What do you like doing on holiday?

Relaxing and spending time with Minty. Reading, exercising and just getting away from it all really.

Will you be online or offline?

I tend to check my work e-mails first thing for anything urgent, then my BlackBerry is off limits and it’s family time. I am on Twitter (@TamaraMellon) and have been known to tweet from the beach occasionally.

Ideal travelling companion?

I would love to take a trip with Hillary Clinton or Queen Rania of Jordan.

Item you are unable to leave at home?

Lavender oil and Vie Luxe scented candles for my hotel room.

Where would you like to go next?

Brazil is top of my list. Its tropical climate, glamorous beaches and characters, sun-bleached colours and wild carnival nights inspired my current collection.

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Gary Shteyngart , author

Where are you spending the summer?

No time for holidaying this year, sadly; I have to promote my last book from Wales to Rome by way of Copenhagen and Madrid. My idea of a good holiday is lying on a blanket with a book while a friendly ant tickles me between my toes. Aren’t ants the best?

What do you do when you arrive at your holiday destination?

I realise I’ve forgotten my swimming trunks. I always forget my trunks. And then there are weeks spent trying to pry trunks from some reluctant Anatolian merchant. Why is life so difficult?

What are you looking forward to reading?

An actual printed newspaper would be nice. The kind that gets me all inky like a squid. I don’t like to think too much in the summer so, in terms of books, maybe early Evelyn Waugh.

What do you like doing when on holiday?

Deep coma. A little reading. Back to coma.

Ideal travelling companion?

Any long-haired dachshund will do, particularly one named Felix.

Item you are unable to leave at home?

My cholesterol medication, lorazepam, Xanax, various subclasses of barbiturates.

Do you eat in or out when on holiday?

I barely know how to boil water, so eating out is the way to go. I love snout-to-tail kinds of food where I eat the whole animal.

Do you buy postcards and if so, who do you send them to?

Postcards? Is that like a printed e-mail? I guess I don’t.

How do you feel when the holiday is over?

Depressed. But happy to see my dachshund, if we’ve been separated.

Where would you like to go next?

Hudson, New York. A little town upstate where I feel very relaxed.

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Andrew Marr , broadcaster and author

Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart

Actors Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart enjoy a day's sailing, circa 1945

Where are you spending the summer?

Devon and south-west France, beaches and brasseries, with my wife and daughters and various family friends.

What do you do when you arrive?

Go to the nearest supermarket and stock up – wine, cheese, oatcakes, local meat.

What are you looking forward to reading?

I’m working on a world history project so am taking stupid quantities of books – on Italy, Russia and China mainly. But for total relaxation, I’ve just discovered Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano mysteries – The Shape of Water etc – so more of that.

What do you like doing on holiday?

Drawing and painting, when I can; running through unfamiliar landscapes; cooking and eating; drinking. I don’t like just hanging around, not at all.

Ideal travelling companion?

Plenty of friends, who know who they are. I would love to get drunk in the kitchen with Elizabeth David.

Will you be online or offline?

To anyone reading this, offline.

Item you are unable to leave at home?

A box of pencils, my iPad (for drawing) and piles of books.

Do you eat in or out when on holiday?

Mostly in but a good restaurant every third or fourth day.

Do you buy postcards and, if so, who do you send them to?

I buy them but don’t send them; [they’re] pictures I want to keep looking at.

How do you feel when the holiday is over?

Ready to get back to work and city life. Holidays are wonderful but September always perks me up.

Where would you like to go next?

Peru, the Amazon parts mainly, and Wester Ross in Scotland.

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John Studzinski , senior managing director at Blackstone Group

Where are you spending the summer?

I go to three or four places. I go to Lourdes on pilgrimage, to work with the sick. I go to Salzburg to climb the Alps and listen to music and drink Austrian Burgundy in the evening. I go to Italy to enjoy the Amalfi coast. Then I go to my farm in America to chill out and go back to my roots. I also spend some time in 40C heat in my castle in Trujillo in Spain.

What do you do when you arrive?

Go for a long walk.

What are you looking forward to reading?

Every summer I read and reread War and Peace. I’ve done it for the past 30 years; I think it’s the best tutorial on humanity.

What do you like doing on holiday?

Holidays are about close friends, intensive culture, intensive walking and nature, and putting time and the planet in perspective.

Will you be online or offline?

I’m always online.

Other than your family who is your Ideal travelling companion (dead, alive, historical, fictional)?

Either a friend of mine, whose nickname is Ms Bunny, or my four Leonbergers.

Item you are unable to leave at home?

It’s a toss-up between my rosary beads and my mobile phone.

Do you buy postcards and, if so, who do you send them to?

I hate postcards, we communicate enough throughout the year. Postcards should be abolished. It’s like you’re trying to show off; postcards are ostentatious and pretentious.

How do you feel when the holiday is over?

Rested but apprehensive about the fall programme/agenda.

Where would you like to go next?

New Zealand.

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Lionel Shriver , author

Where are you spending the summer?

As usual, we’ll be spending three months in Brooklyn, where my husband keeps a dishevelled little house, affectionately dubbed the “Little Dump”. Although since I work through the summer and have a new novel on the boards, calling this ritual decampment from London a “holiday” stretches the meaning of the word.

What do you do when you arrive?

I buy my New York City tennis permit in Prospect Park, reliably on the very first morning. Flailing amateur tennis is the central pleasure of my summer.

What are you looking forward to reading?

What I would really like to do is finally read Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom and, much more eagerly, Allegra Goodman’s The Cookbook Collector. But, since they are both fat hardbacks that I’ll be loath to drag from London to New York, I’ll probably put these reads off for another three months.

What do you like doing on holiday?

Working, mostly. Though that’s not a complaint; I like working. Otherwise, tennis, a few good films and cooking.

Will you be online or offline?

Online, alas. Though I had one experience a couple of years ago of spending several days with my brother on an island off the coast of Florida where the house didn’t have internet provision. It was wonderful. So relaxing. The day suddenly grew fat and languid. I finally felt truly away. If I had one piece of advice for anyone who wants to take a real break, it would be: avoid internet cafés, and don’t take your computer or smart phone. That is a real holiday.

Item you are unable to leave at home?

My computer, I’m afraid. Which means I am incapable of taking my own advice.

Do you eat in or out when on holiday?

Almost always eat in. My idea of a good time is to fry up a shrimp dish that’s searingly spicy, pop open a bottle of prosecco, and sit out on our enclosed front porch with the sweat streaming down my neck. New York summers have been violently hot of late and, to my husband’s dismay, we don’t have air conditioning.

Do you buy postcards and, if so, who do you send them to?

I’m afraid the postcard is now going the way of the buggy whip.

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Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair

Where are you spending the summer?

As I’m writing this, my summer holiday is already in train. I’m at a glorious health spa in Austria with my friend Reinaldo Herrera. We are taking the cure, as they say, though it appears to be working better on him than on me. I still look like Robert Morley’s aunt and Reinaldo is shimmering around like Kate Moss. Following this, I have a week and a half of business travel in Europe. Then I’m taking my wife, five kids, two girlfriends (theirs), a nanny, my wife’s father, and my mother, to Rome and Porto Ercole for another two weeks.

What do you do when you arrive?

Generally unpack and then lie down. I find any kind of travel exhausting.

What are you looking forward to reading?

A lot of manuscripts, certainly. I’m also reading Henry Porter’s The Bell Ringers. And I’ve brought Giorgio Bassani’s The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts, a couple of Wodehouses, a Carola Dunn mystery, and Mary Wesley’s The Camomile Lawn.

What do you like doing on holiday?

I do like to swim. And then poking around market towns, reading, and just eating, drinking and gabbing.

Will you be online or offline?

Online, limited to an hour and a bit a day.

Ideal travelling companion?

Reinaldo’s pretty ideal. Others: Gianni Agnelli in Italy and Albert Camus in France.

Item you are unable to leave at home?

I generally take a photograph of my kids in a small silver frame even when they are on the trip with me. And my iPod.

Do you eat in or out when on holiday?

Preferably in but we do end up eating out with friends a good deal.

How do you feel when the holiday is over?

It’s heavenly to sleep in your own bed after being away for a period of time. I generally swear to stay at home for the next year and then something comes up.

Where would you like to go next?

I’d love to go to Prague and Budapest. And Turkey.

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René Redzepi , chef and co-owner of Noma

Where are you spending the summer?

We are renovating our office area and we are building a new test kitchen, so no holidays this year.

What do you do when you arrive at your holiday destination?

Usually, the first thing I do is check out the restaurant scene, the local scene, not the one written in guidebooks. I was in Mexico in January and we went mostly to small taquerías and that was amazing.

What are you looking forward to reading?

The Sorcerer’s Apprentices: A Season at El Bulli by Lisa Abend and, the one I’m most looking forward to, I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey by Izzeldin Abuelaish.

What do you like doing on holiday?

It has changed a bit because now I have children but I tend to spend it relaxing and as far away from people as possible. All the time it is people, phone calls, e-mails, shaking hands, chopping onions, questions – when on vacation, I want quiet.

Will you be online or offline?

I am always online. It’s impossible to be offline. Summer is when foragers will call and say, “I have 50kg of gooseberries and do you want them to pickle?”

Ideal travelling companion?

The last journey I did, we were six guys all together, old friends, and that was really a remarkable, memorable time.

Do you eat in or out when on holiday?

I like both equally. I love eating local cuisine but I also love going to a market and going home and cooking.

How do you feel when the holiday is over?

Usually I feel energised, ready to attack the next year. That’s if it’s a good holiday and the kids are behaving and not shouting and they don’t get any weird diseases when you go to strange places.

Where would you like to go next?

I don’t really know when I will next go away. I’d like to visit more of Asia, so maybe Thailand or India.

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Alexandra Shulman , editor of British Vogue

Where are you spending summer?

Southern Italy and the Argolic Gulf in Greece. We have very generous friends with beautiful houses in each place who have had us to stay many times. I owe them a huge holiday back at some point.

What do you do when you arrive?

I like to lie in the sun. That makes me feel like I am shedding a skin and can emerge as a new “holiday” person.

What are you looking forward to reading?

Cressida Connolly’s My Former Heart (out August 4) and Alan Hollinghurst’s The Stranger’s Child. I also want to read some old Len Deighton. I take about eight books.

What do you like doing on holiday?

I’m not a real traveller, more of a lounge lizard. Occasionally I can be persuaded into a cultural expedition but I tend to spend a lot of the time supine.

Will you be online or offline?

I try and stay offline as much as is possible.

Ideal travelling companion?

I’m not that imaginative. I’m normally pretty happy with whoever is there rather than craving for imaginary friends.

Item you are unable to leave at home?

My iPod: to block engine noise on planes and to help me run, which is essential if I’m to avoid putting on half a stone.

Do you eat in or out on holiday?

Where we are going this year there are terrific cooks but I am always happy to cook on holiday, so long as I don’t have to do the washing up.

Do you buy postcards and, if so, who do you send them to?

Postcards are an essential part of being on holiday, even if they don’t get sent. There is nothing nicer than sitting in a bar with a delicious drink and a pile of postcards – scribbling as you watch the world go by.

How do you feel when the holiday is over?

I am always pleased to arrive home after a holiday and then, within seconds, wish I was back where I was.

Where would you like to go next?

I want to try an American holiday – ideally the south-west.

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Sir David Tang , entrepreneur and FT House & Home columnist

Where are you spending the summer?

My wife and I have decided to spend our summer holidays with our two puppies, a Westie and a Jack Russell, at home in Hong Kong – exceptionally, as the weather then is very hot and very humid, and sometimes there are typhoons. But no weather condition can substitute the joy of being with our puppies.

What do you do when you arrive?

The great thing of staying home is that you don’t have to do anything. Instead, we just wake up and say hello to our puppies and have a wonderful day.

What are you looking forward to reading?

I have set aside EH Gombrich’s The Story of Art.

Will you be online or offline?

I will always have my BlackBerry, about which I was rather derogatory at the beginning but now find the most incredible modern invention.

Ideal travelling companion – dead, alive, historical, fictional?

Dead, Bertrand Russell; alive, Mia Farrow; historical, Emperor Qianlong; fictional, Becky Sharp.

How do you feel when the holiday is over?

Usually depressed. But as I’m not leaving home, I won’t feel depressed, which is another advantage of not going on holiday.

Where would you like to go next?

Timbuktu, which is exactly a day’s ride on a camel from the edge of the Sahara.

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Jason Wu , fashion designer

Where are you spending the summer?

I’m going to Las Vegas with friends – I love escaping reality for a few days. I’m going to try some of the wonderful restaurants there. Also, I’m going to see a couple of shows, including Le Rêve and Céline Dion. I might also try my hand at blackjack.

What do you do when you arrive?

A quick change before I start exploring.

What are you looking forward to reading?

Just Kids by Patti Smith, I’ve heard it’s a beautifully written book.

What do you like doing on holiday?

I like to keep my schedule open, it’s relaxing not to have any appointments and to be spontaneous – sometimes inspiration comes from the most unusual places.

Will you be online or offline?

Online because there is never a moment to spare as I am preparing for my spring 2012 collection.

Ideal travelling companion?

Diana Vreeland. Besides being wonderfully witty and my constant source of inspiration, she would know all the best hidden restaurants, shops and museums.

Item you are unable to leave at home?

My iPhone and a pair of white Jack Purcell Converse.

Do you buy postcards and, if so, who do you send them to?

No, I’m all about sending e-mails and iPhone photos.

How do you feel when the holiday is over?

My mind is usually on to the next collection already.

Where would you like to go next?

I have always wanted to go to India.

All interviews by Victoria Maw except John Studzinski interview by Fernando Augusto Pacheco

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Home comforts: The world on your doorstep

Penthouse

For those not heading abroad this summer, why not try these alternatives, writes Tom Robbins

A wine tour of ... Kent: Forget Bordeaux or the Loire, several English vineyards welcome visitors to stay among the vines. The English Wine Centre (www.englishwine.co.uk), near Berwick, East Sussex, has just opened five new rooms (from £125), or stay at the farmhouse amid the Denbies (www.denbies.co.uk, doubles from £98) vineyard near Dorking, Surrey.

Island hopping in ... Scotland: Glasgow boasts a seaplane base, from where you can fly to the west coast islands, landing on lochs or the sea. Loch Lomond Seaplanes (www.lochlomond seaplanes.com) offers both group trips, from £129, and private charters from £599.

Via ferrata in ... Cumbria: The via ferrata in the Italian Dolomites is a system of metal cables and ladders that lets you ascend steep mountain faces without rock-climbing skills. But there is also a via ferrata in England, at Honister Slate Mine (www.honister.com). Tickets cost £30 for adults, £20 for children.

A Manhattan loft in ... London: One Fine Stay (www.onefinestay.com) offers the chance to stay in private homes. Its roster includes some stylish properties: Naoroji Street is a modern penthouse, with two bedrooms, a roof terrace and views of London’s skyline. From £349 per night.

The white sands of ... Herm: Why bother with the Caribbean, try Guernsey, from where it’s a 20-minute boat ride to Herm (www.herm.com), a car-free island with one pub, one hotel, a few holiday cottages, some puffins and stunning white sand beaches.

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Summer sounds: The hottest playlist by Ludovic Hunter-Tilney

Beyonce

What makes a classic summer song? An appropriate theme helps. I remember hearing Blur’s matchless ode to Club 18-30 package holidays, “Girls and Boys”, everywhere in Britpop’s summer of 1994 while Caribou’s heliotropic “Sun” was last year’s indie-dance ubiquity. The greatest summer songs – The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun”, the Beach Boys’ “California Girls” – convey the illusion that, like youth or perfect pop songs, summer will never come to an end.

Which will be the summer songs of 2011? One of the brashest categories is the big dance anthem that every reveller to Ibiza returns home with, still hammering in their head. This year’s contenders are Alex Gaudino’s “What a Feeling” and Swedish House Mafia’s “Save the World Tonight” for those meaningful moments sitting by the water’s edge watching the sun come up. Or is it going down?

Rock’s equivalent is the summer festival anthem. Coldplay’s new single, “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall”, is a blatant play to make one of these, Chris Martin singing “The kids they dance, all the kids all night” over a house beat that hammers home the sob-rockers’ amazing discovery: kids like to dance. It’s no coincidence they’re headlining almost every big European festival this year. But it’s too contrived to achieve the spontaneity of a true summer song. Anyway, Beyoncé made off with the festival anthem crown at Glastonbury last weekend when she covered Kings of Leon’s “Sex on Fire”.

The victorious summer song is the one that makes itself heard over the constant hubbub of the city. Keep an ear out for Calvin Harris’s “Bounce” – bubbly electro with Kelis on vocals – and Aloe Blacc’s “I Need a Dollar”, a “Summertime Blues” for the austerity age. In the US, hip-hop’s embrace of all things Eurodance has sparked an explosion in summer party songs: Sean Kingston’s “Party All Night”, Erika Jayne’s “One Hot Pleasure”, anything by Pitbull. As if focus-grouped with drunken college students holidaying in Miami, the formula has been boiled down to its core ingredients: Auto-Tuned hooks, a title with “hot” or “party” in it and a David Guetta remix.

Ludovic Hunter-Tilney is the FT’s pop critic

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