Former Blur bassist Alex James. Photo: Simone Cecchetti/Corbis via Getty Images

Faster Thinking

Not home, James

Alex James was a Britpop star with the band Blur before reinventing himself as a writer – and cheesemaker. Life on the road is a different affair these days, as he tells Tamara Hinson

Where is still on your bucket list?
I love Shackleton’s books about his epic journeys in Antarctica, the planet’s last great wilderness. I’ve always wanted to go to there, but for now I’ve had to be content with naming one of my cheeses ‘Good Queen Maud’ after a part of the Antarctic called Queen Maud Land.

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On Alex’s bucket list: Queen Maud Land in Antarctica. Photo: Alamy

Most memorable view?
The first time I crossed Brooklyn Bridge in New York, heading for Manhattan, I think I burst into tears. I can enjoy that view and keep it together these days, but on a clear night with no moon, it still makes me come over a bit funny.

Earliest holiday memory? 
Staying in a farmhouse in Wales and finding a mouse in the kitchen. For some reason that’s the first memory I have. I used to love going to France as a kid – I still do.

What’s been your most adventurous holiday?
Being adventurous isn’t just about climbing mountains, crossing oceans or swashbuckling through rainforests. It’s about being prepared to leave your comfort zone. If you’re used to staying at Claridge’s try a holiday park or a tent. Camping with five young kids 10 miles from where I grew up was pretty epic.

What’s your must-pack holiday item?
I only need two things: large amounts of cashmere and a big empty suitcase.

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Alex’s foodie heaven, Essaouira in Morocco. Photo: Getty Images

Most memorable meal?
There’s a shack called L’Hotel Tangaro near Essaouira in Morocco. It has no electricity or menus. You just eat by candlelight what the fishermen catch, fresh off the boat. 

What’s your favourite part of the UK?
I love going to London even though I don’t live there anymore. I’m a big fan of the British coastline too, but I’m happiest in my own back garden in the Cotswolds, where The Big Feastival takes place every summer. It celebrates everything I love: food, music and family. 

What do you look for in a hotel?
Great hotels have a quality that makes the rest of the world feel a bit ordinary, and a sense of the possibility that anyone at all might walk through the door. I remember being in The Mercer in New York – the lift doors opened and Leonardo DiCaprio was standing there adjusting his hair in the mirror. 

What do you love to do most when travelling?
The best thing is having lots of things to do and not doing any of them. I’m probably happiest in a Jacuzzi with my wife and kids. 


Alex James has teamed up with Chaplin & Cork’s to create a collection of cider-related recipes and pairings