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If you ask Poirot actor David Suchet for his favourite holiday experience, his eyes mist over and a small, warm smile emerges on his face.  "Narrow-boats, Dutch barges - any holiday that involves craft like that," he purrs. "My grandfather, my mum's father, a wonderful man called Jimmy, introduced me to the delights of narrow-boating and as a result I've been sailing on canals throughout the entirety of my adult life."

"The first five years of my marriage (to actress Sheila Ferris) were spent living on board a narrow-boat. We used to travel around Britain, using the wonderful canal systems in order to get from repertory theatre to repertory theatre so that we could perform."

"I think it's the independence that canal life affords you, the views of the countryside, the peace and the privacy. I'm not a great one for celebrity spotlights so the fact that you can be a short distance away from some major road network, aboard your narrow-boat and yet remain hidden from view, appeals to my love of the private and makes the whole experience a fairly secret pleasure."

I think it's the independence that canal life affords you, the views of the countryside, the peace and the privacy.

These days, David sets his sights further afield than Britain when using the canals. The Dutch barge which he moors in London, close to his home, is currently in the process of being transported across the English Channel to a new berth in Belgium. From there, David and Shelia are planning a pan-European adventure, exploring the major canal routes in Germany, Austria and Hungary, after starting off in Belgium.

"The great thing is the canals in the part of Europe we're travelling to all interlink so we could conceivably travels for hundreds, if not thousands, of miles," he beams. "However, I suspect I might need a long sabbatical, or a lengthy period of unemployment, before I were able to complete such a journey!"

Anyone imagining that a trip aboard a narrow-boat or a Dutch barge is by definition a bit basic should spend a few minutes on board's David magnificent vessel, a long and impressive testament to luxury embellished with wood panelling and mod cons throughout.

Not that after a lifetime of high profile TV roles, the best known of which is the Belgian 'tec Hercule Poirot' he isn't open to even more luxurious means of transport and adventure. David explains that, "in anticipation of filming what many regard as the ultimate Poirot adventure, Murder on the Orient Express, I travelled aboard the train, while a film crew captured my experience for a documentary to go with the screening of the drama itself." "It's the very last word in luxury. It's an extraordinary adventure, which took me from London to Venice and onwards to Prague."

But despite the fame, David is never short of gratitude for the opportunities his encountered. "The opulence and the grandeur of The Orient Express is hard to describe and I'm only glad I was working rather than holidaying, and my trip was being paid for. In order to take my wife Sheila, on The Orient Express, I would clearly have to start saving my own money! For this I'm undoubtedly grateful." 

Hungary: www.hungary.com
Belgium:    www.visitbelgium.com
Orient Express: www.orient-express.com
This article appeared on WhereAndNow.com a London-centric magazine that provides inspiration on where to eat, sleep, drink, travel as well as upcoming events in the English capital.
Posted 14/3/11

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