Cornwall was Vernon Coleman’s favourite childhood holiday.
Best-selling author Vernon Coleman has sold more than two million books in the UK alone. His works, which include Bodypower, Mrs Caldicot’s Cabbage War and How To Stop Your Doctor Killing You, have been translated into 24 languages.
Originally a GP, he has been a full-time author for over 40 years. His latest book, Just Another Bloody Year (My Life And Other Problems), has just been published by Blue Books.
Vernon, who’s 67, lives in Gloucestershire with his wife Donna Antoinette. The couple also have an apartment in Paris.
“My favourite childhood holiday was Cornwall. My parents used to drive down on a journey that seemed interminable.
I remember sitting in traffic jams that lasted eight hours or maybe eight weeks. The place we used to go to was Treyarnon Bay near Padstow.
We stayed in a tiny caravan, just the three of us, and while we didn’t do anything much they’re very happy memories.
My first non-Cornwall holiday was in Scotland, when I was a medical student.
We were studying in Birmingham and a pal and I drove all the way to about 50 miles south of John O’Groats.
His uncle had a cottage which we thought we had for the week. But a few hours after we arrived a family showed up who also claimed they’d booked it.
There was nowhere else for miles so we had to share us downstairs and the other family upstairs! The guy from the family was a fisherman.
He used to come back with fish for tea which he claimed he’d caught, until we saw him buying it from a fishmonger’s van one day.
My first travel abroad was to Paris and it has literally become my second home. We had so many holidays we got an apartment.
It’s the cafs that I love so much. It has really embraced caf culture. You can sit there all day and people-watch.
Tourists often complain about the price of a cup of coffee but you’re not buying a coffee, you’re renting a seat to watch the world go by.
When it’s raining outside, one of the most gently sadistic things you can do is sit there warm and comfortable and sip your hot red wine watching people rushing by.
I like sitting in the parks, too, and watching the old guys play boules. It never seems to be a competition.
They play for hours and you never see them keep score or getting cross. And the driving over there never fails to amaze me.
Taxi drivers seem to have about five hands one on the wheel, one on the gear lever, one with a coffee, one with a phone and one to gesticulate.
I’ve been in two taxis where they’ve hit motorcyclists. On one occasion the driver got out and punched the motorcyclist, forgetting the guy was wearing a helmet.
A lot of my new book is taken up with bizarre anecdotes of things we’ve seen over there.
I also enjoy Venice, Vienna and Berlin, all really because they have magnificent cafs. I remember being in Berlin when you still had to go through Checkpoint Charlie.
The contrast between East and West was amazing, going from the bright lights of West Berlin to an almost frightening atmosphere in the East.”