(a lot) More About me

A life a lot less ordinary

A true member of Generation Y, I’m as international and wanderlust-prone as anyone I know. I grew up on three continents and joke that I was half-raised by cabin crew.

It's why I fit so well writing as an aviation journalist and travel columnist, I suppose. I get to blend my vocation for travelling, my love for new places, languages and people, and the fun of sharing it all with the joy of writing.

How fantastic is that?

“And where are you from?”

I'm not really “from” anywhere — or, more accurately, I’m from everywhere. It's a long story… buy me a nice glass of something sometime and I'll regale you with it.

I live a pretty minimalist lifestyle, and it’s rare that I travel with more than one suitcase of 20kg. It's a purple Rimowa Salsa Air, if you must know.

Everything I need is on my 2016 15" MacBook Pro and an iPhone 7 Plus. (Or backed up remotely somewhere.)

Also in my bag are my beloved DSLR, a USB fan, a multi-plug power strip with a single international adapter on the end, a massive 20 Ah power bank, and a Victorinox Swiss Champ army knife.

…that’s where you’ll find me

I’m equally at home living it up in top-flight hotels (Hong Kong’s and Sydney’s Four Seasons can't be beat for the view), relaxing in the mountains at my favourite backpacker hostel in the world (Springfield in Canterbury on New Zealand's South Island, if you're interested), tucked away in a Toyoko Inn overlooking the Shinkansen tracks in Maibara, or spending quality time with family and friends in the places where they live. 

The world is my home. I like it that way.


the end of the world as we know it

I have a real thing for places that are at the end of the world: Land’s End, Finisterre, Murmansk, the Chatham Islands, Rovaniemi... 

My bucket list is full of places like Svalbard, the Azores, Ushuaia, Novaya Zemlya, Reykjavik, Cape Town, Kamchatka, Madeira, Fairbanks, the Seychelles, Churchill, Darwin, Vladivostok, Ruuk, Madagascar, Micronesia, Réunion — it’s a fairly extensive bucket list, full of long train journeys and three-connection flights involving tiny planes and beach runways.

If I can hear the birds, or the sea, or the whoosh of a train outside my window, I'm happy.


How can i keep from singing?

But while I’ve enormous world-encompassing dreams, I also love microtravel: just nosing around wherever I happen to be, whether that's Cornwall or Cromwell or Cornhill or cornfields.

Few things make me happier than singing. Every year, like a migrating bird, I return to my musical centre of gravity at St Endellion in Cornwall for the Easter and Summer music festivals, where I sing tenor and help out with the organising.

I've sung with the Choir of Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, the London Gay Men's Chorus, BBC Choir of the Year Chantage and, of course, the St Endellion Festival Chorus.

My music collection of over 100GB won't fit on my iPhone, and spans Byrd to Buxtehude to Bach to Brahms to Britten to Buddy Holly to Billie Holliday to the Beach Boys to Boney M to Bette Midler to the Baseballs to Beyoncé and beyond. 

I'm a human iPod — if I'm in the mood, most of a conversation will flick my brain to a song that matches it. 

Sweeter than wine

Wine is another one of my passions. I’m an enormous lover of Champagne, particularly from Aÿ and Épernay. I’ve wandered through the cellars at Krug and tasted Bollinger’s Pinot Noir with the chef de caves. My favourite fizz is Domaine Sylvain Gaudron's Vouvray Pétillant. I rate it as better than any champagne under £30. Overall? I’m more of a white drinker than a red drinker, and I tend to prefer New World over Old.

Favourite dry white? Probably Cloudy Bay's bottle-aged Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc, although for the price I’d rather have two bottles of Wither Hills' Rarangi single-vineyard Sauvignon Blanc.

As for aromatics: it's a real fight between Te Whare Ra's Toru blend from Marlborough, Greystone Wines’ Gewürztraminer from the Waipara Valley and Moana Park’s Viognier from Hawke's Bay.

Reds: this is where it gets really hard, and I get really vague. I like Bordeaux Merlot-Cab-Franc blends, but I find actual Bordeaux AOC wine is overpriced and underdelivers. (I spent a week in Bordeaux and had one (one!) decent bottle of wine, despite dropping some significant money. Give me a NZ or Chilean blend any day.)

I’m also a huge fan of jammy Californian Zinfandel. Lodi is my favourite Zin area, but there's also some really interesting stuff coming out of Livermore. And I love a good South African Pinotage. I find the tiny Northland NZ wine region near Kerikeri absolutely fascinating.

After dinner or as an apéritif, a good tawny port can't be beaten, although I've recently been enjoying new world tawnys more than officially designated Port. Graham’s The Tawny or Warre’s Otima are my favourite widely-available easy-drinking ports, but when in NZ I'll always take Moana Park's ten-year-old Tawny.

Let's talk about wine. It’s one of life's great pleasures.

Travellin’ Thru

My lifelong interest in aviation was sparked during a life of shuttling around the world on Boeing 747-100 and -200 aircraft, and I remembers with fondness the days when bored pilots and cabin crew didn’t mind an inquisitive teenager hanging around in cockpits and galleys asking questions.

Formerly resident in New York, London, Beijing, Bristol and Wellington, I’ve written for many publications, I was previously Director of Data at Routehappy and held the position of deputy editor at Australian Business Traveller. I also have an MA (Honours first class) in International Relations from the University of St Andrews.

When not at the keyboard, I live out of a suitcase, sing tenor in choirs on four continents, and add languages to my “I speak this enough to get by while travelling” collection. I have a weakness for the Airbus A340-600, fully flat business class seats with direct aisle access, English choral music and Champagne from the Vallée de la Marne.

Want to know even more? Say hello on Twitter. I@thatjohn.