My Perfect Weekend: Dan Snow

Written by Rachel on April 1st, 2010

From the Telegraph:

A Highland fling gets my heart racing but I love London, says Dan Snow.

Dan Snow loves cruising over southern England in his friend's Tiger Moth

If money was no object I’d happily blast off into sub orbital space on Richard Branson’s craft but I don’t see that happening any time soon. Still, I’m a great believer that you can achieve an extraordinary amount in a weekend and often find myself at Euston station on a Friday evening boarding the sleeper train to Scotland.

I wake up in Inverness at 8am and spend two days climbing Munros, going to pubs and generally getting lost in the Highlands. It’s as good a wilderness as anywhere in Europe. On Monday morning I crawl into work from the sleeper. It’s one of the greatest joys in life as you don’t have to worry about Sunday night blues.

As a child my weekends were a military operation. I’d be bundled into the car on Friday evening and my parents (BBC television journalist Peter Snow and Ann MacMillan, a CBC London correspondent) would drive to the boat we kept on the coast in the New Forest. My father has six children so there was always a crowd of us.

We’d go whatever the weather and spend the weekend sailing around The Solent. I didn’t have any strong feelings about it; I just accepted it. Mondays and Tuesdays back at school would be my time to relax.

On the rare occasion that we weren’t sailing, we’d be visiting country houses, battlefields or historic sites. Holidays would be spent in Greece or Italy exploring ruins and historic towns. I suppose it wasn’t what most children would like to do but it convinced me that the world is unavoidably interesting.

Now I’m 31, I don’t have any particular weekend routine. Often I’ll be working on an archaeological dig or filming, but in an ideal world I’ll be in London. Quite a few people can’t wait to escape from it at the weekend but I think they underestimate how much fun there is to be had there.

My home is in west London but on Friday nights I’ll usually head east with a group of friends. We’ll go to a pub in Shoreditch or Shoreditch House. I know that sounds pretentious but I just love those vast architectural spaces. It’s like being in New York.

On Saturday morning I’ll head to the Wallace Collection or walk along the South Bank to see the latest Unilever commission in the Tate Modern. I love the one on at the moment, Miroslaw Balka’s box of darkness.

I can walk around London endlessly; through the parks, in the City, by the river. It’s a great place for walking and I’m always surprised by how many amazing things you stumble across. That said, I don’t visit many historic sites in London because that’s what I do for work. I tend to sit in cafés, preferably at a table on the pavement, and read the newspaper on my BlackBerry or a history book while I soak up the city atmosphere.

In the evening I’ll try to see some performance art; Shunt Lounge under London Bridge is great. It sounds a bit uncultured but I prefer performances to be short and sweet. I’m 6ft 6in tall so cramped theatre seats become very uncomfortable after a while. Afterwards I might go for dinner in Borough Market or for cocktails. Another thing I’m quite into at the moment is burlesque clubs so if I’m having a really big night I might go on to one of them.

On Sunday I’ll probably lie in then go for a long lunch at my local pub, the Devonshire Arms in Earls Court. Or, if I’m lucky, a pilot friend will invite me to go flying in his Tiger Moth, which he keeps near Newbury. It was used between the Wars and is the most amazing machine. I adore cruising over the countryside, seeing the patchwork fields and undulations of southern England laid out below me.

In summer I drag myself out of bed earlier and drive down to Colshott on The Solent where I keep a Hobie Cat with my friend Ben. We’re both tall and incompetent but it’s great fun. It’s one of the fastest sailing dinghies out there and we have to wear helmets…

I hate surrendering to the end of the weekend. I’ll go out for a meal or a drink, go to the gym or go for a walk. Anything to beat those Sunday night blues.

My favourite things…

  • Flights in my friend’s Tiger Moth
  • Performance art
  • Martinis
  • Walking in the Welsh borders or Highlands of Scotland
  • Sailing my Hobie Cat in the Solent
  • Long Sunday lunches at my local pub in London

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