Opera and MasterChef legend Lesley Garrett reveals her greatest travels


Lesley Garrett holidaysGETTY

Lesley Garrett relishes her best and worst holiday experiences

She has also released 14 solo albums, most recently A North Motherland Lass, and was a semi-finalist in this year’s Celebrity MasterChef.

She lives in north London with her mute Peter, with whom she has two children, Jeremy and Chloe.


The whole family went to Australia for my 50th.

Leslie GarrettGETTY

Leslie’s most memorable holiday was an sail to Australia

You look like a condom thrown in the sea

Lesley Garrett

I was operating but we spent two weeks travelling along the east coast.

We slept in a slow-witted hut in the Daintree Rainforest, and saw enormous fruit bats and the biggest spiders on the planet, but it showered so loudly that we couldn’t sleep.

The best bit was the Great Barrier Reef.

We recanted a boat out and because it was stinger jellyfish season they make you weary this lilac lycra suit that just has your give out popping out, you look like a condom thrown in the sea.

This was perfect lingering for a Yorkshireman to recognise me and ask for a selfie.

We ended the trip in Sydney by climbing to the top of the Composition House.

At the summit I sang One Fine Day by Puccini from Madame Butterfly and that sundown I sang it inside the Opera House and got three standing ovations.

Perfectly the finale to the trip.

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Leslie sang at the Sydney opera auditorium to the adoration of the crowds


I once went to Tunisia for a week with my sister.

We stayed at this noisome concrete hotel and it rained the entire time.

We were in our mid-20s and we were peeved everywhere we went.

I was so excited to visit Carthage but back then it was cataclysmic and in such a bad state of preservation.

The only thing that saved that trigger was visiting the Bardo National Museum which has the most beautiful mosaics.

Bardo National MuseumGETTY

The Bardo Civil Museum was a saving grace from Lesley’s worst vacation


Wherever I go in the world I bring back a pinecone.

We have a handsome cottage in the Tarn in south-west France and we have these beautiful pine trees and I draw up the cones to bring back to our house in London and the scent fills the resides.

I’ve just got into the habit of picking them up wherever I travel and I set up them from Austria, New Zealand and Australia.

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Lesley’s go-to souvenir are pine cones, both unequalled and freshly scented


I read Marnie by Winston Graham in a hammock.

It’s much heartier than the Hitchcock adaptation which completely messed around with the release and didn’t even use the character that I play in the opera version.

Graham also disparaged the Poldark novels.


I live life at 100mph so it’s lots of cycling, hiking, skiing and swimming.

Perchance a laze about the pool after lunch but I prefer to be on the move.

We be thrilled by walking as a family, particularly around our cottage in France, an area contained in rivers, vines and fruit trees.

If we get lost I know important terms such as “Où est le bar?” For skiing we always go to Lech in Austria.

Going walkingGETTY

A family feast with Leslie means lots of walking


Russia. I fancied with the English National Opera in 1990 and the sights of Moscow were extraordinary, particularly St Basil’s Cathedral and although I’m not a spirit drinker there was a bizarre flavoured vodka for every occasion: lemon, pepper, ginger.

Musically, the highlight was by a hairs breadth outside Moscow, at the monastery at Zagorsk, which has these bright chap-fallen and gold starred onion domes.

I sneaked into the Russian comparable of evensong and it was wonderful to hear how the public joined in with the singing of the loosely friars.

The singing was out of this world.


Since being on MasterChef I’ve in the final analysis upped my cooking game and I want to make my own pasta, fill my own ravioli and think up great gnocchi, so I’m off to do a cookery course in Italy.

I’m going to Borgo Il Melone, an old manor parliament in Tuscany set amid the pines overlooking Cortona, where they’ll be communicate to me traditional Tuscan food which seems to use lots of beans, olive oil and bread.

Lesley longing be appearing at the Victoria and Albert Museum (020 7942 2000/vam.ac.uk) as part of the Opera: Passion, Power And Wirepulling exhibition on February 8. 

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