Jan Leeming - Just You Ambassador
Meet the new Just You Ambassador
Broadcaster, actress and author
Just You’s Brand Ambassador and ‘Real Marigold Hotel’ star Jan Leeming tells us about her favourite destinations, her experiences in India and her top tips for solo travellers.
Travel has always been in Jan Leeming’s blood. Born in Kent, she moved ‘down under’ to Australia where, in 1963 in Sydney, she made history by becoming the first woman newsreader on television.
On returning to the UK, Jan’s TV career went into overdrive. She joined Granada TV as a newsreader and fronted her own show, ‘Women Only’, for six years. She then went on to present ‘Pebble Mill’ and ‘The Food Programme’ and read the BBC news for seven years.
My all-time favourite destinations
As for my most memorable holiday, it would have to be a painting and conservation safari in Zambia, that I went on with David Shepherd, the renowned wildlife artist.”
“For me, a holiday is not a holiday unless I come back with a keepsake, consequently, my apartment is jam-packed with memorabilia. I also press flowers and collect pretty stones and shells.
In the past, I always printed my photos and compiled albums, but with the advent of digital, I’ve got into the bad habit of shooting like mad and then leaving all my pictures on the computer. I have 24,000 photos from the last 10 years alone!
However, I recently turned over a new leaf and already have a lovely album of memories from when we shot ‘The Real Marigold Hotel’ in India. I’m also trying to find time to make an album of my lovely Christmas holiday with my son in Australia.
I do try to write up my adventures, but sometimes events overtake me and, like most good resolutions, I fall short of what I meant to do.”
My experience in IndiaAfter watching Jan and her fellow celebrities on BBC’s ‘The Real Marigold Hotel’, interest in discovering India has really grown. Jan has always had a close affinity with India and is looking forward to returning one day.
“There are so many more places I want to visit in that amazing country. I’d love to visit Southern India as my father was born and brought up in Coonoor in the Nilgiri Hills. I understand that my family first went to India in the 1750s at the time of Clive of India.
I’ve always had a strange leaning towards the country and after ‘The Real Marigold Hotel’ was transmitted, I got 27,000 hits on my website and hundreds of emails from people who wanted to know everything about the trip. So many of them said that India was on their bucket list, but had now jumped to the top. I encouraged a couple of gentlemen to visit and they recently sent me a Tweet of them standing in front of the Taj Mahal. I felt so pleased to have helped facilitate that holiday.”
My love of Indian food and drink
“When I was in India I developed a liking for chai masala, but so far I have not been able to purchase the spice masala in the UK. You mix it with other spices and boil your tea. Everyone makes it differently, so it’s always an enjoyable surprise.
Our hostess at the Haveli made the most superb vegetarian samosas. In fact I lived on vegetarian food while in India, and wonder if that is why I did not fall prey to ‘Delhi belly’ (the slang term for a stomach upset). Indian food contains many spices which act as digestives and are extremely healthy.”
My next Just You Holiday
As an Ambassador for Just You, Jan has been busy planning her next Just You holiday.
“It is really hard to choose just one holiday from the seemingly endless adventures on offer. There are so many places I still want to visit before I shuffle off this mortal coil - the Rockies, the Grand Canyon, Cambodia, Japan, Southern India, and I never tire of South Africa and Australia. Closer to home, I’d really like to explore more of Italy, with Tuscany at the top of my list.
I would also like to go on a few more safaris and spend more time with huskies. I had a taste of this when I was on ‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!’ and when I went with my son on holiday to the frozen north.”
My advice for solo travellers
“The worst things about travelling solo have to be the hefty single supplements you get charged to often end up in one of the worst rooms in the hotel! There’s also the potential dangers of being a woman travelling alone. My advice is simple, find a destination you really want to explore and let Just You take care of the rest - it takes all the worry out of solo travel.”
Jan Leeming took her first Just You holiday on our 8 day Highlights of Tuscany tour in May 2016. To find out what Jan thought of her first Just You experience, click here to read Jan Leeming's Highlights of Tuscany blog >
Jan joined our Burma and the Road to Mandalay tour for her second Just You experience at the end of 2016. In her words it was a 'real voyage of discovery'. Click here to read Jan's account of her journey >
Follow in Jan's footsteps on the BBC's 'The Real Marigold Hotel' on our 13 Day Spirit of India tour, where visits to Jaipur, the Amber Fort, Varanasi and the Taj Mahal, which all featured in the programme, are included. Find out more >