• Finally Home

Is there any more comforting feeling than the one that washes over you when you’re almost home? Regardless if you’ve been away for years, months or just days, knowing you’re nearly there has the same effect as a reassuring smile or a familiar accent; you can finally relax.

We asked our favourite writers, journalists and broadcasters all about how returning home made them feel. And while the notion of home may be relative, the answers show that whatever it means to you, it really is where the heart is.

I don’t live there anymore, but whenever I return to Ho Chi Minh City I make for the open air bar on the rooftop of the iconic Rex Hotel. This was where the press corp used to drink during the Vietnam War. The band there these days is crap and cheesy and the beer is overpriced, but the cool air, the sense of history and the view beyond the flashing neon signs to the teeming streets below make this an essential first port of call. “

Duncan Forgan, Travel Magazine Editor

“For me coming home is really personal, it’s not flying into Heathrow, or seeing Big Ben or any thing like that. Coming home for me is my kitchen. Somewhat predictably no tea in the world tastes like one out of my kettle and marmite on toast is the thing I crave most made in my own toaster whilst being watched by my soppy, ever-hopeful-of-a-bit, dog Dusty. “

Tim Arthur, Global CEO Time Out

“I know I’m definitely back in Glasgow whenever I see the Duke of Wellington’s statue with the traffic cone on his head. It’s every Glaswegian’s duty to make sure he’s never without his hat. I’ve yet to see him without it and it gives me enormous satisfaction.”

Jamie Lafferty, Travel Writer

“I was born out West, and lived out there – along the M4 corridor – for years, but I moved to London early on to make my fortune. Travelling back home when the window gets strafed by sunlight through the barbed wire of RAF Northolt – with the Polish memorial – it feels like I’ve managed to burst free of the gravitational pull of London. Long expanses of windblown green grass just opening out after the gridlock, the lights and the lonely planes there, is the bit that says This Is Now The Shires. You don’t get many RAF bases in Soho or Old Street you know. It’s the same feeling I used to get swimming as a kid when I could feel my feet touch the bottom of the pool again.”

Matt Potter, Author of Outlaws Inc.

“Whenever I returned to my home in Prague I always kept an eye out for the giant Tyn Church. The Gothic beast still reminds me of brilliant nights out, warming dumplings in freezing winter and…. the best looking women I ever saw! I grew up a mile down the road and whenever I see Alexandra Palace from the brow of Muswell Hill it takes me back to sledging in the snow, ice skating in the rain or bopping along Britpop concerts in the summer. Happy days!”

David Lewis, Travel Writer for Daily Mail and BBC

“Time melts and I’m walking down the hill to Ballyholme beach in  Bangor, Co. Down – a seaside village and sanctuary in Ireland during ‘the war’ . A wind is blowing, round the bay from Belfast and, back in present time, I arrive at the beach. It’s older and greyer than before, but , along with the sea that stretches beyond it, childhood’s eternal field of dreams still beckon.”

Gavin Martin, Daily Mirror music critic

“Admittedly a bit weird but the place that lets me know I am where I need to get to is probably the M1, anywhere between J1-29. Sounds entirely unglamorous but to me it’s anything but. Spent many an hour on there at stupid o’clock heading north to south and south to north – not just for work but also going to the football and to gigs – so every stretch holds some kind of memory. When it starts to go dark and cold out, there’s something special about seeing the miles tick away, even more so since I moved abroad. Confession: I’m a massive fan of service stations. Especially Toddington.”

Jonno Turner, CultureWriter/Editor

“All is silent in the wide open landscape on a pre-dawn day. One feels the coolness of the morning when breathing the fresh, clean air. The glowing sun rises behind the silhouettes of the numerous Acacia trees. This must be Africa.”

Shane Dallas, Travel Writer

“When I arrive in Piccadilly Gardens, I can taste the magic of Manchester. It still feels like Tony Wilson’s city to me… a place where people do things differently.”

Mary Anne Hobbs, DJ, traveller and BBC 6 Music presenter

When I travel, I usually feel most at home when I see warning signs—like dangerous unpaved road ahead, curvy road next 52 miles, or no service for 100 miles. I guess it is because I am happiest when off the beaten path and these signs deter the masses from continuing (but present a challenge to me).”

Charles McCool, Travel Writer

“I’m from Portsmouth and seeing the superb Spinnaker Tower reminds me of my abode. Swiftly swooping past Fratton Park and into the harbour is another clear sign I’ve made it home.”

Tayler Willson

“Denver and Colorado have been my adopted home for over 35 years. Especially in winter I know I am back in Colorado when I see the snow-capped peaks of the 14,000 ft mountains of Colorado’s Front Range. The unique white tent peaks of Denver International Airport’s (DEN) terminal mirror the Rocky Mountains in the distance and confirm that I am back in the Mile High City.”

Jerome Shaw, Travel Writer

“When the train emerges out of the darkness of the Totley tunnel to flank the River Sheaf, and the unchanged leafy view of Meersbrook park glides by, then I know I’m back home in Sheffield. Also when I hit the A30 on my way to Cornwall, my summer residence for most my life, I get a sense of relief and familiarity of the last long road to the sea after hours of endless motorway.”

Joe Marshall, Travel Blogger

“It’s usually a train that takes me south of Glasgow to Queen’s Park where I walk a dog called Harry around the hills, loops and small wooded areas, where once Mary Queen of Scots fought and lost. High on a hill—from the vantage of the flag pole–with its lush green slope down to an amphitheatre–the neighbouring avenue of trees out onto Victoria Road–is the best view of the city–east and west to the purple and russet of the Campsie Hills beyond–to be found in Glasgow. Even seen on a dreich day this panorama always makes me smile.”

Paul Gallagher, Writer

“Since moving to London in 2010 I have a few landmarks that really make me happy. The first is Battersea Power station. I’ve had a view of those chimneys for four years, I always stare at it and imagine what it was like when it was full of workers and smoke was billowing out of all four chimney stacks. It’s an incredible iconic building and now it just makes me feel like I’m home whenever I see it. Another is Albert Bridge, my favourite bridge in the whole of London. I remember the first time I drove over it in the back of a taxi at night time and it was all lit up like Christmas. I get butterflies every time I see Albert as he reminds me I live in the coolest city in the world.”

Sian Welby, TV presenter and magazine columnist

“I’ve lived in every London postcode, but the landmark that has finally made me feel like I’m home is the mast of the Cutty Sark, guiding me from the DLR exit to my front door. I get a little thrill every time a disembodied voice tells me to “Disembark for Maritime Greenwich”, as if I’m about to walk into the dancing sailor chorus of On The Town. Traditionally ports and naval spaces have tended to attract the lost, the displaced, and the unmoored. But now that I’ve moved next to the boat, by the river, I feel grounded for the first time in my life.”

Lucy Peden, Writer at the Guardian and The Debrief

“When I see the strange stone heads on the Sheldonian Theatre that look like something out of Clash of the Titans, I know I’m back home in Oxford. There’s also a McDonalds on the way in that appears to be a converted Tudor building which has always struck me as sacrilege of some sort. I’ve never checked if they do a Big Mac and turnips.”

Josh Burt, Journalist