- Good Morning Britain
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Top Gear

Top Gear

With each new interview, James tells something new and interesting. And we always rejoice at his funny and interesting thoughts about life and the world around him, because for us he is like a dear friend who could tell many new stories. In this interview, the legendary secret of the main rock talisman of James May will be revealed! Once upon a time, this mystery came to us from James May's page on DriveTribe.

This beautiful story ... About beautiful friendship.

23 DECEMBER 2019 • 8:49AM

The TV presenter recalls calamitous road trips, eating his way around Tokyo, and fleeing Argentina

It wouldn’t feel like Christmas if I went abroad

I like to be at home, surrounded by family and friends, eating a traditional Christmas dinner with lots of sprouts.

Growing up, our holidays consisted of camping in Devon and Dorset

The most memorable trip was when I was 12 years old and went on a school exchange programme to Germany. It was the first time I’d ever been abroad. I became very good friends with the bloke I was staying with, and we are still in contact 45 years later.

DriveTribe

DriveTribe

I got a pilot’s licence 13 years ago

I’ve owned three different propeller planes since then. I’m not a fan of turbulence, but it bothers me less when I’m at the controls. When I was little, I wanted to be a fighter pilot. These past few years I’ve been so busy, I’ve not flown very much beyond north Wales from Berkshire.

My idea of the perfect holiday has changed a lot as I’ve grown older

I used to go Interrailing and do cycling holidays through France. I liked to visit art galleries, historic buildings and things such as the ruins of Pompeii. These days, we reserve that for weekend breaks in places like Copenhagen or Barcelona.

Interview on TV (Good Morning Britain?)

Interview on TV (Good Morning Britain?)

Copenhagen is one of James's regular weekend haunts

I’m a massive snorkelling fan

I’m visiting the Maldives just after Christmas to do just that. The food’s great, too, although I don’t eat too much while I’m there as the small portions are ruinously expensive! What’s so great about snorkelling in the Maldives is that it’s just so easy – you can walk straight out of your hotel room or villa and paddle out to a reef that’s 20 or 30yd away.

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James's first attempts in the underwater photography

Through the time...

Facing riots and angry mobs in Argentina

was one of the most dangerous experiences I’ve had

When Jeremy [Clarkson], Richard [Hammond] and I filmed a 1,400-mile road trip for a Top Gear Christmas special in 2014, we attracted so much negative attention that by the time we reached our hotel in Ushuaia we had to flee the country with a police escort!

But the height of our stupidity was our race to the magnetic North Pole

We attempted to be the first people to reach it in a motor vehicle, but we didn’t have the proper backup or equipment, despite training and preparing for months beforehand. The difficult terrain and bitter cold really took a toll on our health. I hate the cold. I know people talk about the barren purity of the wilderness, but I’d much rather go into the desert than a polar ice cap.

James and his fellow Top Gear presenters were escorted out of Argentina by police

I spent several months filming in Japan this spring

It was for my new programme, Our Man in Japan. The country is a stimulant for all the senses, and an etiquette minefield for the unwary. Despite some of the outstanding beauty, coastline and beaches, I noticed that the Japanese, on the whole, don’t really like being outside much.

I didn’t have any major diplomatic incidents when I was filming in Japan

I did make several faux pas, however, such as eating the meticulously prepared props of food that the Japanese waiters ceremoniously placed in front of me on the train. They had only made one. I ate their only prop!

I hate the way aeroplanes make you smell

It's a combination of fuel, stale air and the aroma of reconstituted vomit. I think American airports are a terrible introduction to the United States – especially JFK in New York City. You stand around for hours, and they are just very badly organised.

I was disappointed when I visited Pompeii and realised how disorganised it was

The ruins are fascinating, but you have to queue for ages to get in and, while you’re queuing, chaps approach you saying they can get you in quicker if you pay them a fee. It’s surrounded by heaving cafés and chaotic car parks. It made the whole experience quite sordid, and was in complete contrast to when I first went there in my 20s.

All the gear | James's travel essentials

Lucky pebble

Richard Hammond – my co-presenter on The Grand Tour and, before that, on Top Gear – gave me this years ago, saying it was lucky. Call me superstitious, but I take it with me as a charm whenever I travel.

iPad Pro

I’ve turned into a proper Generation Z nerd with this device. I can’t bear not to have it with me at all times. It has a full 1TB of memory plus Wi-fi and cellular connectivity. I love it. £1,669; apple.com

Nail clippers

My fingernails seem to grow at completely different rates and I hate having one of them longer than the others; it ruins my day and gives me a headache. These Amoore clippers are on my keyring, so they’re always with me. £4.99; amazon.co.uk

I didn’t expect to like Australia as much as I did

I thought it was going to be full of Aussies saying, “G’day mate!” but once I got into the Australian mindset and accepted the vastness of the country, it was fascinating. There’s so much diversity, from the very sophisticated Sydney to the Wild West nature of the Outback.

James wasn't impressed by Pompeii

James wasn't impressed by Pompeii

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My bucket list is quite extensive

It includes Pakistan, Iran, India, the Middle East, and parts of South-East Asia, such as Malaysia. I’d love to go back to Canada, too. I went to Vancouver and explored some of the little islands while doing a story on seaplanes once. Actually, that’s got me thinking about my next programme… watch this space.

Interview by Sarah Ewing

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James May has a lucky pebble with a ‘woman in it’

Drivetribe James May

Drivetribe James May

Now we know a little more about the lucky talisman of James, which gave him his best friend Richard Hammond. This stone reminds me of a magical creature covered in a blanket. Which undoubtedly symbolizes protection. But to James it resembles a girl. Maybe this is Sarah's hairstyle? The talismans that we believe in, and especially those that are donated by others, are our best friends and protectors, and faithful helpers. Because the feeling of love and friendship, the wish of all this in the talisman, saves from all illnesses, misfortunes and from any death. That is what we so much wish to him. I hope he keep it in safe

Good Morning Britain

Good Morning Britain

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While discussing the novel all-wheel-drive system on the Ferrari FF, May pondered whether Ferrari had actually fitted the system to the car at all, or whether they just wanted him to believe they had – as it seemed to be doing not much at all.

“After a while, I wondered if what Ferrari had given us was not a novel all-wheel-drive solution but a belief system,” he said. “It was there because I thought it was there.”

“My lucky pebble, which travels everywhere with me really is lucky,” he revealed. “That is, if I don’t have it with me then some of what the motorcycle racer Keith Code would call my ‘$10-worth of concentration’ would be consumed by worrying about it, leaving less for driving, climbing a ladder or running away from a bear. So the pebble’s presence is lucky because it improves my mind.”

“It’s the same with the FF’s drive system,” he suggests. “Like any sensible person, I was finding the point where I thought I was pushing my luck and then backing off a bit. That’s just as effective as four-wheel drive. So perhaps the FF customer is paying a hefty premium for a prescription for red Smarties in a convincing-looking brown bottle. Possibly.”

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