Lonely Planet Writer

Lonely Planet meets Mastermind


Jesse Honey, winner of BBC TV's Mastermind 2010, knows his onions when it comes to travel as well. Jesse had to get through three tough rounds to get to the final, answering questions on Wandsworth in London, the life and works of Catalan architect Gaudi and finishing by taking on Liverpool Cathedral. His meaty 37 points tally in the final has got British quizzers talking.

In this interview with UK Travel Editor Tom Hall he spills the beans on his specialist subjects, favourite cities and passes on a great travel tip.

LP: In the first round you answered questions on the London Borough of Wandsworth, which is not on the tourist trail. Are there parts that visitors should make an effort to see?

I think Battersea Power Station is always worth looking out for- it makes for great photographs from most angles. The picturesque riverside at Putney is also worth a visit. Finally, you can’t pass up some of Britain’s best curries and its largest swimming pool, both in Tooting.

Of the three, Liverpool is the most underrated. What are your top things to do here?

It’s such a shame it’s so under-rated, as it’s a completely unique place. Top things are both the cathedrals (obviously), the docks and waterfront, the Georgian terraces around the Philharmonic Pub and last but not least seeing for yourself what a Saturday night in the city centre looks like....

Barcelona is wildly popular, in a large part due to Gaudi’s architecture. Can you suggest a few highlights to focus on?

Well, as the Sagrada Familia is still being built it has the bonus of being different each time you visit. But I’d also recommend wandering through the Born district, as well as visiting Park Guell and the Parisian-feeling Passeig de Gracia. Not La Rambla though- it’s too touristy and crowded.

Mastermind is filmed in Manchester. What were your impressions of the city?

As I’m a huge fan of Victorian and industrial architecture, Manchester has to be one of my favourite English cities. The pubs are great, the beer is cheap, and Chinatown is the culinary highlight- it’s as good as Chinatown in London. But the less said about the weather, the better.

When not answering hard questions on Mastermind you’re an urban planner. What cities are your favourites?

Apart from the ones I’ve already talked about, I would recommend to anyone visits to Glasgow, Tokyo, Bristol, Bangkok, La Rochelle, Berlin, Madrid, San Francisco and New York. As you can see from this list, I’m actually not that adventurous a traveller, and the list of cities I have never visited is long and embarrassing.

What’s your number one travel tip?

Bring a pencil and sketchpad. Drawing is a far better way of appreciating buildings than just taking a picture- it forces you to stop, take in the atmosphere and notice the details. Plus, in Morocco, anyone hassling you in the street gives up if you just sit there drawing.