The Rurbanist: Q&A With Bear Grylls
Ahead of the launch of his first Survival Academy at Sani Resort in Greece Bear Grylls OBE talks life advice, Battersea nightlife and cooking bear kill for Barack Obama.
Where’s home to you?
When I’m not travelling to filming locations, my wife and I split our time between our old Dutch barge on the Thames in London, and our island home off the coast of north Wales.
Where do you go to ‘lose’ yourself?
Our little island is such a special place to us – off grid, away from the madness and a kind of family sanctuary through the year.
What’s one of your daily rituals?
I start every day with a raw veg and fruit smoothie with loads of ginger and then a short, sharp outdoor body weight workout for 30 minutes.
Favourite secret place in London for a good night out?
Battersea has always had a very fun, young vibe about it, and I love that the river is so central to it. It has a real community feel and is maybe a little less self-aware than some of the flashier areas of central London.
Best thing a cabbie has ever said to you?
When faced with traffic he quoted me saying ‘never give up’ – it was hard to argue with that.
What never fails to bring a smile to your face?
The best stuff in all our lives is always found in our relationships with those closest to us. The rest of life is wonderful but is fluff in comparison.
What item in your wardrobe do you wear the most?
Our bamboo sports gear.
What is the last book you read and what did you think of it?
Unbroken, the biography of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic track star and WWII hero. It shows the power of the human spirit at its best.
What has been the most valuable piece of advice you have ever received?
From my late father – he was definitely a mentor, who inspired me to not be afraid to go for things and take a few risks. Failure was never failure to him, but rather a stepping stone to success. He encouraged me to follow my dreams and to be a good friend to people along the way.
What brings out the worst in you and why?
Needless bureaucracy and form filling – life is too short as it is.
What was the last song you listened to that made you dance?
Queen’s Love of My Life, while paragliding.
What’s your favourite game to play and why?
Touch tennis, because it’s accessible for all and it’s such a fun workout.
What are Saturday afternoons made for?
If we were on our little island hideaway, it would involve swimming in the sea, barbecues on the rocks, and then maybe some paramotoring at dusk along the coast. Heaven.
What’s your signature dish and who in the world would you most like to cook it for?
One of the best camp meals I made was for Barack Obama when I took him on a Running Wild episode. They brought the White House chef along to replicate what I was cooking to ensure it was safe (we also had around 60 secret service agents), the chef had told us that we would have to swap out our camp cooked food of bear kill and half eaten salmon, for a fish he had precooked, but Obama (who was the President at the time) just tucked into what I cooked for him. The chef was left behind camera holding his tray. I’m glad he went along with it, it might have been bear kill but the fish was beautiful – and cooking it over a fire at the snout of a glacier only made it taste better.
Where was the last place you ‘discovered’?
During our crossing of the north west passage in an inflatable boat we ended up in some crazy remote places that felt further away from anything or anybody than I had ever known before. It was a reminder of how huge and amazing our world still is…
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