In recent years, I've begun the year by driving across France to the Alps, abandoning the January gloom for Alpine winter sun, even if the ski-goggles do give you panda marks when you get a tan. As a child, I was always a bit of a billygoat when I'd go camping with my mates in North Wales, around Snowdonia.
I drove from Naples to the Amalfi coast in an Alpha Romeo 1969 Spider, which was lovely. There have been lots of movies made down there, and I felt a bit like James Bond - the driving is quite hairy. The locals have mopeds, but you wouldn't catch me on a bike on those roads. A tank would be safer!
I have been a baker for more than 30 years now, and in terms of equipment, all I really need is flour. It still amazes me what a versatile commodity it is, as you can do so many different things with it, and I never tire of trying new blends and recipes.
Dad was a baker, and we lived above the bakery, so I was always popping down to have an apple pie or a doughnut or a custard or gypsy tart: I had a very sweet tooth, and I think that that was what got me into doing what I do now.
Before I was ever a baker, I was a teacher. Or, at least, that is what I thought I was going to be. After O-levels, I went to art school in Wallasey on the Wirral, and my mate Cavan and I did a teacher training course.
For me, it is always part of my holiday to go and work my way along the shelf in the local artisan bakery with its breads, savoury tartlets, pastries and cakes. It is soul food: one of those things that tells you about a place and the history of a place and its people.
I have gone through some bad times with my own business. At one point, I was working my socks off, driving, delivering, baking. It was hard, hard work. But I worked through it. Running your own bakery is hard. I never came close to bankruptcy, but I had to cut back on staff.
Wherever you go in Europe, you'll find each country has particular flavours in their baked goods. It is one of the big differences between Europe and the United States.
I was filming in Roscrea in Co Tipperary. I had great fun watching monks in the monastery there making bread. They even offered me a job as their main baker. One of them said I would make a good monk, but I told him there was a slight problem because I was married.
Years ago, I saw a job for head baker for The Dorchester Hotel in London, and I didn't want to move away from the North West. But then I thought, 'I've got to do this for my career,' because I was very ambitious. So I went for it and got the job.
When my career in hotels was taking off in the Nineties, I went to work as a head baker in Cyprus, where I was making Danish pastries every day. I can remember that the head chef was always on my back to put more seasonal fruits in with the creme patissiere. I'd even make them with rhubarb.
My first job at the bakery was jamming doughnuts.
One day, I'll disappear and hide in a corner of Britain. I'll own a bakery in a village, live above it, have a big garden because I like mowing. I want to get up when I feel like it, let people queue for my products, and when they're gone, shut the shop and think about tomorrow. Creating magic - that's my dream. And I'll do it.
Some people seem to think their oven self-cleans, but you need to clean it to stop things getting blocked up so you get a good rotation of air and heat inside. Get a probe to test the oven is reaching what it says it's reaching too.
Naples is curiously chaotic and, if I'm honest, a bit dilapidated. It certainly has a 'lived-in' look. It's alive, it's vibrant, it's a little bit dirty, it's busy, and I loved it. I felt like this was how Rome would probably have been 2,000 years ago. There's a real bustle, and it's down and dirty.
I love the sensation of being out in the open air, far away from all the distractions of modern life. I will usually disappear for a couple of hours, and that time on my bike is quite sacred, as it's when I do all my serious thinking. Sometimes I will stop off at bikers' cafe and have a bacon sandwich.
I still pinch myself that I have a second-hand Aston Martin DBS Volante, the convertible model of James Bond's car from 'Quantum of Solace' and 'Casino Royale.'
I get embarrassed on the red carpet at awards ceremonies. The whole celebrity thing is embarrassing.
Civilisation was built around wheat, around people settling down and not being nomadic. Baking is one of the oldest professions.
My dad made these dough balls and covered them up with a cloth in front of a gas fire, which was stuck on a wall. They were rising. In my head, I think they were the best rolls I've ever had. If there was a starting point for me, that was it.