February was the best month yet in our monthly travel writing competition. The standard of writing was fantastic, right across the board. Jean Ashbury had our hearts in our mouths with her tale of being caught up in a rumble between an elephant and a lion in Botswana, David Ross spooked us with his excellently written account of a trip to a Bolivian witches market and Barnaby Davies went wild when he saw a wolf feeding mere metres from his balcony in Brazil.
But there could only be one winner. And that was a writer who turned something mundane into something beautiful...
Congratulations to Mandy Huggins from Cleckheaton, whose first trip abroad was special for several reasons. Here’s the Kindle-winning entry, in all its glory.
A special drink
My first trip abroad was memorable for many reasons - but the thing that made it special was my first taste of an exotic drink which I have loved ever since.
I contemplate the tall glass that has been placed on the table in front of me. I have yearned for this drink for some time. Even with my limited experience of life, I know that it spells sophistication. A drink that has so far been denied to me at home, but here in Catalonia anything seems possible. I run my finger down the condensation on the outside of the glass. When I raise it to my lips, the sweet bubbles tickle my nose. There is the sharp citrus scent of the lemon slice, and the pleasing chink of the ice. I am still expecting someone to snatch it away and say that it’s a mistake.
This is my first holiday abroad. It is 1967, and Roses in Catalonia is still a sleepy fishing town. We have rented a green-shuttered villa on the hillside, which comes complete with Maria, the seriously buxom maid. I think that my father may lose an eye.
Every day Maria takes our pesetas to town and brings back heavenly bread with a thick dark crust, fresh fish, rice in a cloth bag, and rich spicy sausages. My mother has learnt Spanish at evening class, but Maria pretends not to understand her.
Today we have taken a trip inland for lunch. The sun is high in the midday sky, and the dusty road twists up the hillside through flower-scented villages. There is a sense of things as they have always been.
The bodega we find is musty with the smell of oak barrels steeped in wine, and my father smokes his first holiday cigar. The locals at the bar are engrossed in animated conversation that sounds passionate and exotic to my novice ear. Everything about this moment is perfect, and there is nothing more perfect than my drink; ordered so casually by my father. I swallow. It is indescribably wonderful. Cold, refreshing, thirst quenching. So different to anything else that I have ever tasted; unique, and quite simply delicious.
My father leans across. “How are you enjoying your drink?” he asks.
I respond with the ecstatic grin of a happy seven year old. My senses have been overloaded with countless new sights, sounds and scents on this trip, and I will remember it forever. But I know that more than anything else, I will always associate Catalonia with my first taste of Coca Cola.
Got your own travel tale and a way with words? Then you should definitely enter our travel writing competition. You could win yourself a Kindle!