March brought another exciting instalment of our monthly travel writing competition, My World First. Anna Mochnacka from Barcelona made us hope we never have to visit the Doctor in Laos. Barnaby Davies got more than he bargained for when he visited an Austrian salt mine. And Beverley Keenan from Blackpool reminded us of the frustrations of lost baggage.
That’s not all. In what will no doubt surprise plenty of male readers, 1,000 camels weren’t enough to lure Charmaine Brown’s husband into selling his other half during the Essex couple’s holiday in Morocco. Eleanor Bransden from Littlehampton added to her self-proclaimed ‘extensive’ repertoire of embarrassing gaffes while travelling in Greece. And we were as perplexed as Bryan Poynton from Surrey when we read about his Nepalese meal of apple pie...and chips
While Jonathan Wallen from Newport pushed his stamina to the limit 2,000 ft above sea level in Southern Peru, Kate Daniel found her paradise when she swapped Grimsby for the Maldives. And last month’s winner, Mandy Huggins, had a close encounter with a deadly snake in The Gambia.
We’d like to say a big, big thank you to everyone who entered. But there could only be one winner. The judges’ decisions are in. March’s winner was a writer who had a very memorable train journey through Russia. And that’s putting it lightly. Congratulations to Paul Bingley from Suffolk. Here’s his Kindle-winning entry...
You might want to cross your legs.
Escaping Russia after my first visit, a scream has cut me dead in my tracks. Glared at through the darkness, I realise I’m caught short – in more ways than one.
For two weeks, I’d been flung across Russia in varying degrees of pain. Now I could finally relax. There’d be no more folding myself into those oil-streaked airborne contraptions that whiffed of mildew and cabbage. The next five hundred miles of my journey home would be spent stretched-out on an overnight train to Moscow. This was to be a first class, sleep-filled slide back to familiarity.
I’d had some pleasant enough moments in Ulyanovsk. Only the day before, I’d floated along the Volga River which slithers through the city like a fat snake. I’d lolled on its grassy banks eating shashlik in the company of beautiful women. I’d then tiptoed through the childhood home of its famous son, Vladimir Lenin, before heading west. At Ulyanovsk Station, I’d breezily sidestepped scores of plump women selling apples and hopped aboard the Firmenny express bound for Moscow.
Things had taken a turn for the worst, though. Dozing fitfully, I’d slipped unceremoniously off my bunk as the train crossed some points. Then I’d been woken by an old woman barging noisily into my compartment. She’d grumbled and then heaved herself onto the bunk above me. Scared, I’d briefly considered offering her assistance, but didn’t. Grabbing her ample backside and giving it an undignified shove didn’t seem right. I’d remained furtively asleep instead.
Any sweet dreams were shattered once and for all by a screech and hammer-like thud. I’d rolled off my bunk, grappled with the door and strode purposefully into the corridor. I’d then fumbled for the toilet door and found it locked. Making my way through to the next carriage, I was jolted by a scream. Glaring at me from the tracks below was a female guard who seemed far from happy.
I shrugged my shoulders and feigned ignorance. I was, after all, an Englishman in need of the toilet. She barked again and I realised two things. Firstly, the train had stopped and all the toilets had been locked. Secondly, I’d slept walked through the entire carriage wearing only my underpants. I was now faced with a dilemma. Do I return to the compartment and wake the old woman, or do I stand in the corridor in my y-fronts? I wanted only one thing – for Russia to swallow me up.
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!