Young Travel Writers Competition 2016: highly commended

Amy Hopkins
8th September 2016

Read more fantastic stories by our young travel writers

Highly commended in the 3-9 years category

Cerys Jones, age 8

The sea was clear and turquoise blue and you could walk a long way out, jumping the waves. The white coral sand was lovely and warm. This is what draws the crowds to Menorca but there is a lot more to the island: nature reserves, shady walks though the woods to secluded coves, prehistoric monuments and picturesque towns and cities.

We stayed in the small town of Cala’n Porter. It was lovely place with lots to explore. They were so many different bars and restaurants that we only had time to try a few of them. My favourite was El Pulpo which had amazing tomato soup and seafood.  The town centre is surrounded by holiday villas and there is even a nightclub in a cave for grown-ups to enjoy. A steep hill leads down to the beach and as we drove to it on our first day we had to stop as there was a tortoise crossing the road. We wondered if it was an escaped pet but found out that they live wild on Menorca. Despite keeping a look out though, we didn’t see another one for the rest of the holiday.

The island has an impressive coastline and dramatic cliffs with lovely walks along them. We visited the s’Albufera des Grau Natural park which had sign-posted walks through the nature reserve and a bird watching hide although the main birds we saw there were coots with their young ones. The walk was bordered with a variety of beautiful wild flowers and we saw quite few different butterflies such as the bright yellow and orange Cleopatra. We also saw some vivid darting red dragonflies and small green lizards.

One day we went to Mahon. The tapas we enjoyed on the harbour front at Es Castell was fabulous with marvelous meatballs, scrumptious squid rings and sizzling hot prawns. We also enjoyed the trip on the glass bottomed catamaran boat trip around the old harbour.  There was the princess’ fortress, islands that had been used as military quarantine hospitals and the old British navy base.

The old Menorcan tales said the prehistoric monuments dotted about the island, with huge stones with table top stones balanced on top called taula, were tables for giants who lived on the island in olden times. There were also lots of caves and stone chambers for burying the dead long ago.

On the last day of our holiday we managed to book a kayaking trip to Calas Coves. The day before it looked doubtful we would be going as it was windy and the usually quiet sea was crashing on the rocky sides of the cove and we were playing in the surf, with breaking waves rolling onto the beach. By the morning however it was calm enough for even me, who had never been in a kayak before, to venture out to sea with our guides. It was exciting and a bit scary but definitely the highlight of the holiday.

Kyan Kovacs, age 5

One more sleep to go, how exciting! Mummy and Daddy have packed our bags and made our lunches, tomorrow we’re going to the seaside. We’re not going on a plane this time, we can get to this beach in the car. It’s a long way from Northampton to Bournemouth but me and Reece will play lots of games on the way! Reece is my big brother, hes 10. He’s my best friend but he tries to boss me about sometimes.

On the way, I eat my lunch, play I spy and stop off for a wee.  It takes ages! but after a while I can see the sea! It’s so blue. I love the ocean, I love to dip my toes in the water. I’ve bought a bucket and spade with me to collect things I find. I picked up some shells, seaweed and a funny looking star thing. “It’s a star fish” shouted Reece! Mummy and Daddy came over to see. I’ve never seen a star fish before, It was quite small and felt a bit bumpy. I wanted to take it home but mummy says it has to stay in the ocean. I put it back so it could go and find its family, I called it Simon! I wanted to stay in the sea all day, but it was getting cold, the sunshine had gone in and the moon was nearly out.

It was the best day ever, me and Reece swam in the sea, got sand in our toes and ate ice cream, I didn’t want to go home. We packed up and put our things in the car. We found a shop that sold lots of presents and things to take back for our friends. I found a teddy star fish! I loved it and mummy said because I’ve been a good boy I was allowed to use my spending money to buy it! I took my teddy and got in the car ready for the long drive home, I must have been tired I slept all the way!

View of St Ives Harbour behind purple flowers

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside! Georgia and her family spent their holiday in sunny St Ives

Georgia Andrews, age 7

It all started early in the morning when me and my family woke up.  I was very excited that is was the summer holidays! We had to get ready quickly because we had to drive all the way to Cornwall.  On the way we stopped at my cousins house and we had a little play before setting off again.

When we arrived at the apartment in St Ives it was right next to the beach! When we had unpacked we went to the beach with our body boards, there were really big waves. After an hour or two we played a game of UNO as the sun slowly set across the ocean.

The first day we went into town and I got some loom bands. I can’t remember what we had for lunch but I do remember we had omelette for dinner.

The next morning we went out to the harbour and I was very excited that we were going seal watching. As we approached the boat two seals who looked like sizzling sausages swam under it and popped their heads out from the water!

As the sun burned out like a torch losing its glow, I carefully slipped into bed.

In the morning we went and had breakfast in a lovely cafe on the edge of the beach. I had pancakes. Once we had finished we went shopping and I bought a little bird in a cage and if you wind it up it sings. Next we went to a little stall and me and my sister bought a shell necklace each from a lady who looked like a mermaid. The gems on the necklace glittered like one thousand sapphires glistening in the night.

We also went to a artist’s house, her name was Barbara Hepworth and she made different shapes out of wood and stone. I bought a postcard and there was a cat living there.

The day after that we went to a place called The Minack Theatre and we saw a kids version of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream written by William Shakespeare. It was very funny! We also had a look around the Minack Theatre museum.

The next day was a really hot one and because everyone was crowding the beach and the tide was coming in we had to leave but before we left I went in the sea with mum, dad and my sister.

Then it was time to leave. I will miss Cornwall but I am happy that I am back home with my family.

Jonah Mcavoy, age 6

My family went to Costa Teguise in Lanzarote. We went on an airplane which was awesome. We then got in a taxi and it was a short trip to our apartment which had three swimming pools. I had been practicing Spanish at school and I said hola and grazia to the taxi driver who had a bald head.

My favourite thing was going to the beach everyday. The best beach was called playa Jabilo because it had loads of big fishes in the shallow water. My brother Luca and me had fun catching them in our nets. It was easy to snorkel and swim at this beach as mummy said the rock wall broke the big waves. It had soft sand and rocks made from volcano lava. The lava made lots of cool rock pools with shrimps and crabs and snails.

After the beach we went to the playground there were lots with different swings and slides and even grown up exercise things which I had a go on. Daddy went running on the path which went all along the beach in the  mornings. I enjoyed eating in the cafes and restaurants, mummy said they were kid friendly which I laughed about. I had pizza and mum and dad had fish and shrimps which a fisherman caught with a rod. We had ice cream everyday I had blue bubblegum and Luca had chocolate.

We went  in a bus to a massive waterpark with loads of slides. We also went on a sea Safari on a boat with a sea through bottom we could watch the creatures and fish it was ace. We also paid to borrow bikes and rode all around the island but that was too hot so the next day we borrows a big bike that had a roof and mummy and daddy did all the pedals.

I loved it in Lanzarote and can’t wait to go back when I am seven.

Liliana Benoliel, age 8

I stretched out on a smooth rock. Even though the sun was setting, I hoped to catch a few leftover rays. My friend Dash and I had caught a mountain of fish even taller than me standing on my back flippers. We celebrated by making a fire and roasting the fish on top. At this point you’d probably catch yourself thinking seals can make fire? And then you’d probably catch yourself thinking, seals can write? The answer to both questions is yes. Anyway back to the fire, the fish were cooking beautifully. Almost ready!

“Blegh! Oof! Fish face!” Dash cried playfully. I peeled the warm fish off ready to fling it back at Dash, when I got a hilarious idea. I examined the fish and ate it in the exact style of how those famous chefs on the Pearl TV do it. I licked my whiskers and then dabbed at them gently with my flipper. I put on a fake French accent. “Ze sea bass is perfectly cooked and ‘az a sprinkling of sea salt. Parfait!â€

Really. It was a sea bass with a sprinkling of sea salt. I dropped the French accent, grabbed a fish and flung it at Dash. “Fish face!” I cried. Dash devoured it. “Storytime!” mum called. Dad told the best story. It was about humans and how they do something called surfing. I love that story! I drifted off to to sleep happily.

I woke to the sharp words of OIL SPILL!! I knew what to do. We had  oil spill practices daily, but it had never  happened. I jumped up on the highest rock there was. What I saw was not a pretty sight. The oil was moving in quickly and we didn’t have much time. I was one of the Scouts because I was one of the fastest seals in the Village. Dash and Droplet  (she’s my friend who’s a girl) are scouts as well. We set off at our highest speed sending foam in our wakes. Suddenly I felt a stinging sensation on my right flipper. I shook whatever what was stinging me off, and then took a look; it had jellyfish markings all over. My flipper stung like mad, but it did nothing to slow me down. Me, Dash and Droplet collapsed onto the beach, gasping for breath.

A girl came towards us, she had white hair and brown eyes. She wore a white T-shirt with a picture of a dolphin and some words that said: MARINE CENTRE. She put us in a little truck and drove to a hut on the beach. She bandaged my flipper, massaged Dash’s bruises and bandaged Droplet’s bleeding flipper. I spotted some pencils and paper on a desk, crawled toward it and hopped on to the stool, grabbed a  pencil and started to write. I could only write down: “Help! Oil spill! Village in danger. The girl screamed. She read my note and said she would help. She definitely helped. We kept in touch afterwards.


Tess (8) was enchanted by the dolphins she saw in Sagres, Portugal

Tess Batty, age 8
‘The Dolphins’

I knew it was going to be a good day. The lady at the shop told me the dolphins were out there in the ocean. She also said that sometimes they are shy or away visiting another area. I did hope that they would swim next to our boat.

I put on a jacket. It was bright orange and full of air. The boat was also full of air. Mummy tied my hair into a ponytail. I wore my favourite pink cap and sunglasses. It was hot.

The boat was very fast. I was excited. I held on tight. Water splashed everywhere. Close to the cliff I could see birds. The rocks had fallen into the sea. I felt small. The boat stopped and we floated close to the cliffs. I did not want to go inside, so I hid my face in my hands.

The boat started. It made a loud roar. The man shouted `over there!`and we bounced on the sea. My dad told me to look up. I saw a dolphin. I screamed. Everybody was happy. The dolphins disappeared.

My mum shouted ‘over here!’. Four dolphins on her side of the boat. The man driver turned the boat and we followed them.

The cliffs were far away. The dolphins were shiny and grey. The waves were big. We lost them. Everyone was talking. The boat turned again. I saw a dolphin and shouted. We found them. Faster, faster we went. I could see the cliffs looked very small. The boat stopped. The man told us time to go home.

I love Sagres. And my mummy & daddy. And my sister Kate. And dolphins.

Freya ScorPalmer, age 8
‘The Underwater World’

Stephanie jumped out of the car smiling.  She gazed at the beautiful ocean, as it twinkled in the sunlight.  The wild beach, with it’s strip of white sand framed by pine trees, was deserted.  The waves lapped gently against the sandy shore.  Stephanie couldn’t wait to swim and splash in the sea.

Soon she was running towards the ocean in her swimming costume.  Her fair hair tumbled down her back and glistened in the sunlight.  Her mum and dad had gone along to a café behind the beach to buy water.  We’ll join you in a few minutes, her mum had said as she ran off towards the sea.  She waded into the crystal clear sea, loving the feel of the fresh salt water on her body. She was just about to dive in deeper when she saw a strange shape emerging.  She looked on aghast.  Suddenly the shape turned.  Icy, dark blue eyes stared at her.  She looked around to see if anyone else was close by, but there was no one near.    

The figure emerged. She had dark green hair and bright blue skin.  Stephanie felt excited and scared all at the same time.  What was she seeing?  Stephanie tried to run but her legs would not move.  

Suddenly, she was being pulled underneath the ocean in a flurry of bubbles.  The next thing she knew she was standing in front of enormous gates. A huge group of clownfish swam right beside her.  The mermaid spoke again. “This is my city. No human has ever entered.  You are the first.”  She opened the gates and Stephanie stared at the pink and green coral houses as all the mermen and mermaids swam everywhere.  “I am Queen Elisa” the mermaid cried.  Stephanie finally plucked up the courage to ask a question.  “Why am I here? What do you want with me?” she said.  “My daughter is extremely sick and the only cure is to mix a sea flower and a lock of human hair.” explained the Queen.  “If I let you take a lock of my hair will you let me go back to my world?” asked Stephanie. “Yes” she replied. Suddenly, the queen was swimming towards her and snipped at her hair with some strange looking scissors.

All of a sudden a huge force pushed Stephanie through the water and she shot up towards the surface of the water.  She swam back to the shore gasping for air.  She was shocked and bemused.   Just as she began to gather herself, her mum and dad appeared from behind her and dived into the water making a huge splash.   

And then Stephanie woke up and heard her mum and dad chatting downstairs. “Time for breakfast, Stephanie.  Are you awake?”  “Yes mum” she said cheerfully. She glanced at her self in the mirror, checked her hair and smiled to herself.

Highly commended in the 10-16 years category

Vitoria Ribeiro, age 14

Time stood still as I felt the perfect temperature of the water hit my legs and the scorching sun on my body. I tried to absorb as most heat as possible because where I live, I don’t see much of the sun. I opened my eyes and started walking further from the shore, deeper into the ocean. The more I walked, the deeper it got and when it got to the point where the water was reaching my chest, I stopped. I stared into the beautiful horizon and wiggled my toes in the sand below me, imagining what was beyond the horizon. I wondered where I would get if I simply swam straight into that ocean and didn’t stop until I found land. Would I swim so much that I would reach Australia? France? The Caribbean? Africa? Who knows where I would end up. Would I be able to visit every country with a beach? Swim in the Matira beach in Bora Bora. Watch the sunset in Santorini. Drink fresh coconut water in Thailand. Go Scuba Diving in Arabia.

No one quite realises my love for the ocean. But I think what I find the most amusing is the fact that it’s the same everywhere, it doesn’t change. Whether you’re standing in the crowded Copacabana beach at 3:00 pm, or the deserted Ngapali Beach at 3:00 am, whether your toes are dipped into the water of the Pacific Ocean or you’re neck-deep into the Atlantic Ocean, it’s still the same.  

There are so many other amazing things about the ocean that we don’t often talk about. The sound of the water as It hits the rocks. The way it looks from above when you see it from an aerplane. The separation of the water when speed boats go by. How fast the waves go from being so huge that you could surf on, to being so small that you can barely feel it hitting you. So many beautiful and underrated things about the oceans.

A slightly cold breeze and my grandfather calling me brought me back to reality. I turned my back on the horizon and slowly walked to the shore. The further I was from the deep blue ocean, the more I wanted to turn around and go back. The more I wanted it to be part of my daily life. But the problem with having access to the things that you love every day is that you start to take them for granted — what a waste it would be if I did it to the ocean.

As I reached the shore, I smiled at the silly idea of swimming around the ocean. What an impossible dream. But reaching those destinations? Now that sounds like a plan! Hey grandpa, where are we going next summer?

Victoria Allder, age 13

Canada is such a beautiful place during autumn!

My family and I spent our October holidays in a small town near Toronto called Aurora. Thrills and happiness took over my emotions as I experienced some of the most wonderful things!

Canada Wonderland is one of my favourite places. It’s one of the biggest attraction parks in the world! It’s most famous ride is the Leviathan because of its ninety degrees fall. It’s an amazing place to be, with rides for all ages.

You must visit the CN tower, the third tallest building in the world! There is nothing like looking down upon the beautiful city of Toronto from its heights or peering down its glass floor to see just how high you stand from the ground!

It’s always fun to go apple picking with your family! I remember going to the orchard hoping to bring back a bag or two of apples but instead we ended up with 5 or 6 bags! I also remember having lots of apple pies that week!

Niagara Falls is one of the most stunning things you will ever see. Niagara Falls is the name given to the waterfalls that create the border between Canada and the U.S. They are 70 to 100 feet tall! You can feel droplets of water splash against your skin, even when standing above the falls! It’s just amazing!

My grandparents own a cottage on 12-mile Lake. It’s a little wooden house lost in the middle of a forest with a view on the lake. The lake has an island about 500m away to which I have swum to and back. My dad and I have also borrowed my grandparents’ speed boat to go fishing. I am proud to say that I have caught ONE fish! It is a tradition that we have to roast marshmallows every night on a campfire and spend time as a family. The only thing I don’t like about the cottage are the mosquito bites. Why do mosquitoes always have to ruin EVERYTHING?

Now, I mentioned before that my family and I went to Canada during autumn. And what comes with autumn? Halloween! I always celebrate Halloween in Canada with my extended family and it’s always an occasion that I look forward to, especially when I was a little. I remember walking down the streets of Aurora with my grandmother, counting every house that had a pumpkin and staring at the incredible decorations people had laid out in their front yards. I really enjoyed going out on the night of the 31st, all dressed up, knocking at people’s door and collecting all kinds of different treats!

There are still many amazing things for me to do in Canada, such as whale watching, and I am so grateful for what I’ve already done. And since what I have seen and done was so fun, I want to do it again. I feel like you haven’t lived until you have experienced the real beauty of this country.

Weymouth Beach Dorset

Jessie (10) was inspired to write about a family holiday in Weymouth

Jessie Hoey, age 10

Weymouth is a great coastal place with towering cliffs and interesting secrets. Nestled on the Jurassic Coast of Dorset, Weymouth is a lively yet traditional seaside town full of history and character. Walk through the narrow, cobbled streets of the old towns, or wander round the new shops, bars and restaurants. Take a long leisurely stroll down the front, checking out the crystal blue sea shimmer during the day and watch the whole area glow and shine at night. Weymouth is a great place to paddle in the safe shallow waters or float on a boat down the harbourside. If you’re looking for something a bit more energetic, try the great funfair on the sea front and if you don’t mind heights get the perfect view by taking a trip up the Observation Tower, 53 meters above Weymouth!

Everybody likes to make the most of their time whilst on holiday, and there are loads of great attractions all within short drives. Tyneham Village is an eerie village, which was abandoned at the end of World War 2 when the Ministry of Defense decided to take over the homes and surrounding land. After looking at all the history at Tyneham Village and maybe giving a small donation, you can go hiking at Durdle Door. Not only are there great family picture opportunities and amazing views, there is always time to skim a stone across the water at Lulworth Cove at the bottom, but don’t forget once you’ve gone down you’ll have to climb all the way back up!

After doing all that exercise, surely you must need a drink and snack! Head to the old Smugglers Inn and have a yummy feast in there. See the pictures that are still hanging up from 700 years ago and have a well deserved rest whilst feeling as if you’re in the 13th century! Dorset is packed with forts and ancient castles from long ago and one of the most famous is Corfe Castle, built in the 11th century and destroyed in the 1300s. Corfe Castle is a great place to learn about the history and don’t forget to collect a piece of fudge from the Olde Sweet Shoppe – on the way home!

If you are really getting into the spirit of the old fashioned style, take a mooch round Bridport (an old historic town) and buy some wonderful souvenirs for decoration at home. The Dorset area is very old and has many hidden secrets in every corner you look, and some of them are living inside stones on Kimmeridge Bay. Kimmeridge Bay is the perfect place to smash open a rock and see the fossil of an old sea creature! Watch the waves dance from the high cliffs and then take a woodland path down to the bay where you can clamber over the giant rocks whilst taking some great snapshot of the spraying waterfalls. Weymouth – a place to relax and enjoy!

Claudia Walker, age 12

I loved our holiday on board the Azura, a P&O cruise ship. I had lots of great experiences and it was an amazing holiday that I will always remember.

I enjoyed it because every day we were in a different place whether it was on the sea or in a port. I loved exploring the different ports, we visited Bilbao, La Rochelle and Guernsey. I also had a great time on board because there were lots of things to do like watching movies (in the theatre or outdoors on the sea screen – this meant that you could get a lounger and a blanket and cosy up to watch a great movie), swimming (there were three pools to choose from, however our family liked the pool on the back deck because it was a bit quieter), deck quoits (this was great for when me and my brother were bored which wasn’t very often!) and it was great to have time to catch up on some pleasure reading while I relaxed on a lounger on deck.

I loved Guernsey because it was so small and very pretty and filled with lots of history. We went on a clifftop walk to explore the gun turrets left from the Second World War and we visited the Occupation Museum which the whole family found interesting.

In the port of La Rochelle we had a brilliant time. Firstly we went to an amazing aquarium filled with all sorts of underwater creatures, my personal favourites were the rays. Then we went to a French bakery where I chose a Macaroon and a Brioche which we took to the harbour and ate by the water’s edge in the sunshine.

Bilbao was very different to La Rochelle and Guernsey because parts of it were so modern. We went to the Guggenheim art museum where we saw lots of interesting pieces of art and heard some of the stories behind them. Then we had tapas in a square in the old town.

On board every evening we had a dinner to die for and on some evenings we got dressed up for the ship’s black tie night. I really enjoyed the mocktails they served on board. Our cabin was an inside cabin and it was very cosy which I loved.

The highlight of my holiday was seeing dolphins swimming next to the ship. It was while we were walking through the buffet restaurant we heard some people say ‘Look, dolphins!’ and we ran over to the window where we saw dolphins swim, leap and jump out of the water. It was also beautiful seeing the waves lap against the boat and it was a funny feeling walking around the boat but after a few days I got used to it.

Finally I would like to say that this was my favourite holiday not only because of the ports, animals and refreshments it was also that the staff were so kind and whenever you needed help they were there.


Mia Brown, age 10
‘The girl and the turtle’

I love to travel with my family, it’s all we ever do. I’ve been to many wonderful places, but my favourite, the place we always return to, is Akumal Bay on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.  One of my best memories is swimming across the turquoise water and diving down below the surface to see colourful fish swimming in and out of the reef.  At night the beach is quiet and the moon shines on the ocean, and by day the waves lap on the soft white sand and wash over the pink and cream shells.  The shore is lined by palm trees that sway in the breeze and little white buildings that seem to shine in the sun.  Many people come here to relax and enjoy the peace and the ocean.

It isn’t always quiet and peaceful though.

One day the sun was shining and the beach seemed quiet.  I lay on my back and dreamed happily of the places I’ve been.  Suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by a loud noise.  Shadows towered over me and lights flashed in my eyes, again and again.  I felt a soft finger stroke my back and it tickled me and made me very afraid.  I moved as quickly as I could to escape back to my family who watched on, horrified.  This was happening too often.  I knew we would have to find another place to go.  The place I loved the most was slowly changing and it made me want to cry.

The next day was our last day and it was just the same.  Flashing, banging, shouting – I thought I was going mad!  We moved to a quieter area of beach where the sand is less soft and rocks line the shore in the hope of escaping the noise and the light.  I swam on my back and gazed up at the blue sky.  Suddenly I heard breathing and I froze, terrified that the same thing was happening.  I turned to see the girl swimming beside me.  I waited for the noise and the splashing and the lights, but they didn’t come.  The girl looked at me and smiled as though she didn’t mean me any harm, but I wasn’t convinced.  It turned out I was wrong.  She moved away from me as soon as I started to move.  Then I heard a voice from the shore call out, ‘Mia! Tea’s ready!’ and the girl swam back to the shore and walked away into the distance.  I didn’t see her again but I thought of her often.  Why wasn’t she like the other people?

I couldn’t help but ask the same question over and over, but who knows? Maybe the message about respecting the ocean and the creatures that live in it was finally spreading.  We didn’t leave Akumal Bay that day.  We are still here swimming amongst the sea grass, and hoping that one day the people and the turtles will be able to share the ocean.

campos beach mallorca

Madison (12) fell in love with Mallorca

Madison Payne, age 12
‘A week in Mallorca’

Exhausted yet exhilarated, my mind casts back to my wonderful week in Mallorca…                                                                          

The largest of the Balearic Islands, Mallorca lies off the coast of Spain, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Not knowing what to expect, I found it was an Island of contrasts, with something for everyone: old villages nestled in the mountains, busy coastal resorts, caves filled with nature’s architecture and modern, man-made metropolises.

Landing late in the evening, Palma twinkled like a million fairy lights in the distance. Although excited, we still had an hour’s worth of driving to get to the hotel in the resort of Cala D’or. The next day, refreshed and ready to explore the island, we drove to the small town of Porto Cristo where we found what looked like a scene from a fantasy film. The stunning stalactites and stalagmites within the Caves de Drac stood tall like skyscrapers in this underground city.

Sunday saw us visit the Western Coast and the Island’s highest mountains. The wild landscape and limestone peaks of the rugged Serra de Traumuntana, set against the brilliant blue sea are a world away from the commercial, coastal resorts. We snaked along the dramatic coastal road between Valldemossa (a bustling market village and home to the composer Chopin), Soller and Sa Cadobra, exploring each village that we met.

Continuing on from here, we ventured along the rollercoaster road, taking in the dramatic scenery, while fearing for our lives. Sharing the hair pin bends with brave cyclists made this a perilous journey but it was well worth the trip. The helter-skelter took us to a secluded rocky, river gorge known as the Torrent des Pareis, with it’s mountain pass and ice cold streams to the sea.

In contrast to the activities so far, we continued our holiday by visiting the capital city: Palma – home to 50% of the population of Mallorca (400,000 people). Sitting on the Badia de Palma the city is a mix of ancient and new. The gothic Cathedral and adjacent palace are major architectural landmarks that tower over the yachts and cruise ships as you enter the city. I was intrigued by the stain glass windows in the cathedral; shining brightly even on an overcast day – breathtaking! Slipping away from the crowds, we wandered through the labyrinth of streets to the Passaig de Bonn – the rodeo drive of Palma, enjoying a spot of shopping on the way.

Although tired from our previous day’s expeditions, the next day we decided to explore the quiet coves the island had to offer. Es Trenc with it’s long stretches of powder sand was a contrast to the rocky shores of Cala Santanyi and Cala Figurera. As we climbed the rugged rocks, the waves below crashed and splashed beneath our feet. Wind swept, we watched the sun go down over the cliffs as the lights from the ports flashed across the shore.

Seraphima Goeldner-Thompson, 16

I will always remember that holiday as the place where my mother almost (accidentally) became a mermaid.

Cornwall, England. Only six hours from home, but the length of journey to that beautifully alien place didn’t matter. It was a different world. Before my eyes, trees shrivelled into sand, lakes swelled into seas, the cold, hard scent of electricity melted into ice cream. My hands trailed from sharp cut, smooth railings to rough and immortal rocks, dripped with sun lotion. The bright doors and open windows, the sun, the shouts of seagulls, the constant battles with the wind – this strange kingdom, this “Cornwall”, whirled around me and encompassed me in its sea salt air.

But nothing compared to the sea.

We reached Cornwall by sat-nav. We reached the harbour by an old compass which had the cries of the gulls engraved on its weather – beaten soul. But you reached the sea by something within you, something unexplainable and terrible and so, so beautiful.

Something which seemed to call, like to like. Something which hummed, the sea, the sea, the sea.

Every day, we were beckoned there. And every day, we swam, we played, we laughed, we stayed out there, lost up and down the effortlessly tranquil shore, and also found.

It happened in a corner of the shore scattered with sunburnt rocks, which led abstract paths back up to “safety” in the well-acknowledged form of concrete. We had run to the beach almost at dawn, the sea in our lungs and our eyes and our hearts. And we had stayed out until the sea had seeped in even closer than that, skulking up to picnic rugs and beach chairs under the tug of the tides. We didn’t notice until it was kissing towels and holding the hands of inflatables. By then it had spread out, over the sand, until the only path left up to safety was the one hewn out by the rocks.

We scrambled over them, shrieking, clasping hold of each other and everything we could carry. But when I reached the concrete shore, my mum was still there, with the sea over her toes and her feet and her legs, and rising.

“Mum! Mummy!” rushed out of my lungs, like seawater when you breathe it in by mistake, and in that one moment I was seized by the absolute knowledge that she was going to stay there, to become a mermaid, that she would grow a tail and shed us along with her legs.

I reached out to her, shouted again – “Mummy, don’t become a mermaid, please!”, and she turned, laughed and, with my heart in my salt-filled eyes, I watched her scramble up on the rocks into my arms.

But afterwards, when we had all laughed long and hard, I went back down to the sea, staring out at the wave-lapped horizon with a longing for something I didn’t understand. For a tail, for salt in my hair and sand between my toes. For the sea.

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