Winning Entry
My Coorg Holiday
By Thammaiah Calappa, Year 7, Bottisham Village College

“This piece grabbed us from the very first line — it has such a confident narrative voice that teases out the humour in the everyday, and perfectly offsets that with some lovely description.” 

Right, let’s get started. So I went to India (pre-lockdown) to visit relatives, and we went to a place in the south called Coorg. It’s a fantastic part, with vivid forests and jungles. On the horizon there are outstanding views of mountains standing tall like soldiers. The clear skies sailing above us effortlessly. Incredible.

It was my mum’s cousin’s birthday, and we went to a resort which was on top of a mountain. The view was amazing. However, it would have been better if my mom hadn’t squealed the whole journey. You can imagine how it was to be locked in a small car scaling a massive mountain with someone with claustrophobia and vertigo.

Once we finally got to the top, we went down to this stream in our ‘gumboots’ (wellies), and my mom and her other cousin were in front. A few metres later, there was this wire running across the path about 1.5 metres in the air, and my mom was behind it, yelling, “ELECTRIC! IT’S ELECTRIC!” and her cousin was standing behind her rubbing his arm. It doesn’t take Einstein to figure out what had happened. Luckily, it wasn’t high voltage, but I’m pretty sure the resort got about 15 complaints after that. 

We reached the stream and started trekking along it. It was exhilarating. That feeling to be standing in the stream, with the crystal clear beauty of the water running through your toes. Bliss. We came to a waterfall and stopped for a few photos. Then my uncle and a few others decided to chuck their shirts off (along with their common sense) and go swimming. That idea soon ended because you can’t exactly swim in 20 cm water. 

Our family headed back to the resort and dried off. We then noticed something was odd. We had all seen my brother come back from the stream. But none of us could see him now. A frantic search occurred, and we soon found him wandering in the car park. We took him back inside, and after he had changed his clothes, we spotted something small and black dangling from his neck. It was none other than a (dramatic pause) LEECH! In case you don’t know, a leech is an incredibly annoying dangly insect that sucks blood off animals. They actually purify your blood though, and reduce high blood pressure, so my family would’ve kept it, but there were two reasons they didn’t. The first was that the leech was wild and had lots of bacteria on it, which wasn’t great, and, secondly, who wants to have a grotesque, stomach-churning insect on their neck. So after we spent 15 minutes figuring out how to remove it, my grandfather came, took it off with his fingers, and threw it away.

And that’s how my last holiday went. In hindsight, it wasn’t as bad as I thought, but that’s what lockdown does to you.

Maroon Bells, Colorado
By Isabel Webster-Spriggs, Year 9, Linton Village College


Slowly approaching the clear water’s edge, from where we had been hiking, our jaws hit the ground and our eyes widened, as we stared at summer vs. winter. Sun from the east hit the glistening water, shimmering over the earthy brown floor that the water glided over. Reflected in the centre of the calm water is a looming mountain of gargantuan size, painted white with snow and ice, with small stripes of brown-black earth fighting through to the surface. To the right of the mountain is a smaller, brighter, more vibrant hill, built of green and blues, happily staring down at its charming reflection. Dumbstruck, gazing down the arc of lush landscape where the water meets the bottom of the two hills — and gated in by the snowy mountain into a valley — the reflection of Christmas trees sat on each snowy opposite of the summer hill, fighting head on in a silent, still battle of looks. The treacherous hike in sweaty clothes was worth it for sure!


Birds sing from the trees and bushes, and off in the distance bison, black bears, and bighorn sheep sound, with not a trace of human invasion. As my friend and I chatter about the potential of mountain lions, elk or wild horses gracing us with their presence, the evident lack of humankind in this immortal wildlife is stark. 

The two sides (green and yellow vs. white and blue) pose and plead for our company; the nigh on impossible task of reaching a denouement to our internal war over where we should eat hardens. Choosing summer, we lay down the picnic blanket, slip our backpacks off, and sigh, taking in the clean, brisk air. Smells of salt and fresh grass fill our noses, mixing with the delicious food that we have brought. Now this…is bliss.