Travel Writing Competition Runners-Up 2018

For our 2018 writing competition, the brief was simple: Tell us about a place you visited on your Simpson Travel holiday... and we received so many marvellous entries, choosing between them was no mean feat. 

The winner of our 2018 writing competition was Bob Walters, with his entry "The Perfect Recipe for a Greek Holiday", which recounted his stay at The Purple Apricot Hotel in Paxos. But we also had two wonderful runners-up, chosen by our principal judge, travel writer Chrissy Nason-Smith, and our Chairman, Graham Simpson. 

There is clearly something about Paxos that inspires the written word, as one of our runners-up, Andrew Balchin, sent us a delightfully evocative piece about a meal at a local taverna on the island. Our other runner-up, Susan Enticott, entertained us with a clever and thoughtful story about watching the Royal Wedding amongst the everyday hustle and bustle of Vamos in Crete. We have included both entries below - we hope you enjoy them as much as we did. 


Paxos view

Blue skies and pink bougainvillea – Andrew Balchin 

According to legend Paxos was formed when Poseidon, god of the sea severed the southern tip of Corfu with a mighty blow of his trident to create an idyllic retreat for his lover Amphitriti. 

These days a break at the Purple Apricot hotel provides an easier way for lovers to find solitude and experiences that re-awaken the senses. The old carved wooden entrance door of the hotel, opening onto the gardens and shaded views of the sea and sky, provides the warmest of welcomes to this most special of islands. But our experience really began on the short drive to the hotel from the harbour. On the approach road lies a small tavern, La Familia. Tables were set under the overhanging vines and pink bougainvillea as we stopped to eat after the journey from Corfu. As we rested for the first time since leaving home our senses were awoken by the most chilled of local wine and the sweetest grilled vine tomatoes topped with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. As we ate, small pink leaves fluttered down on our table and high above through the vines a buzzard was gliding through the late morning sky. We have celebrated anniversaries at Michelin star restaurants, but nothing compares to that simple celebration of love in the shadow of
Amphitriti and Poseidon. 



Royal Wedding – Susan Enticott 

It’s Saturday May 19th. And here we are, sitting in a near empty bar in the main street of Vamos, Crete, the four of us, new best friends, being waited on by an elderly woman in a very short denim dress and very few teeth, with our eyes focused on the television screen. 

Outside, Vamos is working its way through the day, oblivious to fairytales. A dusty beaten up old truck with broken taillights and no wing mirrors, laden with onions and garlic, pulls up with an old lady dressed in black sitting precariously in the middle. 

Inside, the elegant Rolls Royce glides by with Meghan and her mother smiling nervously. We are brought bread and tomatoes and little circles of sugary cakes. Free wedding gift. Our glasses of wine cost a euro. 

Outside, the garlic man and the old woman come into view with strings of garlic and onions wrapped around the handles of an old buggy. 

Inside, Amal Clooney appears in yellow. Harry and William walk by in their uniforms in front of a Disney castle and bright blue sky. 

Outside, other trucks appear selling flowers and household items. A man walks by with a carrier bag and I can see fish heads and tails poking out. 

Inside, Meghan is carefully making her way up the steps of Windsor Castle. 

We toast the new Princess. Two worlds colliding. 

And I get it. 

To travel is to observe, to experience, to connect. 

To be alive.