I’ve been trying to enter a few more writing competitions recently. Not because I actually want to win (although that would be nice), but because I like being given a theme, a word count and a deadline to stick to, rather than just writing at my own pace about a subject I have chosen. Here’s a piece I wrote for the Telegraph’s weekly ‘Just Back’ travel competition. It is an extension to an earlier piece of prose published on here about Przno in Montenegro. Sadly it wasn’t judged a worthy winner and published on their website, so I thought I’d publish it on here anyway!
An unplanned night on the brandy in Przno
My fiancé, Tom, and I are mid-way through a two-week holiday to Montenegro, and after several days spent at touristy resorts we decide to venture further afield and get to know a bit more of the local area and its people. We wander along a winding coastal road and after a mere twenty minutes, stray upon a fishing village called Przno. The quaint cove is framed with craggy cliffs and mountains, and its short promenade holds a handful of konobas, where waiters lure in passers-by with platters of freshly caught fish. Discarded boats and old signage dot the ramshackle beach; at its steps, a rusty anchor stands guard, strewn with old rope and a diamond-shaped buoy.
We pay a local lad 5 Euros for a couple of sun beds and a parasol, and settle in for an afternoon of sunbathing. At our feet, the sequin sea tickles the shore, rhythmically softening a mixture of stones and shrapnel. Montenegrin children splash in the transparent water, amid hundreds of tiny fish and a colourful selection of boats. A water taxi waits patiently for passing trade, and in the distance I watch a bright red parasail glide gracefully over Budva.
As the afternoon wears on and the sun slides nearer the jagged horizon, swallows flap around a rocky island just off-shore; it houses a derelict home and a few brave bathers, who’ve swum up and scaled its mossy stones. We pack up our bits and choose a konoba to dine in, settling down with a bottle of white wine and an impressive sunset.
An hour or so later, our plates are cleared and our glasses drained, and we’re just about to leave when the couple on the next table, who have – up until now – been conversing in the local lingo, turn to us and ask where we’re from. It transpires they live in London too, and have done for about twenty years since fleeing Serbia in the early 90s.
A brandy-fuelled evening of chatter and laughter follows, until the konoba staff – having allowed us to stay long after closing time – finally kick us out around 1 am. We wave our new-found friends farewell, promising to look them up in London, and stumble merrily back to our B&B, along the same winding coastal road we entered on hours before (although unsurprisingly it takes longer than a mere twenty minutes this time).
I can’t remember anything sobering me up faster than the sudden realisation that our lovely B&B has locked up for the night. After banging on the door for what feels like forever, we’re about to give up and unwillingly resign ourselves to a night under the stars, when – miracles do happen – the door clicks open and a sleepy looking owner shoos us past. We apologise profusely and scurry guiltily to our room, with our dignity just about intact and our heads filled with memories of our day in Przno.