We are very proud of two Junior students, Izzy and Kitty, who entered the Richard Jeffries Young Nature Writers Competition 2020, and out of 600 entries, Izzy (Y6) was a runner-up and Kitty (Y5) was listed in the 20 shortlisted writers. A brilliant achievement for some of our youngest students!
'When I found out about the writing competition, I was really excited because it combined two of my favourite things: writing and nature! During lockdown I spent a lot of time walking by the river, swimming in the river and playing on my paddleboard on the river. I have really enjoyed watching the seasons change this year and especially watching the wildlife play in the water. It has been a big part of my 2020. This meant that when I sat down to write, I had lots of ideas and could see very clearly what I wanted to base my description on!'
'I wrote this piece of description during the autumn half-term. I live near woodland and during the holiday my mum and I often went for walks. You may not feel like going outside, but once you've done it you always feel better! I thought that rather than writing a story with a plot, I would try to recreate the experience using all my senses.'
Read their descriptive passages below:
Paddling down the river
The water lapped against the sides of the board as I slowly descended onto it. I clenched the paddle tightly and pushed off from the rotting wooden jetty. Slowly I got transferred from the safety of my garden, out into the deceiving river. I passed the overloaded field where children played in the shallows of the sweltering blue water and their parents sat in circles tasting each other’s delicious bakes and ranting on about the recipes and how each family cooked them. I paddled further to where the dog walkers patrolled their ground, throwing broken down balls here and there for the dogs to stumble on and bring back. I laughed as I watched them follow the ball, scampering along the cracking mud to where it lay, normally hidden behind a door of rough brambles and thorns. By the sodden riverbank two young otters splashed and played freely and when they both saw me, darted like mice, back into the depth below. I hurried on past a huge boat that pierced its way through the water swiftly and made waves like the sea, they cut me up and I wobbled. I steadied myself rigorously and found that I was drifting slowly with the steady current of the river. A flash of blue caught the corner of my eye as a handsome kingfisher darted out of the trees to land on a small branch, floating through the water. I watched him happily as the bird of beauty searched through the water for any small fish. We sat there together for what seemed like an hour before he flew off to look in another patch of the river. An elegant swan gracefully swam through the water towards me. Following her were five small baby cygnets, each fluffed up and ready to reach a nice cosy riverbank where they could rest for the night. My arms started to ache as I paddled further up the river. I watched the green, lush leaves rustle as a steady breeze filled the air. It was still very pleasant and warm being out this time in the day. Maybe even a little too hot. I moved on, my palms becoming clammy from holding onto the oar. The branches of a willow tree floated in the water and tangled my board up, trying to keep me stranded in this dark place. I fought against them viciously and found my way out of the tangly rope in the end. I followed the river onwards and as I did, the sky turned into a sunset and bats flew across the sky hastily. I looked at my watch and realized that I had been gone for longer than an hour. I instantly turned the board around and followed the river back to my wooden jetty, were I lifted myself off the board and sat on the grass of my garden. I was aching all over, but it was definitely worth it.
An Autumn Walk
It is a damp Monday morning. I am walking through the wood outside our cottage, feeling a bit tired and flat. The sky is filled with feathery clouds and the leaves crunch under my feet like paper. As I walk I feel my hair lift in the wind and hear the bushes rustle. Then I see a rabbit. It springs out of a clump of ferns in front of me. It is the colour of milky coffee and as quick as a coiled spring. Before I can blink it dives into the sea of green and is gone.
Suddenly I see a bird with wings as blue as lapis and a belly like egg yolk. It is singing the most delicate tune. I can hear its claws clicking on a branch above. Even though it’s chilly, a warm glow rushes through me. I sit down in a pile of autumn leaves and admire my surroundings. I hear a stream trickling somewhere in the undergrowth, like wind chimes. I inch forwards on my hands and knees and peer through the brambles. There the water is, below, rushing around gunmetal stones.
There are miniature mushrooms spread all around. Conkers and nettles cover the ground. The conkers are syrupy-brown in their spiked cases. The nettles are hairy and their edges are like zigzags. I can smell the damp earth, cool and exciting. Wind rushes around me but the warm glow from earlier is still inside me. Mosses grow everywhere, green as emeralds and soft as sponges. Some are giant and some are minute, like tiny green stitches. There are leaves of different shades of orange and flame, even gold. There are shallow puddles everywhere and you can hear water from the oaks drip into them one by one.
I look up into the whirling, windy sky. I see pine trees as tall as flagpoles waving in celebration. When I started this walk I felt dull. Now I feel alive and full of joy.