Archive for April, 2011


Friday, April 29th, 2011

Greetings to all readers of this newsletter, currently seen by over 35,000 people a week.

What a beach!

Unawatuna on Sri Lanka’s south coast, just 10 minutes drive eastwards from Galle, has long been known as one of the 10 best beaches in the world. That’s not just because of the beauty of its setting but also because of the beach life there, both during the day and at night. Other beaches in Sri Lanka, while being fine, lack the intimacy and action of Unawatuna.

This cove, reached from the main Galle to Matara highway, down tiny lanes lined with informal guest houses and makeshift shops selling tourist tat, has all the atmosphere the beach holidaymaker seeks. It has been developed by the residents themselves in response to the independent tourists’ needs, not by the tourist authority or hotel chains.

Perhaps that’s why it’s such fun to go there, as I did with friends last week. Lucky Tuna surely jokingly calls itself a “boutique hotel” (see the sign in the photograph). Well, it does have two smart sea-front rooms above the restaurant but It is reminiscent of carefree, hippy paradises of the 1970s. It has a great setting, good service, a fine selection of comfort food prepared on demand, and wines and beer galore.

For lunch I had lightly seared tuna served with plump potato wedges and vegetables that included spinach leaves. That cost Rs590 (£ 3.27, U S $ 5.36) while the version of Nasi Goreng with prawns and chicken in the rice and a fried egg on top, weighed in at Rs 560 a portion. No wonder it’s popular.


A friend of ours, Beryl Harding-Marsh celebrated her 98th birthday in fine style last week. She chose to have dinner in the coffee shop of the five-star Heritance Hotel by the beach at Ahungalla. She likes the coffee shop because of its open-sided design (smoking is allowed) and access by the hotel’s wheelchair is easy to achieve.

Although we were in the coffee shop, we were able to select dinner from the fine dining menu with starters, main course and dessert for six totalling Rs 26,713 (£ 148, U S $ 242) including service charge and tax.

Beryl was amazed when, at the end of the evening, a troupe of animators in gaily coloured costumes paraded into the restaurant and presented her with a birthday cake. It made the occasion especially memorable for all of us. An enjoyable example of the extra effort a good hotel makes to entertain guests.

Chillie cheese quest

Shopping at Keells Crescat (one of the nicest supermarkets in Colombo) Neel found the cheese pictured here, called Mexicana Cheddar. I’ve no idea of its providence and it wasn’t cheap (Rs 788.50 for 166gms; that’s £ 4.50 / US $ 7.16) but it has a zingy, moist taste and not just of chillies. However, at that price I was hoping for a hint of Tequila too.


Maldives Moments

I have three articles in the summer issue of Vara, the inflight magazine of Maldivian, the brand name of Island Aviation. This is the domestic airline that serves four airports in the Maldives carrying both tourists and locals, as well as linking Male’ with Trivandrum in Kerala. The magazine has articles in English and in Dhivehi, the language of the Maldives.

My contributions are “Imagine An Island” about the ideal island resort and “Island of Legend” about the residential island in the north of the Maldives which is where the national hero, Bodu Thakurufaan was born in the 16th century. The magazine’s cover story is called “Intrigue in Gan” and is my account of Gan and British involvement there.

You can read the articles free on line at

I took this photograph while cruising on the dhoni (local sailing vessel) belonging to my favourite island resort, Baros Maldives.

Postcards of the past.

This wonderful postcard over 100 years old shows the old town hall in Pettah, part of Colombo, with the main street cluttered with man-pulled rickshaws, trams, and bullock carts. It is part of the Lipton series of postcards in which Thomas Lipton, ever the great publicist, got artists to paint his name on everything, just to remind people to buy Lipton’s tea.


An old postcard is a wonderful souvenir of Sri Lanka as it can be beautifully placed in the centre of a large frame, with a dark mount, and is very reasonable in price, usually about Rs 1,000 or £ 5 / US $ 9. Old postcards are rare to find in Sri Lanka but there is a website where they can be bought from a retired collector and posted directly from Sri Lanka.  Go to:

No photos?

I hear from some correspondents that they can’t receive the photos illustrating this newsletter. Andrew, my webmonster who designs and circulates this newsletter every Sunday, comments that some email settings don’t allow images to be downloaded. He says the solution is to go to the website and see the photos there. I hope that works!


The Big Beat Scene

There’s a review of my book THE BIG BEAT SCENE on

and it’s available direct from the publisher on,


Beat regards,