Archive for October, 2011


Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Sunday 30 October 2011

Greetings from Sri Lanka where, on the west coast, it’s currently hot and sunny in the mornings with rain in the afternoons. Good for the garden.


Made In Sri Lanka

Seeni Sambol is a wonderful sweetish onion relish that adds zest to breakfast (spread it on toast or have it with scrambled egg). It is lovingly made in Sri Lanka by keen cooks mixing lightly fried onions with various spicy ingredients.

It can also be bought readymade by several local manufacturers. My favourite is made by Larich and exported worldwide by Pan-Am Foods Ltd. (Google it for more information.) I like it because it tastes just like the home-made product. According to the label, it contains onions, yellow fin tuna (sundried pieces from the Maldives), sesame oil, tamarind, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, curry leaves, cloves and rampe. This 300g jar cost Rs295 (£ 1.73, US$ 2.68).

It certainly helps blast away a hangover. (I had it for breakfast the morning after the wine tasting, see below.)


A Taste of Wine

“It was so well organised,” one of the 40 guests commented as she left the wine tasting at which I was the host on Saturday 22 October. That wasn’t a compliment to me, as all I did was send out the invitations to the foreigners who live in this area and to the Sri Lankans who run restaurants around Bentota.

All of us who attended what turned out to be a super event have to thank Manoj S L Rasiah, the Product Development & Promotions Manager of Rockland Distilleries Ltd  for the wines (and the swift serving by his team during the tasting), and Sujeeva, the proprietor of Silk Route Restaurant where the event was held, and his attentive staff and cooks.

The restaurant, an open sided one by the Galle Road, is a refreshing change from the usual run of roadside eateries, being spacious, clean, well-equipped (there’s even a toilet for the disabled) and colourfully decorated with a Silk Route theme.

Rockland Distilleries is a company known for producing excellent dry gin (as well as white rum and vodka and, of course, arrack, Sri Lanka’s national tipple). The company has branched out into importing wines from the New World and Europe, and Manoj brought a selection for us thirsty expats to try.

The tasting was conducted by Nissanka C B Petiyagoda, a veteran wine journalist and educator (and Flight Attendant Trainer for Sri Lankan Airlines) with an encylopaedic knowledge of wines. The amazing array of unusual canapés (hummos and pomegranate; fruit kebabs) was produced by the Silk Route chefs.

And the wine? Jolly good! We tasted one each of red and white from three countries, South Africa (Tall Horse), Australia (Banrock Station) and Chile (Cono Sur Reserva) under Nissanka’s expert guidance. Then we were invited to help ourselves from the pop-up wine bar to other wines imported by the company, including a scintillating white shiraz from Australia.

There were still people there, dining from the Silk Route’s menu, when I left about 11pm. It was a splendid time and, as one expat resident told me happily, “we should do this more often.”



I know this is a rotten photograph but it was taken through my grimy garret window of a young kingfisher sitting in the rain on the wire that brings electricity to my cottage. Its colours were dazzling during the downpour and it gave me an excuse to reflect on the wonders of nature that abound in Sri Lanka. Then the electricity went off.


No news?

No newsletter is not good news it seems, since I have had a few complaints from subscribers who find suddenly that they are not receiving the newsletter every Sunday or Monday. If that happens to you, check your spam folder. If it’s not there, please send me an email so I can check what’s happened ([email protected]). However, It is also possible to read this newsletter every Sunday on


The Maldives Avenger

This is not the name of a stomach bug found in the Maldives but the title of this week’s selection from my online bookshop. The Maldives Avenger is a new version of my historical novel, A Hero In Time, first published as a  paperback in 2000. I’ve added more romance and action.

It’s set in the 16th century, when the Portuguese invaded the Maldives and imposed colonial tyranny. The inhabitants, devout and simple fisherfolk, traders and rustic islanders, were powerless to resist… until a young man, Mohamed Thakuru, who became a favourite of the Portuguese governor, returned from martial and religious training in India. Appalled by the ruthlessness of the invaders, he led a seaborne guerrilla campaign to oust them.

It’s a swashbuckling yarn of adventure, intrigue, lust, passion and faith in the face of adversity and a “rollicking good read.”



To buy it, simply go to, click on the image of the cover of the book. That will take you to a page telling you a bit more about the book and to a sign that says ADD TO CART.

Click on that and a note will pop up saying you have successfully added the book to your shopping cart. Next go to check out and authorise the payment process (quoting a credit card number via Paypal; don’t worry, it’s safe).

The novel only costs £ 2.99 and once payment is confirmed, you’ll receive an email with a link. Click on the link and the eBook will download to your computer. (If it doesn’t work, let me know!)

Happy reading!