Archive for August, 2013

ROYSTON’S REPORT Number 176

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

TROPICAL TOPICS, Sunday 1st September 2013.

Welcome to this week’s newsletter touching on road signs, a mountain retreat and a rare map.

Made in Sri Lanka

I did last week’s shopping while visiting Balangoda, a busy town in central Sri Lanka that has given its name to Homosapiens balangodensis since it was near there that skeletons of Stone-Age men, dubbed Balangoda man, have been found. I found a packet of breakfast cereal called Kurakkan Crunch and since kurakkan flour is gluten-free (it’s made from finger millet) I decided to try it.

Finger millet (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Finger millet (Courtesy Wikipedia)

The 150g box (with two sealed sachets of cereal) cost Rs 150 [£ 0.73; US$ 1.15] and proclaimed it as having been awarded “The Most Innovative Product” & “Product with Local Raw Material” in 2007 by Sri Lanka Food Processors Association. “No preservatives, artificial colours, artificial flavours.” The ingredients were listed as “kurakkan, minerals & vitamins” and the box recommends that the cereal be enjoyed with milk and fruit or “eaten on its own.”

Crunchy but tasteless

Crunchy but tasteless

It is an unappetising grey-green colour and looks like the pellets given to poultry and has a taste of cardboard when eaten “on its own.”. Milk and kithul honey helped jazz it up a bit but I can’t say I enjoyed it very much.

 

Kelburne: a secret revealed

Kelburne Bungalows are on a private tea estate (c) B Kumarasiri

Kelburne Bungalows are on a private tea estate (c) B Kumarasiri

Kelburne Mountain View Resort is certainly that – sensational views from a plateau 1,300m (4,500ft) above a stippled quilt of hills and hazy plains stretching for 40km to Kataragama and the south coast. I first heard about Kelburne at a diplomatic function in Colombo in the early 1990s when someone whispered its name as the best place in Sri Lanka to “get away from it all.” It was a secret until I stayed there and wrote about in The Sunday Telegraph and other UK newspapers.

 

In those days a bungalow cost Rs2,000 [£ 9.75; $ 15.38]; now it’s ten times that price, but still worth it. There are three bungalows (with log fires in their parlours), all different. My favourite is Wildflower Cottage although it is at the foot of a flight of granite steps so I didn’t leave it once settled in. Meals were brought by Ravi, who has been stewarding there for 16 years, and we enjoyed breakfast on the terrace with its breathtaking views.

Kelburne: ready for breakfast on the terrace (c) B Kumarasiri

Kelburne: ready for breakfast on the terrace (c) B Kumarasiri

The climate is always bracing, the air crisp and fresh, and the surrounding scenery the source of Sri Lanka’s best tea. The bungalows were once the homes of the superintendents of what remains as a 45-acre estate. Close by is Lipton’s Seat where Sir Thomas of that ilk sat at 6,000ft above sea level to survey his domains; today it is a tourist attraction.

Commemorating my 10th visit in 1997 (c) B Kumarasiri

Commemorating my 10th visit in 1997 (c) B Kumarasiri

 

Wild signs

I’ve featured odd roads signs before, and my travels during the last couple of weeks have been especially fruitful in revealing some curiosities. On the road to the Heritance Tea Factory Hotel these wild signs added to the enjoyment of the scenery.

Hare today, gone tomorrow?

Hare today, gone tomorrow?

Wild sign

Wild sign

The road to Lipton’s Seat is rich in reading material. There are rocks painted with slogans urging visitors to respect the beauty of nature, which the signs, although neat, themselves desecrate.  But the journey was brightened by these warnings.

Who's crossing now?

Who’s crossing now?

Not a hare out of place?

Not a hare out of place?

This sign still has me puzzled as to what it really means. I suppose the author wanted to state that water should always be boiled before drinking it.

But what does it mean?

But what does it mean?

 

Ceylon 1756

However much I resolve to give up collecting antique maps of Sri Lanka I can’t resist a bargain when I see one. That’s what happened with this 1756 map of Ceylon by Thomas Jefferys. Jefferys was Royal Cartographer to King George III and specialised in compiling and re-engraving earlier maps by cartographers. In the case of this map, it has borrowed from the Bellin map of “Ceylan” of 1750 (a copy of which I also recently bought), putting place names in English instead of French.

Ceylon by Thomas Jefferys, 1756

Ceylon by Thomas Jefferys, 1756

I found it at an on-line auction and amazingly was the only bidder so it came to me at its reserve price. The framing will probably cost more than the map!

 

Don’t forget

With the slogan “Bringing a smile to those who cannot remember” the Sri Lanka Alzheimer’s Foundation (www.alzlanka.org) supports a centre for those with Alzheimer’s. To raise funds they are having a draw, and the organisers say We need your support to help us sustain the services offered.  Should you be interested in supporting this worthy cause, please volunteer to sell, or purchase books of raffle tickets.  Each book is priced at Rs 500/- [£ 2.44; $ 3.84] i.e.10 tickets per book at the rate of Rs. 50/- per ticket.” (Cheques to Lanka Alzheimer’s Foundation, 110 Ketawalumulla Lane, Colombo 10, Sri Lanka).

The draw takes place on Saturday 21 September, which is globally recognised as World Alzheimer’s Day.

 

 

Gone Man Squared

The reaction to the publication of my beat generation poetry is gathering momentum. The cover has been featured in the booksellers’ prime source of information, Publisher’s Weekly, with a profile about the publisher. And Mark Lewisohn the author of the colossal The Beatles: All These Years, Vol 1: Tune In due to be published in a 1,000 page mass market version in October, has this to say: “Gone Man Squared arrived a few days ago, so I took it with me to Liverpool for a dirty weekend. I’m delighted with it… Great intro too by Jimmy Page: you surely couldn’t have wished for a better endorsement.”

Signed, paperbacks and Kindle versions now available.

Signed, paperbacks and Kindle versions now available.

 

The book can be purchased direct from the publisher: http://nortonrecords.com/kicksbooks/ellis.php or through www.amazon.com which, incidentally, carries this newsletter every week.

 

Beat regards

Royston Ellis
(Erstwhile beat poet)