Archive for November, 2013

ROYSTON?S REPORT, Number 188

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

TROPICAL TOPICS, Sunday 24 November 2013.

Greetings from Sri Lanka where we’ve had a royal visit.

Fishing Season

Fishing in front of my cottage (B Kumarasiri)

Fishing in front of my cottage (B Kumarasiri)

This is not only the tourist season (but where are they?) on the west coast of Sri Lanka, but also the season for plenty of fish. Every morning, as I sit in my garret and gaze out to sea as the sun rises, I see fishing boats bobbing about off shore where village fishermen are casting their nets.

Beaching the boat. (Neel Jayantha)

The boats, and the catch, are beached near my cottage at Induruwa and early risers can go there to buy fresh fish for the day. The eyesore in the background is a newly built but as yet unannounced and unopened hotel.

The real Caesar

3. Creating a real Caesar Salad (Neel Jayantha)

3. Creating a real Caesar Salad (Neel Jayantha)

If you thought guéridon service had disappeared decades ago, fear not. It is alive and flourishing at the London Grill deep in the heart of Colombo’s Cinnamon Grand Hotel. The restaurant has somehow resisted changes in décor and ambience over its four decades and even the restaurant’s Sri Lankan manager, Denver, when we dined there last week, had the panache and discretion associated with the finest dining.

4. London Grill?s authentic Caesar Salad (Gemunu Amarasinghe)

4. London Grill?s authentic Caesar Salad (Gemunu Amarasinghe)

The Caesar Salad took 10 minutes to prepare on the trolley by our table, and tasted authentic in every way. To conclude, we had Irish Coffee also created tableside with the same dedicated attention to detail. It was inspiring to experience the London Grill standard of traditional top quality food and service.

Fun with words

I get regular emails from www.dailywritingtips.com to keep myself alert; and a recent email contained a link to test one?s vocabulary.

 

My word!

My word!

“Most native English speakers who take the test have vocabularies ranging from 20,000-35,000 words. ESL speakers tend to have about 4,500. According to the site’s interpretation of results, acquisition of new vocabulary falls off in middle age. Adult vocabulary size appears to be principally determined by reading habits between ages 4 and 15.

“As might be expected, the more you read, the more your vocabulary increases.

“To take the test, go here: http://testyourvocab.com/. By the way, it’s considered bad form to reveal your score or to ask others how they scored.”

So I won’t tell you my result, but it was hypnopompic (and, yes, I too had to look that up).

Royal Birthday

“I’ve been watching you,” said an attractive lady as I gazed lustfully at the plump savoury gateaux and organic pastries being offered to guests at the birthday party for HRH Prince Charles hosted by the British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, H E John Rankin, but I kept my hands to myself.

“Yes?” I answered cautiously.

“I’m celiac and have to stick to gluten-free. You write about gluten-free foods in your newsletter so I was wondering what you’d do with all these snacks.”

So was I, because the canapés, all organic, looked delicious, but I declined every one, even the wholesome fruit and vegetable juices also available.

We were among the 150 guests (no spouses) marshalled in 15 clusters (entrepreneurs, entertainers, charity helpers, etc., and, in my case, Consular Wardens) awaiting the arrival of “HRH” and the Duchess of Cornwall visiting Colombo for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM).

Although I’ve had the pleasure of being invited to Queen’s Birthday Parties since going to my first, at the British Consulate in Las Palmas, 50 years ago, and then at Government House in Dominica, this was the first time I had attended a real (as opposed to official) royal birthday party.

It was superbly organised (yes, there was a gluten-free cucumber canapé as well as Pimms, wine and champagne; catering and excellent service by the Mount Lavinia Hotel). After waiting some 60 minutes getting accustomed to the unique occasion of being about to meet the heir to the throne on his actual 65th birthday, a frisson in the crowd indicated he was there.

6. Cutting the cake (Getty Images)

6. Cutting the cake (Getty Images)

Pink cheeked and dapper in a tropical cream-coloured suit, Prince Charles appeared at ease and delighted to be meeting so many people as he proceeded from cluster to cluster. He was almost with us waiting Wardens when suddenly we realised the Duchess of Cornwall was among us too.

Pink cheeked and dapper in a tropical cream-coloured suit, Prince Charles appeared at ease and delighted to be meeting so many people as he proceeded from cluster to cluster. He was almost with us waiting Wardens when suddenly we realised the Duchess of Cornwall was among us too.

“I’m an author,” I murmured as I shook her hand. “Started with Beatles,” I answered in staccato fashion when she asked what I write about.

“The Beatles! That’s our generation.” She did a little hippy hip shake…and moved on.

We drank the Prince’s health, sang happy birthday and gave three hearty cheers.

St Andrew?s Ball

Ayne-Marie Leitch, who was also at the party, has sent me this flyer for a boisterous (well, it is usually) annual event next Friday, 29 November at the Galadari Hotel in Colombo.

 

7. Upcoming event

7. Upcoming event

Tops for Tourists

There’s still time to let me have recommendations about Top Places for Tourists in Sri Lanka, based on your own knowledge/experience. I’m beginning to realise that I have no idea what appeals to other people. For me, a place becomes worthwhile if it’s fun. Unfortunately, so many hotels here are run on factory lines, with guests given wrist bands to identify the rate they’ve paid, and having to queue for food, it’s probably better to crash in a cheap guest house or that rare find, a boutique hotel with heart and soul (where, oh where?).

8. A boutique B&B by the beach (B Kumarasiri)

8. A boutique B&B by the beach (B Kumarasiri)

Read All About It

During the next few weeks, I hope to announce news of new editions of my books, including an updated Bradt Guide to Sri Lanka. In the meantime, as great gifts for aspiring (or erstwhile) beats and hippies, there are my books Gone Man Squared (a collection of beat generation poetry) from here

and The Big Beat Scene with an account of my days with The Beatles available from: http://musicmentor0.tripod.com/book_big_beat_scene.html.

9. Retro presents for beats

9. Retro presents for beats

Beat Regards

Royston Ellis.