Archive for October, 2014

Property seminar

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Property Seminar

ROYSTON REPORTS, Number 227

TROPICAL TOPICS, Sunday 26 October 2014.

Chamber music, rock n roll, an ancient temple and a little known rest house feature this week.

Dish of the Week

I’ve raved about kankun (best described as water spinach) before and it turns up in many Asian cuisines. Kankun with garlic and chillies, usually too enthusiastically doused in soya sauce, is popular in Sri Lanka. I had it this week at the re-opened Machang pub in Induruwa. This portion cost Rs150 [£ 0.71p;  $ 1.15], so it’s good for the budget as well as booze-food.

Healthy & spicy

Healthy & spicy

Rest House 

When I travelled around Sri Lanka in the early 1980s it was part of the uncertain adventure to stay in government rest houses. As places for travellers to stay for the night, they were developed by the British colonial administration which extended the network of bungalows for travelling officials begun by the Dutch. They were usually located in superb locations, each within a day’s march or horse ride from one another.

Even as recently as 20 years ago these were charming, bungalow-style places with just a few rooms and a rest house keeper in charge who would take care of everything. They were often the only place in a town to eat or drink and I have had some memorable rural rice & curry lunches in rest houses

Rest houses are government owned and still exist but are now mostly leased by major operators who have turned them into boutique properties, thereby eliminating their modest local charm and eccentricity. So I was thrilled to discover the Lunugala Rest House beside the A5 between Badulla and the east coast.

 

An old style resthouse

An old style rest house

This has three rooms and, luckily, they were vacant. We seemed to have stepped back into the past as we were greeted at the entrance by the Rest House Keeper, a courteous gentleman of the old school wearing a white tunic and white sarong, matching his white hair and moustache: Mr V M Walter Harrison, age 74.

The rest house keeper

The rest house keeper

Mr Harrison, who proudly claimed to be of British descent, seemed to run the rest house by himself, although there was a cook in the kitchen and a man behind the bar in the adjoining building. He assured us the rest house was very old but the closing in of the veranda with patterned concrete blocks painted purple reveals no clue to its date of origin.

Age disguised by modern concrete blocks

Age disguised by modern concrete blocks

Narrow corridors rambled around the main building with its porch for better class drinkers, its dining parlour, and spacious bed chambers with attached, cold water bathrooms, one with an old bathtub cemented to the floor and a warning sign.

Bathroom etiquette

Bathroom etiquette

Before leaving the next day, I had to sign the “Visitor Attendance Register” whose pages seemed to be two feet wide, so Mr Harrison could make up the detailed bill which itself was one foot long. It included corkage at Rs270 [£ 1.28; $ 2.07) for our two bottles of gin, and two rooms for four people at Rs3,500 [£ 16.66; $ 26.92]. No website, of course, but the phone number is 055 3551674 when you want to experience staying in the old, unrefined Sri Lanka.

Meat Market

The shacks and stalls of meat, fish & vegetable markets throughout the country are gradually being bulldozed away to be replaced with government-built kiosks, tiled walkways and more hygienic conditions. This is happening at Haputale in the hill country but the meat stalls are still there. Since hill country meat seems to have more flavour and be tenderer than supermarket frozen stuff, I was happy to buy 5kg of mutton (that’s goat) from this stall to take home to make buriyani, mutton curry and, my favourite stew I remember from my days in Dominca: goat water. It cost Rs1,000 [£ 4.76; $ 7.69] a kilo, while tasty, tender, well hung beef was half that price.

Goat curry begins

Goat curry begins

Unusual temple
Here’s an extract from the newsletter about Halgolla Plantation Home that I found fascinating.

“Dorabawila Vihara is a unique vihara (temple) situated near Hettipola about an hour’s drive from HPH.”

Stilted temple

Stilted temple

“The temple has been built on stilts—slender, rough-cut stone pilings. A narrow staircase leads to the building above—a square-shaped room with a cantilevered verandah all around it, lined with wooden railings and posts. The roof is heavily sloped and edged with wooden carvings that look like leaves with drip-tips. Brass birds are perched on the ridges of the roof. The temple also harbours ancient paintings and Buddha images and, according to Seneviratna & Polk, has ‘the special characteristics of the Kandy period.’”

Stay at HPH and host Emil will tell you how to find this unusual temple.(http://www.halgollaplantationhome.com/)

Property Seminar

Buy with care

Buy with care

A reminder that the property seminar mentioned in a previous newsletter (and which attracted much attention) is being held at the British High Commission, (Bauddhaloka Mawatha entrance) on Tuesday 4 November at 10am. However, if you intend to go you need to confirm attendance by email before Thursday 30 October 2014 to: [email protected] and must carry photo identity when to get into the BHC. I have been asked to emphasise that the seminar is open to British nationals only.

Chamber Music

Concert news

Concert news

The Embassy of Italy in Sri Lanka is presenting a Festa della Musica Italiana at the British School Auditorium in Colombo on Saturday 8 November at 7.30pm, featuring the talented musicians of the Chamber Music Society of Colombo. Free passes are available from Titus Stores at Liberty Plaza, so if you’re in Colombo then it’s a chance for an inspiring evening as a change from cocktail parties.

Other Music

Beat Exposed

Beat Exposed

I’ve heard that several writers about rock n roll and the 1960s are using my book The Big Beat Scene as source material. It’s available from http://www.amazon.co.uk from where you can also order my memoir about Cliff Richard & The Shadows, coming soon.

Cliff, the truth...

Cliff, the truth…

Beat regards

Royston