Archive for May, 2015

Beethoven & Mozart

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

Beethoven & Mozart.


Sunday 31 May 2015.

Welcome to this week’s newsletter from Sri Lanka (although I’m currently in London for a few days).

Quail cottage

Since a friend gave me a few quails last year, I have become fascinated by them as pets. They require very little care (just food and water) and in return produce eggs every day. Because they can fly (unless one clips their wings), they can’t be allowed to roam the garden as would chickens. I kept my quails in a cage we built for them under the garden’s water tank, and they seemed happy enough, but I was worried about their comfort.

Eventually, I discovered that quails need about one square foot of living space each bird. Since my dozen quails didn’t have that, we decided to build a pen for them. I wanted a walk-in pen so we didn’t have to crawl in on hands and knees to retrieve their eggs, and where the birds would feel more comfortable than in a wire-floored cage.

Building the quail pen

Building the quail pen

Using gathered materials such as posts cut from an old coconut tree, Kumara and his friends spent one day building a new home for the birds with an opening to their original cage, and a grass floor. They love it.

Contented quails

Contented quails

Last week, Kumara came home with ten more quails (young ones as yet to be layers) as well as two young chicks, a white and a black one. I don’t know what they are yet (Kumara can’t remember the local name but he assures me they are not ordinary chickens) so we have penned them separately, waiting for them to reveal their adult selves.


Dish of the Week

I know this looks messy but that’s because I only thought of photographing it when we had nearly finished. It’s called a “bite” in Sri Lanka – something to enjoy while drinking, like a tapa in Spanish. Coincidentally, it happens to be a popular dish in Spain too, where the ingredients, chick peas, are known as garbanzos.

Top pub snack

Top pub snack

I’ve no idea of the ingredients but these chickpeas (kadala in Sinhala) were as spicy as they look, but also had a moreish texture and, strangely, were not palate-blasting hot. I don’t know the price as the platter came with the compliments of the management. Where? The Royal Bar & Hotel in Kandy, of course (see No. 255).

Beethoven & Mozart in Colombo

The Chamber Music Society of Colombo has a concert of stirring piano concertos by Beethoven & Mozart on Sunday 7 June. It’s being held at the Goethe-Institut, 39 Gregory’s Road, Colombo commencing at 7pm. I’d like to be there…


Galle Fort bargains

I’ve written before about the “Flea Market” in Galle Fort where both Sri Lankan and expat traders rent stalls to display their wares in the cobbled courtyard in front of the courthouse. It adds value to a visit to Galle Fort as there are usually some fascinating things to buy, whether it’s an antique door knob or a colourful shirt.

Galle Flea Market first Sunday every month

Galle Flea Market first Sunday every month

The next market day is next Sunday, 7 June, as the plan to hold it on the last Sunday of every month has been abandoned so it’s back to the first Sunday of every month. If you’re stuck in Colombo on a Sunday, it’s fun to book a seat in 1st Class (curtained seats in pairs) on the 8050 train that leaves Colombo Fort station at 06.55 and arrives at Galle at 09.41hrs. Since it returns from Galle at 15.20 (arriving Colombo at 18.10) it’s a wonderful day’s outing allowing for bargain hunting, full exploration of the Portuguese/Dutch/British walled Fort, and lunch in one of the trendy restaurants in the converted “Dutch Hospital” complex.

From the organisers: “The Galle Fort Golden Flea Market was founded in 2012 “in love of fair trade, local heritage and community spirit. The market takes place on the first Sunday of every month from 10.00 to 16.00 in beautiful Law Court Square in the Fort. Strollers, shoppers and stallholders from all over the island are welcome.”

Card Slot

(From 50 years ago. Issued by British grocers Seymour Mead & Co Ltd)


“Rubber, like tea, is comparatively new to Ceylon but is now her second largest industry. It started in 1876 when 1,919 rubber plants from Kew were shipped to Ceylon on the SS Devonshire in charge of a gardener. The first exports of rubber from Ceylon were in 1900. Rubber is tapped from the trees at intervals of 2, 3 or 4 days into “cups” made from half coconut shells. Cleanliness in all the apparatus of cutting and collection is vital. The milky substance tapped from the trees is called latex. It is dried into sheets or crepe. There are about 660,000 acres under rubber in Ceylon.”


Gone Man Squared

If this newsletter hasn’t got delayed and you are reading it on Sunday 31 May, I should be in England right now. My plan is to spend the morning reading the English newspapers, and then to take the train from Liverpool Street station to Witham, in Essex, the town where my mother lived. In her memory Neel and I have booked a traditional Sunday lunch at the White Hart pub, which advertises an extravagant Carvery. Full report in due course.

I really am a ‘gone man squared’ now that I’ve retired from being a poet. My book of that name is available through all the amazons, and can be ordered through obliging bookshops (ISBN: 978 0965977791)

Raunchy beat poetry

Raunchy beat poetry

Beat regards