Archive for September, 2015

Camping!

Saturday, September 26th, 2015

Camping!

 

ROYSTON REPORTS, Number 274

Sunday 27 September 2015

Welcome to this week’s potpourri with Sri Lankan connections.

Bravo ABR

Last Saturday I attended the dinner and dance at the Mount Lavinia Hotel commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Association of British Residents. The association began informally in 1915, a momentous year for the British in the then Ceylon as there were riots and the independence movement began. Coincidentally, 2015 is actually the 200th anniversary of British occupation of the entire island, but few have recalled that.

The dinner was graced with the presence of Their Excellencies, James Dauris and Laura Davies, the British High Commissioner and the Deputy High Commissioner. It was an opportunity for the British Residents (over 150 of them were there) to meet the new HC and to hear his witty address. I also gave a speech – before dinner, when guests (and myself) were still alert.

Glamorous guests

Glamorous guests

Towards the end of the evening a raffle was held (a book of 10 tickets cost Rs1,000 [£ 4.66; US$ 7.11]) with 15 great prizes, the first being a return economy class air ticket to London with Qatar Airways. I bought two books but as the tickets were drawn and 13 prizes were won, I gave up hope. Then suddenly my number was called and I had won the second prize: a stay of two nights for two people on half board at The Whispering Palms Hotel (http://www.whisperingpalms.com)

Since that’s one of my favourite hotels (see Newsletters 222, 238 & 243) and I often go there as it’s very close to where I live, I thought someone else should have a chance to enjoy it, so I declined the prize and it was raffled again.

with (another) Averil, Sir Ian & Gordon

with (another) Averil, Sir Ian & Gordon

It was a splendid, very sociable and pleasant evening, so hats off to President Averil Nathanielsz and her hard working committee for bringing so many interesting and dynamic Brits together.

 

ConTENTment

Stay in a tent? I’m too old to go camping, I said when a friend suggested I spend a night at The Yala Adventure, a lakeside wilderness retreat near Tissamaharama in Sri Lanka’s deep south. When he told me the hotel arranges activities like abseiling (down its water tower), toddy tightrope walking, archery, air rifle shooing, lake kayaking and trekking, I didn’t want to go. But I am so glad I did.

Air conditioned tent

Air conditioned tent

The tent was luxurious with air-conditioning (which I quickly turned off and opened the flaps to let in the breeze), huge (200 square feet), with a solid teak king-size bed with thick mattress, and with a real bathroom with a hot & cold water rain shower in a glass cubicle with a granite floor, and a cleverly-designed vanity desk.

Tents for beginners

Tents for beginners

Of course, I worried about creepy crawlies at night but there were none and I slept well. It was wonderful to wake up in the morning to the gentle patter of rain on canvas and to listen to the birds’ dawn chorus. As well as being able to watch for the 165 species of birds to be found in the vicinity, I was enchanted by a stroll through the private butterfly garden where I glimpsed a flash of electric blue of a startled, mewling peacock, and butterflies galore. The owner of the three-acre site has purposefully planted the right flowers, plants and trees to create a habitat to attract butterflies.

Entrance to the butterfly garden

Entrance to the butterfly garden

The concept of this gentle wilderness retreat is to offer more than just a place to overnight before bouncing around the Yala National Park in a jeep to spy on elephants and leopards. There are lots of activities, including a visit to a farmer’s mud & thatch kitchen for herbal tea and jaggery (palm treacle fudge).

 

Farmer's kitchen

Farmer’s kitchen

 

Herbal tea & jaggery

Herbal tea & jaggery

A bonus was the food: real Sri Lanka country curries made with organic vegetables (which I chose myself for dinner from the garden in front of the open-sided thatched restaurant) and freshly caught lake fish. Western dishes are available too. There are conventional hotel rooms with TV and WiFi, but I was more than content in my tent!  (http://www.theyalaadventure.lk)

Reception & restaurant by the vegetable garden

Reception & restaurant by the vegetable garden

 

Collectable Sri Lanka: Twins

The privileged lifestyle of the colonials resident in Ceylon in the early 20th century is vividly captured in the cover of this book, The Twins in Ceylon and More About The Twins in Ceylon published in 1911. It is especially collectable because it was written by Bella Sidney Woolf (1877-1960), the sister of Leonard Woolf (1880-1969) whom she came to Ceylon to visit in 1907, when he was a junior civil servant in Kandy. (He went on to become Assistant Government Agent in Hambantota and the husband of Virginia Woolf and author of The Village in the Jungle set in Ceylon).

The various stories of “the twins” in Ceylon became very popular when published in England. Bella married Robert Heath Lock, the assistant director of the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, in 1910. She was also the author of the first pocket guide to this country, How To See Ceylon, published in 1914

Cricket in Galle

The West Indies Cricket Team is visiting Sri Lanka next month and the First Test Match versus Sri Lanka will take place at the Galle International Cricket Stadium from Wednesday 14 to Sunday 18 October. As a former member of the Windward Islands Cricket Board of Control and Founder President of the Dominica Cricket Association (as well as being a former member of the MCC), I am looking forward to attending at least one day’s play – even if only to watch the match from the ramparts of Galle Fort.

 

This week’s book

It’s time to mention again my novel, set in beatnik London & shady Las Palmas in the 1960s, called The Rush At The End as this week’s raunchy read; published by Kicks Books of New York (ISBN 9781940157931) and available through all the amazons. I hope you enjoy it.

A raunchy read

A raunchy read

Beat regards

Royston