Welcome to survivors of my birthday revelries, and greetings to all who are joining us to read about our simple life in Sri Lanka.


Jumping into the cold water of a pool fed by a stream in a cradle of rock at 6.30am is one way of sobering up after a great party.

After my birthday party I hired Ranga and his van to take us to Mount Field Cottages in the hills of Haldemulla, which must be one of the maddest resorts in Sri Lanka (you have to climb steps up hundreds of feet to the cottages) but which has some of the best rural food and a group of lads who leap like mountain goats to serve guests on private verandas. Bring your own drinks.

I had thought of de-toxing on Uva tea, Ceylon’s finest, but another of Sri Lanka’s fine products, Lemon Gin, was more in evident.

Rest House

In England, one used to take a Rest Cure. Well, Sri Lanka has resthouses. These are council run, remaining from the time when they were built within a day’s horse ride of each other for travelling 19th century officials.

This photo of lunch at the Ratnapura Rest House shows a curious dish of fried leaves, which were delicious with the chicken curry (Rs. 425 , £ 2 . 42 , $ 3.86 ), plus a glass of lemon gin. We ate in the bar, one of the few remaining in the country that doesn’t pretend it’s something else.

Unfortunately, the swallows who used to nest in the entrance porch are no longer in residence, but Ratnapura Rest House still extends true resthouse (if not “rest cure”) hospitality.


Haptuale, at 1,429 ms above sea level, is my favourite town in Sri Lanka. It is usually chilly and has stupendous, usually misty, views all around it that give it the air of being an island isolated in the hills. It is so compact and friendly that even a stranger who’s been there for only 30 minutes soon feels at home.

That is where Loga (see Number 44) runs his communications centre ([email protected]). That’s also where the entrance to the Highcliffe Bar entails sidling behind a wall with steps leading up to a raucous drinking den.

Loga bought some earthy baby potatoes that the area is famous for and Kumara disappeared into the kitchen to toss them in butter and bacon for a warming snack with local roast beef.

Future Accommodation

I saw the future of tourism accommodation just outside Haputale, 300ms down the Wellawaya road from the Beregala Junction. It’s very name sums it up: Melheim Resort. That’s derived from Harin de Mel, the proprietor, with Heim being the German word for home.

With nine guest rooms built in a medley of green scalloped cement exteriors and bathrooms of grey titanium, on black columns with private decks  — and a swimming pool a fair hike down the hillside, this is a solidly practical place to stay. Why do I call it future accommodation? Because it is purpose-designed for a target market (from US $ 150 a double); not like the charming, rustic places (around US $ 25 a double) that just happened in the past.

Thoughts on 70.

No more an adolescent, I shall embrace old age disgracefully with complete lack of dignity, considering it my reward for having survived so long. In this photo Savi and Ashok are contemplating the mayhem at my party.

Some 50 guests (most of whom landed up in the swimming pool) joined us at the party superbly organised by Neel. There must have been a dozen nationalities with guests raging from 18 to 98 (Here are Navas, the famous teledrama actor, and Kumara).

Now it’s back to writing – to have copies of BEAT: THE COLLECTED POEMS as an ebook in time for my visit to London for the unveiling of my portrait at the National Portrait Gallery on 10 March 2011.

Beat regards


6 Responses to “A VIEW FROM SRI LANKA”

  1. Natascha Hendrichs says:

    A Happy Belated B’day Mr. Ellis!
    Your newsletters are always such a joy to read!
    It is my daily dose of Sri Lanka, which I yearn for being in London!
    Thank you

  2. Tony says:

    Just to let you know that your newsletter arrived safely.Of all the people I know you lead the the busiest life.Where do you find the energy? Hurricane Royston.
    On being 70, never forget that we are not growing old but growing up.
    regards, Tony

  3. Emmalena Ellis says:

    As you may recall I am a budding writer and was wondering if you might be interested in glancing over a book I am writing and hoping to get published.
    It’s a comedy about a man’s quest for love between a woman and his guinea-pig.

    Your Great Niece,
    Emmalena Ellis

  4. Michael. says:

    Thank you Royston, lovely to hear from you. Yes, I have already received two newsletters, and very good they are too! Thanks for putting me on the list.

    A very belated Happy Birthday to you sir! Now I know the date I have no excuse for not sending you a greeting each year. Glad you had a fine day.

    Yes, I’m still pining for Sri Lanka and feel constantly drawn to your beautiful and beguiling country. Hope to return soon, but had to return to UK to earn some money. I’ve been filming a new BBC drama about the Suez Crisis and the relationship between the government of the day and the BBC; fascinating, and very topical with the events in Egypt and the ongoing Iraq Inquiry. I play an MI6 officer. Apart from that I’m doing the odd voice job, and even that sort of work is thin on the ground, so I’m glad that I get the occasional one.


  5. Jim says:

    So a good time was had by all. Congratulations! Jim

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.