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Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Welcome to subscribers, new and old, to this weekly report from Sri Lanka.


It was a thrill to be invited by Ashok Ferrey to the Taprospa Hotel at Beruwela on Sunday 17 October to hear readings from his novel, Serendipity. (See Newsletter No. 7, 29 May 2010 for my review of this absorbing book). What we got was serendipitous indeed.

Blue margarita cocktails at noon followed by a dramatic reading by Ashok, Gill Westaway (formerly head of the British Council in Colombo and now Director of the Creative Industries Development Programme of the Academy of Design) and Jane Chilcott (wife of Britain’s former High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Dominick Chilcott, now Britain’s Deputy Head of Mission in Washington).

The reading was utterly entertaining with Ashok, Gill and Jane sharing parts, as though it were the script of a play, which brought the story (its pathos as well as humour) startlingly alive. Ashok let slip later that he is working on a new volume of short stories for international publication soon. In the meantime check for his own story.

Sweet Side

There was a spectacular buffet lunch after the reading, proving that the Taprospa Hotel Executive Chef and the F & Bstaff know how to look after guests. (And this wasn’t the only luncheon being hosted that day as there were two bus loads of people on a firm’s outing, dining on the terrace.)

The blue margaritas worked their magic too quickly, so I never got to dessert, but I did photograph the display to show the sweet side of Sri Lankans’ culinary prowess.


My father was an air raid warden in Eastcote, Pinner, Middlesex, where I was born, during the Second World War. So it was with a sense of “following tradition” that I became the Warden of the Southern Province of Sri Lanka for the British High Commission. Different sort of job though: I don’t have to tell people to put their lights out at night.

However, it does require me to liaise with those Brits who are registered with the British High Commission, in case of an emergency. Alas, many British residents (and that means any British person staying more than one month in Sri Lanka) don’t want to register. Fair enough.

One British resident, Nick Buckingham, has opened a hotel here called — wait for it — Buckingham Place and from him I have received this email:   “Just to say the updated website has finally gone ‘live’ and the reservations platform is to be linked in just a few days. In short; air-conditioned bedrooms and suites are @ $145 and $165 respectively during our ‘soft opening’. Rates include a la carte breakfast, use of all facilities and all government taxes.”

Buck Place is in the south of Sri Lanka and is now on my list to review for my column about resorts for the Sunday Times (of Sri Lanka).

Expats on parade

Calling a restaurant Escoffier takes a lot of courage because of the vision of fine food it conjures up. If the jolly cocktail party held there on Tuesday is a foretaste of what’s on offer, we expats have another fine place to dine. And, coincidentally, it’s next door to Silk Route which I mentioned last week. It’s a stylishly designed restaurant located by the Galle Road about 3km south of the Bentota Tourist Resort (

Bhanuka Rodrigo, the managing director, invited foreigners (a couple of Brits, some Germans, a Dutchman, etc) resident in the area as well as local personalities for cocktails and delicious canapés in the restaurant’s roadside courtyard. It was the first time (after 30 years here) that I have seen so many neighbouring expats on parade in this area.

Up beat

As an author I hate being asked by people at cocktail parties “What are you working on now?” because it makes me feel guilty about a looming deadline and spoils my partying.

So for new readers of this newsletter, here’s a plug for my latest book, The Big Beat Scene, published in a new edition after 50 years, with a new foreword and afterword about my association with The Beatles. It’s available through:

Beat regards,