Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

Organic seeds

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

Organic seeds


Sunday 18 January 2015.

Greetings to readers in Sri Lanka and overseas to this week’s newsletter featuring classical & rock music as well as an art fair and a tale of Comets…

Organic seeds

Hidden in the depths of one of the supermarkets where I forage for something Sri Lankan and different every week, I discovered hygienically packed cardamom seeds.

I was pleased because I like the taste and aroma of cardamom (it’s the top note of one of my own brand of Kicks Books perfumes sold in New York) but when I buy cardamoms from the village market they are usually too old to appreciate since they haven’t been stored properly.

So I’m grateful to the Sri Lankan company known as Ma’s Happy Life Kitchen for offering in a prestige packing of a cardboard folder around a cardboard box which, when opened, reveals two suction-packed sachets of cardamom seeds. The seeds are said to be 100% organic and “fresh from the Forest Gardens of Matale.”

The back of the pack says:  “Fresh materials are stringently selected and meticulously processed to bring out the best in your cuisine.  Store in an airtight container, use within 3 months of opening.”

Neatly packed cardamom

Neatly packed cardamom

But there’s more. “The forest gardens of Matale are situated adjacent to the ecological important Knuckles range now declared a heritage site. A percentage of the proceeds from this pack will be diverted to the sustainability project covering 57 small forest garden cultivators under the umbrella of SAFE NET (Small Agro Farm Enterprise Network).

“The fund will support the farms to be cultivated in a very sustainable manner and uplift the lifestyles of these farmers.”

I crush the pods and pop a handful into my (locally grown) espresso coffee every morning. It’s great to know that this minor extravagance is helping a community effort. The 25g pack (about 75 pods) cost Rs270 [£ 1.35; $ 2.07].


More no frills


A pleasant place for lunch on Sunday

A pleasant place for lunch on Sunday

Had a great Sunday lunch (lamb chops; Tall Horse rose wine) on the terrace by the beach at Whispering Palms Hotel last week. For information on this affordable hotel, check


BOAC Comets were first.

My grateful thanks to a keen reader who pointed out an error in last week’s newsletter, where I referred to “prop” planes landing at Katanayake Airport in the 1960s on their way to or from Australia. Prop planes did indeed land in the then Ceylon but from much earlier and then at Ratmalana Airport just south of Colombo. It was only with the advent of jet travel and the first arrival of BOAC Comets that, due to its long runway, Katunayake became the new international airport, and the development of Negombo for tourists began.

There’s an exciting account of those days (including a comment that the passenger terminal was so dimly lit because only three electric light bulbs were allowed per month) to be found on:


Colour Fair

Next Sunday in Colombo sees an event eagerly looked forward to by both artists and art collectors: the Kala Pola. This is a one-day only (on Sunday 25 January this year) street exhibition of paintings and sculptures by Sri Lanka’s talented artists. The exhibition is open to anyone who has art to display (and hopes to sell), and this year 350 participants have registered.

The Kala Pola was begun in 1993 with paintings by 120 artists hung from the railings of Ananda Coomaraswarmy Mawatha. This year’s venue is the same, although it’s now known as Nelum Pokana Mawatha.

Paintings from the Kala Pola.

Paintings from the Kala Pola.

I’ve featured the Kala Pola (pola means fair, kala sounds like colour) in this newsletter in other years as it is always an enjoyable occasion, to stroll along the street – but be careful of traffic – gazing at the colourful and original creations of Sri Lanka’s gifted or deluded artists. Yes deluded, because the fair’s open to anyone who wishes to take part and there are sometimes works lacking talent or that are merely copies of paintings of the usual images (stilt fishermen, elephants, Sigiriya, etc).

Chopin & Mozart, Two Trios

After the Fair on 25 January, there’s a rare treat for lovers of classical music at 7pm at the Goethe Institut Hall (39 Gregory’s Road, Colombo 7) when the Chamber Music Society of Colombo presents Chopin: Trio in B Minor, op. 8 and Mozart: Trio in C major, k548 featuring Johann Peiris, Piano; Lakshman Jospeh de Saram, Violin; and Peter O’Reilly, Violoncello.

Tourism changes

Russian parachutists' flag

Russian parachutists’ flag

The Russian tourists I met enjoying the swimming pool at Ranmenike Hotel on the landside of the Galle Road at Ahungalla on the west coast of Sri Lanka recently hadn’t parachuted in for their holiday, but were former military men, proud of their connections. Thus they hung up their flag for all to see. However, they might be a dying breed as Russian tourists, with the collapse of the rouble, no longer find Sri Lanka is a cheap holiday destination.

Of course, it isn’t cheap at all, although over 1.5m tourists are reported to have visited here in 2014. In anticipation of a surge in tourism one local hotel group in partnership with a Spanish company is building a huge hotel at Ahungalla with 501 rooms and it’s supposed to be five-star. Hmmm…

The Real Cliff?

An old flame kindly sent me a link she had discovered on You Tube that features some old stars as well as myself talking about Sri Cliff Richard. If you’re interested, go to:

And I’m pleased to see from that my book Cliff Richard and The Shadows: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir is in the top 25 of popular music books (and in the top 17,000 of amazon’s best sellers!). One reviewer even says it could be the basis for a retro rock ‘n’ roll movie…


Top 25 best seller. Get it now!

Top 25 best seller. Get it now!

Beat regards