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Christmas Cheers!

Saturday, December 19th, 2015

Christmas Cheers

ROYSTON REPORTS, Number 286

Tropical Topics, Sunday 20 December 2015.

Season’s Greetings to readers around the world to this last newsletter for 2015, with timely news of how to buy my books on line.

Christmas Cheers

How better to celebrate sunny (or chilly) mornings this Festive Season than with a jolly juice at breakfast: a Bloody Mary or – as it is called when no vodka is included – a Bloody Shame?

Christmas breakfast juice

Christmas breakfast juice

I am sorry that newsletters have been late in arriving recently, due to factors entirely beyond my control. However, do not expect a newsletter next Sunday morning (27 December 2015) as I shall be enjoying my annual holiday from writing. The next newsletter is scheduled for distribution on Sunday 3 January 2016.

 

Monsoon Lunch

Monsoon restaurant interior

Monsoon restaurant interior

A lunch I enjoyed in Yangon (Rangoon) earlier this month, was not festive but it’s colourful. We chose it from a menu that had separate pages devoted to dishes from Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia but I wanted Burmese food so we chose only from the first four pages.  The restaurant was the evocatively named Monsoon, set in an old town house with a grand ground floor dining room with high ceiling supported by four huge columns. In keeping with the ambience, the stewards were gracefully attentive as they swished around in sarongs.

Yangon lunch

Yangon lunch

The dishes we ordered were (clockwise from left to right): Pork in Black Soya Bean Paste (Rs 754 [£ 3.50  $ 5.28]); Tomato salad, Myanmar style (Rs 278 [£ 1.29; US$ 1.95]); Rice; Ginn Thoke, marinated shredded ginger with dried shrimps, peanuts, garlic and sesame seeds (Rs278); Grilled Egg Plant salad with shrimps (Rs 366 [£ 1.70; $ 2.56). Delicious, and so much cheaper than comparative dishes in Sri Lanka!

 

Soya Oil

I found “Natural Soya Cooking Oil – Product of Sri Lanka” during my latest safari to my local supermarket. On the label it states “Full with Omega 3 Fatty Acid; Heart Friendly: Cholesterol Free.” As if that weren’t enough reason to try it (instead of imported oils that don’t make such claims) it adds: “Each drop helps to develop Sri Lankan Farmers.”

Soya oil from Sri Lanka

Soya oil from Sri Lanka

It’s sold in an attractively designed plastic bottle that even has a map of Sri Lanka embossed on it, although the plastic is thin and the bottle sags a bit. This 1,000ml bottle of oil was being sold at an introductory price of Rs390  (£ 1.79;  $ 2.69). I think I’ll stock up on some bottles at that price as it is very easy to use. It’s manufactured by United Agri Ventures of Anuradhapura.

According to the Department of Agriculture: “Soybean was introduced from India to Sri Lanka in 1970′s, in order to provide an additional source of protein. It was regarded as a most impotent food legume because of its nutritional and industrial value. Soybean is mostly cultivated in Matale, Anuradhapura, Kurunegala, Nuwara Eliya, Mahaweli ‘H’, Monaragala, Badulla, and Polonnaruwa disticts.

 

Collecting Sri Lanka: Airgraph

Who knows what an airgraph is today? I guessed, correctly, that it was related to the airmail letter form, a foldable single sheet of paper with a postage stamp printed on the address section.

Airgraph from Ceylon

Airgraph from Ceylon

This rare item of postal stationery, a World War 2 forces pictorial Christmas greetings airgraph from Ceylon, must have been one of the first in use. It is dated 1943 but according to the history of the British Airgraph, the system was introduced to Ceylon in 1944 (but to India in 1942). It sold at auction for £12.55 (Rs2.731; $ 18.88)

The airgraph was invented in the 1930s by the Eastman Kodak Company and involved the photographing of a letter and including it on a roll of film with 1,599 other letters and sent by aeroplane to a central destination. On receipt the roll of film was processed and the 1,600 airgraphs distributed to their addressees.

Although it proved to be immediately popular the use of airgraphs soon declined after the war years because of its size (approx. 2ins by 3ins) and lack of privacy since the photographer and developer could read the message. The air letter form today (for anyone who bothers to write letters instead of sending an email) serves a similar purpose at a cheaper rate than normal air mail postage (Rs35 [£ 0.16p;  $ 0.24c]).

Modern aerogramme

Modern aerogramme

 

Royston’s Choice, 2015

My year end awards for best hotels and restaurants, based on my visits to hundreds of them in Sri Lanka during the past year, go to:

Best Colombo Hotel: Tintagel

 The lounge of the Royal Suite, Tintagel

The lounge of the Royal Suite, Tintagel

Best Colombo Restaurant: London Grill

Best Colombo Café: The Gallery Café

Gallery Cafe moussaka & wine

Gallery Cafe moussaka & wine

Best Colombo Bar: Cricket Club Café

Best Colombo Coffee House: White & Co

Best West Coast Hotel: Whispering Palms, Induruwa

Whispering Palms beside the beach

Whispering Palms beside the beach

Best South Coast Hotel: Calamander Beach Resort, Unawatuna

Best Up Country Hotel: Tea Factory Hotel, Nuwara Eliya

Best Up Country Bar: Royal Inn, Kandy

I welcome readers’ comments and suggestions for additions to this list for 2016.

 

Buy me on line

From Kicks Books, the publishers of several books from my back list, as well as of previously unpublished works, such as my collected poems, Gone Man Squared and last week’s featured paperback novel, Sweet Ebony, comes news that you can now buy my books direct on line, from:

http://www.nortonrecords.com/kicks-kindle-e-books/ or from any of the amazons.

A gift of poems

A gift of poems

Perhaps my ebooks are not stocking-fillers (unless you buy the kindle device as well), but they are certainly mind-bogglers.

Wishing you Lots of Festive Fun

Beat regards

Royston