Monday, August 30

Trying To Find A Match

The universal truth about estate agents is that no matter how clear you are about what important important features one is looking for; how much space, how many dungeons, turrets and catapault launchers, they completely ignore you. I showed them my drawing and I also told them about places that I had noticed looking a bit unused but possibly useful to us, places like this red brick delight that can’t decide whether it wants to be a Victorian bathing house or a car showroom. Handy for us because it already had a good workshop and big doors that you can drive a van through.

I was also rather keen on this ‘pro-cathedral

which I had no idea existed until I stumbled upon it on my early morning walks recently. This church was briefly raised to cathedralhood in the 60s, until a spectacularly ugly modern purpose-built cathedral was constructed nearby. It is currently partly used by a theatre company and a man who repairs bicycles.

No matter what I tried I kept getting sent details of things that look like this

I now realise that I should've asked to see places that looked to be made of grubby grey Lego and I'd have been overwhelmed by Baroque and Rococo.

Last week I took a phone call from an estate agent offering me a property that he admitted only had half the amount of space we needed and it had no ground floor access (which we also needed) but it did have an 'infinity wall' which he thought I'd rather fancy.

Sunday, August 22

Castles In The Air

This year the number of people working in the house where I live has doubled and just as I was about to burst with the claustrophobia of it all - we discovered that the company was solvent enough to get a home of it’s own.

I went on the hunt for suitable premises, before setting off I asked Miss Whiplash, The Director and the Camera Boys what they felt would constitute the perfect place to work - then I made a drawing which I presented to various estate agents and held up against properties on my morning walks.

additional desirable features would include;
• it being no more than 200 metres from where we are now
• it should have a dungeon
• it should have a bar
• a boy should be able to run a zip wire between his bedroom window and the office window
• bacon sandwiches
• uniformed cleaning men
• plants
• a tea lady
• regular cake
• a decent printer
• windows and doors

I have found the nearly perfect place (we had to concede one or two wishes).

Monday, August 16

The Wonder Dog

This is the hotel dog formerly known as Bollocks. All that changed last year when he was discovered with his head down a python's throat.

The rest of the python was wrapped around the dogs body and squeezing hard, the dog's owner thought Bollocks was a goner but shouted out for help anyway and noticed that the tiny bit of Bollocks that wasn't being strangled, the tip of his tail, wagged in response to his master's voice.

Help had arrived, the two men hit the python with sticks and it released the dog, unharmed but a bit cross, Bollocks bit the python before running home and has been henceforth known as Wonder Dog.

Sunday, August 15

View From Inside A Tuktuk

While I was away I got very interested in the interior decorating of tuktuks, here are a couple of images that caught my eye...

Mother's Love - All that I am or hope to be i owe to my angle mother

To make pleasures pleasant shorten them

Friday, August 13

Bringing Back The Sun

I'm back in the UK feeling all hazy and jetlaggy and it's bloody cold. A little pile of books that I read while I was away are still by my bed so I have been dipping back into them since my return for a warm-up.

The Book of Indian Birds: Salim Ali (1941)
Lovely illustrations and great text, I particularly liked Mr Ali’s descriptions of bird calls, here he is on the Malabar Pied Hornbill’s call;
A variety of loud cackling and inane screams reminiscent of the protestations of a dak bungalow murghi* seized by the cook, and also the yelps of a smacked puppy!

*Baffled I looked for explanation and found this wonderfully informative passage here
The British had set up rest-houses known as Daak Bungalow... Somehow, there was always an Anglo-Indian woman who would found her way to the Dak Bungalow to keep the company of the traveling British officer. Every Dak Bungalow has a love story to tell, only if the walls could talk.

In the rear, every Daak Bungalow had chicken coup manned by 'Murghi wala'

Reef: Romesh Gunesekera (1994)
Narrated by Triton, a young houseboy in the service of his hero Mister Salgado, sensuous and funny, turning chillingly dark towards the end, I loved it’s 170 pages so much that I eeked them out for days.
Thanks for the recommendation Eryl

How to see Ceylon: Bella Sidney Woolf (1914)
An early travel guide, Bella Woolf went to Ceylon in 1907 to visit her brother Leonard and ended up marrying the Assistant Director of the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. Contains fascinatingly descriptive travel itineraries and plenty of useful advice:
A Topee should always be worn until 4 to 4.30 pm even on dull days

Ceylon Daily News Cookery Book (1929)
...constitutes a serious attempt to aid the housewives of Ceylon to practise the art of cooking so that, like the quality of mercy, the preparation of palatable dishes will bless her that gives and him that takes.

Contains recipes for things as diverse as Poached Eggs with Mince and Titta Tibbatu Mallung. I’m particularly fond of the section entitled Invalid & Convalescent Cookery, which gives this advice
Do not consult a patient about his meal, but try and find out what will be liked and let it come as a surprise.

Then follows such appetite tempters as Egg White Water, Beef Tea Custard, Invalid Blancmange, Sago Gruel and Stewed Spaghetti.
Who wouldn't get better when faced with this?

Running in the Family: Michael Ondaatje (1982)
The most delicious memoir of Ondaatje’s Sri Lankan family history, pieced together from photo albums and anecdotes told by friends and family members. I looked for it in a bookshop in Columbo, the elderly salesman snatched it down from the shelf when I mentioned the title declaring
this book is a must have ... an absolute must have
he clutched it so tightly that I had to fight it off him. Anyway it’s great and now it’s mine - here’s a bit;

An aunt gives an account of her journey to Ondaatje's father's wedding, they have seen a car in a ditch and next to it the Bishop who was to officiate at the wedding, everyone knew the man to be a terrible driver - he has to be given a lift.

First of all his luggage had to be put in carefully because his vestments couldn’t be crushed. Then his mitre and sceptre and those special shoes and whatnot. And as we were so crowded and a bishop couldn’t sit on anyone’s lap – and as no one could really sit on a bishop’s lap we had to let him drive the Fiat...

Wednesday, August 11

Trying to Give Gifts

We went along to watch a farmer, his young son and their cattle herd being presented with an anti-leopard pen last week*. The farmer was thrilled, but the calves weren't too keen.

*more about this here
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