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We’ve finally realised our dream of living at Jungle Tide, having arrived two weeks ago (and what’s more we now have Sri Lanka residence visas). So far we’ve had people staying from Sri Lanka, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic and France (via Hong Kong). Three of these have been our wonderful Workaway volunteers, Katerin, David and Martina who have been busy transforming our new garden room and doing lots of hard labour in the gardens.

In a week’s time we’re headed off to Colombo as the ship from the UK with our container on it is due to dock on 9th November, so sometime soon after that we’ll have to find room for its contents. Luckily, we’ve got plenty of space to play with.

Jerry and Sally

 

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One of our recent guests has reported that during his stay in Sri Lanka he saw no fewer than one hundred and eleven different species of bird. About a third of these were in our garden. Can anyone beat this?

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Sally’s brother recently discovered a relative living in Edinburgh who has provided us with information about her ancestors we didn’t previously have. It seems Sally’s great grandfather first came to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) in the 1880s – about a decade earlier than we had thought. He died quite young but his widow lived into her nineties and wrote a lengthy memoir about him in 1949-50 which explains lots of things we’d not properly understood before, and which was passed down to her granddaugher, Sally’s relative. Very exciting, and lots of information about the lives of planters and estate workers in the late nineteenth century.

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The Kandy Esala Perahera, world’s biggest street parade, is later than usual this year, culminating on 29th August. We’ve just heard of a new viewing gallery set up by The Bake House on Dalada Veediya (the main street) which is offering seats with a meal and soft drink for up to 10,000/- on the last couple of nights, which we think is a decent price even if it sounds a bit steep! To book a seat tel +94 777 860103 or e-mail theprinceofwaleskandy@gmail.com

Jungle tide has no business connection with them, we’re just letting people know as it can be incredible hard to find somewhere to see the procession from on the last few nights when it’s at its biggest.

And Jungle Tide still has accommodation available in late August.

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Our wonderful Martin and Rani already do several little extras for our guests without charge, such as Sri Lankan cooking lessons (Rani) or walks in the village to meet local people (Martin) and we will be extending these when we live at Jungle Tide from October. We like to think we’ve done our bit, too. For example with the help of our project manager we organised a wedding at Jungle Tide with the registrar coming out from Kandy (the paperwork was a nightmare!) and we often arrange complex itineraries for our guests – tours to places near and far including getting entrance tickets in advance. One thing we’ve given up doing is getting train tickets for people in advance – down at Kandy station the touts snap these up and want exorbitant prices and none are left for sale at the booking office. But even that one we’ll see if we can get to grips with once we’re there.

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We’ll be visiting Sri Lanka next month and staying at Jungle Tide from 15th November to 4th December. So if you want to try out Jungle Tide and meet us, here’s a chance. We’ll be living there permanently from October 2015 so this will be our final visit to the island before then.

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Gem mine

I’m not sure what I expected. Certainly not pithead gear and belching chimneys, but probably something vaguely industrial-looking. Probably great opencast pits. After all, gem mining is a significant part of the Sri Lankan economy so to find it carried on like a 19th century cottage industry was a bit of a surprise.

We were driving through the Ratnapura area en route to Haputale and pestered our driver to show us a gem mine. He took us to the Gem Museum which was closed and padlocked. Beyond the city he pointed out a small collection of palm-topped huts in a field and said that this was a gem mine. A few miles further on we stopped and he suggested we take a look at another one – we’d passed several by then. The mine is literally a hole in the ground with a rough timber and palm shelter constructed above it. The miners descend and ascend on a rope wound round a wooden spindle with a handle – just like a wishing-well. Then they crawl along galleries in the dark and mud to look for gems. They are provided with food and shelter but any pay comes only from what they find – which is often nothing but of course there’s always the chance of the elusive big one. Fascinating and scary in equal measure.

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Royston Ellis was the subject, long ago, of the Beatles song “Paperback Writer”. Now he’s a travel writer, living in Sri Lanka, and has been to visit us at Jungle Tide and written a lovely short piece about us in his weekly newsletter and a great longer article in the Sri Lankan “Sunday Times” published on 16th March.

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Exactly a year after the landslip that took away a large part of our garden and put our swimming pool out of action, the pool reopened on 17th December. Things take time in Sri Lanka. To be fair, it was a huge job made more difficult by the difficult ground and having to transport materials from miles away. The pool itself was well built and undamaged, but the pump house, pipes and electrics all landed in the bottom of a canyon which had to be completely reinstated, as well as building a bund around the bend in the stream which had caused the original flooding and landslip. We’re delighted that Jungle Tide is fully operational once more. And Sally in particular can’t wait to try out the pool – finally – when we next visit in February.

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Many guests who book in advance want our advice on places to go and things to do in Sri Lanka, and we’re more than happy to give it. But we also realise our own former guests are a huge source of information here which we haven’t really tapped into. Have you stayed with us before? Or just visited Sri Lanka? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts on (a) good places to stay in other parts of the island (b) interesting places you’ve visited or activities you’ve done which are outside the obvious mainstream tourist attractions and (c) anywhere you had that really great meal. Just e-mail us at jungletide@gmail.com . Or respond to this blog. Thanks!

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