Welcome to our latest newsletter keeping you up to date with life at Jungle Tide. As always, let us know if you don’t want to receive them and we’ll unsubscribe you.
Three score and ten
Jerry turned seventy at the end of May so we decided to have a mini-break to mark the event. Starting with a night at our good friends Simon and Pauline Lazenbatt’s lovely guest house, Flamboyant Estate, near Dambulla and ending in the lap of even greater luxury at the Kandalama Hotel, one of Geoffrey Bawa’s masterpieces and a landmark of tropical architecture. Also, needless to add, well out of our normal budget but this was a special occasion.
On the way to Flamboyant we stopped off to meet Dave and Seng-Li who we’d been put in touch with by a mutual friend in England. They are in the later stages of renovating an old bungalow and making a terrific job of it. They also grow and process their own tea in the most amazing mini-tea-factory in their garage! Scaled-down versions of the machinery one sees in the many tea factories now open to the public. We thought Jungle Tide was a bit remote but it doesn’t compare to Dave and Seng-Li’s place, Gammaduwa, which really has a wonderful middle-of-nowhere feel to it.
Simon and Pauline took us to two exceptional places we’d not visited before and which we will now be encouraging our guests to experience if they want something fascinating and free of tourists. First the exquisitely beautiful lakeside monastery ruins of Menikdena, only a few miles from the more famous Dambulla but we were the only people there aside from a couple of gardeners.
Then on to the Popham Arboretum which Pauline and Simon actively support. Its history is convoluted and typically Sri Lankan but it was originally founded by a British planter, Sam Popham, (still alive in the UK and in his nineties) who became concerned at the number of native trees, some of them rare, being cleared for the plantations and urban development. It is now run on a shoestring and managed by a brilliant guy called Jayantha Amerasinghe who showed us round.
What’s new at Jungle Tide
May and June are off-season in Sri Lanka so with fewer guests, this is when we bring in our volunteers to help us achieve lots of minor miracles. What’s new, then, as we approach our busy July and August season?
Well, we now have a barbecue, built of brick and tested out successfully on a somewhat rainy solstice night. It does look a bit like a DJ-ing station though! Here’s Ali, who built it, with the almost finished product.
The lawn now also has a badminton net so that’s been added to the Jungle Tide Olympics events alongside boules, crazy croquet, cricket, Frisbee and so on. And a new rustic table courtesy of volunteer Reuben who also built a stand for the water purifier which forms part of a new facility on the veranda. The guests now have their own fridge and tea/coffee station, which makes the kitchen (and our fridge!) a lot less crowded. Though not a volunteer project, we’ve also done much-needed repairs to the swimming pool which had a growing number of cracked tiles, now all replaced.
Less exciting but equally important volunteer projects have included masses of improved fencing to keep the mongooses off the chickens and the porcupines out of the vegetables, concreting the middle section of the driveway to make it more friendly for three wheelers and their passengers, renewing our oil barrel incinerators (we have to burn plastic as there’s no recycling facility but burning it hot and fast is less environmentally damaging), making a donations box for the Friends of Popham Arboretum, and polishing everything from the veranda to Sally’s family heirlooms – the candelabra which get brought out on special occasions.
As ever, our volunteers are a multi-national crew and we managed an appropriate dinner party at the start of the World Cup where we had people from the host country (Russia), the favourites (Brazil) and the defending champions (Germany) – but not much football talk, to Sally’s relief.
Christmas is coming!
As explained in the last Tidings we’re about to set off for six months in the UK and Europe in a mammoth back-to-back series of eighteen house swaps taking us all over England and bits of Wales plus visits to Sweden, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Madeira, Lisbon, Barcelona, Seville and Tangier. And Christmas will be a home exchange with people who live in a splendid big house in the Sussex downs, so while we have our family joining us for a rare Christmas get-together they’ll be enjoying a tropical Christmas. But there’s no escaping Sally’s cooking even at six thousand miles and she’s already made them a Christmas pudding and some jars of mincemeat. The vaguely Christmassy backdrop is one of Rani’s giant anthuriums which she specialises in growing.
While we’re away the day-to day management of Jungle Tide will be undertaken by Bec and Mitch who introduced themselves in the last Tidings. We’re really looking forward to meeting them in a couple of days’ time. They will handle the busy July and August season and leave in the autumn to be replaced by the wonderful Carolyn Arandt who looked after Jungle Tide for us a couple of years ago while we were in Australia and New Zealand. We’ll miss our lovely dogs more than they’ll miss us as for most of the time there will be a succession of guests keen to do Walkies.
Coming of Age Sri Lanka style
Dimuthu is the daughter of Noni who works for us and recently she reached puberty. Although Sri Lankan culture is in most ways socially conservative they do a big number when girls reach puberty – haven’t found out yet whether it’s the same for boys. So Noni and Rani cooked up a feast for over a hundred people and we were invited to a delicious breakfast to kick off the all- day event. Here’s Dimuthu dressed for the occasion, with Noni.
Broke’n’English: the familiar plug
Jerry’s book is selling steadily at Barefoot Bookshop in Colombo as well as to our guests, house-swappers and volunteers, and online. If you haven’t got round to buying a copy, it’s available from Amazon – just type in the ISBN number1974150208 and it will take you straight to the book. Around $10.50US or £7.95 in proper money. And if you have read the book and want to follow the story as it continues to unfold do visit Jerry’s blog site:
Jerry and Sally