Today has been fun, mostly.
Mr Rick (TGS Principal) had asked me to join him and his wife Miss Kris for a meal. It was agreed that I’d go across to the school in time for the 1:30 close. I decided to sneak over early and use their Internet connection, but when I got there it turned out that the IT teacher was absent and the class I see most were in the room being supervised by another teacher. I did a bit of surfing on my Kindle, some email reading, a bit of lesson prep for next week and then wandered round looking at what they were doing and sticking my oar in.
After school Rick, Kris and I went back to their flat, just a very short distance from TGS – I used to pass it on the way to TIS. It’s a lovely flat: biggish rooms with high ceilings and some interesting objects. After a glass – well, a jar as they didn’t have glasses – of fruit juice whilst Rick was walking the dog and failing to get it to do its party tricks, we set off in the car. As so often, I’d got the wrong end of the stick and the Lighthouse where we were going was unrelated to the tower of the same name in the Fort, but a swanky, very “European” resort hotel a couple of miles out of town. It has large grounds leading down to the shore, a couple of outdoor swimming pools, a well-equipped gym and is really more of a resort in its own right than the word “hotel” suggests. Kris went to the pool whilst Rick and I headed to the gym. I must confess that I could really feel the fact I’d not been to a gym for well over two months!
After a workout, we sat outside near the pool and had a couple of beers, before going in for a (late) lunch. My red mullet, as recommended by Kris, was first rate and I enjoyed it greatly. We were briefly joined by an acquaintance of Rick’s: a Canadian woman whose (great?) grandfather used to own Inverlochy Castle in the Highlands, as well as lots of distilleries. I must look up Thomas Hobbs when I get the chance. She is a frequent visitor to SL and this time has somehow got taken on as an extra in a Bollywood-style film being shot in Colombo. She has had to stand around one day in a ball gown, drink watered-down coke and occasionally dancing and said they all dread the arrival of the choreographer as they know they’re in for long session of practising dance moves. It sounds horrid! She said she’d thought it was to be a serious historical film as it features the deaths of both Lincoln and Gandhi, but it’s not.
After our meal, we drove back and stopped at a supermarket I didn’t know existed – a cut above the Cargills I normally patronise. I had asked R&K about buying cheese as I still have some oatcakes I brought out and which I thought I’d share with Sera and family. There wasn’t a huge range – though well beyond the processed sub-Kraft slices of blotting-paper masquerading as cheese that Cargills sell – but I bought some “artisan” (we’ll see!) Cheddar and Lurpak butter, which Purmina has put into her fridge. Sunday night is on me!
About this point, I realised I’d left my Kindle in TGS and Rick kindly agreed to let me into school to collect it, but the security guy didn’t appear in reply to our hooting at the locked gate, so that’ll have to wait till Rick’s walking the dog tomorrow morning.
Just as I walked into my room, the heavens opened: the gods were throwing the furniture about, lightning flashed and the rain was torrential, though brief. Today has been very hot – even the locals are commenting on it – and I was glad to get the a/c on in my room on my return.
Mindful of the hassle a tiny spider caused me a week or two back, I thought I’d give its big brother which appeared in my bathroom a body-swerve. I’m not one to be put off by spiders etc. (though wasps are a different matter), but once bitten…
By arrangement, I met Rick and his dog at the school and retrieved my Kindle. He was doing one or two DIY type jobs there – moving and fixing a large wall-mounted pin-board, sizing up a gate for repair etc., so I gave him a hand. He also has a PADI certificate and we’ve provisionally agreed to go for a dive at Hikkaduwa next weekend. That’ll be my last weekend in Galle before the Kandy trip and Kris goes in to hospital for a hip-op, if all the various arrangements come together. I think Rick is probably quite glad of some male company as he is subject to the “monstrous regimen of women”, being the only male staff member at TGS, albeit the Principal.
Round about one o’clock, I succumbed and had lunch down in the Fort: I had planned for a fast day today, but the flesh was weak. So was the spirit.
It’s true that you get more like your parents as you get older. A few years ago, when my father died in early December and I was wondering how to let his friends and relations know I discovered he had already written, addressed and stamped, but not posted, his Christmas cards, which made my job much easier. He was always one for getting things organised well in advance. I just hope I don’t get too like my mother as well: “We have a terrible problem in Melrose with fat people” delivered in a loud voice as three rather heavily-built women passed our table in a restaurant.
Blood will out, so after lunch, I did a bit of research re train times into Colombo to connect with a Kandy train. The Guidebook recommends the “observation car” on the Hill Country Line, in order to get best of the superb views, but I’d have to go into Colombo to book that and it seems like a lot of hassle and time-wasting. There is a new development, though: a couple of private companies are running their own luxury, air conditioned big windowed, arm-chair furnished carriages on the so-called InterCity Expresses to the Hill Country. By SL standards, these are expensive – about £7 for the 2½ hour journey – and it seems you can book by phone or on-line. I think I’ll try travelling like a sahib at least as far as Kandy and perhaps on the other sections of my trip that use the same railway line. Sonia and I – probably Jo and Sarah as well – have memories of the return journey from Kandy and not only was it standing room only for much of the time, but very slow and without air con. When I say “standing room”, I’m convinced it was so packed you could lift your feet off the floor and the crowded conditions would keep you from falling. I spent much of the time standing on the link between carriages, with the rails visibly grinding past below my feet. If I recall correctly Sonia was the unwitting cause of an argument when someone was good enough to give her a seat for a while. Then there were the sellers of fruit and various short eats, players of musical instruments and so forth. The luxury new carriages may mean I miss out on the atmosphere, but breathing should be easier and the journey rather more comfortable. It looks as though a 7:00 am departure from Galle – and I’ll remember to get a second class ticket this time (there’s no first class) – would give me adequate time to catch the 9:45 Colombo-Kandy train and its sybaritic seating.
The power today has been on and off like… well, like a thing that goes on and off a lot. The temperature in the room rockets as soon as the air con and fan cease to operate. Luckily, the breaks have been fairly short, so I’ve not melted completely, just got rather soggy at the edges.
Did I mention all the fat people – mostly tourists – I see around the Fort? They really are a problem.