After suffering with Bad Hair for the past six months, my New Year’s resolution was to get it sorted out.
It’s not exactly up there with world peace but it’s been a problem since my hairdresser retired to become a police officer so in order of priority, get hair fixed first, world peace second.
I had tried a couple of other hairdressers.
There was the bully who insisted on cutting my hair into a one length bob and colouring it a dubious shade of “biscuit”.
She must have been referring to Digestives as the outcome was a flat shade of beige.
My hair is thick and when cut to one length, becomes very triangular or mushroom shaped. So that didn’t work.
Then before Christmas I tried another stylist who layered my hair a little but in a way that made it look as though she’d chewed it. So that didn’t work either.
Finally yesterday, with another New York trip on the agenda, I trotted off to a stylist in Marylebone.
The flagship salon of Daniel Galvin was impressive to say the least and I emerged three hours later having had four people work on me. Grey hair perfectly and naturally blended into dark blonde and a beautifully layered shoulder length grown up haircut bouncing as I shook my head.
Money shrieked from every well-dressed client and the London eccentrics abounded with giant dogs and mad fashion. Luckily I’d worn my nice coat.
The end result was perfect, the only downside, the screams of agony from my credit card as I paid the bill.
And now for world peace…
Big T has been jet setting this week.
From London to Düsseldorf, from London to Nice, it’s been a busy few days. He’s now in the Côte d’Azur until the end of the week. Busy busy busy!
I’m now gearing up for another one of my trips to New York next week. I know the routine by now as it must be my thirtieth trip to the Big Apple by now.
The good news is that the longest lasting cold in history is actually receding. All I have to do now is avoid food poisoning (so last year) and try and stay healthy.
And then we’re off to Switzerland!
It’s been decades since I went skiing. If I’m honest I’ve only been a couple of times so can’t really consider myself anything other than a beginner.
As Big T has managed to book us in to the super fancy Gstaad Palace Hotel in Switzerland for three nights to celebrate his birthday, it seems it’s time to dust off the skiis (if I owned any) and get back on the slopes.
The problem with skiing is that it’s one of those equipment-heavy, elitist sports and it’s very expensive. As it involves being in snow, it’s important to have good clothing and so off I went in search of ski gear which was warm enough, reasonably-priced and wouldn’t date so that in twenty years time when I go again, my jacket and trousers would still be fashionably retro.
It turned out that reasonably-priced ski gear is an oxymoron. A sale price means a jacket is slightly less than the GDP of a small country but not by much.
I decided it was an investment and we would be skiing every winter from now on regardless of skill level.
And so with a new jacket (with lots of zips), trousers, gloves, socks and a thermal base layer, I should be warm. With limited skill I can’t guarantee I’ll look proficient but at least I won’t be cold.
Hopefully it’s like riding a bike…
It’s been a hard couple of weeks as colds have taken hold and refused to budge. Nightly coughing has been on the agenda and lack of sleep has certainly taken its toll. We have not been much fun.
Apart from venturing out last weekend in search of food with flavour (Indian dosas) we have been laying low and we haven’t touched alcohol since Boxing Day (Christmas Day might have put me off drinking for good). If we could shift the colds, we’d probably be feeling amazing!
At the risk of sounding less than optimistic, I’m over it… except that I’m not!
One minute we were sitting on a train, windows open, the warm air wafting over us, the view of the Indian ocean framed by palm trees; the next minute we were catapulted back into the reality of London, grey skies, rain and this week, snow. It was shocking to say the least.
I have often lamented the invention of flight which means there is no time to adjust to a change in climate and culture and this was the perfect illustration. I think I might be better suited to travel by ocean liner where things move much slower and allows time for a gentle transition.
We have both been suffering withdrawal symptoms and have been homesick for Sri Lanka.
For me, the food has been the biggest shock. I had loved the food in Sri Lanka and can see a difference in my complexion from eating a diet of vegetables and rice for two weeks. I loved having the choice of different vegetarian curries full of flavour and spice everyday.
For Big T, the climate has been the biggest shock. He suffers in the winter and has succumbed to a bad cold upon re-entry. He is less than happy being back in the UK.
Cycling last night in snow and arriving home soaking wet and freezing, it really was the frosty icing on the cake.
Take us back to Sri Lanka!
We had sadly reached the end of our journey.
One last stunning train journey along the coast from Galle to Colombo trying desperately to absorb the emerald green view and inhale the faint whiff of woodsmoke and incense for the last time.
One last bus ride to the airport and one last delicious meal of rice and curry.
Sri Lanka had given us a fantastic experience.
A gentle culture grounded in family values where people smile constantly and look happy, where no one smokes or drinks alcohol, where people are kind to each other and generous with their time and limited money.
If this is the third world, they seem to have a far better standard of living than we do.
We had loved our time on this beautiful green jewel of an island and felt so lucky to have seen so much.
It was time to head back to colder climes, to a grey palette and the reality of work and home.
The difference was that we were taking the lessons we’d learned in Sri Lanka back with us.
We stayed in an interesting hotel in Galle called the Closenberg Hotel.
Perched on a rocky outcrop with panoramic views, it had an air of the Riviera and the faded glamour of old Ceylon.
In the right hands it could have been stunning; in its current state, it was tired and crumbling but still somehow appealliing.
The website was strangely deceptive, the photos were there and yet it looked so different, so much more stylish than the reality.
We discovered an aquarium room full of old green dried up tanks, fish long dead.
We talked to the old staff, a waiter who’d been with the hotel for 44 years. He wouldn’t be leaving until he had to.
And we walked to the surf beach down the private path, past the washing lines and vegetable gardens where we looked back at the hotel imagining its glory days.
It would be a wonderful project if one had a few million pounds to invest!
Our final stop on the grand tour of Sri Lanka was Galle, a historic coastal fort.
Divided into the old town and the new, we spent several hours exploring the old walled fort with its new boutique hotels, cafes and many jewellery shops.
The old Dutch hospital had been developed into shops and restaurants and at the southern point, the original lighthouse stood.
The old fort has been developed for the up market tourist industry and while lovely, doesn’t feel very Sri Lankan.
We sat and watched a group of locals play cricket with dubious curved bats and bowling which looked a lot like throwing as the sun started to go down.
Then we sat high on the walls overlooking the Indian Ocean to watch the sun set.
Heading back out of the main gates, we were back into the real flavour of Sri Lanka; the tuktuks, the buses, the horns blaring, the noise and smells which were missing from the old fort.
Saturday night in Galle was not a place to find food. We assumed most Sri Lankans would eat at home with their families as there was very little food around and so we headed back to our hotel for dinner.
There is breed of dog seemingly unique to Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Hopping Dog.
Everywhere we’ve been we’ve seen dozens of this breed hopping along on three legs usually with a back leg resting as tuktuks, buses and dogs share the hectic roads.
The Hopping Dog doesn’t wear a jaunty tweed bow tie like the Little Welsh Terrier, instead they live on the streets surviving on their wits.
And while we’ve seen lots of dogs resting on the road, we haven’t seen any roadkill, not a single dead animal in Sri Lanka, not even a lizard.
The Buddhist philosophy is strong in Sri Lanka and respect is shown to all living things including the Hopping Dogs.
For two weeks we’ve eaten only Sri Lankan cooking and we’ve loved it.
The main dish is rice and curry and I must have sampled at least thirty varieties of Dahl along the way. How lucky then that it’s one of my favourite foods!
We have been completely alcohol-free for the last two weeks and what a difference it has made. The eyes have cleared and the body detoxed.
We’ve enjoyed buffalo curd and trickle (a light sugar cane treacle). How can you not love something called Trickle?!
We’ve drunk endless cups of fragrant Ceylon tea.
And we haven’t lost a single pound.
Quite the opposite in fact as it seems that the Sri Lankan diet is not exactly slimming but it’s all been extremely delicious so worth it.
Now the challenge will be where to find Sri Lankan cooking in London.
Somehow not the same I suspect.