Coconut Fever

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king coconuts, Sri Lanka

King coconuts for sale, Train station, Sri Lanka

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coconut treeMuller von Ruffach, 1861

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I‘m coocoo for coconuts right now.

Just can’t seem to get enough of this wonderful fruit!

 I started drinking coconut water a few years back, then cooking with it a year or so ago,

as well as using it on my skin and hair.

More recently, I’ve been practicing the Ayurvedic treatment

of “Oil Pulling”

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A list of only some of the supposed benefits of Oil Pulling

-Whiter teeth and healthier gums

-decreased allergy symptoms

-Improved sleep and better energy

-clearer skin

-clearing of sinuses

-diminishing of headaches

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Pulling should be practiced every morning, when you first get up and on an empty stomach. Use 1 tablespoon of oil. Sesame oil is most commonly used in traditional ayurvedic pulling  but you may also use vegetable or coconut oil.

 I heat it in a tiny cup in the microwave for 20 seconds to melt and bring to a warm temperature that I find most pleasant.

 Swish the oil around your mouth for a minimum of 5 minutes, max. 30! ( I’m doing about 7)

make sure you push the oil through your teeth, under the tongue, etc. but

 do not swallow any of the oil (it is filling with bacteria :( )

Spit out after time is up and brush your teeth. Simple dimple.

The coconut oil leaves such a pleasant taste in your mouth (as well as moisturising your lips) that I honestly don’t even want to brush right away. I’d rather have my morning cuppa tea first, but that’s just me.

Truthfully, I haven’t noticed any changes in my skin or energy levels yet, but it’s only been just over two weeks and I’m giving it at least a  month. I actually sort of look forward to my little morning ritual and what could it hurt?

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Slim Paley photo

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fresh king coconut water

Sharing fresh King coconut water creatures with friends in Sri Lanka

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cultured almond milkSlim Paley photo..

Coconut flavoured Cultured Almond milk is not bad at all.

With some chopped tropical fruit and a sprinkling of toasted coconut flakes, I could easily have this for breakfast twice a week.

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palm trees, Sri Lanka


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SO Delicious coconut milkSlim Paley photo

Also happy to find this coconut chia & flax seed oil to add to smoothies and why not try coconut milk instead of dairy for awhile?

I like it just as much as almond milk with my granola-

not sure which is healthier, but variety is the spice of life!

(yes, that’s what constitutes ‘variety’ for me now. cue violin)

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fresh King coconut water

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ONE coconut waterSlim Paley photo

I have a standing order with Amazon for O.N.E. coconut water to be delivered every month

but have you tried fresh “Baby coconut” water? It’s sooo good-much sweeter than “O.N.E.”

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.coconut tree drawing

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Kara coconut cream

Coconut cream for desserts, creamy curries, and of course… cocktails :)

Another great idea I read about but haven’t tried yet is making ‘whipped coconut cream’ instead of traditional dairy whipped cream.

Simply put a can of coconut milk in the fridge for a couple of hours, skim the thickened part from the top of the can, and whip.

see full instructions here;

Whip that Coconut!

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bar, Amanwella hotel, Sri Lanka

The Amanwella hotel bar, Sri Lanka

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king coconuts

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We’ve been looking for Haagen Dazs Coconut and Pineapple ice-cream, but so far no luck :(

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Are you of the coconut body??

It seems to be one of those flavours that people either love or hate.

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coconut cake

But seriously, WHO can resist a divine Coconut Cream cake?!

oh wait…

we were talking about being healthy and Ayurvedic medicine, why did you lead me astray like that?!

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Black & White Stripes Redux

wicker basket with towel

Poolside, the Tintagel Hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka

It seemed everywhere we turned in Sri Lanka, black & white stripes beckoned.

Slim Paley photo

The Tintagel Hotel

Slim Paley photo

Lobby of the Tintagel Hotel

We were so inspired!

Of course I had to answer the call.

Now as shopping meccas go, Sri Lanka’s not, well, Mecca, but I did manage to purchase a few things.

I found a great woven cotton black & white striped tablecloth and napkins (which didn’t make the post due to laundering concerns, having been packed with the black rubber coasters I bought that turned my bag into a tire factory for the rest of the trip ( picked up in our first port of call too. A lot of them.)

Well, honestly, who knew they would smell so pong-y?!

(have you read “King Leopold’s Ghost”?  A startling book about the history of the rubber trade in the Congo).

cold soupsSlim Paley photo

Gazpacho & stripes.  (Note rubber charger :))

Galle, Sri LankaSlim Paley photo

We loved the black & white striping at The Kahanda Kanda Hotel, Galle, Sri Lanka

 apparently somebody else was also digging the combo 

and didn’t attend his “Lizards #101 Blending In” class.

 Ralph Lauren does it beautifully

Going to be pulling out my black & white shirt with the itchy collar and soaking it in Downy til it cooperates.

I even ordered these straws. Probably won’t use them with the tablecloth, but…

Never say never.

I did buy coasters made out of tires.

PS. Straws can be ordered here

Paradise Road, Colombo, Sri LankaSlim Paley photo

Paradise Road, The Gallery Cafe, Colombo

19th century Swedish corner bench via Balsamo Antiques NY.

Amelia Handegan

Great little pop of blue from the bedside lamps!

black stair railings

My beach house stair railings from the second floor

Love this mix in AD

.Cute idea for a tea towel bar.

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Slim Paley photo

Tea towels from “Bed Bath & Beyond” $9.99

via

travel, Sri LankaSlim Paley photo

Gourdon, France

credit unknown

black & white stripes with wicker always works

photo of Miranda Kerr

been there.

Natasha Poly. Isabel Marant jeans

if memory serves I had a few of these little crocheted numbers growing up.

A far cry from last week’s Costco porno dummy suit (still sitting in my car)

Growing up,  my mom  used to say with a sigh; “Every Dog Has His Day”

( my mom’s from Dublin, she has 50 million of these expressions)

I never really liked that one because I never understood it,

 and now that I do , I still don’t like it :(

but it did come to mind when I saw these

swimsuits hand crocheted in Australia and  available on Couture Lab .

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black & white stripes

Slim Paley photo

.D Will Black & White stripes inspire you, or are you all about COLOUR for Spring & Summer?

How about combining colour & stripes and having it ALL and we’ll just thumb our noses at those “Dog Days”?!

S.P. photo

If you’re so inclined, you can find last year’s Black & White Stripes post  here

Stay tuned for more travel and “Springing into Summer” posts soon!

xx

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Green Gold

Ceylon teaSlim Paley photo

Fields of TEA, the most consumed beverage on the planet

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Being an Irish lass, what better day to post about my visit to the tea plantations of Sri Lanka than on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day?!

And ye of little faith, thinking I wasn’t going to post this week!

Why I was just getting settled back in, unpacking, battling jet lag and eating Coldstone’s ice cream at 5:00am in the morning.

You know, the usual…

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tea plantationsSlim Paley photo

Certainly one of the highlights of our trip was the time we spent along the Tea Trails.

Imagine falling into a Genie’s bottle of Hendrick’s gin and you’ll get some idea of the verdant atmosphere of this area.

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Did you notice the tiny church nestled at the top of the fields of tea? The most beautiful little church in the world, which I’m saving for another post.

Did I just mention gin and church in the same sentence? :(

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white teaSlim Paley photo

Who knew that all tea; English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Jasmine, Orange Pekoe, green, even white tea (which, seen above, is the healthiest tea of all) comes from the same tea plant?!

White tea is made from the silver tipped uppermost leaves with the barely perceptible hairs you see on the leaf above. For high quality teas no more than the top 3 leaves of the plant will be picked.

Various flavours such as “Earl Grey” are infused into the tea after the leaves have been processed by the tea factory. To Earl Grey for example, one of my favorites, bergamot is added, for Lady Grey, simply a lighter note of bergamot. For Jasmine tea the jasmine flower is added during the fermenting process, Green tea is unfermented and black tea is fermented for exactly 2 hours and 40 minutes, a minute less and the tea tastes soapy, a minute more and the leaves start to acquire a bitter taste.

And yes, that is the sound of my fingernails brushing against my lapel :)

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Slim Paley photo

Our journey to Hatton began from the most adorable train station, built in 1867 and located in the beautifully named town of Peradeniya.

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Train stations, Sri Lanka.

Whaaat?! that can’t be right! It’s definitely my laptop.

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We had booked ahead and managed to score seats in the “Super Luxury A/C Cabin”

…or so we thought…

Only to find our “First Class” carriage doing a shockingly good imitation of a sardine tin… Ahhnd whatever happened to that air conditioning??

The train immediately pulled out of the station and as the journey was supposedly to last 4 hours (I say supposedly as Time is a rather fluid concept in Sri Lanka) we were, needless to say, horrified. The entire situation was so messing with my ‘Meryl Streep getting off the train to glimpse Robert Redford in Africa’ fantasy. Different continent, and duffel bags rather than steamer trunks & fine china but really, that was beside the point. My upper lip began to get dewy. My hair continued to expand.

After much pushing, yelling, and jostling of body bag-sized backpacks, the conductor was able to insert his way into our car and inform all those passengers from a certain tour group from a country that shall remain nameless, that they simply had to disembark at the next station TOUT de SUITE.

EXCUSEZ MOI.

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A seat at last, and who needs air conditioning (which I abhor really) when you can throw open the window to a warm breeze and this kind of view?

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waterfalls, Sri Lanka

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travel Ceylon

Nuwara Eliya “The Little England of Sri Lanka”

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The tiny white spots you see in the photo below are the tea harvesters.

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Leaves are picked every 7 days. Each picker has their own zone and the rotating is very methodical. The bushes can live to be 135 yrs. old, are fertilized every 3 months and cut back every 4 years. One single branch is left uncut to stop the plant from going into shock. I’m going to try that with a few rose bushes next year and see if it makes a difference.

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Sri Lanka

The tea pickers are given housing by the tea plantations as well as electricity and good schooling for their children.

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A lady walking down the road, though this doesn’t look to be tea she is carrying

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We visited the Norwood Factory in Bogowantalawa where we were given a delightful tour by Andrew Taylor, a direct descendant of James Taylor, the first tea planter in Sri Lanka. Although the factory was not in production the day we visited we were able to take a nice quiet tour and receive Andrew’s undivided attention.

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freshly picked tea leavesSlim Paley photo

Here we begin with the freshly plucked leaves.

They must be moist enough to not break up when they are rolled between your palms.

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The freshly picked baskets of tea leaves are put into this elevator and brought up to the second floor of the factory

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Where they are spread out on these racks

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and dried for a very specific amount of time by these incredibly powerful fans

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Then lots of other crazy stuff happens.

What can I say- I lost some of my notes and was nervous about going up Adam’s Peak later that night- I was trying to preserve energy!

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I thought a few people might enjoy this sign :)

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I know that this machine shimmied and shook like crazy

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and I believe this one cut the leaves but don’t quote me

Towards the end of the process the leaves are put into a huge oven heated entirely by burning wood.

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I was rather taken with the Norwood Factory’s “5S System” which they’ve adopted from the Japanese.

I might add that the factory and all the machinery was immaculate.

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.tea country, Sri Lanka

3 stages of tea

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The entire process of taking the tea leaf from the bush to finished product is accomplished in a single day.

7 days a week. 365 days a year.

There is no down season in the tea world.

From every batch of tea, a small sample is sent to all the brokers in Sri Lanka representing purveyors from around the world, from Lipton’s to Fornum & Mason. Their agents will expertly inspect the quality of leaves for colour, consistency and taste and then bid on individual lots at auction every week. A tea taster can manage 800-1,000 tastings A DAY. Take that wine tasters.

So from the field to the bank for the tea producer is a 3 week turnaround. What a great business!

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Finally, our taste test lesson, which involved swilling, slurping, spitting and face making whilst we searched for hopefully a lack of any ‘foreign’ perfume or wood smoke, while trying to ascertain a fresh citrusy scent, slight tingle on the tip of our tongues, and a general feeling of well being.

In other words, we had great fun!

Lastly, just a couple more things to remember;

Authentic tea leaves from Sri Lanka should have the name “Dilmah” on the packaging.

In order to keep tea fresh you should remove it from cardboard boxes and store in metal tins. If tea is wrapped in Aluminum foil it will keep for 3 years as opposed to 18 months, at best, unwrapped.

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And how, being a child of a certain era, could I resist adding this??!

Tea For The Tillerman


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What young girl didn’t drink copious cups of tea listening to the Cat??!

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Slim Paley at tea plantation, Sri Lanka

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God Cat

Stop following me!

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The fine tea of the Norwood plantation ready to be sent around the world.

Of course this post has only barely brushed against the fascinating world of tea. There are a zillion books on the subject, one being “The Empire of Tea: The Remarkable History of the Plant That Took Over the World” by Alan & Iris Macfarlane.

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Slim Paley photo

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Wishing my Irish relatives and everyone that cares to celebrate A Very Happy St. Patrick’s Day

And for those of you in Ireland, Boston and New Orleans-take it easy on the green beer and “Kilt Lifters”!!

xoxo

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We Be Pilgrims

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ADAM’S PEAK or SRI PADA

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“The panorama from the summit of Adam’s Peak is perhaps the grandest in the world, as no other mountain, although surpassing it in altitude , presents the same unobstructed view over land and sea. Around it, to the north and east, the traveller looks down on the zone of lofty hills that encircle the Kandyan kingdom, whilst to the westward the eye is carried far over undulating plains, threaded by rivers like cords of silver, till in the purple distance the glitter of the sunbeams on the sea mark the line of the Indian Ocean” James Emerson Tennent

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Climbed it.

Swear.

My friend and I climbed it in the middle of the night.

Adam's Peak, Sri LankaSlim Paley photo

Starting off at the gates to “Sri Pada” (Sacred Footprint)

Imagine a place on this strife-riddled planet where Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims  all walk together, side by side, head to toe, in a peaceful, unified pilgrimage.

 Offering helping hands, sharing water, even carrying those unable to climb without aid,

Mostly in silence or in prayer…

(Ok, my friend and I complained a couple of times but under our breath and not until the very top…)

They are united simply in the spirit of the climb, not in dogma, as each religion holds a different belief about the origins of  the sacred footprint they seek to view at the top of Sri Pada.

And imagine that as each pilgrim takes this harmonious journey, usually commencing in the middle of the night, they are participating in something that  has been taking place for over 1,000 years.

We are all coming to pay our respects to

the large and distinct impression at the top of the mountain measuring aprox. 68″ long by 31″ at toes and 29″ at heel resembling a footprint.

According to Christian legend and closely believed by Muslims

(let’s hear it for the Christians and the Muslims agreeing on something),

Adam was hurled from Paradise for his disobedience and stood in penance for a thousand years on one foot at the top of Adam’s Peak, after which he was reunited with Eve on Mt. Arafat overlooking Mecca.

By the ninth century, this footprint was consequently considered one of the most sacred sites in the world..

 However the imprint was also identified by Buddhists as the Buddha’s footprint, by Hindus as that of Shiva, and later in the 1500′s the Portuguese attributed it to St. Thomas the Apostle.
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Let’s just say it’s a mighty popular footprint.

ascending Adam's Peak in the night, Sri LankaSlim Paley photo

Pardon the poor quality of these  photos but I only have a point & shoot camera and it was very dark and quite cold.

The flickering thread of light you see in the distance are the  climbers going before us.

After  much research and consulting with others we decided that in order to appreciate the full Monty of the Sri Pada experience we too had to venture up in the middle of the night.

A quick trip to a men’s clothing shop to buy appropriate warm  jackets (albeit ones we would normally never be caught dead in that are now sacred garments we’ll never part with!)

An early dinner at the hotel followed by a midnight wake-up call to get layered up and ready for the 1 1/2 hour drive to the base of the mountain.

The idea is to begin the ascent at 2am to assure arrival at the summit in plenty of time to appreciate the sunrise;

“Pilgrims try to reach the summit before dawn to view the grand phenomenon known as the ‘ira-sevaya’ (the effulgence of the rising sun) puncturing the eastern horizon, like a ball of fire, casting a shadow of the mountain to fall on to the valley in the opposite direction, like a cone. The ‘ira sevaya’ is considered to mean the worship of the foot by the sun-god.”

Yo, We be Pilgrims!

Steps of Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka

Slim Paley photo

As you can see, in some places it is quite dark. The steps are rough and would hardly pass code in the United States.
It is 5,200 steps to the top. Seriously. I Shiva you not :)

shopping on Adam's Peak, slimpaley.comSlim Paley Photo

While tempted to shop on the way up (there’s a shocker), I remember that between my water, blanket, camera, sunglasses,iPhone, insect repellent, lip gloss, magnifying mirror and sunscreen, I don’t have a lot of room left.

It did occur to me that a green banana bought at the bottom might well be yellow by the time we reached the top.

fellow climber, Adam's Peak, slimpaley.comSlim Paley Photo

Fashion choices for making the pilgrimage up Sri Pada really run the gamut.

Although some fellow “pilgrims” appeared friendlier than others, It all felt very Jean-Paul Gaultier inspired.

Nearly there…

“no, don’t say that one more time.”

No, seriously, we’re really almost there.

“Shhuuh uup”

60 more steps…

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Here it comes…

The music now is a MUST;


  click on arrow

the summit of Adams Peak, slimpaley.comSkelator Hands at the ready…

Sunrise, Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka, slimpaley.com

Rising through the heavy duvet of clouds tucked around the shoulders of the mountains

Here Comes the sun…

Sunrise, Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka, slimpaley.com

 

Sunrise, Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka, slimpaley.comSlim Paley photo

Dawn breaks casting a surreal orange glow upon the faces of the weary climbers huddled out of the wind below the shrine.

Sunrise, Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka, slimpaley.comSlim Paley photo

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Some of our fellow pilgrims

Sunrise, Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka, slimpaley.comSlim Paley photo

At last the sun breaks free and starts to cast the shadows

Slim Paley, summit of Adam's Peak, Sri LankaWhere’s Waldo? I mean Slim??!

Slim Paley, summit of Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka.Slim Paley photo

Of course we had no appreciation of how high we actually were until morning came

Slim Paley photo

Top of the World Ma!

Slim Paley photo

Adam’s Peak rises 7,360ft. from the central highlands of Sri Lanka and can be seen by sea rising above the horizon 80 miles before the coastline comes into view

 summit of Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka, Slimpaley.com

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We were filled with the glory of achievement and excited to make our way down, making the silly assumption that it would be much easier than the ascent.

We were SO wrong. Coming down was brutal. The constant jarring impact of your foot against the unforgiving stone steps was no fun.

I thought if I should ever so much as see another step for the rest of the holiday it would be too soon.

It took us over 3 hours to come down! We walked sideways like crabs for the next 3 days, explaining to anyone and everyone that we had

“CLIMBED ADAM’S PEAK”

Naturally most of the shops were closed up.

We managed to find a few that were open and got awfully excited when we thought this was FUDGE.

Flies or no flies, that moment of “Fuuuuudddggge” that pranced across my brain was so exciting while it lasted.

Alas, not sure what it was but it wasn’t fudge-still I did consider buying it to put in my left shoe…

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.And all up and down- Yay Us!!

 Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka, Slimpaley.com

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Can I tell you how lovely it was to come back to this welcome at our cozy hotel nestled in the tea fields (and be carried up the stairs?!!)

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Are YOU in the mood for Adventure yet?!

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For more information on Adam’s Peak click here; Sacred Sites

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Memories, Old & New

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Flowers in the garden of the Gallery Cafe, Colombo, Sri Lanka

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A small, almost tear drop shaped country  dangling off the coast of India like a gorgeous emerald earring, Sri Lanka has always held a special place in my heart.  As I mentioned previously, I’ve been here twice before and though I hate to admit how far back that was, the fact that the rupee note I’d saved from my last visit was now in the Colombo Historical Museum (no joke) did give me a moment to reflect upon the swift passage of time (as well as sensation of slight indigestion)

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Don’t look at my manicure. I’m on my hols.

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I have never forgotten the omnipresent scent of woodsmoke drifting in the still, moist air, the beauty of the trees,the wildly exotic birds, the spectacular sunsets, and most of all, the sweetness of the people.

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and don’t even get me started on the children.

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The beach side of the Galle Face Hotel, Colombo

We started our adventure in the port city of Colombo where, I must admit, there isn’t a huge amount of things to see, however it’s where international flights land, so after a long journey, in my case from L.A., it’s nice to rest one night here, perhaps visit a museum or two and do a little shopping before you head off for more scenic destinations around the country. We’d asked our travel agent to book us into The Galle Face Hotel, where I had stayed before and adored it. Built right on the beach in Colombo in 1865, this huge Colonial Grand Dame is positively steeped (aptly, in this land so famous for their tea ) in the memories and ghosts of  all the interesting people, events and history of Ceylon that have passed through it’s colonnaded entrance.  Anybody who was anybody, from Kings to movie stars stayed at The Galle Face when they arrived in Colombo.

 So imagine my disappointment when our reservations fell through just a week or so before our trip?!

No. It could not be! Did they not remember me?! :)

Alas, it was true, and with high season in full swing, we had to choose another place to lay our weary heads.  A chance (very lucky) Twitter exchange with a writer from Australian Vogue Living magazine resulted in us booking  “The Tintagel” instead.

 Score!!

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The Tintagel, Colombo, Sri Lanka
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The lounge at The Tintagel Hotel
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Every bit as chic as promised by Australian Vogue, this 1920′s mansion in a fashionable part of town was home to the first female Prime Minister and is now being run as a very cool boutique hotel. And what’s better than a cool hotel with staff that is simply brilliant instead of being busy trying to out-cool the guests?
 My friend and I were happy as half-baked clams our first night, tucked under the eaves of our adjoining terrace (the one you see on the second floor) with a chilled bottle of wine, while thunder & lightning split open the pewter grey skies and rain lashed upon the steaming hot terrace and cobblestones below.
Happiness!
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Lashings and lashings of rain on the terrace of The Tintagel, Colombo
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Almost dry and beautiful again the following morning
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Mosquito netting, a great night’s sleep and a good(ish) cup of coffee – more happiness!
Up bright and early the next morning to visit the historical and the Dutch Heritage museums, before doing a little shopping and taking lunch at the Paradise Road /Gallery Cafe ( former residence of famed Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa-but more on G.B. later)
The building now houses a shop, gallery and restaurant, also owned by Shanth Fernando, the proprietor of The Tintagel Hotel, although we didn’t even realize that when we stumbled in for lunch.
 
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The courtyard features a pond of giant black Koi fish, fabulously patinaed walls, and revolving art installations.
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Would have loved to see these gas torches lit in the evening, it must look fantastic.
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and what’s an afternoon break from shopping without the requisite Chili & Tamarind Martini
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To go with black pork curry, dhal and poppadums?!
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The indoor/outdoor Gallery Cafe.
If you’re ever in Colombo it’s a must experience.
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Lastly, as I’m like a dog with a bone sometimes, I had to drag my friend to The Galle Face hotel to watch the sunset on the beach terrace but  my Galle Face luck continued and we got there too late. The hotel was still beautiful but absolutely teeming with tourists (harumph) Just crazy busy. We sat outside in the exquisite balmy night and waited for over 1/2 an hour for our drinks while some German men smoked away beside us (it’s illegal to smoke in public places in Sri Lanka, btw)
Nobody else noticed the large rat that scurried by, stopped and looked at me for just a moment as if to say
“You can’t go back. You can never go back” and then continued into the dark night.
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Slim Paley photo
The promenade at The Galle Face Hotel
So that’s it for now, please stayed tuned as that was just our first day on Sri Lankan soil.
Lots more to come including beautiful gardens, gorgeous homes & hotels, tea plantations, mountain climbing,  more changed plans and a giant tooth.
You heard me.
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Overnout from The Galle Fort, Sri Lanka
xx