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Our penultimate stop of the trip - prior to Colombo Airport - was Negombo.

On a more secular level, on our way back to the coast, we stopped at this place for lunch at the café. It was hosting a wedding planning exhibition and in its own way was fascinating - as was the bizarrely incompetent management of the café. Like an episode of 'Fawlty Towers'.


Sri Lanka 42

Since we had descended from the highlands, rice had again replaced tea as the predominant crop. It's the staple and almost entirely for domestic consumption. These days it's mechanically harvested and bagged, replacing several steps of back breaking manual labour.

Other important crops include rubber, coconuts, palm oil, bananas, and pineapples, as well as a variety of other fruit and vegetables.


Sri Lanka 43


Here we had a visit to the fish markets; walked with goats; and relaxed at the Goldi Sands Hotel (resort).

Time to go home.




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Greece and Türkiye 2024





In may 2024 Wendy and I travelled to Europe and after a string of flights landed in Berlin. By now we are quite familiar with that city and caught public transport to Emily and Guido's apartment to be greeted by our grandchildren and their parents.  I have previously reported on their family, so, suffice it to say, we had a very pleasant stay and even got out to their country place again.

From Berlin we flew to Greece and had an initial few days in Athens, before returning to Berlin, then back to Greece, a week later, to join a cruise of the Greek islands and Türkiye (just one port).

At the end of the cruise we spent a self-guided week on Crete. We finished our European trip with a week in Bulgaria, followed by a week in the UK, before flying back to Sydney.

Read more: Greece and Türkiye 2024

Fiction, Recollections & News

On The Secret

There is an obvious sub-text to my short story: The Secret, that I wrote in 2015 after a trip to Russia. Silly things, we might come to believe in, like 'the law of attraction' are not harmless. 

The story is also a reflection on the difference between American and Australian stereotypes, that were evident from conversations on the cruise.

I lived in New York for some time and my eldest daughter was born there. I have visited the US fairly regularly since. It is, in many ways, the closest country to Australia that you will find, outside New Zealand.  So, I have often been surprised by how different it is in other ways to Australia, given the great similarities in the median standard of living, shared popular culture and immigrant demographics.

I have come to the conclusion that this stems from our different founding origins.

Read more: On The Secret

Opinions and Philosophy

Australia and Empire




The recent Australia Day verses Invasion Day dispute made me recall yet again the late, sometimes lamented, British Empire.

Because, after all, the Empire was the genesis of Australia Day.

For a brief history of that institution I can recommend Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World by Scottish historian Niall Campbell Ferguson.

My choice of this book was serendipitous, unless I was subconsciously aware that Australia Day was approaching.  I was cutting through our local bookshop on my way to catch a bus and wanted something to read.  I noticed this thick tomb, a new addition to the $10 Penguin Books (actually $13). 

On the bus I began to read and very soon I was hooked when I discovered references to places I'd been and written of myself.  Several of these 'potted histories' can be found in my various travel writings on this website (follow the links): India and the Raj; Malaya; Burma (Myanmar); Hong Kong; China; Taiwan; Egypt and the Middle East; Israel; and Europe (a number).  

Over the next ten days I made time to read the remainder of the book, finishing it on the morning of Australia Day, January the 26th, with a sense that Ferguson's Empire had been more about the sub-continent than the Empire I remembered.

Read more: Australia and Empire

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