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Paul Topping

Paul Topping

A Weekend on a Tea Estate

We arrive at Haldummulla Tea Estate three days after Christmas via a precarious road on which a four-wheelu00a0 vehicle is essential. Itu2019s raining sideways accompanied by a noisy wind. The bungalow has two big bedrooms with rustic furniture and dated but not glamorous bathrooms. Itu2019s only 5pm but we decide to hit the mulled wine, play monopoly, light the fire and await the change in the weather. The smoke from the fire brings our monopoly game to a hold. We open all the windows.

The Whinging Pome Random Rule No. 97

Never judge a place when you arrive in the rain, in the sunny morning you will have a different view. Tweet

The next day in glorious sunshine we walk down to the four-story tea factory called Needwood, with its rolling out buildings and the tea workers small community. Each house has distinctive coloured walls and the kids shout u201cbyeu201d when they actually mean u201chiu201d or u201chello u201c. Through the factory grounds we enter a dense pine forest hill which we climb to discover old Portuguese fort walls. In its heyday this fort must have looked out strategically over a large land mass.

On our way we drop into Diyatalawa railway station and get a warm welcome from the station master who explains the he still controls whatu2019s moving on the rail track with British equipment that was installed over a hundred years ago. Quaint Station with a lovely photo in the office of the platform of the station in the Boer war [1900] with troops and some Boer prisoners. We are told that over 5000 Boer prisoners were brought from South Africa between 1899 and 1902 and kept in camps nearby.

On our last night we all went out and star gazed, a most wonderful sight, given so little pollution about and our high elevation. As we leave our little bungalow, we again hear the sounds of music. Its Tamil Hindi new year and for three weeks every morning and evening they play their music.

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