Sep 1st

Treasured Moments Last a Life-time  

By Maureen J



 Since arriving here in Sri Lanka events have been tumbling over each other as one day kaleidoscoped into another. After the amazing birthday party just a few days after our arrival, we had a memorial celebration for three kind and generous people who died some time ago but were responsible for many generous acts during their lifetimes. It was simple, solemn and sincere with seven Buddhist priests in their saffron robes creating a huge splash of colour and adding an aura of great reverence as they sat in a row of high-backed chairs quietly fanning themselves with traditional fans shaped like giant pepal-leaves while the senior monk spoke about the deceased and uttered prayers to which the small family gathering responded. Mind, by European standards, a family of forty-eight descendants of the surviving matriarch would be pretty unusual, and hardly considered small.

Last Saturday we all set off on a family pilgrimage to Kotaragama Temple set on the top of a mountain that was accessed through dense jungle surrounding the slopes of the mountain. Thousands of other pilgrims had the same idea. Many went on foot and climbed up as well as down on the single stone track. I was among others who were taken on a newly concreted road in specially adapted four-wheeled drive safari-jeeps designed to ferry a seemingly endless stream of pilgrims up, then returning for more after carrying others down.

Once there, I have to admit, it was too crowded for me. I had to ask to be taken down almost as soon as we got up. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of claustrophobia in the crowd milling around as they ascended and descended steep stair cases to get from one level to another. The viewing platforms afforded magnificent views but much was obscured by a heavy mist.

We eventually returned to the very comfortable motel until the evening when we went to a second temple at nearby Sithulpauwa. This was smaller but exquisite. Set on top of a smaller mountain we were able to climb up the huge rock that formed its base.

This rock was itself an amazing phenomenon because it was possible to see the swirls of mud that had helped make it millions of years ago. The rock was part of a massive mountain range that stretched as far as the eye could see; like the humped backs of so many undulating giant elephant covered with jungle greenery.

Once on top and standing on the level, meditation-area, it was possible to view all the paths leading out of the jungle to the lake which lay at the foot of the rock and behind the temple. We were rewarded with sightings of two elephants coming to drink as well as watch them enjoy a dust bath, and to capture all on camera for the record.

Returning to our motel via the jungle reserve, we were thrilled with sightings and photographs of peacocks and hens; wild boar and monkey families, as well as an elephant with his head and trunk inside the doorway of a single-decker Leyland bus. The drivers of these vehicles sit directly opposite the doorway and as our car went round the bus we witnessed a very nervous driver getting ready to vacate his seat, (wild elephants can be temperamental) but all was well, the great beast was simply scrounging some tit-bits and the bus soon caught up with us – and I had another once-in-a-lifetime photograph.



Aug 26th

Fact, Fiction and the Internet

By Maureen J



I’m slowly simmering in the heat while trying to gather my thoughts into a cohesive whole after two weeks spent in a whirl of events.

The main one, the reason for my being here in Sri Lanka, was the ninetieth birthday party for my dear friend Wimmilawatte, the matriarch of a forty-nine strong family comprising children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. It took place at the five-star Galadari Hotel in Colombo; a beautiful setting with food to match. There must have been over a hundred different dishes that included sushi-type bites and canapés to curries, various rice dishes, sambals, cakes and sweet desserts with as many attendants as there were dishes ranged like sentinels behind each platter ensuring none ran empty. When it came to the birthday cake and the blowing-out of the candle-bearing numerals, I found myself included with a second cake complete with candled numerals marking my eightieth birthday last May and a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ too. I was so overwhelmed and mesmerized by the whole affair I forgot to take photographs of the banquet; something I hope to remedy when I make a return visit before returning home to UK.

Currently I’m sitting on an upstairs shaded balcony with a fan on full blast. The breeze is just playing through the arches and the palm trees are swaying like Honolulu beauties. Sri Lankan woodpeckers, bluebirds, and blackbirds have been skitting around with the odd little squirrel-like creatures doing trapeze acts along the telephone and electric cables.  The air-conditioning at night is a blessing in the bedroom. The food is sublime. I’ve just eaten a sliced fresh sun-ripened mango and drunk the juice of a king-coconut sipped through a straw to wash it down.

I have also met the two young men with whom I have exchanged short messages on Facebook; fellow students of one of my friend’s great grandsons; they are all preparing for their A levels next year so speak perfect English. Proof indeed that fact is stranger than fiction and the internet enables people everywhere to communicate anywhere in the world.






Apr 8th

Buying a Cow

By Colin L

A farmer had been taken advantage of several times by the
local car dealer. One day, the car dealer informed the
farmer that he was coming over to purchase a cow.

The farmer priced his cow as follows:

* Basic cow........................... $499.95
* Shipping and handling................. 35.75
* Extra stomach......................... 79.25
* Two-tone exterior.................... 142.10
* Produce storage compartment.......... 126.50
* Heavy-duty straw chopper............. 189.60
* Four-spigot/high-output drain system. 149.20
* Automatic fly swatter................. 88.50
* Genuine cowhide upholstery........... 179.90
* Deluxe dual horns..................... 59.25
* Automatic fertilizer attachment...... 339.40
* 4 x 4 traction drive assembly........ 884.16
* Pre-delivery wash and comb............ 69.80
* Additional dealer adjustments:....... 300.00

TOTAL LIST PRICE (Including options): $3143.36

Mar 30th

From: News Thump

By Colin L

National Express unveils new ‘bullet’ coach

NAtional Express bullet coach

National Express are to unveil a high-speed link that could see its coaches travel from Leeds to London in as little as 36 hours.


The new limited stop service will leave Leeds on Thursday mornings and arrive at London Victoria just a day and a half later, travelling via Harrogate, York, Sunderland, Retford, Norwich, Lowestoft, Herne Bay, Dover, Hastings, Worthing, Brighton, Croydon and 28 other towns.


“This shaves nearly five hours off our previous record,” said National Express Group CEO, Simon Williams.


“Customer feedback told us journeys could be a little drawn out – that’s why the ‘bullet’ now has a top speed of 41 mph and only stops twice in Grantham.”


Other features of the luxury service include an on-board toilet designed for travelers who are small enough to climb through a cat flap and an app that counts down the 2,160 minutes until you arrive in the capital.


“National Express continues to fly the flag for high speed commuting in the modern world,” added Mr Williams.


“We won’t be satisfied until we’ve brought this journey down to under 24 hours – and that could happen as soon as 2022.


“Anything from the snack trolley?”


Mar 30th

From: The Daily Mash

By Colin L


UMBRELLA users have announced that everyone else must get out of their way.

The wet weather is causing umbrella owners to block pavements and endanger eyes with their cumbersome rain canopies, then make a huge fuss about ‘shaking it out’.

Office manager Martin Bishop said: “When my umbrella is deployed it’s clearly a signal for other pedestrians to move aside, by leaping into traffic if necessary.

“Umbrellas give you certain rights above other citizens, such as being allowed to barge into them and poke them in the face, which would be assault if you did it with a stick.

“At your destination you are obliged to cause a massive palaver as you frantically ‘shake out’ your umbrella.

“Umbrella users are also entitled to leave them to dry in inconvenient places, such as office corridors or someone’s desk full of paperwork.”

Sales executive Donna Sheridan said: “I favour a stupidly large green-and-white golfing umbrella which I insist on using in even the tiniest amount of rain, as if it’s acid and I might melt.

“But people can be so rude. Today I poked someone in the face and he didn’t even apologise for getting his skin cells on my lovely brolly.”

Mar 16th

From: The Daily Mash

By Colin L

car tunnel 425x265

AN UNDERGROUND road between Manchester and Leeds will disprove the theory that all tunnels have a light at the end of them, it has been claimed.

The planned tunnel under the Pennines is expected to culminate only in a grey, lightless haze at both ends, rendering a key metaphor forever unusable.

Dr Henry Brubaker of the Institute for Studies said: “Manchester and Leeds have both been entirely covered with dense cloud since the Industrial Revolution, populated by bone-white denizens for whom ‘hope’ is the only taboo four-letter word.

“Travelling 18 miles under the Pennines only to find yourself in exactly the same drizzled gloom you left behind will break people, psychologically.

“This tunnel could be as important as the Large Hadron Collider, but instead of discovering subatomic particles it will further our knowledge of misery and despair.”

Leeds resident Donna Sheridan said: “A tunnel with Manchester at the end of it isn’t a tunnel. It’s a missile launch tube.”

Mar 7th

From: The Daily Mash

By Colin L

bus lane 425x265

BUS lanes mean that Soviet Russia is still alive and well in Britain today, a motorist has claimed. 

Nissan Qashqai driver Nathan Muir believes bus lanes, which give large numbers of low-paid workers priority over entrepreneurs, essentially mean that Lenin has won.

He continued: “The Red jackboot, shaped like a bus, stamps on the fingers of wealth creators again and again.

“I see that bus, loaded with grinning children like China’s Cultural Revolution, sail past me each morning and I know the war is over, and the West has lost.

“I don’t mind taxis, they’re Thatcherite. Cyclists remind me of the Viet Cong.”

Mar 7th

From: The Daily Mash

By Colin L

Bus lanes are communism, says motorist


bus lane 425x265

BUS lanes mean that Soviet Russia is still alive and well in Britain today, a motorist has claimed. 

Nissan Qashqai driver Nathan Muir believes bus lanes, which give large numbers of low-paid workers priority over entrepreneurs, essentially mean that Lenin has won.

He continued: “The Red jackboot, shaped like a bus, stamps on the fingers of wealth creators again and again.

“I see that bus, loaded with grinning children like China’s Cultural Revolution, sail past me each morning and I know the war is over, and the West has lost.

“I don’t mind taxis, they’re Thatcherite. Cyclists remind me of the Viet Cong.”

Nov 3rd

Deepest Exploration - Letter from Africa

By Geoff J

My quest is not finsihed but I am concerned for my survival so I write from the Equator where it runs through Africa. If I survive and find the other pole I will share the Treasure.

The Equator is not, of obvious course, marked on the map which I found in London Junk Shop. (Note - I found the map not the Equator in LJS.) The map is very dirty and rather obscured but I can see the faint pencilled marks of a previous owner. The very dirty map purports to lead me to the pole.

He or she (the previous owner) tells of a pole which he or she states is placed on the Equator. It seems she or he (I wish I  knew which) found the other pole already placed elsewhere on the Equator and that is the one that has the Treasure.

To know where the Treasure is I need to  find the pole he or she placed in Africa. When I do I will know where to look for the pole which was already placed in place before she or he placed his or her pole in Africa. The Treasure could be found by digging straight down beneath the pole to the other side of the Earth.

A part from being impossible to dig through the Earth, it is strictly forbidden to move or attempt to move the pole in Africa. (Anyway, I did not want to blister my palms with digging.) These two pre-conditions mean that I shall need to traverse (is that the right word?) Earth to get to the other side (of Earth) and so locate the other pole.

(Here endeth chapter one of ...)

PS Do you want to know what happened?


Aug 23rd

From: News Biscuit

By Colin L

Non-queueing licence renewed for BMW drivers

The Department of Transport has confirmed that BMW drivers will continue to be exempt from queueing at roadworks for a further year. ‘We try to give a good half mile notice of lane closures so that non-BMWs can get out of the way, enabling BMWs to get straight to the bottleneck without waiting,’ a spokesman explained.

‘There have been some regrettable incidents involving non-qualifying vehicles occupying this lane, including some idiotic drivers who have blocked it completely, forcing BMWs to drive at the same speed as ordinary traffic. We will penalise anybody caught behaving in this manner’.

The BMW Owners’ Club has given the news a cautious welcome, but criticised the Department for refusing to let BMW drivers use blue flashing lights en route to major meetings.

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