So many times it’s occurred to me that Sri Lanka is my parents’ ideal entry point to the wider world of no-resort non-cruise holidays. It’s India with all the nasty taken out: no sprawling slums, begging lepers, festering garbage, clouds of flies, corpses. These things may exist, but I’ve yet to see them on 2 separate trips whereas you’re assaulted with pretty much all of these within a couple of hours of leaving Bombay or Delhi airport (I’m basing this on an outdated view of India as I last visited 15 years ago but I’m imagining it hasn’t changed utterly). And India without the nasty is 100% wonderful.
It’s also the home of TEA! And my mum drinks buckets of the stuff. It’s in the blood: my great great grandmother Sarah Bowler wrote to Lipton’s in 1926 to credit her rude health in longevity (she was 90) to ‘Tea, my dear, and lashings of it!’ As a result, Lipton’s seized upon the wily old crone to use in their newspaper advertising and Sir Thomas Lipton himself presented her with a massive box of the stuff.
So already I was determined to sell the place to Mum and Dad. And then. And THEN. We came upon the glory that is Peradeniya Station, Kandy. It’s an orgasmatronic museum-piece for Trainspotters and my Dad is an unfulfilled trainspotter for sure. But the best thing is – it WORKS. We got to pull the levers in the Signal Office while we waited for our train (delayed by 2 hours so not exactly Swiss precision).
The journey takes 2 hours and it’s entirely backwards, uphill and in order to see the eventual views of tea country, you need to be sitting in Observation Class, seats 23 or above. And that’s the first and last genuinely useful tip I’m going to give you so don’t get used to it.
And the final reason why Sri Lanka is my parents’ dream destination: Tea Trails Norwood. This place is complete heaven. We arrived off the Hatton train and they immediately served us High Tea – scones, Battenburg, profiteroles. Then they took our order and timing for ‘Bed Tea’ the next morning – a tray of hot beverages of your choice, at the time of your choice, served to your bedchamber, don’t mind if I do. Bloody marvellous. More on this, my most wondrous of places, next.