Yesterday was another day of transit as the group went from Nuwara Eliya to Kandy via a tea plantation. This involved yet another hairy coach journey through mountain roads of sheer drops and hairpin bends.
By cutting the bends he kept with and enthralled us us as we descended and was rewarded with some rupees though we did not want his flowers.
At the tea-plantation we were shown how tea is cultivated. It is picked, kept in troughs, ground, fermented and the best comes from this area of high mountain range.
It was a Scotsman James Taylor who first planted tea here . He showed some foresight as the coffee crop was devastated.
Tea is still Sri Lanka’a principal export. Their black tea is drunk by them without milk which reduces flavour. I have tried this, indeed I have a cup of black tea before me as I write, and am coming round to this way of tasting.
This is an important city, the seat of the ruling Sinhal kingship, also containing The Temple of the Tooth, one of the foremost Buddhist temples in the world.
Lord Buddha came here to settle a dispute when he was 30.
It carries this name as it still holds Buddha’s right canine tooth smuggled here in the 4th century AD.
After this we were taken to a gem manufacturer. There was some cynicism in the group that this was a set up. One of our group, a fishmonger, did buy a bracelet for his true love and I enjoyed watching him barter.
Chat was now of cricket.
We were relieved to hear that the team was unchanged for the forthcoming Test. Sri Lanka are in worse shape.
They have lost their captain Chandimal for the series, their best batter Angelo Matthews is unhappy and a leggie (Alila Dananjaya) has been cited for his action.
I anticipate an England victory after 4 days but much will depend on the wicket which is covered by hessian and reportedly very dry. However, Sri Lanka are like the French rugby team, they thrive in adversity.
England will be hoping they have enough armoury in their bowling attack to cope whatever the wicket. It should be absorbing.