and curry days and the toffee man
My father, Norman
Dru Drury, was born in Ceylon in 1900. He was a tea broker in Colombo
and became head of Forbes and Walker before he retired. His father,
too had been a tea broker.
my mother, Beatrice Angela Mackwood in 1931. She was a member of
the Mackwood family who owned a tea estate and had the firm Mackwoods
in Colombo. My father's mother was Beatrice Mary Grigson. The Grigson,
Mackwood and Drury families had all been in Ceylon since the mid-nineteenth
I was the second
of four children and we were all born in Ceylon. I was born in 1935
in a house called Blossholme in Green Path. My mother's family home
when she was a child was a house called Arncliffe which is now Bishop's
College. I revisited the house where I was born in 1993, when I
was on holiday in Sri Lanka and also the house where my sister Juliet
was born - 'Harbledown' No.22 Queen's Road. This was the house I
have so many childhood memories of. It became the Danish embassy
later but has been pulled down since.
memories of life at 22, Queen's Road was sitting cross-legged on
the floor with my ayah, eating her rice and curry with my fingers.
Another was attending Sunday morning service at St Michael's Church,
Polwatte and sitting in the choir stalls with my parents and making
faces through the carved holes in the stalls at the St Margaret's
girls, who tried hard not to giggle. Then returning home to hoppers
- curry lunch on Sundays. The 'toffee man' coming round the houses,
selling his delicious coconut fudge. The fish seller, walking down
the drive with a pole across his shoulders with a basket on each
end crawling with live lobsters and crabs, which he would immediately
grab as they tried to clamber out. These would appear on our plates
for supper and having seen them alive in the morning, I simply couldn't
bring myself to eat them.
the Colombo Swimming Club, flying my kite on Galle Face Green, riding
in a tea chest on the conveyor belt rollers at children's parties
are all fresh in my mind. The 'gully-gully' man, hired for children's
parties would have his cobra coiled up in his basket, gradually
rising up and out of it when he played his flute. The way the mango
stone he placed under a cloth would gradually grow into a mango
bush before our eyes.
I was sent
to Nuwara Eliya to be boarded at Miss Saye's school when I was five
or six. My English governess came with me and stayed on during my
first term. I was taught to read and write by Diana Parmentier who
later married my uncle, Charles Mackwood.
I used to stay
in Badulla with my great-aunt and uncle, the Grant Cooks, on the
tea estate called Sarnia and play with Pearl, my great-aunt's walking
doll and with their pet mongoose, Ricky-Ticky. I didn't like the
I also remember
visits with my parents in the hot weather to Nuwara Eliya to stay
with the Sanders on Pedro Estate.
sister and I were evacuated to South Africa during the war for 2
1/2 years. On our return to Ceylon I was sent to the Hill School
in Nuwara Eliya - but not for long, because the war ended in 1945
and we immediately returned to England, to be reunited with my older
brother, Michael, whom we had not seen for seven years and also
my four grand-parents.
I was then
sent to boarding school in England and did not return to Ceylon
again until I was l5 when I went out for the school holidays, with
my sister Juliet. By this time my brother Christopher had been born.
I returned again after I had left school, when I was 18, for about
nine months and have only visited Sir Lanka twice since, in 1993
In long gone
years, we would visit the Colombo Zoo and ride on the back of elephants
and giant tortoises. I also recall visits to Trincomalee, the ruined
cities and the Temple of the Toooth in Kandy, as well as watching
the Perahera from the windows of the Queen's Hotel.
On the most
recent visit to Sri Lanka we stayed at the Galle Face Hotel, which
had not changed since I was a child. So too the famous Hill Club
in Nuwara Eliya. I remember also walking along the jetty with my
parents as a child and watching the boats coming in and going out.
The Sigiriya Rock with its beautiful and ancient frescoes on the
walls and the beehive half-way up, the famous Buddha statues, the
very colourful temples, the elephants...... and so many other things
come to mind.
Sri Lanka is
not only the place of my birth where I feel totally at home, it
is also just about the most beautiful island that exists.
Mackwood nee Parmentier
I can honestly say that the happiest days of my life were
spent in Ceylon.
I was born in
Colombo but spent my childhood on a tea estate. It was a very simple
life. We were very fortunate in having a wonderful English nursery
governess who thought up all sorts of games and took us on picnics
to a secret place on the estate so we were never bored. We had numerous
animals, dogs (my parents bred cocker spaniels) cats, a pet jackal,
a mongoose, our own cows, chicken, ducks, guinea pigs, pet rabbits,
also Flemish Giants (hares) for the table.
I was given
my first dog at the age of five. Unfortunately he died of distemper,
but a kind neighbour gave me a Greyhound who was as mad as a hatter
but great fun. He sadly came to a sticky end when he jumped over
a high wall and broke his leg very badly. There were no vets near
us so my father had to shoot him.
Our pet jackal
went off to find a mate but came back later bringing his pack with
him. Our social life consisted of attending rugby and cricket matches
as my father was a keen sportsman.
We also went
to Radella Club for the annual children's party but the highlight
of the year was going down to Mount Lavinia to bathe and play on
that I have always remembered was when the Talawakelle factory was
burnt down. My father rushed us to the scene; it was a spectacular
sight with flames shooting up to the sky.
I left Ceylon
to go to school in England in 1933 and returned in 1940. I was delighted
to come home as we had seen little of our parents while in England.
I met my husband
in 1947 and we married in Nuwara Eliya in 1948. Our son was born
in 1950. He became the fifth generation of the Mackwood family in
Due to my husband's ill-health and upon doctors advice we
had to leave the island for good and return to England. It was a
sad occasion as the Mackwood family had been in Ceylon from 1841
to 1958. We were delighted that so many of our friends whom we had
met through being members of the Canine Club of Ceylon came to the
jetty to wave us goodbye.
that much-maligned fruit
delicious avocado has an undeserved reputation for being high in
calories and cholesterol. Bill Habets puts the record straight.
Tempting and delicious though avocados are, many people are
reluctant to eat them in any quantity because they believe one or
more of many quite untrue myths that have somehow become associated
a shame that this should be so, because eating avocados can bring
some very positive health-giving benefits as they're very rich natural
sources of a number of vital nutrients, including Vitamin E, various
members of the Vitamin B group, as well as potassium, phosphorus
and manganese, these latter trace elements often being deficient
in many diets.
set the record straight, here are the facts about some of the popular
myths that surround this much-maligned fruit:
an average medium-size avocado contains 161 calories, or only 20
calories more that two digestive biscuits, and just a little more
than a smallslice of Cheddar cheese.
are brimming with cholesterol and bad for the heart.
wrong. First, avocados do not contain any cholesterol whatever.
are rich in vegetable oils, not solid fat. Strictly speaking, the
fat in avocados because it is not solid should be referred to instead
as an oil which, like olive oil, has many beneficial properties.
Of the 12g of oil in an average serving, 7g of this is the 'good'
monounsaturated type that's also foundin olive oil. Monounsaturated
oils do not raise cholesterol in the blood and most medical researchers
believe they instead may have a definite protectiveeffect against
heart disease and possibly strokes.
better for your skin to put avocados on it rather than eat them.
it's true that avocado extracts, because they are rich in Vitamin
E,are used in cosmetics and many manufacturers use this to promote
the 'natural goodness' of their products, your skin will derive
considerably more benefit from being 'fed' Vitamin E from the inside
rather than the outside.
A further example
of just how health-giving avocados can be is that the fruit is an
integral part of the so-called 'Mediterranean diet' which, although
high in fat, was found by researchers to reduce the risk of heart
disease - the big difference being that most of the fat intake consisted
of monounsaturated fats and included very little animal fat. Just
how dramatic the impact of the Mediterranean diet can be demonstrated
in one landmark study that revealed thatCretans, who essentially
followed this diet, had a staggering twenty times lower rate of
deadly heart disease than Americans.
originated in Mexico and Central America, where it has always been
valuable part of the staple diet and is the essential ingredient
in the classic Mexican dip, Guacamole.
The word avocado
comes from the fruit's Aztec name 'ahuacatl', for which, when the
Spanish discovered the avocado they substituted their similar sounding
word avocado, which, oddly enough also means 'lawyer'.
explorers brought it back to Europe in the sixteenth century but
it could not easily be propagated in most of Europe and it remained
something of a rarity for nearly 300 years. However, with the discovery
of new grafting techniques earlier this century, the avocado could
be produced on a commercial scale outside of South America and during
the 1950s it began to make regular appearances on our dinner tables.
is widely acknowledged as one of the most versatile fruits in the
world but each country has its own favourite way of eating it:
In South Africa,
avocados are mashed with lemon juice and used as a spreadinstead
of butter. In the United States, avocados are served with crab meat
or scallops and mint, or mixed with sour cream to make a chilled
soup. In Brazil, they serve Crema de Abacate avocado sieved with
lime juice and sugar. In Austria, people dice avocados and pour
kirsch over them for dessert. If all this has whetted your appetite
for avocados, here are some useful tips.
First of all,
a quick course in stoning avocados, something that can at times
be a little tricky. Here's how the experts do it:
1) Cut the
avocado in half lengthways through the skin down to the stoneand
all the way around. Hold the avocado in both hands and twist the
two halves in opposite directions. Then gently pull the two halves
2) Take the
half with the stone in the centre. Ease out with a spoon then lift
up the stone and discard it. Once the stone is removed, the flesh
will begin to discolour quite quickly - to avoid this, brush the
flesh with lemon, orange or lime juice if you don't plan to eat
the avocado immediately.
Next, the easy
way to peel and cut avocados:
To peel, strip
the skin away from the avocado beginning at the narrow end. To cut
a peeled, stoned avocado, lay cavity side down and cut either lengthways
or, for crescent shapes, crossways. To dice or cube, cut both ways.
To make rings,
cut around the whole avocado crossways with the tip of
to form rings, then remove the skin.
To make an
avocado fan, place halved, stoned, skinned avocados cavity side
down on the work surface. Slice lengthways without quite cutting
right through at the narrow tip. Transfer to a serving plate and
flatten slightly to fan out.