An exotic few weeks in the beautiful country of Sri Lanka. My husband, Brian, was leading a natural history tour and I got to go along. Even more beautiful than the country are the people of Sri Lanka - men and women alike. We didn't mind the high temperatures, but the humidity meant that all our clothes in our cases were damp by the time we got to the first hotel. Brian, a professional ornithologist, was in his element - until we were out one day in a jeep driving through the bush and encountered a female leopard lying in the sady track a few yards in front of us. One elderly lady, passionate about ticking off the number of bulbuls [small exotic birds] she had seen on her travels shouted out from the back of the jeep: "Who's that birdie, Brian." She was from Edinburgh and had only discovered that she was a millionaire when her banker husband died. In one voice without looking, our eyes fixed on the leopard, told her: "It's a Bulbul, Mona! Be quiet- there's a leopard..." I think poor old Mona was frightened and didn't even want to see this magnificent four-legged big cat that nonchalantly got to its feet, did a pee, and literally slithered up a tree, disappearing from sight. What a bonus for us and I even managed to get a photo of it. When we got back to the hotel we were the envy of all the other guests out in jeeps hunting leopards that day as we were the only group to see one.
People say there are no such things as coincidences. Well, maybe there are; maybe there aren't, but this bit of nostalgia is too 'coincidental' to ignore. I had never really known my father. My parents separated when I was 10 months' old and visits
from him were few and far between - one or two when I was three and a few when I was 13/14. I knew nothing about him, his likes, his dislikes, not even his favourite colour. Relationships were complicated. He was never talked about, so he was a virtual
stranger to me. I was in my fifties when I suddenly had the desire to try and make contact with him. I was living in France at the time so a good friend did all the detectie work, which was not difficult as he turned out to be still living in the same street
where he had lived all his life. By this time he was old and frail, but I received some lovely letters from his two sisters and his neice and nephew - and some photographs. Imagine my surprise to discover that not only was the colour blue his favourite as
well as mine, but he had had a Yorkshire Terrier called Brandy - almost identical to my own Yorkie, called Candy. My father died shortly after I made contact with the family, and so did his sisters and his nephew, so I'm still quite ignorant about the
real person behind the man my mother married.