23 September, Sri Lanka – ‘All Over The Place – Asia’
Pretty much every day on ‘All Over The Place’ is special in its own way, but today was a cracker as far as I was concerned. Woke up in my little bungalow just next door to the old colonial house that the rest of the crew were staying in, and after breakfast all I had to do was walk round the corner and stand under some coconut trees to start filming. Result!
Have to say, I’ve never seen so many coconuts. Ex-special forces soldier Javana owns a number of coconut plantations with accommodation attached, so that tourists can come and see what’s involved in extracting every bit of goodness from the useful fruit (they’re not nuts, but “drupes”, a type of fruit with one seed). We kicked the day off standing among a humungous pile of the things, as a guy used a log with a machete sticking out of it to split the coating off each one to reveal the hairy coconut inside. Every little bit seems to be used, right down to the husk to make fibre for ropes. Even the leaves are used to make fences, and for the walls and roofs of dwellings.
At one point one of Javana’s workers scaled a tree to cut a couple of coconuts down for us to drink and I wanted to shout “Get down you lunatic!” It looked so dangerous, and I think he said they climb 30 a day. Of course, like the rest of Asia, they find our health and safety obsession a bit ridiculous and laughed in our faces.
Of course, even on the nicest of AOTP filming days the piper must be paid, so despite the humid heat I had to dress up in slacks, jacket and wig to film a Gameshow Man coconut related quiz, then after lunch Michelle pulled an even shorter straw than me and had to don a velvet Portuguese merchants outfit and fake beard for a sketch we filmed in the grounds all about cinnamon. I was “only” dressed as a market trader wearing a hat, wig, potato sack tops and bottoms and a long jacket. Imagine being on a hot Mediterranean holiday by the pool, in your swimwear, lying in the shade and being told you had to put our costumes on and go and stand in the sun for a few hours. You wouldn’t be happy about it. By the way, I feel the need to tell people about this because at least then you’ll know there IS a downside to being flown round the world doing a job like this! Not that that will probably stop you from thinking I’m a jammy so and so.
Once that was done we had to say goodbye to the Horathapola Estate and all the lovely people that work there and get on the road back down to the coast. We arrived in the dark at our next hotel, but the sound of the sea and the rustling palm trees suggests I’m going to be welcomed by quite a view when I wake up tomorrow.