For there were also days of immense joy and tranquility at Alu. I have never found Colombo congenial, and from childhood on I would spend weeks during vacations with friends and relations who lived outside the capital. My favourite refuge was the Old Place in Kurunegala, but I also spent many happy holidays with W J Fernando when he was Government Agent in Kandy. There had also been one or two stays with Hope Todd, also in Kandy, before he moved to Colombo, and afterwards, when he went back there on work and stayed in the little house in Reeves Gardens which he continued to maintain. Memorable too were a couple of long stays with Derrick Nugawela on his estate in Bogowantalawa.
By the time I came back from Oxford however all that had changed, with Derrick in Australia and Hope and WJ firmly settled in Colombo. My aunt Lakshmi still continued at Old Place for a few years more, and I stayed there frequently, but the place was clearly on its last legs. That in itself did not really matter much, for I was quite content to do nothing all day except write, just as I had done nothing all day as a schoolboy except read. But what did matter was that Lakshmi and I did not have very much to say to each other. In the old days we had discussed books, and she had provided me with lots of exciting modern stuff to read, but by the eighties she was not reading very much, and we had less to say to each other about books and writers.