Empire’s Children Blog

What if?

Posted by on Aug 3, 2015 in The lost years of the children of the empire, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I have been asked what if… Shiro fell in love with a Indian Coolie boy?

Well – she didn’t. So I have a short story of another Tea Makers daughter who did. Here is Kami’s story:

If only I could forget

Labukalle‘Stop the car Sunder,’ Kami pressed the button.  The glass window slid down.  Cool tea-country air invaded the air conditioned climate-controlled atmosphere of the chauffer driven Mercedes Benz.

‘Yes Madam,’ the rolling Indian Tamil accent of the driver combined with the fragrance of freshly plucked tea sent a shimmer down Kami’s spine.

Read on:If only I could forget

The Children of the Empire deal with desires good and bad

Posted by on Jun 22, 2015 in Teasers! | 0 comments

The Children of the Empire deal with desires good and bad

Desire is the feeling of wanting to have or do something. It motivates behaviour. In contrast to general motives or likes, desires are “about” specific objects or people. Desires can be good and healthy leading to positive life changing actions; or they could be unhealthy and unwholesome.

I could like to have a couture dress – but I don’t necessarily desire it sufficiently to spend hundreds of dollars on it or make the sacrifice of foregoing something else to get it. On the other hand, I could have a strong desire to be a medical practitioner and spend a lot more time and money studying to get there. But again, there are some desires that I may never fulfil, whatever I do – or sacrifice. I will never be a ballerina!

Some desires are strong and make us really ‘want’ something. Others can be recognised and ignored. If I feel strongly enough that I need the couture dress I would ‘want’ it enough to make the sacrifice to buy it.

Whether a given desire turns into a temptation, and thus enters the sphere of self-control, depends on whether the behaviour implied by the desire conflicts with a person’s values or self-regulatory goals. Using the same example: I know that I don’t ‘need’ the couture dress. And I know that the money I spend on it is much better spent on other thing – BUT I soooo want it! I am tempted against my better judgement.

Can I express the self-control to resist the temptation? Or will I do whatever needed to get it?

What makes us desire what we desire? Some come from our childhood scripts. Others from our teenage and adult learning that wires our brain to recognise things as pleasurable or painful.

In ‘Empires Children’ we see desire for a range experiences and life experiences. From power to passion. From a desire for freedom, a better life to a desire for atonement for the sins of past generations.

Shiromi as a child desires to break away from the expectations of her family and culture (chapter 1,4).

“She (Shiro) didn’t want to be patient, or forbearing or anything else that her mother pointed out as womanly virtues. She didn’t want to be like her mother. She wanted to be free. To travel to places where people didn’t care whether you were Tamil or Sinhalese, British, Sri Lankan or Indian. She would make it happen – when she grew up.”

And yet – as an adult, how do the scripts she learnt from her parents about the British affect her relationships? And her wish for revenge?

You have to read the book to find out!

Anthony’s first breakfast: Egg Hoppers

Posted by on Jun 9, 2015 in Sri Lankan Food | 0 comments

Anthony’s first breakfast: Egg Hoppers

Anthony’s first breakfast in Sri Lanka was a delicious meal of Egg Hoppers!

Chapter 3 Page 20

Anthony stared at the two egg hoppers. They looked like pancakes with a crisp brown border, each with an egg fried sunny side up on a cushiony centre. On the rim of the plate were small bowls of colourful sauces. The blend of aromas was not like anything Anthony had experienced. And yet, it was enticing to his taste buds. Suddenly ravenous, Anthony sat down, and ignoring the knife and folk, devoured the food with his fingers – which, he reasoned, was probably the correct way to eat it.

You can find a recipe at: http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/hoppers

You can get egg hoppers at any Sri Lankan eatery – Enjoy!

Stringhoppers and Kiri hodhi

Posted by on Jun 7, 2015 in Sri Lankan Food | 0 comments

Stringhoppers and Kiri hodhi


When Anthony and Shiro first meet (in chapter 4 page 35); she is eight years old. He is sixteen.

Anthony says: ‘I will have you know, Miss Rasiah, that we British are the only reason that your father has a job and you have bread and butter on the table.’

To which Shiro responds: ‘And you should know that we never eat bread and butter. Maybe if you said rice and curry or stringhoppers and hodhi. But you have no idea what those are, do you, sir?’

Here’s your opportunity to learn all about this absolutely yummy Sri Lankan breakfast.



Shiro’s letters to ‘Ann’ Ashley-Cooper

Posted by on Jun 6, 2015 in The lost years of the children of the empire | 0 comments

Shiro’s letters to ‘Ann’ Ashley-Cooper


At the end of the novel ‘Empires Children’ Shiro tells Anthony: ‘I can’t wait to show our children the letters Ann Ashley-Cooper wrote to me’

What were these letters? Read about these here:

Ann’s Letters to Shiro when Shiro was in Boarding School

The smell of fresh baked bread tickled Anthony’s nose.

The ornate little metal table on the veranda was covered with a handmade lace tablecloth. The monogrammed crockery and silver cutlery neatly arranged. The poached egg was cooked to perfection and the home-cured ham juicy and pink.

Picking up the fork, Anthony studied the Ashton crest. He pushed the egg around on the plate. He stabbed the thin white skin of the poached egg and watched the rich red yolk erupt. Damn his stupid vagrant heart. Two months and he was pining for her like some lovesick teenager.

Read on…Anns letters to Shiro


Posted by on Jun 2, 2015 in Teasers! | 0 comments


Some of you asked for a teaser – so here it is.
Chapter 1 – hope you like it! If you do – you will LOVE the rest of the book.

May 1957 Watakälé, Sri Lanka

Eight-year-old Shiro Rasiah skipped down the dirt path leading from her house to the tea factory.

‘There once was an ugly duckling, with feathers all stubby and brown. And the other birds said in so many words – get out of town.’ Her sweet, high voice spiralled into the majestic hills of central Sri Lanka, robed in the emerald green of tea bushes. The aroma of fresh picked tea leaves blended with the fragrance of fermenting tea wafting up the hill from the tea factory in the valley.

This was Shiro’s playground and her father’s livelihood.

Shiro loved everything around her. The mountains that made her feel so tiny. Eucalyptus trees with their leaves that smelled like the oil her mother rubbed on her when she had a cold, wildflowers that clung to every nook and cranny, the dragonflies that hovered over her head, even the bumble bees buzzing around the lilies that lined the moss and mud path she was on. She raised her hands above her head and swung round. She was no ugly duckling. She was a ballerina, like in the storybook she was reading with her mother. She was a star and this was her stage. Every tea bush and butterfly her audience. The rush of the water in the nearby stream echoed the applause she heard in her head. She stretched out one foot and bowed. ‘Thank you, thank you.’…..

Read on –  EMPIRES CHILDREN. chapter 1

Book Club Notes

Posted by on Jun 1, 2015 in Empire's Children | 0 comments

Book Club Notes

Empires Children explores themes of:

  • Cultural practices and norms in Sri Lanka.
  • Varied expressions and outcomes of desire (power, riches, career, freedom, sex).
  • Power dynamics of colonial Sri Lanka.

You will read about:

  • Family expectations and duty
  • Arranged marriages
  • Tea plantation life in Sri Lanka
  • Search for atonement

Attached is a chapter guide for discussion – Enjoy

BookClubNotes_Empires_Children (4)

Tea Manufacture

Posted by on Jun 1, 2015 in Tea plantation and manufacture | 0 comments

Tea Manufacture

All tea comes from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The basic process of tea manufacture involves:

  • Plucking,
  • Withering (allowing the leaves to wilt and soften),
  • Rolling (to shape the leaves and wring out the juices),
  • Fermentation /Oxidizing (enzymes in the tea leaf interact with oxygen),
  • Firing (Drying)
  • Sorting, classifying and packing

Step 1. Plucking: The leaves are harvested by hand, usually ranging between just the unopened bud to the top three leaves and the bud, depending on the tea being created. In order to make hand plucking possible, the tea “trees” are pruned into waist-high bushes. After plucking, the leaves are sorted for uniformity and any stems, twigs, broken leaves, etc. are removed.

Step 2. Withering: The leaves are laid out to wilt and wither for several hours to prepare them for further processing. Tea leaves, even fresh tender ones, aren’t very pliable. Without withering, they would shatter and crumble when rolled and shaped. During withering, the leaves are very gently fluffed, rotated and monitored to ensure even exposure to the air.

Step 3. Rolling: This is where thousands of varieties in tea appearance are created, and also where the process of developing flavour is started. The softened tea leaves are rolled, pressed or twisted to break the cell walls of the leaf, wringing out the juices inside. This exposes enzymes and essential oils in the leaf to oxygen in the air – the start of oxidation.

Step 4. Fermenting/Oxidation: After rolling, the leaves are laid out to rest for several hours, allowing oxidation to take place. Oxidation is the process in which the oxygen in the air interacts with the now-exposed enzymes in the leaf, turning it a reddish-brown colour and changing the chemical composition. This step also has the greatest impact in the creation of the many wonderful and complex flavours in tea.

Step 5. Firing: The final step in the production process is to “fire” or heat the leaves quickly to dry them to below 3% moisture content and stop the oxidation process. A good, even drying with very low residual moisture also ensures the tea will keep well.

An interesting web site on tea manufacture: Enjoy

1964: Anthony and William leave the manor for Sri Lanka

Posted by on May 25, 2015 in The lost years of the children of the empire | 0 comments

1964: Anthony and William leave the manor for Sri Lanka

The autumn sunshine filtered through the red gold canopy of the ancient lime trees. The dry autumn leaves drifted down on the bay gelding hunter and added to the thick brown carpet on the ground under the horse’s hooves.

Anthony rode with his fingers soft on the reins. The muscles in his leg rippled as he nudged his mount. The horse neighed and tossed his head. The thick almost-black tail twitched. “Whoa! Pegasus,” Anthony ran his hand over the shining brown mane. The horse grew quiet under his master’s touch. He trotted along the avenue. Rider and horse had been together for the four years that Pegasus had been part of the manor stables. He was Anthony’s personal horse. Anthony continued to fondle the strong neck. “I’m sorry old friend. I’ll be gone tomorrow.” He felt the firm muscles tense under his fingers. “You’ll be well looked after. I’ve asked Janet to take you out. You know her.”

The horse tossed his head. “I know boy, I don’t want to go either. But, it’s time. We have to take charge of the plantations.”

Between the lime trees, he had glimpses of the formal garden with stone pathways leading away from the house to the river. The manicured high yew hedge was a tribute to the manor gardeners’ skills. Beyond the garden were the green patchwork fields of the Ashley-Cooper estate. Further away the picturesque hills and dales of Derbyshire faded away in a purple haze.

This was where he and William had played as children; brothers, just eighteen months apart but alike as peas in a pod his father announced to all who would listen. They had grown up here in the manor with their mother while their father ran the plantations. His father had moved back to England when Anthony was eleven to run the London offices of Oriental Produce. Their uncle Irvine had run the Sri Lankan plantations since then, but now, it was time for Anthony and William to take over.

TO READ MORE go to 1964. Anthony and William leaving the manor

1962 Anthony and Bob Kirkland in Bakewell, England

Posted by on May 25, 2015 in The lost years of the children of the empire | 0 comments

1962 Anthony and Bob Kirkland in Bakewell, England

The late evening summer sunshine slanted through the frosted glass windows of the Bell and Ivy. The Victorian limestone building dated back to the eighteen hundreds. The building in Bakewell had been in the Kirkland family for over a hundred years, the last ninety as the local pub. The people of Bakewell had come to judge the seasons by the changing colour of the ivy that clung to the exterior of the two story building. A large brass bell hung just inside the mahogany and glass door with the etched-glass Kirkland crest. It rang out across the town to announce Kirkland births and deaths. It had been rung twice in this generation, twenty-six years ago when Robert was born and four years later for Elizabeth.

The interior of the pub with the dark wood panelling and heavy tapestry curtains had changed little over the years. The current owner and publican Padraig, or Paddy as addressed by all; had spruced up the interior with subtle wall sconced lighting and wooden oak tables with red padded seats. Else it was all as it had been a century ago.

On an evening, locals and tourists alike crowded the bar at the Bell and Ivy. The Beer and Ale were the best; the food cooked by Paddy’s wife Maisie wholesome, and the atmosphere always cheery and welcoming. Paddy would be at the counter for a chat. Behind him on the back wall were the portraits of generations of champion Kirkland boxers. Paddy was always ready to show these off to tourist and local alike. The stories grew more colourful and outrageous with repeated telling as the beer flowed and the evening sped on.

The oldest boy in each generation grew up understanding that he would inherit the business and probably also be the pugilist of the town.

CONTINUE READING in the attached 1962 Anthony and Bob