Fish for breakfast

Guests at Lakeside enjoy their breakfast on the veranda of the main building.  As they eat they are able to watch some of the local bird life who come to feed.  There are usually a number of peacocks (who are fed by us); guests can also occasionally see a local kingfisher who likes to take his breakfast from our pond.  The clay pot makes a very good vantage point!

This dove also enjoys breakfast on the verandah steps.

Watching the birds feeding is a great way to start the day!

 

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A new roof – traditional building methods in India

The old roof at LakesideWe bought Lakeside in November 2008, just in time for the monsoon, and it was soon pretty clear that major renovation work was needed on the roof of the main building as there were so many leaks.  India was a new country to us and it was a steep learning curve trying to find suitable workers, and learning how such work is done out here. 

The team we employed in early 2009 were all  memebrs of one family – which is often the case in southern India. They lived on site for the three weeks it took to complete the renovation work, living in one of the cottages and enjoying a daily swim in the lake when work was done.

The first task was to lift the old tiles and clear the roof.  Work like this is still conducted in the old traditional ways and is very labour intensive.

Step two was to move some of the building materials from the ground up to the roof.  We had to move more than 40 tons of sand and other materials, all carried by the team – no cranes or lifts in rural south India!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The team worked incredibly hard – up at dawn and working for up to 10 hours a day – and within a little over a week the first half of the roof had been completed.

The local method of waterproofing a flat roof is chenab.  This is a mixture of hydrated lime, sand and broken bricks laid to a depth of around 4cms.  The tiles are then laid on this base.  (It has proved to be remarkably effective and we have had no problems since the work was completed.)

Everything was done by hand, literally.  Here a couple of the workers were mixing the coloured grout to match the tiles. 

Finally, a couple of coats of waterproof paint and the job was done.  The hard work has been much appreciated by our guests who now sleep in dry rooms – and who enjoy their dinner served up on the roof!

Kathiawari – from war horse to friend

In a rural location such as ours the locals rely heavily on animals – sheep, goats, cows and water buffalo all play a major role in agriculture whilst dogs are useful for ‘garbage disposal’.  At the other end of the spectrum many wealthy Indians see the owning of expensive pedigree dogs as a status symbol, although they often have little knowledge of how to care for them properly.

 

It is similar with horses, and we have recently purchased a Kathiawari horse (which was very thin and unfit) from a local Indian.  There was no intentional cruelty or neglect involved in the care of this animal before he came to us, merely a lack of knowledge on the owners part and a lack of skills amongst his employees.  So, Raja has come to live with us at Lakeside.

 

 

The Kathiawari are an amazing breed of horse which was originally bred in north India for desert warfare, the ideal characteristics being that they could survive on minimal rations during campaigns over long distances and rough terrains.  They were bred from a mixture of native horses and imported Arabian stock and ownership was limited to the ruling families, hence the ‘status symbol’ of owning one today.  The Kathiawari are not large horses (maximum height around 15 hands) and appear to be rather thin and bony in the leg to the western eye.  They are, however, a very sound breed of horse, high-spirited, intelligent and affectionate.

Raja six weeks after coming to Lakeside

 

I have no pictures of Raja when he first came to Lakeside, but after six weeks he was beginning to fill out, although lacking in muscle tone.

 

 

 

 

 

Raja five months after coming to Lakeside

Now, some five months after I bought Raja, he is a healthy weight and much fitter than before although he still needs to develop a little more muscle tone.  I feel very lucky to be able to ride out around the lake or through the coconut groves on this magnificent animal who is so quick to learn and eager to please.

 

 

One unusual trait of the Kathiawari is that their ears curve inwards and touch at the tips which gives them a very intelligent look.  There is only one other breed of horse (also Indian) which shares this characteristic.  The number of Kathiawari horses declined after Indian Independence until there were only a few thousand in existence and they were verging on extinction, but thankfully the numbers are now increasing and these beautiful horses are here to stay.

 

 

Easter Greetings from Lakeside

The state of Tamil Nadu has a population of over 72 million (2011 census figures). It is a vibrabant population with deep spiritual roots, and many of our foreign guests at Lakeside are surprised by the diversity of faiths – the biggest building in our village of Athoor is a Catholic church.

88.3% of the population of Tamil Nadu are Hindu, 6% Christian, 5.5% Muslim with the remaining very small number belonging to other faiths (e.g. Jains). In the towns and villages of Tamil Nadu the religions live side by side; although Christians and Muslims tend to have their own living areas centred around their places of worship these are well integrated into the life of their neghbours. The capital of Tamil Nadu, Chennai, is believed ot be the place where Saint Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus, was martyred and so Christianity has a rich history in this area.

We currently have five staff at Lakeside, two of whom are Christian with the remaining three Hindu. Today, our two Christian staff are on leave, celebrating Easter with their families. We would also llike to take the opportunity today to wish a very Happy Easter to all of our friends and customers from everyone here at Lakeside.

The owners and staff at Lakeside wish you a very happy and peaceful Easter.

Spring Haiku

I’m very bust with auditing end of year accounts and writing reports so not much time for posts at the moment!  However, this young monkey in Thekkady (seen during one of our tours) inspsired me to write my first Haiku.  I hope you like it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tender leaf unfurls.

Senses discovered.  Explore

new leaf, new life. Spring.