Sunday, 21 August 2011

Fringeford memories

Today I was supposed to meet up with a fellow sketcher and spend the morning sketching outside. I hadn't blogged for the past few days with pent up excitement thinking I will have loads of fresh stuff to share by now. But waking up at five am I realised that it had rained all night and was still raining and our grand plans were all cancelled. Until next weekend then......

And so I fall back on some sketches that I made during a lovely relaxed holiday my husband and I had in northern Kerala. Wayanad is a hilly district and the place we stayed - Fringeford - was suggested by a friend. The first sketch is the narrow path through which the jeep drives in as you get your first glimpse of the house.

Now fringeford is not just a house or homestay. It was originally a cardamom and coffee estate which the present owner has allowed to grow wild. It is 520 acres of rainforest on hilly terrain with multiple streams and lots of wild animals running through it. The house is just five  bed-rooms, a kitchen and a verandah dining hall. We were very lucky to be the only guests when we were there - made us feel like the lords of the jungle... or something :)

You step out of the rooms onto a shaded courtyard with a mango tree and the ground falls away to this stream with lovely cold clear water rushing through it. If you stay for several days like we did and need to get your laundry done, they have one or two local women from the village who come by to help in the kitchen and these women take your clothes down to this stream and wash them on those stones!

There is no TV and no cell phone signal as the house is bang in the middle of all that jungle. What you can do instead is walk for miles and do a lot of animal and bird watching. The resident guide Shaji takes you on early morning and late evening treks that are customized for your trekking skill level (relatively low in my case) where you put on leech socks and scramble through jungle for a half hour or so before you come upon a breath-taking view, a gushing waterfall or a wild elephant.

The other fantastic memory from this place has got to be the food. Local, fresh, delicious and cooked in a wood fire kitchen in the old traditional way. Lots of coconut and coconut oil. The cook was an elderly man, again from a nearby village, and boy! did I eat a lot. Once done with a meal, we would totter out of the verandah into the shade of the mango tree in the courtyard and sit in a mild food coma in one of the lounging chairs. The best one was that hammock over there and the view you got was of the hill sloping up on the other side of the stream. It was thickly wooded and I tried sketching the trees the first day but was not terribly happy with that sketch so I gave it another shot on the last day again...


  1. It sounds like an ideal holiday, cut off from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. The sketches are lovely, and the one of the trees from your verandah is outstanding.

  2. I love these drawings on brown it a certain feel. My favorite is the man on the hammock swing....I can feel his weight pulling down the branch of the tree that the hammock is tied to. Very nice sketches!!!! and thanks for your comments on my blog. :-)