Our autumn series of followtheboat posts take us to the Himalayas. We visit Darjeeling, the Nepali boarder and Sikkim. It’s an exhausting trek into the moody, cloud-covered mountains, but before we head north we’re going to take two weekend breaks on the beach in Kerala. A tale of two birthdays, these are photo stories of our weekend trips to the Kannur Beach House, northern Kerala, and Kuzhupilly Beach House, just outside Cochin.

liz-beach

Kannur beach - desolate

Kannur Beach House

Hmmm, safely secured?

Stupidly we booked our driver through the same company who arranged our fateful Western Ghats adventure. And guess who our driver was? Yep, the very same chap who claimed never to have had an accident in 21 years of driving, forgetting the accident Liz and I were involved in within 20 minutes of jumping into his car on our first trip (I think the definition of an accident in India has to include at least one fatality). This time he drove 600 miles up the Keralan coast with a bald tyre. He irritated me so much I have written an essay on being driven in India; it will be published when I can bring myself to tone down the venom…

walk across a footbridge, over a blue lagoon and weave your way through 100 year old coconut palms

kannur beach houseTo get to Kannur Beach House you drive to the end of a dirt track, unpack your car, walk across a footbridge (over a blue lagoon), weave your way through 100 year old coconut palms, dump your bags and fall into a hammock. It is run by Rosi and Nazir and is very much a family affair. The five simple guest rooms, all with verandas, face the sea. We ate breakfast and dinner at a communal table in the courtyard. Rosi and her family joined us at each meal, a great way for everyone to get to know each other.

In the morning we watched local men fishing with cast nets.

Casting net India

Male fishing = easy

Women, with baskets strapped to their heads, dipped under the water to scour the muddy lagoon bed for shrimp. They’d come back up for air with eyes tightly closed and mouths wide open, breathing out heavily. It looked like hard work.

Female fishing = hard

The damp, tropical heat of Kerala can be oppressive, but the shade of the coconuts aids relaxation until the evening. We were served a variety of home cooked food and never ate the same meal twice during the five days we were there.

We spent most of our time walking through the mangrove swamps and coconut plantations, or taking late afternoon strolls down to the quiet beaches where we watched fishermen prepare their boats for night fishing.

Since this was my birthday treat, Liz had organised another backwaters trip as a little surprise. With no other boats in sight, it was slow and peaceful, very different from our Christmas experience in Alleppey.

The backwaters of north Kerala

The rivers were wider and there were fewer settlements, but we saw more Brahminy kites in one place than ever before, along with countless other soaring sea birds. Our boat friends, John and Pearl of ‘Hydrus’, came with us, and together we wandered round a coconut-rope making plant, complete with large health-and-safety defying threshing machine.

Warning: dangerous farming equipment will take your arms off

Once again we stuffed ourselves with freshly caught fish. Our review of of Kannur Beach House is here: Trip Advisor.

Kuzhupilly Beach House

eat

Always eating (Jamie with John and Pearl of 'Hydrus')

I can only describe Liz’s birthday weekend break is ‘an over-indulgent food-fest’. As it was very late in the season we had the place to ourselves, including the chef. On our first afternoon the owner drove us round endless watery shrimp farms to the fish market, where we spent an hour or two choosing our supper. He also showed us how to select vegetables and picked up some leaves which we had not used before. I still don’t know what they are called in English. Despite having only two mouths to feed, the chef cooked for six. Dare I admit the food was so good we also ate for six? Our review of the Kuzhupilly Beach House is here: Trip Advisor

Pearl, John and Jamie with Rosi, Nazir and family

To see a slide show of Kannur Beach House, surrounding coconut plantations, backwaters and rope factory, click the image below.