It was a glorious day for the train trip to Coonoor, and taking the beautiful Anita's advice at Lymond House up at Ooty we hired a driver to take us from the station to La Belle Vie for lunch in "upper" Coonoor. It wasn't that far, and the ride took us past some rather interesting residences which you probably wouldn't be aware of if you stuck to the main commercial area. It doesn't look too flash from the road, but once you're comfortably seated at one of the outside tables, you find yourself captivated by the essence of being in a hill station ... lush gardens, tall green trees and fresh air. There were two other groups there, young mothers whose children had ample room to gambol around on the extensive lawns. It felt like stepping into a nostalgic film set - the (mainly) Australian ladies clad in light colours wearing wide brimmed hats, and the Indian ladies in vibrant saris, and their children all mixed up together, playing games with whatever took their fancy (including some of the garden!). As many restaurants do not stock beer or wine, he went off with the driver (who was going to wait for us while we lunched) to find some local brew and I stayed behind and chatted to the almost expat Australian women who were soon ruefully returning home ... they knew the ropes and had brought their own wine. It wasn't too long before he returned with beer and we ordered some lunch - his choice was pizza and mine was antipasto - mainly because we wanted a break from strongly spiced (but delicious, nevertheless) Indian fare. Simple stuff, but delicious, much to our delight...but then, I guess, Anita wouldn't have recommended something dodgy. The genial host meandered over to us and we swapped some tales of misspent youth as those of our vintage are inclined to do at that time of day, and as the afternoon came to an end we summoned our driver - you know, there's an art to summoning, and there's no better place to practise it than at a hill station on a perfect sunny day.
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