Where is it?

A small beach shack on Kinross Beach, an urban beach in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Because it’s a public beach away from tourist hotels it attracts kite-flyers, pineapple salesmen and young lovers.

In the past it was nearly wiped away by the tsunami but survived in all its fading charm. You have to cross a busy railway line and tip the local guide who makes sure you are safe to cross.

Why do you go there?

Mainly the dramatic views of the Indian Ocean and the Scottish name, which strangely makes me feel connected to home. My partner has family nearby and she likes to gaze at her old school which is only a few streets away.


How often do you go?

Maybe once a year, sometimes twice if my luck is in.

How did you discover it?

We were driving south to Sri Lanka’s main tourist coast. There was an old decrepit street sign which I thought said “to Perth and Kinross”, so we reversed back and took the dusty road down and discovered Kinross Beach. It was fairly isolated then but has now become part of a busy thoroughfare in a hectic city.

What’s your favourite memory?

Walking along Marine Drive and seeing a building site of new apartments. I just loved the thought of having an address on Kinross Beach, so we bought what was then an inexpensive apartment overlooking the beach and the railway line.

It’s in an urban neighbourhood called Wellawatta, an unfashionable and mainly Tamil-speaking area which, during the civil war, was often the subject of police raids and army reconnaissance.

I love hearing the call to prayer which can wake you up just as the sun rises. There is also a bread van with a strange bell that rings when fresh bread is on sale. The sounds are truly distinctive and host many memories.

Who do you take?

Family. Our son likes swimming and there is a beach pool. Some of my friends have travelled too. The swimming club has cheap beer and great street food.

What do you take?

A wallet full of Sri Lankan rupees; there are no credit card facilities and secretly I hope there never are. It’s a place where a few pounds look like a rapper’s wad.

What do you leave behind?

Usually, a book I’m reading that I leave by mistake. Fortunately, there is a great independent bookshop called Barefoot which is only five minutes along the coast in a tuk-tuk. It has an amazing range of modern Asian literature in translation, so I often buy books I’d never see at home.

Sum it up in a sentence.

An imagined Scotland in the tropics.

What other travel spot is on your wish list?

Most of Latin America, back to Galway where my family’s origins are and to the very north of Scotland which, shamefully, I’ve never explored.

Cassius X: Becoming Ali, adapted from Stuart Cosgrove’s book, will have its world premiere at Glasgow Film Festival on Thursday. There is also a screening on Friday. Visit glasgowfilm.org/festival