We're on holiday at the moment, granny and grandpa have come to visit for a few weeks, and as it's the end of the high season we've closed for a week or two. We're very lucky this year as the whales are still with us, normally they're gone by early november. Fortunately there were a couple of females who arrived late and are still hanging around the island with their calfs, and escorted by males (they always arrive to spoil the fun). 
 Granny got to fulfill her dream of a close encounter with the whales, and I went along too, it's not the first time, but it's true that it doesn't happen too often. We were in luck the whales were just outside the harbour, and though the sea was too rough to swim with the whales we got a good show.
The youngsters love to leap and splash and generally show off, so we had ample opportunity to catch them on film (though this is a lot harder than you might imagine on a rocking fishing boat!).......


Tahitian Gooseberries

It's almost the season of plenty and it certainly feels like it, between the mangoes, a second cropping of guavas and also the 'tahitian gooseberries' or 'seurettes' I'm busy, busy, busy making preserves. If you've never heard of Tahitian gooseberries, then you're missing out, when they're boiled up with sugar they make an awesome sticky treat that kids here love. The tree out back in our garden (Phyllanthus acidus) is just loaded with them this year, I've already harvested over 10kg, and there's a whole lot more left on there.
The coolest thing about them is that they turn from a greenish yellow to a magnificent ruby red, as you cook them up,
The syrup that they're cooked in is also good to keep, it's also awesome on cheescake, in yoghurt or on crepes. While they don't look much like goosberries, the flavor is definitely reminiscent, though I have to say I like these little fellas even better than the British equivalent.



Moving on from the incense and hand-milled soap, now I'm playing around with infusing and perfuming monoi oil. It's great for the skin and hair, and ideal for massage. In fact our whole family loves giving and receiving massages, big and small, here Heimana is preparing to give Daddy a quick back rub! She just can't get enough of being massaged and even before she's out of the bath-tub she's pointing at the monoi bottle saying 'maaaoo' (her best attempt at maro, which means massage in tahitian).

The timing is perfect for my experimentation, the sun is there and the flowers are all out, so it's a great time to start infusing monoi.
 here's our ylang-ylang, there's also a mountain of plumeria....

I've been letting my imagination run wild, I've tried coconut flowers and lemon rinds, Rurutu coffee grinds and of course the classics like tahitian jasmin, vanilla and sandalwood, pretty much all the spices I have on the shelf, star anise, clove, cardamon and cinnamon all give lovely complex scents. I'm very happy with a lot of the results and am now playing at blending my own fragrances (today's success is a Rose-sandalwood-vanilla blend) I haven't gone as far as making my own essential oils yet......but I am thinking about it and have already been playing around with floral waters, though it's still early days yet......



This new month heralds the change in the seasons, the whales will be leaving us soon, and the season of plenty is arriving, the tiare bushes and plumeria are just bursting with flowers. It's also the end of the busy season for us, and while we still have a bit of a rush on over the school holidays next week and in December, I can breathe a bit easier and have more time to work on my side-projects. The jam-making business is starting to roll, I have the jars and now just need to fill 'em!
My phase-two project, the toiletries and other smellies is also slowly making its first baby steps. I've called it 'Eteroa noa noa' which roughly means 'Rurutu perfumed island'. A while back I made up my first batch of aromatherapy incense sticks (calming - sandalwood and green tea, relaxing - frangipani and lavender, revitalising - hibiscus and rose, uplifting - tiare and ylang-ylang, invigorating - vanilla and ginger, energizing - papaya and citronella), along with some labels.
tamanu seeds

More recently I've formulated a lip-salve from monoi (coconut-oil) and tamanu oil (the seeds of a locally occurring tree, with almost mythical skin healing properties), two excellent moisturizing ingredients, ideal for pampering chapped or sun-burnt lips. For fun, I also made some hand-milled monoi soaps, using funky tropical soap molds. Now I'm starting to market them - it's quite exciting to watch these little seedlings of ideas grow and very slowly start to sprout leaves. My mother-in-law was in Tahiti for the annual Austral Islands arts expo and had great success with my new products, so I'm feeling quietly confident and ready to go to the next step.


Daily Zen

We all need a little..........
....... close your eyes and imagine the absolute silence punctuated only by the distant rumble of the breakers crashing on the reef....aaaah, now doesn't that feel better!

Ten Reasons why I like living in Rurutu: #7

It's been a good while since I worked on my ten reasons, and what could be a better reason than these? Did I mention the mangoes? Yes, mango season is here again, and this year I'm more determined than ever to make the most of it, you may know that I'm a little bit obsessed with mangoes.
I've already got production rolling with mango jam and mango sorbet.
Yesterday we ate steak with green peppercorns and mangoes (delicious!). This week I think I might aim at some chutney and who knows a mango upside down cake and maybe even some dried mangoes before the season's out. I used to love the dried mangoes that my dad brought back from trips to India and the Philippines, now it's just a question of figuring out how to make my own.....