Our ship came in!

Some of the backlogged Christmas parcels arrived with the boat on the 26th, it was like winning the lottery at the post office! Not to mention the wine and beer arrival! Cheers!

Christmas under the palms

We're back into the saddle and have the house full as of boxing day, but we had the weekend to ourselves. So, we had all the family over for a Christmas bash, it was Punarii's christening, one of my nephews (I have a few, five at last count!).
It all worked out great in the end, after a bit of drama, because (predictably), the boat was late and so our champagne and beer spent Christmas day sitting on the dock in Rurutu, to be unloaded on the 26th. Fortunately, a kindly family member filled in, and I made a quite passable pineapple rum punch, so we muddled through! The girls spent most of the day shuttling between the beach and the paddling pool.....


Hotting up for Christmas

Matotea's had her Christmas party at school and is on holiday and Tuati's back with us now too. But I always find it a little tough to get into the festive spirit in the summer heat. I did managed to motivate myself, and got the Tropical Christmas pud made last week, using my home-made glacéed tropical fruits (papaya, pineapple and lychee, yum!) and some freshly dried mango. I'm hoping the pud will be as tasty as the tropical Christmas cake I made last year, though doused in brandy sauce pretty much anything tastes alright. We're going more for a Rurutu style feast this year, (i.e. we decided to forget about the turkey this time) with a Tahitian oven planned for the 25th, though I have got some mussels on order, that I should be about to collect from the plane this morning, at extortionate cost!!! The champers should arrive tomorrow, though the cargo boat has had a couple of difficult trips recently, and has lost several days on its schedule, so the boat due in on the 19th, is now in on the 24th!!!! Fingers-crossed that our beer will have time enough to chill before the big day!


More (exclusive) Beach-time!

It's definitely summer-time, December is as hot and sticky as November was wet. Today the sky is a vibrant, impenetrable blue and a lazy breeze rustles the palm fronds in our garden. It's a great day for the hammock! After school the long white-sand beach in front of our house is dotted with dispersed clusters of bathers and whooping children running on the beach, all making that quick outing to enjoy the last of the afternoon sunshine....
To avoid the 'crowds' we girls prefer to head off to our exclusive bathing spot on the south coast, we were there a few days back. Mato and 'mana had a riot......and to top it all off we had home-made brownies with pistachio ice-cream for dessert when we got back home (my first proper batch here in Rurutu, made with a secret stash of pecan nuts smuggled from Tahiti), what could be better!


Baby steps!

It's been two months now since Rurutu started collecting recyclables to send on to Tahiti, for eventual recycling, we now have our own green bins. It's a small but significant step for us, a result of the mayor's office's efforts and a little bit of pressure from our association. Every time the cargo boat arrived you saw it unloading crates of bottled water and fizzy drinks, but the rubbish stayed here and was either being buried or burnt, quite simply unsustainable on a tiny island like ours! Now we just need to convince people to use the green bins!



The season of plenty official kicked off on sunday evening, with the rising of the Pleiades in the southern hemisphere night sky. But we've been enjoying the glut of fruits for a few weeks now. Aside from the 12kg of tahitian goosberries that I've got stashed away in jars now, it's lychee season. This year is not a bumper crop, but Tattie Monique has still got a reasonable amount on her trees.
Fresh lychees are pretty awesome, we're all agreed on that, albeit a little fiddly to peel.
Heimana, in particular, has been gorging herself.

The even greater thing about lychees is that you can use a lychee seed (and a match-stick, it's all very Blue Peter) to make a remarkably good spinning top (see tutorial), so the fun never ends!


November rush!

The November rush is finally subsiding to a trickle, and so I can take the time to blog a bit!
November has been as wet as it has been busy, which is great for the garden, take a load of the amaryllis out front. With the dry weather and dying cuttings I was bit discouraged, but now I'm inspired me to continue begging and borrowing new plants for the garden - the recent arrivals are geraniums and get this strawberries, not to mention the tamarinds that have sprouted up!
Matotea has also insisted that we try to sprout pink beans from the kitchen, and you know what it worked like a dream.......only snag is that there's no treasure or giant popped up, yet! Strawberries, however, almost make up for it, they give a decent give load of fruit at the neighbours house and Matotea was
over the moon to be allowed to pick a few ripe ones along with the runners that we're trying to get growing. Roll on next years strawberry jam!

Last week was a school holiday here and the guesthouse was heaving all week, whatsmore there were lots and lots of kids for Mato and Heimana to play with, just a slight compensation for the fact that everytime Mato's on holiday we are rushed off our feet (she also had the bouncy castle up and a new paddling pool to cushion the blow)!

This november has been the busiest I've ever seen it, and while it's a lot calmer this week it's not dead either, so it's all good news for us. We don't have much of a break before Christmas, which is already sneaking up on us. I've already done my online Christmas shopping, in the hopes that the post will get here for Santa..... I'm also hankering for a couple of days in Tahiti, enoying the 'Big Smoke' and supermarkets.......maybe for early december when we're going to close for a few days to replace our leaky roof, which will be a big relief to get done!


Tamarinds galore!

It's tamarind season here and we're all addicted, Heimana in particular is a fan, it's one good way to convince her to go to grandmere's. These weird looking pods hold seeds coated in a sticky pulp that you can suck, it's the ultimate sweet and sour treat, albeit a little tricky to get at!
I've been enoying trying out tamarind jam and for Viri's birthday I did duck with tamarind sauce, a tahitian/chinese classic. There are still so many great things here to discover!


Mato's birthday bash!

Today was Matotea's fifth birthday, and between guesthouse duties and rugby world cup semi-finals, we managed to squeeze in a birthday party. I've just come back from my evening pick up at meme's, and they're both utterly shattered and fast asleep, a real birthday party exhaustion sleep........there are few things quite as satisfying as seeing them both quite so tired out.
I came a cross an inflatable mini bouncy castle, while we were in Tahiti, and it turned out to be an inspired gift choice, albeit a little unwieldy to take to grandma's!
Even Viriamu, the birthday grinch, seemed to enjoy the party!


Matotea meets a Mermaid!

Last week we had a very special guest with us, my friend Dana from the Big Island, Hawaii, who is a dedicated whale-watcher, ocean-lover and a part-time mermaid, see for yourself www.danamermaid.com!  She very kindly put on her tail for us during her stay in Rurutu......
Matotea thought it was just magic to be able to swim on a mermaid's back......
Dana's gone but she left Matotea a special mermaid sea-shell, so that she can listen to the sea and dream of mermaids whenever she wants to!


Fabulous Heliconia

This amazing flower grows by the side of the road in southern Rurutu........it's huge and incredibly beautiful!


Victims of our own success!

We're busy with guests and were in Tahiti last week for another salon du tourisme, so the poor blog is on the back-burner :-(. This salon was busier than ever, and I'm happy to report that we'll have plenty of work to do over the next few months, just a shame we seem to have lost our slow period in november somewhere along the way.......who needs a holiday anyway!!!
The soaps and monois have also been going down well, both at the salon but also locally, I have people dropping by almost every day to check out my products, I'm going to have trouble to keep the stocks going in between the jams, the guests and the girls! It's actually quite a nice place to be, for the moment........running your own business is very satisfying....albeit exhausting too....... A couple of days in Tahiti was exactly what I needed, a change of scene and a change of pace after a little bit too long on the island (I was amused at just how excited I was to see so MANY cars and houses in one place as we came in to land in Tahiti!!!).  We got a couple of almost life size shots of Viriamu on horseback and some whales printed up, just in time, I was quite pleased by the visual impact.....
The salon is also a lot of fun for us, meeting so many friends, old and new, and just generally being part of the buzz......
The down side of the salon was that we left the girls behind.....they were not too pleased, but we were only gone a few days and made up for it with a few exciting little presents - Matotea nearly swooned over her Disney Princesses coloring book! Heimana was less easily convinced by our lame attempts at bribery, though she wouls grudgingly put on her super cute Dora the Explorer backpack......on the understanding that she was allowed to get on the school truck with Matotea.....roll on next year!
And now it feels like we've never been away....


Heimana's favourite phrase...

NON, maman....C'est a MOI!


State of emergency in Vitaria!

On friday, as the east coast of the states braced itself for the arrival of hurricane Irene, the humdrum, sleepy existence of our small district, Vitaria, was also thrown into turmoil, when strong swells brought 8m waves crashing directly at our driveway! It started in the evening, we'd just finished clearing up the evening meal when the sound of the surf started to really amp up, by 8:30 pm the waves had started coming up over the beach and onto the road outside our driveway.....
Viriamu surveys the surf as it breaks at the top of our beach
Fortunately it didn't come much further than our front gate. Nevertheless we were the focus of attention for the emergency services on the island. We had the police, the mayor of Avera, the fire service, the public works people and municipal police all gathered outside our front door at some point during the night, not to mention a municipal minibus, in the event that our guests needed to be evacuated!!!! Fortunately we avoided catastrophe......
The waves drenched the road bringing with them a whole pile of ironwood tree needles
Remarkably our guests slept on, oblivious of the whole situation, but I definitely feel reassured that we're in good hands here! The island has clearly been working on their emergency action plan, maybe since our brush with cyclone Oli last year. By 6:30am on saturday morning the swell had died down a fair bit.
The road was closed off with diggers and workmen out front cleaning up the mess, which strangely seemed to be entirely isolated to a 20m stretch out front of our place (Hmmmmn, we're starting to wonder whether it might not be something we did!).
Fortunately, we have a barrier of ironwood trees planted along the beachfront facing our house, they clearly saved our garden from a good dousing in saltwater..........
The ironwood trees along our beach, with exposed roots thanks to the waves
Our beach is now very clean and very smooth! Good thing we managed to salvage the hammock! What can you say, island life is often quiet, but never dull!