My long absence from blogging during winter explained…skip over if you’d prefer to just hear about Cook Islands😉

It’s been a while as even though India and Sri Lanka earlier this year was fascinating and like India’s tourism trade promotes “Incredible!”…it was also exhausting at times, particularly the drive between Agra and Jaipur (for me/not Tony) with my spinal issues. I think I mentioned in my post on India that we changed our plans and returned from Jaipur to Delhi via their regular air service, even though it added A$200+ to overall cost of the trip for additional airfares.

To add to that exhaustion, I then picked up Delhi belly (most probably from an airport lounge at Delhi airport…I’ll avoid buffets from that day on!) so the first days in Sri Lanka were spent recovering from that (fortunately at a beachside hotel), before our travels around the island. Again those travels were wonderful, but moving on to a new location after just 2 or 3 days (over a few weeks) can take it’s toll when still recovering.

Once home we started catching up with family/friends both from Canberra and Sydney (a post from Southern Highlands + Sth Coast coming soon) + various voluntary work commitments and winter seems to be almost half way over before it’s begun!

So why a trip to Cook Islands?

Cook Islands last month…June 2019…near where we stayed “Magic Reef Bungalows”

As usual it didn’t take long, after returning from Sri Lanka in March, for Tony’s travel bug to return in full force! I was enjoying being home, catching up with friends/family as well as rest and energy levels, so I suggested he take a trip on his own – like he sometimes enjoyed eg. When travelling for work. He wasn’t keen on that (is lovely to know he still enjoys my company so much!) so I started thinking…perhaps somewhere warm as could feel the cold arriving in Canberra by May.

My spinal specialist had said “get back into your bikini Chris and swim, swim, swim!!” (Ha Ha!!…haven’t been in a bikini post childbirth!…wish I had a more relaxed/European body image but unfortunately I don’t). So somewhere warm I thought, minus a long overnight flight was on my radar. Tony was keen for a trip to an overseas destination we hadn’t yet visited so I immediately thought of the a Pacific island.

We’ve been to Western Samoa (1994) and more recently Fiji in 2010 (photos below). My back troubled me a lot on that trip to Fiji even if the smiles (+ pain meds) disguised that (had 2nd major spinal surgery in July 2010)…so after a bit of research, Cook Islands was what we decided on as we liked the idea of a stopover in NZ – always enjoy NZ! Before I get onto choosing photos from Cook Islands (this weekend and next), here are some old photos in 1994 and 2010 – just before my retirement from teaching too…

1994 – Western Samoa 🇼🇸 …

Western Samoa, June 1994…our now adult sons were 9 and 12

Fiji 🇫🇯 – 2010…sons all grown up and we were approaching retirement!

Fiji…we stayed at the Sheraton- an older style/resort hotel…all beautifully maintained

I think there might be a few Sheraton hotels in Fiji?…at the time (2010), this was one of the older style (some would say “dated”) but it was an amazing deal with many inclusions eg. Massage for my sore shoulders (couldn’t bare a full body massage before my surgery); it had a lovely/well maintained pool (where I did gentle exercise) and it was good to take my mind off my deteriorating spine (and looming surgery) just a bit + escape the beginning of winter in Canberra. Pain meds also helped at the time I remember…good news is that I rarely need to take the stronger variety now:)

THIS YEAR’S ADVENTURE AND NEW LEASE OF LIFE!…COOK ISLANDS, JUNE 2019

The 2010 reflections remind me of how far I’ve come and for the first time in a decade I enjoyed snorkelling again…day trip to Aitutaki from Rarotonga was exhilarating!…

Exhilarating and lots of fun! Aitutaki- Cook Islands, June 2019

MORE ON COOK ISLANDS (including the stunning Aitutaki) NEXT WEEKEND…TIME FOR A FOODIE FOCUS…

We’re about to begin our Sunday dinner preparations here at Mollymook (NSW South Coast) and seafood is on the menu…matches the pacific islands theme! I’m making the salad and Tony has a recipe for oven baked fish and chips. Very appropriate as our lovely neighbour here gave us some flathead fillets he caught!

I borrowed Matt Moran’s Australian Food, Coast and Country 2017 from Milton library on Saturday…some gorgeous/simple recipes eg.

Burrata with Broad Beans and Mint

500 g broad beans in the pod; finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon to taste; 100 ml olive oil; 4 burrata; torn mint leaves to serve

Burrata could be replaced with a very soft buffalo mozzarella (* note below) or as a quick family meal, children might enjoy grated parmesan?…our grandchildren do.

*Note:

Burrata: We couldn’t fine Burrata at Ulladulla but did find a very soft buffalo mozzarella from Woolworths – nice and creamy inside and a bit similar to burrata…still a bit pricey, but maybe half the price compared to buying burrata from small delis??…so probably not a mid week family meal but delicious just for 2 of us or when we occasionally have friends over.

Broad beans…also found them at Woolworths in frozen section…a bit fiddly to peel and when fresh we’ve bought them from local markets.

A side with Mat Moran’s “Oven Roasted Fish Fillets”

Of course if you buy them fresh you’ll need to go through cooking process. The frozen type are pre-cooked so basically just peel and then assemble ingredients and season to taste.

Next recipe from same book of Moran’s will be:

Butter Lettuce with Goat’s Cheese, Peas and Preserved Lemon…again we substitute ingredients depending on season and availability but here’s the list:

100 g podded peas (I love fresh when you can get them)…or about 300 g unpodded; 100 g podded broad beans (350 g unpodded); 3 preserved lemon quarters; 2 butter lettuces (outer leaves discarded); 2 baby cos lettuces (outer leaves discarded); 1 large handful mint leaves; 100 g goat’s cheese (or the cheese in previous recipe?); 60 ml lemon pressed olive oil (if we don’t have that we add a bit more lemon); juice of 1 lemon to taste 🍋

Until then happy travels everyone!…whether exploring the planet or just your owns streets like I’m about to do.