Wednesday, 5 December 2018

And soon it will be Christmas....

One thing about spending most of November in a hot climate, is that you seem to jump from summer to Christmas very fast!  I took this photo at the end of October...

and now we have this -  the chill and bitter wind, and the glamorous Christmas decoration of the central stairwell of Fortnum & Mason.... 

...  and The Snowman in Piccadilly!

So, to keep the warmth going, I'd like to show you some photos of a wonderful private garden that I visited in the South of Mauritius.  It was created from 15 acres of an old sugar cane plantation, and here below is the view from the terrace that overlooks the garden. You can walk down through the gardens and around the lake, or linger in a thatched summerhouse, and there are so many different plants and different views. It was a peaceful, somewhat cloudy day, so not too hot ...and it felt like paradise on earth. I spent a lot of time trying to photograph some maroon insects like large dragonflies on the lake, but they always eluded me. 

Many of the plants in the garden are tall and have huge flowers, and the garden's particularly well stocked with varieties from the Heliconia (Bird of Paradise Flower) genus. These flashy colours remind me of a parrot. 

This deep pink and purple bloom is slimmer and more elegant. 

  This is sometimes called the "cigar" heliconia.  It's supposed to look like a cigar, with the leaves wrapped round and round.  Not sure I agree that it does, but it is an imposing bloom that looks good in flower arrangements. 

And the purplish-blue and cream one shown below, grew about ten feet high - a very striking plant.  Sorry it's not a very good photo.   The flowers are slightly past their best, but I put it in because I could so easily imagine them turning into giant, crested, long-beaked birds at night. 

Then T and I went back home with our friends and had a snack of rotis, popular Mauritian street food.   Here is a typical roti stall - this one is in a market.

The rotis resemble tortillas and are freshly cooked, and often filled with either a mild fish, meat or octopus curry, plus some pumpkin curry, plus red beans and two or three chutneys, which might be very hot.  Really delicious! 
The markets were fun, with local people bringing in produce from their smallholdings.  I bought some bitter gourds, and although they were extremely decorative, with that fabulously intricate rind and big orange seeds inside, they looked better than they tasted.  The bitterness comes from quinine.  In order to make them edible, you must cut them open, remove the inner pith and the seeds, and soak them in brine for quite a while, then fry them. By that time, it seems to me they taste basically like salt, but they're supposed to be good for various illnesses.

This is where I bought them - it's a large market which we visited a couple of times, and it's at Mahebourg, on the south eastern coast of Mauritius.

These pineapples shown below reminded me of pineapples I've had in Hawaii, and might as well be a different species from the acid, under-ripe and fibrous things you so often get in our supermarkets. 

I might have mentioned that Mauritius is over 60 percent Hindu, so you might glimpse a brilliantly coloured Hindu religious building pretty well anywhere you go.     I snapped this view from the car.  If I lived in a Hindu area I would probably think it looked ordinary but since I'm unfamiliar with Hindu structures, their colour and variety surprised me every time. As the official language of Mauritius is English, you might be able to see that these gods are named and explained on their plinths in English and not in Hindi.

I mentioned in another post that Maurituis has some fun buses. Here's one I liked - I came across it after taking a wrong turning near Mahebourg.  Look underneath and you'll see a dog, apparently guarding it - or at least, it got up and barked at me as I took this photo, so I reckon it thought it was being a guard dog!  I am not really sure I'd want to ride on a Destroyer bus, but then, Mauritian bus drivers seem to have a reputation for being rather fiery characters. 

As well as the always-interesting buses, I liked that there were so many bright and, to me, unfamiliar plants growing outside houses or scrambling over wasteland. Does anyone know what the flower below is?  I'd love to try and grow it at home. It is like a cross between a convulvulus and a sweet pea. 

And below is one of the photos which I like the very best.   I like it because it shows just what I imagined I would see in Mauritius.  And when I took it, it felt amazing to be moving quietly through so much blue, knowing that the ocean stretched out there for hundreds of miles beyond the reef.  


  1. Beautiful photos. The variety of colors in Nature there are mre beautiful against that ocean.

  2. As snow flurries fight with the sun outside I am loving your warm photos.

  3. Your header photo quite fabulous !
    Love the Christmas decorations, make me very happy.

    cheers, parsnip and badger

  4. I believe that the blue flower is Clitoria ternatea - Blue Butterfly Pea flower. It produces flat pea pods that are edible. You can buy seeds here:-

  5. Beautiful the pile of pineapples,you can imagine the sweetness there of properly ripened fruit. We are looking forward to our first off the tree grapefruit while we are here in NZ

  6. LOVE your vacation photos! The stairwell decoration is gorgeous. :)

  7. It must be quite a shock to the system to be there with the warmth and lush growth and suddenly land where it's winter. Keep warm!

  8. Thank you for providing some much-needed Mauritius warmth. It snowed here in Tennessee yesterday and tonight (as I write this) it's really frigid.
    Your floral photos are lovely and I'd like to try some pumpkin curry (I'll stay away from the octopus....). I've never seen pineapples like those. I must be used to the fibrous supermarket species.
    By the way, I like the header photo!

  9. It has been sunny here most of yesterday, but is grey today with finally some of that much needed rain. Looking at pictures of sunny Mauritius is quite the opposite of what I see from my kitchen window today!
    The food sounds and looks nice, except for the octopus curry, which I'd rather pass :-)

  10. I don't know the name of the flower but I swear I have seen it in the UK. Enjoyed reading this, Jenny. You certainly get to see some fabulous places.

  11. Markets are some of my favorite sites to visit in unfamiliar places. This looks fascinating -- also fascinating, the similarity between some of your descriptions and islands in the Caribbean, where tropical fruits, roti with curry, and fish all seem congruent with what you experienced half way around the globe!

    best... mae at

  12. Christmas should always be enjoyed in the summer sun where the temperatures are closest to Bethlehem's, where the colours are rich, the beaches inviting and the foods are fascinating. I was thinking of Australia, New Zealand, Brasil and South Africa, but Mauritius does look inviting :)

  13. Hello Jenny, Those bitter melons are very common in Taiwan, and people (but not usually children) like the taste, so do not soak or salt them excessively. They even make smoothies out of them, which you can buy from carts on the street. Although I have become used to bitter melon as a vegetable, I have not had the nerve yet to try one as a smoothie. Many Asians who move the the U.S. grow bitter melon in their gardens, knowing this is one vegetable they are not likely to find at the corner grocery.

  14. yes, indeed, it will be Christmas soon
    I love bitter gourds and rotis.
    thank you for wonderful series of photos.

    have a great day

  15. Hello Jenny, I was just reading about Jeanie's visit with you on her blog. What a fun time for blogging friends. I was reading this post and prior posts about your trip to Mauritius, what a beautiful island. I had to google Mauritius to find it's location, that is far for us. I would prefer the tropical weather over our winter. The flowers and fruits are all beautiful. I love the water color and the birds. Wonderful post and photos. Have a happy day!

  16. The food looks so delicious. One of the great things about travel is the opportunity to try new foods, but so many people seem reluctant to give it a try. “English style fish and chips” in Singapore, seems like a bit of an oxymoron to me!

  17. Lovely photos again. Blue sea and blue flowers, great stuff.

  18. Whoa! So, so beautiful. And again- reminds me of the Mexican Caribbean in many ways. Which is where I'll be spending my Christmas, eating a similar but different sort of food, being enchanted by the water, the flowers, the people.
    Speaking of flowers- I do believe you have a Clitoria there.
    Yes. We have them here in Florida. Aren't they delightful?

  19. Hi Jenny, a great post. It definitely must have felt strange for you that sudden shift in climates!
    Lovely to see some more of your Mauritian adventure. A snack at that market stall would have been fun - spicy :D) What a name for that bus - too good to pass up a photo opp even with a doggie giving you fair warning!
    It all looks so lush and gorgeous and that clear water is so inviting. Cheers now and enjoy your weekend.

  20. So beautiful. And such a contrast to the wintry/holiday scenes at the beginning.

  21. What a wonderful trip you had, Jenny...and your photos are fantastic....much appreciated by we, your thank you.

    We're in summer here...and haven't we known it!!! These last couple of days here where I live have been a lot cooler, thank goodness...the heat was unbearable and is due to return in a few days time. Elsewhere are experiencing high temps. Bring on our winter, I demand...our winters are most enjoyable...for me, anyway. :)

  22. Hi to the Happy Snowman in Piccadilly! What lovely tropical flowers you have seen Jenny. The Bird of Paradise are lovely specimens, different from what I know here in Australia. And the blue flower is intriguing, as you say like a convulvulus, especially the intense colour, and I can see the pea plant there too. Maybe it is a hybrid? The Hindu building and statues are very colourful too, in fact quite joyeous. I can tell those pineapples are delicious, because I always go for the smaller, bright yellow ones too, they are the sweetest. We have too many pale and sour ones in our shops too!

  23. Silly me, I just found the comment you left on my blog back in October. I have a year or so of comments to catch up on! You have some fabulous photos here.

  24. Wow -- it looks so warm and lush! The flowers are spectacular -- wish you could bring some home for your garden. That last blue one reminds me of our morning glories. Love the color! The gourds look similar to some I photographed in a market here, though probably not. I wondered what to do with them -- good to know that if I see them again, I can know what to expect.

    I know what you mean about missing a month and leaving in one season and returning to another. That sort of happened with us in October -- your fall is later than ours (at least this year) and when we got home, ours was all gone. I love seeing the Christmas things of London -- the stores with Christmas shops within were full fledged in the shop and we saw some things going up over the streets but not the full deal. I'd love to visit in December!

  25. The heliconias are amazing. I've never seen them before. Such wonderful colours. The Hindu religious building and figures are interesting. Would you go in to pray, or is it just to house a religious icon?

    And I love the giant Snowman outside Waterstones!

  26. I was oddly fascinated by the pineapples. It's a fruit I eat but to which I have never given any thought.

  27. Yes, it is so funny to see the destroyer bus and the dog!
    The sea and the Sky in the last photo are melting together.
    I enjoyed those photos.
    Have a good new week, Jenny.

  28. Let's enjoy winter days. Happy sunday to you.

  29. Oh my goodness, such a wonderful delightful group of photos and adventures. So happy to see your comment again at my blog too. Enjoy your week ahead.

  30. Right now it is minus eighteen here - a tad different from what you were experiencing.

  31. Dear Jenny – I didn’t stay in hot climate in November, but my body seems to be confused with the sudden chill after the long warm November. It is said the parasympathetic nerve reacts to warmth while the sympathetic nerve to coldness. . The remembrance of Mauritius brings forth the warmth. Like you, I like the last image of clear, beautiful aqua blue water merging with the azure sky; I can almost hear the sound of the waves and feel warm sea breeze. The plants look so exotic and the rotis with fillings look moreish. “Goya” (bitter gourd) quite looks like the ones harvested in my garden every year. Remember Japan's summer is sub-tropical. I drink Goya shake which is made of thinly sliced goya, milk, and banana. It is a wholesome drink. I’m having a blog break till the New Year. Wish you a lovely Holiday Season.


  32. Just admiring your photos warmed me up. Thankyou!


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