Welcome home comforts

Two weeks after arriving back in England, I finally found a weekend to head back to my childhood city of Winchester to see my mum. It worked out rather nicely actually as today (Sunday 18th March) turned out to be Mother’s Day (all part of my plan, naturellement).

Although my new life in Brazil is rich and wonderful in countless ways, it has been tough to be away from my lovely family for such long periods. This time it had been more than 8 months since I’d seen my UK people so it has been great to come back and reintroduce myself. And one of the most comforting things about coming home is comfort food cooked by my mum:


Ah this takes me back to my childhood. In our house we always called this Shepherd's Pie, though a lot of people call it Cottage Pie instead. Whatever you call it, this is utterly yummy and delicious and uncomplicated. Perfect for a chilly winter's evening with a warming glass of red wine. Thanks mum!



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Scissor-tailed Visitors

Soon after we moved into our place in Glória/Santa Teresa, we took a trip to the nearest branch of Tok&Stok (a chain selling reasonably priced furniture and household goods, a little bit like Ikea but without the meatballs, herring and arguments). Our shopping list was not particularly exciting – a dish draining rack, cutlery tray, you get the picture. All in all it was a rather boring shopping trip. 

Until we got to the checkout! Because there, hanging on a hook, was a hummingbird feeder. Wow. I love hummingbirds. We don’t get them back in Europe and although I saw a few in Colombia, the novelty has definitely not worn off. The feeder went in the trolley and I went home with plans of attracting legions of hummingbirds. 

And guess what? It worked! 


In Portuguese, hummingbirds are called Beija-flor (flower kisser). This one is called Beija-flor Tesoura (Tesoura is Portuguese for scissors, a reference to its forked tail). In case anyone is interested, the Latin name is Eupetomena macroura.



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The Herbs are Smoking!

The best way to describe recent weather in Rio would be ‘changeable’. Yesterday was blisteringly hot, then last night there was a torrential downpour (just after got home – yes!). This morning I woke to a rather tedious drizzle which reminded me of England. 

A day or two of rain doesn’t really bother me (well, unless those two days are Saturday and Sunday!) – I actually rather like a bit of mixed weather. And it seems that I’m not the only one!


This Basil ain’t Fawlty! In fact it is getting a little bit too successful.

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Tenacious, Tasty and Deadly

To round off my threesome of plant posts, I thought that today we could look at a plant (in fact a group of plants) that has stirred up a bit of trouble here in Brazil.


Right next to the orchid collection at Jardim Botanico there is a huge collection of Bromeliads.


The Bromeliad group contains over 3,000 species – some are tenacious others delicious and some of them can be deadly.

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Pornographic Plants? Y-Orchid-ding me…

Sorry about the brutal pun – I’m feeling sick as a dog today and as my health deteriorates, so do my standards of what constitutes acceptable word-play. As mentioned in my last post, I visited the Jardim Botanico a few days ago. And alongside the amazing palms, one of the highlights was the orchid house.

It’s just a pretty flower!

A friend of mine insists that orchids are pornographic – at first I told her she was being ridiculous, but now that she has planted that seed (sorry), I kind of know where she’s coming from. See what you think…

The Emperor’s Tree, Freed by Slaves

One of the things I love about life in Brazil is that there are plenty of public holidays. Next Tuesday is the ‘Proclamation of the Republic’ holiday and seeing as it lands on a Tuesday, many people will get Monday off work too. Four days off work just as the summer is getting going? Yes, I’m pretty happy about that. Of course the weather forecast is showing 4 straight days of thundery rain, but right now the sun is shining and I’m heading off to Jardim Botanico, Rio’s botanic gardens. 

The Imperial Palms of Jardim Botanico.

The huge Imperial Palms (Roystonea oleracea) of Jardim Botanico are hard to miss, having been planted in great avenues lining many of the paths. These long-lived palms form a fascinating part of Rio’s history. 

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