Dream Trip No. 1

Rice farmers in Bali - 35mm slide by E. Jurus
Rice farmers in Bali – 35mm slide by E. Jurus

I’ve been very fortunate in my life so far to have been able to travel to many places in the world. Once in a while, though, a trip is advertised that I can’t swing but that I dream about being able to take.

A new offering by Oceania Cruises that’s making its debut in 2015 is one such that’s making me drool. Called “Around the World in 180 Days”, the company describes it as “something more than a cruise, truly a voyage, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to really enjoy all the best your world has to offer”. The cruise departs from Miami on January 10, 2015, and takes you around the world to places like Guadeloupe and Tobago, Devil’s Island in French Guiana, Cape Town in S. Africa, cruising around the Cape of Good Hope, Mozambique, Madagascar, the Seychelles and Maldives, cruising the Andaman Sea, Rangoon, Bangkok, Singapore, Borneo, Bali, New Zealand, Tonga and Tahiti, and much more, finally docking back in Miami on July 8th.

For this inaugural voyage, Oceania is offering 2 for 1 cruise fares, which changes a Concierge Level Veranda room from $176,784 to $ 58,999! You also get an Exclusive Prestige Package that includes free pre-paid gratuities, transfers, luggage delivery, unlimited laundry services, etc.

I’m not sure I could talk my husband into spending 6 months on a cruise, but if I had the $59K to spend I’d love to give it a try. I can envision myself enjoying some of the special shore events, like a private cocktail party at the Jim Thompson House in Bangkok, or having a classic English-style afternoon tea after a day at sea. The tour includes a large number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, so there’s lots of world culture included.

Sigh. This would be a fantastic bucket list item. If you can swing this trip, you have to tell me all about it afterwards, photos included! You’ll find more information on the Oceania website.

Post-shopping tea breaks

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Going out shopping, even just for groceries, can be such an exercise in frustration. A few of my pet peeves include: people who leave their shopping cart in the middle of the aisle while they wander off somewhere else to grab an item, blocking everyone else’s way; people who block the entire aisle at food-sampling booths; people in the parking lot who can see you backing out from 10 feet away and still think it’s a good idea to walk behind you…

On days like that, I restore my depleted energy and sorely-tested good nature with a mug of tea and something both yummy and easy to make. The tea I usually have is a heady mug of Assam, full-bodied and aromatic. The carb-supplier is a gluten-free English muffin by a company called Kinnikinnik, toasted to a golden brown and topped with a lovely dollop of crème fraiche (I use Liberty brand) and a really good jam (in this case, Greaves’ wonderful apricot jam). We’re very lucky in Niagara to have ready access to Greaves jams, produced locally and some of the best jam outside of homemade that I’ve ever had — not too much pectin, so their jams have a nice texture for spreading, and a perfect amount of sweetness without being cloying. They’re nicely balanced by the mild tartness of the crème fraiche, and toasting the English muffin provides a slightly crunchy base along with great flavour.

If you’re on a gluten-free diet, this is a great combo to have with tea, and even if you can eat wheat you may want to check out these English muffins, which are perfect for the purpose. The muffins can be found in the freezer compartments of health-food sections in grocery stores, and in health-food stores as well. I recommend putting them into the microwave first for about 15-30 seconds, depending on whether you’ve thawed them out or just pulled a frozen one from the bag; microwaving softens them up and produces a nice crumb texture when you split them with a serrated knife. You can put the whole thing together in about 10 minutes, leaving you lots of time to put your feet up and relax!