Three weeks to go!

It is now just under three weeks to the biggest overseas adventure Wayne and I have ever done.

It is customary in NZ as I’m sure it is in many other countries to embark on an OE between finishing university and starting life as a working adult. We  instead married and had our first child in this period so this was not our reality. Ending up with five children meant that overseas travel has been  a scarce opportunity and if we have managed to get on a plane it has usually involved child-friendly island resorts and theme parks.

Our nest now empty with Christian moving to the UK last year to study has changed all that. We travelled with him last year to settle him in, got the travel bug (finally) and this year have committed to 8 weeks away in several countries. Planning to catch up with him on his internship in San Francisco, visiting New York, a small tour of Italy and then a bed and breakfast journey through England, Wales and Ireland before hanging with the boy as he starts his second year at Cambridge. We finish with a week in London before coming home.

Sounds crazy to me that we get to do this! We have never done anything like this before. Months of planning and dreaming – finding interesting places to stay, things to do and see. Our trip itinerary is nearly complete. And one advantage of doing this when you are older is that I haven’t had to book a single hostel or dodgy backpackers’!

I am not without trepidation – the world outside of New Zealand seems uncertain and in some places unsafe. But I look at our son stepping out to new terrain with optimism and faith and I want to be there too. Just the process of planning our trip has broadened my understanding of how interconnected we all are.

According to my long-suffering husband we can’t start packing for at least another week – not long before I can get my suitcase down from the attic and start filling it!

 

Winter Goodness

Having spent a cold wintery week stuck inside feeling a little sorry for myself with a very enthusiastic cold, I decided on Friday that rather than heating up yet again more  store-bought chicken soup (or giving in to getting Friday night take-aways) I would make some for us  – this is what I came up with. I was lucky enough to have everything in the pantry or fridge so it was an efficient meal as well.

The general consensus was that a delicious, fragrant  and steaming hot chowder is an instant antidote to coughs and colds, and most definitely needs be made next time one of us starts sneezing.

Chicken and Corn Chowder

1 small onion
2 cloves garlic (or 2 tspn minced garlic)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 celery stalks halved and then diced
1 carrot diced
1 large potato diced
1 kumera (sweet potato) diced
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2-3 fresh thyme sprigs
2 tbsp plain flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup cream
2-3 cups cooked chicken (I used  left-overs from a  rotisserie chicken)
1 420 gm can corn kernels
salt and pepper
Fresh parsley to serve.

 

Gently fry the onion and garlic in the oil until soft. add celery and carrot and continue to gently fry for another few minutes. Add the chicken, potatoes, kumera, stock and thyme. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for around 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

Take some of the hot liquid from the soup. Cool a bit and then mix in the flour. Return to the saucepan and stir until mixture thickens slightly. Add chicken, corn, milk and cream and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with crusty bread.

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