Vanilla Weddings in the South Pacific – Video


A vanilla wedding in the South Pacific? How about hundreds of them every year? Forge on to discover how organic vanilla is grown on the tropical island of Lifou in New Caledonia, with my mini movie and gorgeous pics!


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The vanilleraie on Lifou

The vanilleraie on Lifou


On my recent trip to New Caledonia I found a small organic vanilla plantation in the Botanic Garden on the island of Lifou. Watch the story unfold ….


In a nutshell:

  • Mexican vanilla was introduced by the missionaries in the 1800’s
  • The plantation is growing each year as more vines are planted – cuttings are taken from the original vines
  • It takes about 7 years from planting to produce beans
  • The plant flowers in October to November
  • The flowers are not scented
  • This is the beautiful vanilla flower

    This is the beautiful vanilla flower


  • As the plants are an introduced species the local insects and birds do not pollinate the flower – this has to be done by hand
  • The male organ in the flower is gently touched to the female organ – this is the pollinating process
  • Pollinating must be done in the morning as the flowers close in the afternoon
  • Once the flower has dried and died, the vanilla beans grow
The young vanilla bean

The young vanilla bean

  • When the time is right the beans are picked and plunged into boiling water for 3 minutes
  • The beans are dried in both sun and shade for 3 months then placed into aging boxes to develop – just like wine
  • Lifou currently sends all its harvest to Noumea but is aspiring to export worldwide when the crops are more bountiful
My wonderful guide

My wonderful guide

It was so hot and the tour continued onto other beautiful sights, like a tribal hut and he Cliffs of Jokin. I wish I had asked a few more questions but the tour party pressed on. And I can’t believe I forgot my guide’s name. The heat got into my brain!

The Cliffs of Jokin

The Cliffs of Jokin

The picture does not do the water justice – it was a stunning turquoise blue. We also spotted a shark swimming around.

Remember to treat yourself first, then everyone will benefit.

copryright SR Banks 2015

Really? Perfume for clothes? Yuck!

Scented washing liquid

Scented washing products

In the commercial for this product (a scented fabric softener), the gorgeous woman in her LBD (see my article on the LBD ), has run out of all her glamourous perfumes. She looks everywhere. I think she lives in Paris and wears designer clothes. She’s wearing stockings with a seam at the back and maybe she’s going out for an intimate dinner. Oh no, what is she going to do without her perfume? Here’s a brilliant idea…… take off your dress and wash it with this fragrant product – just like perfume for your clothes. NO!!!!!!

Have you ever smelled these vile, toxic, synthetic, over-scented products? They are so strong and so false, they exude out of the container and assault you when you are walking down the laundry isle in the supermarket. It’s not just this particular brand, but many brands. Clearly I can’t stand them. Any of them. My recommendation is to buy an unperfumed washing soap, and if you really feel you need some fragrance, chuck in a few drops of lemon or eucalyptus essential oil. Or even just the juice of a lemon – and squeeze the rind into the juice too (as this contains the essential oil).

the lovely lemon

the lovely lemon

We have completely gone overboard with synthetic fragrance. It screws with our sense of smell and interferes with healthy living. It prevents us from turning scent into valuable information. It dominates over the beauty of nature and our divine natural connection to the earth. Chemicals are absorbed and stored by our bodies – is it any wonder that western society has sickness and disease? Don’t for one minute think that a little bit of perfume won’t harm you. Extended exposure to toxicity within and without, is bad.

So what could have our glamourous lady from the ad, scented her beautiful skin with? In a couple of minutes our lady –

* could have found some citrus fruit, cut some rind, and squeezed the essential oil on her skin and hair – grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, mandarin.

the amazing vanilla pod

the amazing vanilla pod

* could have used some vanilla extract from the cupboard and dabbed a little on her wrists, behind her ears. Or rubbed a vanilla pod on her wrists.

* could have bought or picked a single scented flower for her hair

Billie Holliday with gardenias in her hair

Billie Holliday with gardenias in her hair

* could have ground up some black pepper, cinnamon or any spice with a little oil, and used that as a perfume. How delicious would a little bit of nutmeg and pepper be?

I’m sure you can think of a few more too. But if she didn’t have the scented fabric softener she probably could have sprayed her highly toxic, scented deodorant all over her – yep that would have worked!

Hey – instead of fabric softener use half a cup of bi-carbonate of soda. It works and you can always add some essential oils to the mix.

Please be mindful, and informed. Choose wisely.