Chicken with Chilli, Paprika and Lemon and…Toes, Goannas and Wait-A-Whiles

Sometimes children don’t injure themselves.  Sometimes they injure their mothers.

When Alfie was two we went on a family holiday to tropical Far North Queensland where our plan was to go snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef.

Roast Chicken with Chilli, Paprika, Lemon

To get there we had to fly to Cairns.  Alfie couldn’t remember being on a plane before and was in overload with excitement.  We survived the flight without incident, if refusing to wear your seat belt, standing on the seat, fiddling with the tray table, visiting the toilets even when you don’t need to go and experiencing your first fizzy drink counts as incident free.

When we landed in Cairns we had to exit the plane by walking down a ramp.  Alfie was behind me but came charging up beside me, turned in front of me taking a step towards me and accidentally kicked my foot.  (‘Accidentally’ if never giving your mother any space counts as unintentional harm).  That’s when I wondered why I wore open toed shoes because I heard a snapping noise, felt some discomfort and looked down to see my toe that had been pointing straight out in front of me was now at a right angle.

My toe was broken and dislocated before I’d even hit the ground.

It seemed a team of people came running and I was thrown into a wheelchair and someone was helping Carl collect all our luggage and then I was put into the back seat of a limousine so I could stretch my right-angled toe out in front of me while the others all piled in and we headed to the resort.

Arriving an hour later we were greeted by staff who handed us a welcoming drink (mine could have done with a nip or three) and while everyone headed off to explore the resort my sister helped me limp into a taxi and off we went for a 40 minute drive to the nearest hospital.

The hospital waiting room had two other patients in it.  One of them was a British tourist who had been sitting at a picnic table when a goanna jumped up to join him.  He didn’t want the goanna on the table so he naively picked it up and that’s when it sunk its bacteria infested teeth and claws into his arm and wouldn’t let go.  He sat in emergency in complete shock with his arm wrapped in several blood soaked towels.  He was definitely going to need one of the two tanks of happy gas to repair the damage.

The other patient was a young woman who’d been sitting in the back of a 4WD as it drove through the rainforest.  She had the window down and leaned her elbow out the window.  The car drove alongside a Wait-A-While vine and it gripped onto her arm while the car continued to move forward so her arm was a bloody mess also.  I think she needed more than 200 sutures so she claimed the other remaining tank of gas.

I didn’t feel like having my toe snapped back into position without some anaesthetic so I waited for one of the gas cylinders to become available and hoped they’d saved me some.  After a few sucks of gas the doctor grabbed hold of the fractured part of my toe and yanked.  I levitated.  That gas had about as much effect as the Pethidine they give you when you’re in labor.  It doesn’t even scratch the surface.

My toe was strapped and bandaged and I hobbled out of the hospital about seven hours after the snap.

And I limped for the next 10 days.

But I did see the Barrier Reef.  I saw it while snorkeling with just one flipper.

Have you put yourself in harm’s way while being a tourist?

When you’re in pain or injured it’s always nice to treat yourself to some comfort food.  And I think home-cooked chicken is one of the most comforting meals around.  Here’s a recipe I always cook when I need cheering up.

Chicken with Chilli, Paprika and Lemon

Dinner is served!

Serves:  4-6

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  This is dinner on the table for a family of five for less than $20.00.

  • 1 free-range chicken size 1.6kg (3.5 pounds)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbspn smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 4 cloves of crushed garlic
  • rind of one lemon

Pre-heat oven to 180C (375F)

Wash and dry chicken with paper towel.  Cut into portions.  Place in a shallow baking dish.

In a small bowl combine remaining ingredients and whisk to combine.  Pour over chicken and allow to marinate for at least an hour.

Cook for 60 minutes and serve with rice and salad.

Want to read more?  Here’s my latest post on JustB.





  1. I went through a phase of kicking furniture. Not intentionally, just marginal poor estimate of clearance. The little toe suffered a few dislocations before I managed to break it completely, And then I never did it again. (Should I have said that?)

  2. Oh yes little boys. They can be a riot of fun. MIne once headbutted me while climbing over the seat on a plane to get to the toilet for the fifth time and I had a swollen half closed eye for the first 2 days of my holiday in Noosa and an interesting shiner for a while.

  3. Don’t know if this counts, but I once had chicken pox while on holiday. Horrible. The rest of my family explored the wonders and delight of The Entrance, and I watched Gladiator 5 times and drank my bodyweight in OJ 😐

  4. ooohh….knock on wood, I’ve never been injured as a tourist!! or fell ill for that matter! Poor you!

  5. Sometimes, a stress relief is needed. Great looking chicken dish!

  6. Oohh. Boy and I spent the first day of our honeymoon in an emergency clinic in the USA. Not fun and super expensive. I could have done with your comforting chicken that day!

  7. When our kids were younger we went through a stage off planning our family holidays around the chosen destination’s proximity to good medical facilities. Our youngest had an alarming propensity for attracting any passing bacteria and we have experienced medical care all around Australia!
    Seems some things don’t change – I hunted down a doctor in San Francisco last week to remove a lingering piece of glass in her foot which had caused an infection!

  8. I shouldn’t laugh or smile but I think that’s a kind of cute story 🙂 sometimes kids just don’t know what they’re doing and they can sure hurt you. My nephew attempted to kiss me the other day but then at the last minute decided to bite my cheek and I still have some red marks on my right cheek…you’ve gotta love toddlers 😛

    I remember flying back from Taiwan once and I had a bladder infection, I was in so so so much pain on the plane I thought I wasn’t going to make it!

    I love chicken 🙂 Thanks for sharing this story and recipe!

  9. Oh my. But I learned two new things from your story — goannas and wait-a-while vines.

    The chicken looks satisfying and comforting in its pretty bowl.

  10. Just reading that sounds painful. I guess I have a lot to look forward to when I have kids. It sounds like a case for enclosed shoes at all times!

  11. I have a theory about the gas they give you in labour. I think they put a mask on your face and then think you’re much improved simply because it muffles the screaming. Pethadine on the other hand, is a gift from God. Don’t diss it. 🙂

    Charlie, your kids are starting to scare me. 😉

  12. Would love to have this chicken with rice. Yummy!!! The recipe looks easy, will give it a shot.

  13. Ouch! This post made me cringe…I’ve never heard of goannas or wait-a-while vines, but think I will stay far, far, away from both. I’m glad you could still enjoy your trip in spite of the injury. 🙂

  14. My toe started to hurt while I was reading your story! Thank you for making me realise the existence of goanna and wait-a-while vine (I’m suddenly happy to live in a colder climate 😉 ). The chicken looks delicious and homely.

  15. I’m sorry to say that I was one of those children too, but have no transferred accidentally stepping on my mom’s feet to stepping on my wife’s. I’m fortunate that both still love me. 😉

    Great little chicken recipe.

  16. What do I learn from this post?
    1) Your family seems to have the worst luck!
    2) What with the bird-eating spiders, yet another reason not to ever visit that part of the world if I want to stay alive.

    ^^Sorry, the scenery is wonderful, I’m sure the folks are friendly and nice, but the flora and fauna…. holy cow :'(

  17. I’m allergic to both that gas and pethedine! If I ever need them again, I’ll just ask the doctor for alcohol- lots of alcohol!
    When we went snorkeling my older sister nearly drowned me by climbing on top of me and dunking me under the water. She still feels no remorse, and says she would do it again. I don’t go swimming with her anymore. I’ve broken a toe a few times, and it hurts like heck! I feel your pain Charlie 🙂

  18. Having spent far too much time in emergency rooms, the state of one’s fellow patients can be the worst part of the ordeal. This chicken dish you’ve prepared sounds delicious!

  19. As always, I am in awe of your stories. My mouth was hanging open. Oh, my goodness. I’ve broken my toes – twice – but never did they poke out in the wrong direction! As for danger as a tourist, I almost had my nose smashed in the Metro doors in Paris – all these kind Parisians pulled me away in the nick of time as the doors closed milimeters from my nose. It was highly embarrassing.

  20. I once broke my little toe running into the corner of my suitcase trying to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night….apparently you need to take a different route to find the bathroom in a hotel room to your own house.

    The chicken looks delish and I think I would love some of that for dinner tonight!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      That is very funny. I’ve woken up all disorientated in the dark and done some damage to myself as well. Fell over a lounge chair once.

  21. What crazy animals Charlie, had to look it all up! Your poor toe! That’s exactly the type of story you recount to get something! That chicken really looks delightful.

  22. Lucas @ says:

    I couldn’t look at the chicken straight after reading about the goanna. Gyeargh.
    I’m sure I’ll work up to it eventually.

  23. I hope you didn’t swim in circles with just the one flipper on! Glad you still enjoyed your holiday.
    🙂 Mandy

  24. I bet Alfie tells the story with great pride 🙂

  25. I remember when I went to Vegas for the first time. I had seen the orthopedic the Friday before I left because my left knee had been bothering me. He put me in a chopak strap and I was on my way. The first night I was in Vegas I called down to the front desk and asked for an extra blanket because apparently the hotel I was staying in thought a sheet and a really realy thin blanket were adequate. When housekeeping came up and knocked on the door I went over to answer it wearing t-shirt, shorts and socks and somehow I slipped on the carpet and landed on my knees. My knee was sore the rest of the night but in the morning I woke up and my left knee, my left ankle and hip were all killing me. Everyday after the conference I was attending I sucked up the pain and took some tylenol and went sight seeing. I think it was the most painful sightseeing trip I have ever been on but I made sure that I had a blast!!!

  26. That’s too funny, well apart from the pain that is! and having flown into Cairns, and visited a bit of the area I can imagine the scenario, it seems I did well to escape the goannas and wait-a-while vines when I was there!! and a big yes to your chicken recipe 🙂

  27. That happened to me! The right angled toe. I asked my mother to drive me to the ER. She looked at my foot and said, “That’s not broken.” Sheesh! But, eventually, all was well, except I had to use a putter (golf club) for a cane because we were late getting somewhere and couldn’t stop to pick up a cane. LOL! When we arrived at our destination, some total stranger looked at me and my putter and remarked, “I didn’t realize golf was such a violent game.” Heh.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Unbelievable. You must have been in such pain. I can’t believe you had a golf club as a crutch! Very funny story. Are you able to send me your URL so I can visit your blog? I can’t find you in the blogosphere. Many thanks xx


  1. […] its skin, climbing trees then disappearing in the long grass and reappearing on the public path.  I have written about goannas before and as far as I know, goannas don’t make a habit of attacking humans however they will defend […]

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