About Me

Living in the Caribbean is probably like living anywhere else, with the same ups and downs. But it does have its own vibe and flavour and gives me a unique perspective on most things. I'm often sarcastic, mostly funny, always looking for a new adventure. I have not boxed myself into any one category of life. I love a lot of things and dislike a lot more. I write about them all.

Netflix - So Evil, but so Good

Life? What is life?
Binge - to excessively indulge in something.

Some of us already participate in excessive behaviours - binge-eating, binge-drinking, chain-smoking, shopping sprees. Then came Netflix and binge tv.

I have been a Netflix subscriber for a few years now but never really actively used it, as I was busy with school, then with work, and in between, busy travelling, socialising and having a life.

Then came Christmas 2014, and my brother came over to the house with the kids and asked why there was no Netflix on the tv. It was still only a cute app on my tablet. In order to keep the kids occupied, he went ahead and added Netflix to the tv,and that was when it all went downhill.

Later when all the family had gone, the dishes were washed and I was all snuggly in my pyjamas, fluffy socks and with a glass of white wine, I sat in front of the tv, turned it on, and since there was nothing besides warm and vomitty fuzzy Christmas specials on, I flicked on Netflix. There in big screen wonder,was the beginning of my binge tv existence.

Over the long holiday weekend, I started in on Downton Abbey, finishing the first two seasons in record time. I have since brought myself up to date, having completed all five seasons on Netflix and via streaming. Then I moved on to The Fall, followed by Luther, and Orange is the New Black.I just today opened up The Killing, after a failed outing with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which is way too looney toons for me.

One of my fave shows is Orange is the New Black

I love me some Idris. DS Justin Ripley and DCI John Luther - Luther is also on Netflix

But Netflix is evil. Plain and simple. You switch it on to watch Episode 3,saying to yourself, after this episode, you will go feed the dog and do something worthwhile with your life. Before you know it, the dog is scratching at the door, the sun has set and you're still on the couch with snacks and on Episode 8, unaware of life around you.

- the act of watching an entire season of a show in one sitting
- a totally valid excuse for avoiding social obligations

How then do you end up on the couch for hours at a time, to the detriment of your friends, family,dinner dates and normal life?

Entertainment minus the wait - TV producers are generally trying to entertain you and keep you on the edge of your seat. You sit and watch an episode of your fave show on Tuesday night, it ends with a hell of a cliffhanger and you go "Ohhhhh snap" but then what? You have no choice but to take off the tv and wait 10,080 minutes til the next episode airs on the next Tuesday night. That can be real agony. With Netflix though, you don't have to endure those 10,080 minutes, or worse, but instead in less than 15 seconds can find out who shot J.R. - well, you know what I mean.

No commercials - Good tv with no interruptions. However, unless you have the emotional willpower to hit Pause, to go use the bathroom or feed the dog or children,this can be a really bad thing as well. lol.

Great tv all in one place - I love the one-stop-shop-ness of Netflix. I can choose to watch a movie or a tv series I may never have watched for one reason or another. I love that Netflix itself has also pushed the envelope with its own shows as well like House of Cards, and Orange is the New Black.  I don't have to resort to watching Lifetime any longer.

It's portable - Physically portable via the fact that when you leave the couch and the SmartTV you can still pick up your fave show on your laptop, tablet or phone.And of course, no matter where you are, you can pick up exactly where you left off.

Take your pick from the treasure chest that is Netflix.

So if you are an amateur at the Netflix hustle, here are some quick tips to note before embarking on a long weekend of quick showers, no human contact and hours and hours of tv and movies.

  • Clear the house or have a Netflix buddy who is also a true believer -Nothing worse than being interrupted during your Netflix marathon
  • Clear the schedule - Do the shopping, sweep the floors,feed the dog, farm out the kids before settling in on your couch with your remote, tablet, laptop or smartphone
  • Make sure you are properly dressed - Comfortable, loose clothing works for me and if it is night time, you must have your blankie.
  • Make sure you have marathon fuel aka food and drink - Netflix snacks are a must. I also like to have a nice wine open and ready to go for those unforgettable tv moments.

I was gutted when I heard that Fox had handed over Empire to Hulu and not Netflix so I am back to lying in bed with my tablet as I catch up on that. Not as fun as sitting on the couch looking at a much larger screen but Empire is as binge-worthy as they come. I have a whole separate post for Cookie Lyon, who is just my everything right now. But Happy Netflixin' this weekend, friends.

The Selfie Stick - The Darkest Point in Humanity

The selfie stick at work. Steups.
Photo credit: The Telegraph
Let's just get right down to it. The selfie stick. It is possibly one of the most polarising contraptions out there right now. You either love it, or hate it. So what is it?

I love Urban Dictionary!
Selfie Stick 
- An extendable stick you can put your phone on so you can take a selfie from farther away.
- An elongated rod, usually made out of plastic or steel, with a camera on one end and a dense moron on the other
Others have also referred to the selfie stick as the Staff of Narcissus and my favourite was British journalist, Grace Dent who described them as "one of the darkest points in humanity".

Yet to some, the selfie stick is a moment in history - a greater discovery than the coffee bean, electricity or air-conditioning. Yep. Being able to enhance one's selfies for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is the reason they sleep better at night.

I did some more research into this phenomenon and there are three basic kinds of Narcissistick...sorry...selfie stick.

  • The sticks that are Bluetooth-enabled, which pair with your iPhone or Android phone and let you press a button on the handle to take a photo. 
  • The sticks that plug into your smartphone’s headphone jack, which also let you take a photo with the press of a button on the handle. 
  • Sticks that come without any remote triggering function; some of these are sold as a package deal with a keychain-sized Bluetooth remote. (source: QZ.com)

Now I love me a selfie and if one morning I think I look extra cute, better believe I am taking a freakin' selfie. Not on my soapbox when it comes to selfies - selfies can be great. But, what is this selfie stick business? I have a problem with this - people walking around with a stick to take selfies? C'mon man.

Now from a travelling perspective, and as a solo traveller, I completely understand how challenging it can be to document some of your moments on a life-changing global discovery. You stand in front of that monument you reaaaaaaally want to get a photo of - with you in it - and then do the tourist 'bait and release ' where you size up the other tourists or locals passing by and decide who looks friendly enough, or at the very least, the least surly, so you can ask them to take that photo for you.

Nowadays, with smartphones with flip cameras and so on, the vacation selfie has sometimes replaced the charity photo from fellow tourists. I have still not jumped on the vacation selfie train completely. I still like the old fashioned tourist beg because they are often much better photos, if you are a seasoned campaigner and know how to choose your volunteer photographer, and I still like having 1-minute meet and greets with strangers who may be just like me, or not. That's part of the beauty of travelling, for me.

But I will admit, I am not a lover of the selfie stick. Though I get how it could benefit me as a solo traveller in particular, I feel an overwhelming distaste for it. I am so glad many museums and other such places have seen fit to ban their use. It is already hard battling with overzealous tourists trying to take selfies in front of everything, including that painting you want to take a closer look at. Add a 3-foot stick to the mix, and a few hundred...thousand tourists to that, and it is a nightmare.

This would drive me crazy!

Not to mention, people seem to be whipping out these things any and everywhere. There has to be some risk of physical harm as people walk around with these things threatening to poke you in the eye or in the guts. Not to mention the plain old inconvenience of it.

There was the guy in Rio de Janeiro waiting to go up the Sugarloaf Mountain cable car. His gigantic selfie stick kept getting caught in the vinyl ceiling of the waiting area and then inconvenienced other passengers inside the already-cramped cable car. - TreeHugger.com

But of course it speaks to a deeper malaise -the ever pervasive need to be viewed, to be 'liked', to create this world where everything about us and around us is perfect. Where every single thing is a photo opportunity and a chance to get 100 likes on Instagram and get more likes than the photo taken before or your friend's photo. Where you end up becoming more focused on the photo's potential on your social media than on the actual moment.

I’ll never forget the woman at a spectacular northeastern beach who never took her eyes off her extended cell phone, carefully wading into the warm turquoise ocean while holding her selfie stick at the perfect angle. She posed, smiled, angled her head, posed again. Not once did she put down her stick to actually swim in the water - Treehugger.com

Photo credit: The Telegraph
If this is your thing though, more power to you. I won't wade up to a woman like this and tell her don't do it. That is her business. I will possibly snicker and roll my eyes and blog about it, but it is her right to look like an idiot.

Where I do have a problem is if that selfie stick is going to challenge ME! - if it is going to block my view of my experience, be totally invasive during my moment, or just simply physically be a nuisance.

So kudos to some of my favourite places like the National Gallery and the Chateau de Versailles for banning the selfie stick to ensure everyone can enjoy the treasures which these venues offer to visitors.

Sadly I am hearing that selfie drones may soon be inflicted upon us. At that point I think I may just retreat into self-imposed exile from the world.

It's so hard to say Goodbye when you only just said Hello

I had a completely different post planned for today. You don't wake up expecting to have to write something like this.

In 2013, I visited Rome - a city I had always wanted to see. One of the most exciting things about that trip was meeting up with my childhood penpal for the first time ever. I wrote about the anticipation here and about the actual meeting here.

When I returned home, we gushed about our trip. Later...she told me she was sick. Cancer - that awful, awful scourge that has covered this world with such a darkness and a mercilessness. She was upbeat, she was positive. We traded messages, I prayed, we made plans. The last conversation she had, she told me she did not have good news. But she was trying her best, she said. She sent me a happy smiley but I am sure she was in so much pain. I sent her one back. The worst thing about having friends so far away is that you cannot hold their hand or hug them. A happy smiley and my thoughts and prayers were all I had to offer. I messaged her after that and got no response. This morning, it dawned on me that I had not checked in on her in a little while. I checked on my last message and saw that it had never been read. I went to her page and I speak no Italian but I did not need to understand the language to understand the story being told through the photos, the messages, the tags.

She was without a doubt the highlight of that trip. When we met, it was like we were friends for years and years, even though we were in a way. She opened her heart to me, her friends, her city. The warmth and beauty of her soul were so genuine in a city that at times felt so cold. It did not matter that I was black or a foreigner or whatever - we were friends when we were 11, and here we were in our 30s - friends then and forever.

I still have the first photo she ever sent me so many years ago in an envelope stamped 'Roma'. She, leaning against a wall, in an oversized sweater, long brown hair over her shoulder, pretty smile. She was happy to make friends from an island so far away and we were so much alike even though we were so different,

She was so young. She was my age. But while I cannot speak to how many lives she touched, she certainly touched mine. I am so glad we got to meet and even though it was a short moment in time, it was a memorable and beautiful moment.Our next rendez-vous was to be in Trinidad. We had talked about this. I looked at the screen this morning and I just cried. She was as good a friend as any I see every day. When I had joys to share, I shared them with her. When I was cold and lonely in London, she always made me laugh. I am heartbroken. We will never make that trip to Cuba together now, but I promise to live each day with hope the way she always told me to. Life is so short and it is not fair.

The hardest part is I did not even know until this morning. That is eating me alive. My heart was heavy and so I checked and checked and checked - going crazy with checking messages, sending messages to her friends, trying to translate messages into English, and forcing myself to think positively when deep down, with every post I tried to translate, every post that was not hers, every throwback photo, I knew otherwise.

Farewell, my lovely, my beautiful friend - both inside and out. Thank you for loving me despite boundaries. Thank you for being the light that you were. Thank you for living a life worthy of the love you have received. Thank you for once again reminding me to Live, Love, Laugh. I will hold you in my heart forever.

Grazie. Sleep well.

From Tanzania to Trinidad - Hand Crafted Jewellery from URU

They say 'less is more' and for me, in everyday life, this is true. Simple works. But simple does not have to be boring. Your 'less is more' can still be a  bold, personal statement.

That's why I absolutely love the URU concept and URU has come to Trinidad and Tobago. On a visit to Tanzania, Al Murray discovered these one-of-a-kind accessories and was immediately sold on the URU brand.

They are beautiful and I felt that there was a shortage of quality, non-garish jewellery in this country. I’ve always liked seeing women with simple yet classy pieces and this fits the bill. I’ve always lived by the mantra of less is more.

The pieces are absolutely gorgeous. but yet so effortless. For someone like me who sticks to simple pieces on a regular day running around town, hitting up Massy Stores or meeting the girls for drinks, URU is perfect.

This was made for me in mind - clearly!!

They aren't just for women though, as URU's simple elegance works on men as well. I for one, love simplicity when it comes to jewellry on a man. This is effortless, clean and yet, still trendy. Love.

So simple but yet so sexy

URU comes from an ancient Swahili word which can be best summed up as "an essence" - the mythological status of a diamond; the mystical attribute which fuels the age-old belief that these stones bring the wearer strength, prosperity and respect.

And when one thinks of diamonds, one immediately thinks such pieces would be way out of one's reach. But URU started actually as a hobby for a fisherman in Tanzania who made hand bands from fishing line and sold them on the highway. Fast forward to today and these handmade bands have been refined and the precious metal and stones added to create fashion accessories that are both simple and high quality.

There are pieces fitted with real diamonds. The beauty in the pieces comes from the uncut nature of the gems that the bands are fitted with. These gems are sourced in Tanzania and are bought from small scale miners there. It is important to note that all the gems are conflict free, and the bracelets are handmade by skilled artisans and tradesmen. The gems range from tanzanite, tsavorite, red spinel, emerald, and as mentioned earlier diamond. All the gems are bought and fitted into the pieces in their ‘rough’ state, which makes them more affordable than pieces featuring cut stones. The distinctive bracelet combines the URU stones in their moulded metal mounts with a handmade bangle, created using a wrapping and knotting method employed for centuries on the dhows of east Africa. The fisherman’s technique was refined to produce the bright, contemporary designs you see today including the elegant sliding clasp.

Every URU bracelet has 40-60 metres of thread, which is knotted by hand. It takes up to 5 hours for just one piece and no two bracelets are the same.

The URU bracelets are all made by hand - woven carefully by skilled artisans in Tanzania

They come in a variety of colours allowing you to match your bracelet to your mood or your outfit. Also because they are unisex,  if you have a significant other you can swap bands when your mood or outfit changes.I like that! There are also leather pieces, like this one.

For the girls (or guys) who love pink - Ostrich  leather/tanzanite

In fact you can do just about anything with your URU bracelets. You can wear them on a piece by piece basis, or in multi-coloured stacks. URU is about you really - your personal style.

URU under the bright Caribbean sun! Love.

Prices for the bracelets depend on the style of the bracelet as well as the type/size of the gem.

URU TT is currently based in Mount Hope, Trinidad but for enquiries or showings you can reach them via any of the following:

Mobile: 1-868-791-0525
Instagram: URUTrinidad 
Facebook: URUTT

Brunchin' and Munchin' Sundays at Krave Restaurant, Marabella

When there are no mimosas,
have a peach bellini
As a true and proud South girl, I am always happy to visit new places and try new experiences in my own backyard, so to speak. 

Krave, located in Tarouba Plaza, Marabella, has been open for a while now and I finally made it for a Sunday brunch.

Sundays are very sacred to me - but if there is something to do in South, you have a much better chance of getting me out of the house and out of my bunny slippers.

And so I ended up at Krave Restaurant for what, it seems, is now a very popular Sunday brunch. Lots of families made it to Krave that day for birthday celebrations or just for a Sunday away from the norm. And so we joined them.

Brunch - 
Contraction of breakfast and lunch, usually occurring around the hour of 11 a.m. Typically reserved for snobs and biddies who like tea and jam. - Urban Dictionary
I am neither a snob nor am I a biddy, and who says brunch is for either. Brunch is great for catching up, for winding down, whether you are a hot and swanky 20-something or sophisticated 50-something. I much prefer this:

A meal eaten when you wake up too late for breakfast, but do not want to go until lunch without having eaten. Instead you have a single meal called brunch. -Urban Dictionary 
An excuse to have alcohol before noon. - Me

Feel free to have a Sunday lay-in, without starving your way to lunchtime. There are various breakfast options - waffles, rolls, made-to-order omelettes; and then there is a lunch buffet, which on the day included pasta, rice, pepperpot chicken, chunky vegetables and more. There is also sushi, if you are so inclined.

I love me an omelette and this was nicely done. Made with love.

My waffle superstar made me a quarter-waffle, and you can "dress" it as you like.
My quarter waffle is sexy.

Sampled a bit of everything (almost) from the lunch buffet, but had to leave some space for dessert.

The dessert menu was pretty sexy, and you could also pig out on fruit if you so desired.

Cute brownies

Strawberry tartlets

I did not have these but they look cute

Fresh fruit was on the menu as well

And yes, as the saying goes a brunch without booze is just a sad, late breakfast. And so we had cocktails, and with us being at the time in the throes of Carnival, the Carnival themed drinks were very special.

Cocktails, anyone? Here you have a Pineomenal and a No Apology.

The special Dame Lorraine - another looker that I did not try but it was a hit around the table

Krave is pleasant, the service is to be commended (no...really. kudos) and for those living South of the lighthouse, and for whom Sundays are not so sacred, it is a nice alternative to facing the stove or facing the highway on a Sunday morning.

Brunch at Krave Restaurant starts at 10.30am and goes until 3 pm. 
What will it cost you? Brunch goes for TT$295 plus Vat and Service charge per person, but children under 12 "pay" half price and under 5s are free.
You can call the guys at Krave at 658-5728 for more information.

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