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.

My (Very) Sordid Confession

The lovely Carol-Anne from La Familia Aissa bestowed this award on me weeks ago. I am horrible with awards and I think at this point I should say, I am a nightmare with them. I have gotten this one twice before so I think I am all 7-thinged out. However, there is one random, albeit amusing fact I can blog about. Brace yourself, folks...this is a doozy.

I have been a contestant in a pageant.

Now, don't get too excited. It was not Miss Universe or anything like that. Not even Miss Trinidad and Tobago, though looking back, that surely would have been the best thing I could have done for my life, since clearly it makes one employable in Trinidad and Tobago. But I digress...

It was back in my undergrad life. Dorm life. It was one of those things you did cause you were desperate, not cause you thought you were hot. I was not hot during my undergrad years. I had not yet unleashed the hotness I carry with me today. I was still breaking out of self-consciousness. So how on earth did I enter a pageant? Well, to keep my space in the dorms. Hall (dorm) life in Jamaica (where I did my undergrad) is akin to being in a sorority or fraternity. There is no "free" room. You had to earn your place. Each hall was a power by itself of course, but also within each hall, there was sub-frats or sorors, and you had those bragging rights to win as well. So be it sports, or the arts, you had to be doing something.

Wendy Fitzwilliam
Miss T&T and Miss Universe 1998
I love sports but I cannot play a sport to save my life. I failed miserably during my short stint as a cricketer during high school. Our team was rubbish but we won "Best Dressed" - a sure sign of the future! lol. Track - I sucked. Field events - sucked. Volleyball, netball - sucked and sucked.

But, I can sing. It's a hidden talent but it's one I am proud of. So when I was scoping out ways to keep my room and avoid the hell of off-campus accomodation, this seemed to be the way to make a splash. A pageant which they marketed as more talent than beauty, but there were no ugly girls in the pageant and the guys were excited and placing bets, so yeah...it was a damn beauty pageant.

I mean, in the end it was fun and I can tick it off my bucket list but at the time, it was a nightmare. Nightly rehearsals of my song - "I Still Believe" by Mariah Carey, followed by the nightly dance rehearsal. Oh yes, we had an opening dance. And not some crappy "I'm too sexy in my heels" pageant dance either where you "skin teeth" and do a two-step and a twirl, but a proper, booty shaking dance. The nightmare! Oh you should have seen the outfits for said dance. Black leotard, black tights and a green grass skirt. I still watch the photos and laugh and sorry, I will NOT be sharing the shame with you. But we danced to this song and admittedly, the dance kinda looked like this:

Jamaica being a proud sporting nation, we did not have swimwear (thank you Jesus!!), but instead modelled sports wear, and this is where we did the obligatory...
Good night ladies and gentlemen. My name is Trininista and I am a 2nd year communications student from Trinidad and Tobago..blah blah blah.
...with the big smile and pushed out chest. lol

Our hall colours were the always awful and never flattering yellow and green, so all the sports options were in those colours, except the cricket option which ta-da, your girl sported on the night, complete with pads and cricket bat. LMAO. Typing this makes me laugh. I mean can you picture it? lol. I kinda looked something like this...only cuter.

T&T cricket legend and world record holder, Brian Lara

Then we had African wear and I opted for a less voluminous beige number with a headband, which again set me apart from the pack in bright, huge dresses. These again, like the sportswear, were donated. I think I looked pretty on like boiled corn in that dress as well. For real.

We then had the talent segment, where out of sheer terror, I sang 90% of the song with my eyes closed but hit every note and somehow managed not only raucous cheers and foot stomping from my hallmates who never knew I could bust a tune, but a standing ovation. The long nights croaking out those lyrics had paid off.

Then there was evening gown - and we did not have sponsored gowns this time. You had to dig up something yourself. I must admit, I looked pretty hot in my midnight blue strapless evening dress.

But the segment that killed my chances was the question and answer section. Now, I am not sure how they do it in other pageants, but in this one, they gave us the questions and we were to formulate our answers and memorise them, cause they assured us we would have to choose a question from a hat and answer it on stage and these were all the questions. Great, cause all the questions were about the university (crap like motto, history etc) or Jamaica, none of which I was a master. But guess who got the only rogue question for which I did not know the answer? lol. Total nightmare. I remember my answer being a complete disaster and walking off the stage, not feeling like an Honours student but a complete idiot and my chaperone trying to convince me, but I think more trying to convince herself, that we could still win. Yeah right. lol.

But in the end, it was good fun and I had a room for the next academic year and I can tell my daughter one day that her mother was an almost-beauty queen. Riiiiiiiiiiight. Thanks Carol for digging that one out of me. Hope it made up for the delay in posting the award.

Dating and the Allure of the High Heeled Woman

Apparently for men, this is a huge NO-NO
A couple weeks ago, I posted an entry about a poor, young woman who was made the butt of jokes and embarassment at a public event. I commented that her aesthetic was probably not the best for the audience in question. The aesthetic being a frumpy dress and ballet shoes. While, as a woman, I have no problem with her mode of dress, the audience at hand comprised entirely of MEN. This led to comments about ballet shoes and the apparent unsexiness of them.

In re-reading salient parts of Steve Harvey's "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man" tonight, I felt the need to share another man's perspective on the age-old question - Flats or Heels?

Men like the sex appeal of high heels

Heels, baby. Heels. If we could get athletic shoes with heels for women, we would. It’s just a really sexy thing to us. I don’t know a single man who prefers women in flats; I’ve never run into one. We all think heels make your legs more beautiful, they make your walk more feminine— and you, too. And that’s what we're attracted to.
A friend also commented that she was told, by a man, that any woman currently on the market for a man should never wear flats.

Who would have thought that the man hunt came down to footwear?

One reason for this phenomenon, according to the Daily Mail:

...high heels force the back to arch, pushing the bosom forward and the buttocks rearward, thus accentuating the female form.

They also elongate the legs and add height to the female form - a turn-on apparently.

Now, some may call this shallow but these are not my views. These are the views apparently of some men. Personally, I love flip flops and the comfort of them, as much as I love heels. Still, it is a rare day (and mostly a London day), that I would wear flats to a so-called "man-hunt" location, i.e. a club, wedding (lol), cocktail party etc. Wearing a sexy outfit and flats is not cute. However, wearing sexy heels and running for the train, tube and nigh tbus is not cute either.

Beauty over pain?
I started life in London, doing the hobble - i.e. wearing heels out, to look hot. But hobbling to the bus stop after a night standing in a club, and then hobbling across 3 streets to my house in these heels, with Mr Fox glaring at me from the shadows, is not fun. At all. So at my last club outing - flats! And I was a happier party goer. It also helped that I was not on the man-hunt as I was out with someone who really did not care. But men care and women seem to care that men care. And if now men are advocating that single women wear heels to attract a man, do you care? Should I care?

So my thing is this - I love heels. Ummm...have you seeeeeen the title of this blog. But I am also practical. I do not own a car here in London which makes heel-wearing a real problem. I have seen many women doing the hobble here in skyscraper heels. The look seems to be more important than comfort. Now adding the whole other dimension of attracting a man via heels - why does all this pressure have to be on the woman? What level of discomfort should we band together to now apply to men?? Speak!

No Awesome Week is Complete Without a Date Chase

Much better time this week!
It feels like I have not been here in quite a while. Well, that's how it goes when you try to have a life. lol. And when you're a student. And all sorts of other reasons. I don't live to blog. I love blogging but I also love not blogging.

Where last week was really awful - even inducing tears - this week was much better, thanks for asking.

Firstly, my supervisor FINALLY emailed me back with feedback on my dissertation, or to be more accurate, the draft I sent her. Needless to say, the "A" on my chest is flashing in neon lights, buddy. She was very impressed with what I sent her so far and the road to completion is now seemingly short. Of course, I am anal and a bit of a perfectionist so what another person may view as a major victory, and I do agree it is a major victory, I will find some way to make it a chore. lol. To make sure it is PERFECT!

Anyway, with the disso news, I felt a bit less pressured and stressed and took some down time. I love London but I always enjoy being out of London for a few days as well. I am a bit miffed I did not take my camera with me as I should really know better. I think it never occurred to me to take it cause when I left the house it was pouring down, cold, grey, blech and my expectations for the rest of the week were probably very low.

However, there were some beautiful weather moments and we took advantage. The English countryside is truly beautiful, when it's sunny, I hasten to add. I spent one lovely afternoon at Virginia Water. Beautiful lakeside park. Lots of dog walking, which usually means lots of me going "awww...doggie". Sorry, I stole these photos but just had to let you know what I experienced.

The Cascade at Virgina Water. Absolutely stunning
Photo Credit: The Royal Landscape - Virgina Water

The Five Arch Bridge at Virginia Water. It is a beautiful view actually. Gorgeous
Photo credit: The Royal Landscape - Virginia Water

Also there was some kitchen love. I always love cooking, but it's always better when it's not just for myself. I think I am an awesome cook so being able to share the love is always great. And having the kitchen love reciprocated is even better, so the apple and blackberry pie - very good, much appreciated, totally consumed. lol. And when it's a man doing the reciprocating in the kitchen, it is a big deal!

I must also take you back to this entry and share a funny story with you, dear readers. Go on, read this entry...I will wait.

Okay, so I always moan and groan about the men-bots in London. Basically, the men here are not very responsive to eye tag, cause well...they never look away from the screens of their smartphones, iPads or Kindles. It's a total waste of time trying to look cute cause noone cares!! Anyway, I was coming back from a lovely evening, complete with drinks at Claridge's (yes, had to drop that in cause I may never go there again) with a long lost friend, and walking through Victoria station, waiting for my train. Of course, I had pulled off student gear and was looking rather cute - and thankfully so, cause Claridge's was not the original plan!

Date chase - who woulda thunk it?
Suddenly (cue dramatic music), this guy runs up to me, breathless, yet eager (too eager??) and introduces himself. To say I was confused would be the understatement of the year. The expression on my face had to have been a combination of fear, shock, and confusion. Was this guy high? Was I about to be mugged, I asked myself, as I clutched my handbag tighter, very much aware that all I had in it was 5quid and lipgloss. But hey, I bought that bag in a very nice store in Manhattan. You don't mess with a girl and her swanky handbag!

Anyway...back to the train station dude.Yeah...chasing after me. What the hell? I have been in this country way too long cause the mere fact that a man, a Londoner no less, would even speak to a strange woman, much less, chase her down in a train station to talk to her, was mind boggling to me. In any event, after I asked him a few times whether he was sober and why he was chasing me, he said he saw me walking past, thought I was incredibly stunning, beautiful, gorgeous etc etc, and wanted to ask me out. As "luck" would have it, we were even going the same way and he followed me on to the train. Stalker or just enthusiastic? Well, you can rest assured, I am alive today as me typing this entry clearly indicates, so I would say "enthusiastic". We did have quite a nice chat on the train and the dude is quite normal, as far as I could tell. How did the story end? Wouldn't you like to know! lol.

Yes. The fun never stops here!

Heart is Back Home

Trinidad and Tobago under limited
state of emergency
Photo credit: Trinidad Guardian
After having a really awesome Sunday afternoon, complete with amusing surprises, it was a totally different and disturbing end which followed me as I lay my head down to sleep. Worries and concerns not only for my family back home, but for my country as a whole. The Prime Minister last night implemented a limited state of emergency in an effort to address the now completely out of control crime rate across the country.
[…] the current crime spree dictates that more must be done and stronger action has to be employed now. The situation cannot continue like this without a response commensurate with the wanton acts of violence and lawlessness; it must be a response as well that will halt the current spike in gang activity and crime in general in the shortest possible time. After much deliberation with the National Security Council and members of the Cabinet, it has been agreed that the government consider the imposition of a limited state of emergency in hot spots across the country […] The limited state of emergency will allow us to achieve a number of things in relation to crime reduction which would not be prudent for me to disclose in advance of the action taken. We are aware that such a decision will have an impact on the daily lives of innocent, law abiding citizens in these areas but I feel confident that they will recognise and appreciate the need to protect them and bring the current crime surge affecting them under control.

I have so many concerns around this, from not just the safety of my family, but the wider scenario encompassing the rights of innocent people and the anticipated effectiveness of such a drastic move. In the end, I am hoping and praying that my little country will find its way and one day be the totally awesome place I grew up in.

When Every Day Feels Like Friday the 13th

Dog tired.
I try not to blog when I feel the way I have been feeling over the past week. It's just like a Debbie Downer. The week basically sucked. I'm not sure why...there was nothing in particular. No unmistakable crisis. I guess it was just a bit of everything. Amusingly enough, spending an entire week working with the youth of this nation really would depress anyone. lol.

So I had a bit of a PT job this week, working on campus - no biggie, just some cash inflow to stem the increasingly traumatic outflow. So, basically it was helping out with clearing. Clearing...a new thing for the non-British me. 

Clearing is a service available between July and September, but for most people it is used after the exam results are published in August. It can help people without a university or college place to find suitable vacancies on higher education courses. If you are flexible and you have reasonable exam results, there is still a good chance you will find another course through Clearing. - UCAS
This has to be one of the most depressing yet at the same time, entertaining jobs ever. First, I was forced to spend an entire week with undergrads - and not just undergrads, but annoying, mostly childish undergrads. Sweet Lord. My eyes rolled in their sockets too many times this week. I mean, I am on the phone, on a call, and this nimrod across from me is playing drums on the desk we share, while I am trying to listen to the poor woman on the line. I had to put her on hold 3 times to ask him to stop, and he looks at me like I am crazy, laughs and continues doing it. And then they wonder why noone will hire them when they graduate!
Then you have the actual clearing, and dealing with that. On the one hand, you have to be the one to tell kids that their grades suck so bad that there is nothing they can get into. You have to listen to their little sobs and their angst over being left behind while all their friends go off to university. Then there were the ones who declined offers at other schools, so they could go through clearing, hoping they could get in to a better course, and then there is no space, leaving them with no offers, no school and a good box about the ears from mum because next year they are going to have to face the tuition increases. When I applied for my degrees, there was nothing traumatic about it. I had choice. I'm a nerd. Getting the student loan was a chore, but I did not have these issues and my heart hurt for some of these kids. Honestly.
Wine needed!!
On the OTHER hand...there were also the ge(r)ms representing the future of England. Kids who had really crap grades and wanted to get on to LLB courses and other courses requiring upwards of 300 points. But it's not even the blind ambition. It was the attitude. No crying and pleading but just damn rude and bright! Example: 
Girl: Yeah...so what can I get for like 80 points? [NB. 80 points can't get you sh...]
Me: (still trying to be helpful, cause it was clearly early on in the process) Not sure if there is anything available but let me check. (check when I know there is nothing). I am so sorry, but we do not have anything available at the moment.

Girl: Wha? Check again.
Me: (annoyed, cause she was not crying or hurting, she was being a twat) I'm sorry. There is nothing available.
Yeah, you just hang on, yeah. Lemme talk to me mum. (puts me on hold, but I can hear the little witch, saying, "That bitch says there ain't nothin'. And I know she's black...that black bitch.". Then the mother chimes in, "she ain't probably wanna help you")
Me: I can still hear you.
Girl: Oh...ummm...so there's nothing? Can you try again? (suddenly pleasant and conciliatory)
Me: Sorry. Best of luck.

Crying purges the soul they say
She lucky I eh cuss way her ass!

Yes. It was a STELLAR week! Waking up early to go deal with this shit. Then having to suffer through the mind numbing and nasal assaulting bus ride every day. On Thursday night, with a combination of fatigue, the skull blasting headache, stress over my dissertation (supervisor has yet to give me feedback and time's a-going), the frickin' bitter and nasty weather, and then getting to the part of my book where the female lead gets killed (lol...the agony), I got home, had some bran flakes and yogurt for dinner, crawled into bed, and cried myself to sleep.
Today was not as awful as the rest of the week has been, in terms of how I felt. The sun was out, the phone calls were less annoying, I was reading a new book, the lunch was better (lol), still no disso feedback but that's another story, a 20 year old undergrad was hitting on me, despite my grouchiness, inevitably making me laugh, and I got a bottle of White Zin on my way home, had some hummus and let go of the last few days. I am exhausted, a bit frazzled but such is life. And I am getting paid. Well, not yet, but eventually. And, the weekend is here. I get to see a friend, and be a slouch for a couple days. I need it I think.

Wordless Wednesday - My Weekend Date

Hoppilicious Saturday!!

I love sleep!
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog entry are mine and are not meant to be offensive. I just like a good laugh on a Saturday morning. If you are, or know anyone to whom this post may directly refer, please don't hate me. Well, you can, but I won't really care.

The past couple days I have been totally busted. I had not slept for 2 days straight and was focused on my dissertation, trying to make a serious dent in it so I could enjoy my weekend without regret. When my head touched down on the pillow this morning, it was like God himself had tucked me in.

So I passed through my friend's house-warming party last night (on no sleep...talk about fun times!) and let me just say, she should have a house-warming party every week, not because it was a slammin' party but because they cleaned the house for the event. Or maybe I should say, she had to clean the house for the event. You remember....THE HOUSE.

Though I did not stay long, one highlight of the evening was this dude I met. Now, don't get excited - it's nothing like that. But while having casual conversation with this dude, I asked him what he did for a living. The answer he gave me prompted to ask whether he was kidding me about 20 times within the next 60 minutes, cause I could not believe what this dude was telling me.

He plays hopscotch for a living.

I kid you not. The dude plays HOPSCOTCH for a living. In case you need a reminder or a lesson in what hopscotch is - click here.

Hopscotch - traditionally a girl's game

It is an actual sport, and there are actual tournaments. I had to ask him to break it down for me. His day. I mean, in a previous life, I would wake up, get showered and dressed in work clothes, sit in an office or go to meetings, aka work, from 8-4. This dude does the waking up and showering part, but goes to train for hopscotch and participates in hopscotch tournaments. How does one train to play a game that kids play in the street? I have not played hopscotch in eons but from what I remember, it was not that hard. I asked him if he was a hopscotch champion and he said he wasn't...but he is training to get there. I kept a straight face, I swear. It's good to have a goal!!! But I mean, if you're going to chat up girls, at least be a frickin' hopscotch champion or world record holder or something. (snicker)

I thought after this post, that I had heard and seen it all but this one really won me over. I wonder how many girls he wins over with that one? Not that I am that shallow...okay, I am...but having a boyfriend that hops in and out of chalk boxes for a living really creeps me out. lol. But just to be fair,  and I am being really genuine and honest now, because I know you are probably saying horrible things about me (she's mean, she's shallow...what a turd!) the guy was really super nice and had a warm personality, and was good fun. And seriously, the guy is doing what he wants. He is not slaving over a hot computer at some job he hates, is he? So there is something to it, I guess. So I guess I can recommend hopscotch players as prospective dates? Not for me, of course.

Oh, the things I share with you readers. I am sure you sometimes think I make this stuff up!

When Dating Fun Becomes a Public Disaster

Take Me Out Game Show
So I went out with the girls on Sunday - dissertation break - and part of the evening was a customised version of the game show, Take Me Out. Now I had never heard of this thing, so when the young lady asked me whether I wanted to participate I politely declined. I have no desire to be a public sensation. 

I wiki'ed the concept for your benefit. 
One single man has to try to impress thirty single women. Each woman has a (white) light which she can turn off (red) if she is unimpressed by the man. His aim is to convince as many women as possible to keep their lights on so that he can then pick, from the women remaining, the one that he wishes to take on a date. If there is one woman left, the man and woman will go on a date. If no lights are left on - what is referred to as a "blackout" - then the man must leave the show without a date. - Wikipedia

In this case, there were about 7-8 single men, and the lights did not turn red when "switched off". They just switched off. They also selected women who had signed up - me, not included!!! Boy, did I dodge a bullet with this thing. Why?

1. The man candy was extremely stale. I mean, I am not sure where they found these princes but they were not happening. From the unemployed to the pants falling off the waist, to the babies (22 is not for me!!), I surely would not have wanted to date any of them. With that being said, I did not and could not understand the way they behaved later, cause any woman who dated them, was going to be doing them a favour, which leads me to point #2...

2. The embarrassment factor. The first young lady called up on stage - man, did I feel bad for this chick. I was not really paying attention to her "sales pitch" but I do recall she was American. Maybe she thought the accent would have won them over but she needed more than a Yankee accent, lemme tell ya. 

The look...the aesthetic did not win her any points with the guys I am sure. I mean, she was cute, and while her ensemble was not at all hurting my eyes, we must remember, men are shallow, visually stimulated beings. lol. The little house dress looking thing she was wearing with the ballet flats - a no go, especially if you sign yourself up for what is essentially a meat market, starring meatheaded men. And looking at the nimrods on stage, they were clearly looking for T&A. They wanted Nicki Minaj. Not Ma Kettle.

Nicki vs Ma - who would you choose?
Still, I did not expect the men to behave in the manner in which they did (or maybe I did) when the MC asked them to keep their lights on if they wanted to date her. 

Lights out. 


Let's just say, if the lights around their necks were the only light source in the room, we would have been in complete darkness, fumbling and groping strange people. And it was the no-hesitation, semi scramble, childish "not me, not me" antics to take their lights off, almost as if the last man standing would be sentenced to death that really got me. Poor. Add the "ooohs" and "damnnnnnn"s and laughter from the audience and I am sure this girl wanted to roll up in a ball, roll away and die. She did not die, at least not there, but she did roll away - taking her friend and hustling out of the room out of sheer embarassment no doubt. Lord, I feel shame for the chick.

Why would anyone put themselves through that though? I would not do it! Dating is hard enough! The private rejection is mind numbing, so why would you want to share that with the world, if even for "fun". I am sure she did not think it was fun in the end. 

As I said, the girl was cute and I am sure there is some guy out there who would love her and her house dress...umm...casual style. While I am confident in my hotness, I am not in any way fooling myself that I am THE ANSWER, and that all men will grovel at my feet. My hotness - it's not for everybody and being made a public spectacle is not my idea of a good Sunday night. I hope she has sufficiently recovered and learnt her lesson. Sit in your chair, drink your mojito and relax yourself.

Babes with Kids: A Great Place for Mums

One thing I love about my friends is that they all are doing amazing things and when I wrote this post, I had a lot of great women in mind - mums who were doing their thing and being fierce!

My friend, Natalya - another one of those "friends from way back in high school", and a fab Trini as well,  agreed to share her story about her business, Babes With Kids - a website that serves as an online guide for mothers and their families.

So what exactly is Babes With Kids, you ask? Natalya explains how it all started.
My second child was born in August 2008 and I took 12 months of maternity leave. It was during this time I realised how difficult it was being a full time Mom. My husband was fully aware of my frustration and prompted me to start up a website. He was shocked that I choose to venture into a website about Motherhood instead of one about Mathematics, which is my field.
Babes with Kids was conceived in January 2009 and, with articles ranging from simply inspiring and motivating to children's education and family health, the site addresses common questions which mothers generally ask from day to day.
Babes with Kids is here to help moms feel, look and be their best! Women can excel in every area of life and having children should not stop anyone from fulfilling their lifelong goals and dreams. Women sacrifice a lot for their children and Babes with Kids is here to remind mothers to take care of themselves as well.
Being a full time teacher and a full time mum, Natalya also recognised that the site could support mothers who work from home.
Babes in Business was set up in May 2010 and will become a directory showcasing and promoting businesses set up by WAHMS (Work at Home Moms). Pregnancy is often the most creative phase of a woman’s life and many women get their best ideas immediately after the birth of a child. I am hoping to hone in on this creative energy and use it to encourage other Moms to become entrepreneurs.

Babes with Kids is an online guide for mums - encouraging them to be fierce!

While the site is primarily for mothers, there are various sections on the website which appeal to almost anyone, with articles across topics such as personal finance, health and beauty and there is even  poetry.

So how does Natalya manage a job, being a wife, mum to 3 kids, Trini superstar and this website?
It is very difficult. I am a full time Math Lecturer at a college in Hackney. I also do freelance work for a couple of exam boards and I am always studying. Having a 5 year old, 3 year old, 4 month old and a husband is not easy at all. I am not afraid to say when I am not coping and to admit when I need help.

None of this would have been possible without the children’s nanny. She is my most valuable asset. Her help allows me to have quality time with each of my kids, alone time at the gym (boxing is my hobby) and time with my husband.

I usually work on Babes with Kids during school holidays. I know that for it to really take off will mean me leaving my teaching job which I love.

(A 5yr old, 3 yr old, 4 mth old AND the husband. I would box too!)

The main challenge for her has been the lack of time to invest into the business.
Babes with Kids is a full time job but my teaching and my family consume the bulk of my time. It is good to know that if and when I decide to leave teaching that I have something else to put my energy into.

It is very rewarding connecting with other mums and reminding them to take time to develop their own well-being.

I continue to be inspired by the women in my life who are mums and doing things they want to do and enjoy doing, totally rocking the "S" on their chests.

You can also follow Babes with Kids on Facebook. 
And also on Twitter.

Total Senselessness in London

London burning
Photo credit: AP
Of course this was not the post I had in mind for today but as I sat streaming BBC news online, and took in the images from across London - the looting, the fires, the mayhem, the riot police in their hundreds - it made me quite sad.

I am not British, but I currently live here and despite the unique charms which sometimes astound me, London is still a great city. But one does not have to be British to feel horrified and disgusted by what has been going on. To see London under siege, not because there is a passion around a cause, but for no good reason is truly mind numbing.

The hardest part though is watching the sacrifices, the blood, sweat and tears of hard working people go up in flames, or being carted away by mindless, thoughtless hoodlums, who have no concept of having a dream. It is the same way I feel when I read the newspapers at home - some random report about someone's car being stolen, or home or business burglarised, or son or daughter kidnapped. One wakes up in the morning, sometimes before the cock crows, to get out and work hard for a life. You sacrifice so much so that your family can have something to eat, your kids can go to school, you can live in a clean, comfortable home. You do without so many things that others may take for granted, to make your life a success.

A hooded looter walks
past a burning vehicle in London
Photo credit: ABC News
And in the blink of an eye...it's gone, because someone thought it would be fun to smash the doors and windows and steal your life. But to them it is not your life - those waking moments where you invest not only money, but time and love into what you do. To them it's just a pair of sneakers, or a flat screen or cigarettes. So what? Set it on fire. It's just a building. It does not matter that that was to be your legacy - your gift to pass down to your children, and them to their children.

It really irks me when people don't get it. They don't get it because the time and effort they put into bringing down your dream, they never put into building theirs. It's just easier for them to pillage and benefit from someone else's sacrifice.

Woman leaps from burning building in London
Photo credit: The Times
What's worse, we bandy around this word, "community" but do we really understand what the word means? You would not throw piss and poo on the bed you have to sleep in, so why would you destroy and denigrate the place in which you live, and the people with whom you live?

I looked on as men and women cried as their businesses and homes burned, as idle teenagers filmed their friends looting shops, as some wondered whether they would have a job when the smoke clears, and thought, how senseless this all is.

But out of every negative there is usually a positive - let's hope those who choose to rebuild and regroup will be stronger and more determined than the few who seek to break down.

Men: Not the Good, not the Bad, but the UGLY

You may be sitting on a bus and your eye may land on a spectacular looking male specimen on his way to work. Hair well coiffed, perfect suit, well shined shoes. You look around and notice all the other women are lapping up the male goodness as well, under hooded eyes, or just brazenly soaking in the effortless appeal of this Adonis reading his newspaper or fiddling around on his iPhone.

Little do you know, that when he gets off the train after work and he heads home, the cleanest thing in that flat may actually be the suit he is wearing...and that's really hoping for the best.

Now, I am not saying that all women are beacons of cleanliness. Hardly!! I know some frickin' nasty women, and some male neat freaks, but for the purposes of this entry, I am bashing male nastiness. I live with a bachelor and there are some issues that are beyond my female understanding as it relates to cleanliness. Smelly socks and football gear lying around, dirty shower (I use the tub, and thank God I have that option).

Still, I was not at all prepared for what I was greeted with yesterday when I went over to my friend's flat that she shares with 2 professional men - a flat she only recently moved into (her previous accomodation was just very very strange). I will not describe it to you. Instead I will just share 2 photos of what I met yesterday as the 2 men and their friend lay around watching football.

The living room - where they were lying around watching tv

This one REALLY affected me - look at this kitchen sink!
Can you IMAGINE being offered a cup of coffee in that cup that is overturned on that filth?

I could not live here. I could not do it. She has had to be cleaning up after these guys since she moved in. They did not even have a vacuum cleaner. The downstairs toilet was littered with empty toilet paper rolls. And to see the guys, you would never believe they lived like this! I am not used to this level of physical mayhem. It makes even the mere thought of sharing a flat with random men one of sheer terror and disgust. Could you eat from anyone whose kitchen sink looked like that??

And is it a British thing to have a toilet downstairs with no sink? After using the loo, I realised there was nowhere for me to wash my hands, forcing me to wash my hands in the kitchen!!! The horror! It reminded me of a time my then boyfriend and I went with his mum to look at houses in a new development in Chaguanas and the toilet had no ensuite washing facilities. Instead the sink was outside the door, IN THE LIVING AREA!!! She did not need to see anymore...we were done!

London is expensive and most people flat share, something most Trinis who have moved out on their own are definitely not used to. But wow...having one's own place is more than a luxury. It can almost be an obsession depending on your tolerance levels and who you may have to live with. I know I would be hard pressed to room up with strangers...especially after yesterday.

And before you start imagining your next vacation or picturing your kids with train hottie, maybe you should follow him home and see how he lives. Your dream may just be a nightmare! lol

Mastering Aloneness

The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
I remember when I decided I was going to Paris. It had always been my girlish dream. I had studied French for 7 years at high school, studied the greats like Camus, Mauriac and Sartre, studied European History and just had an overall lusting to visit Paris and  bring to life all these amazing moments I had so far only experienced in books.

I was young, had no major commitments, had a good job and could afford to plan this trip of a lifetime on my own. It was my single girl adventure. I bought a French CD to brush up on what was then my horrible French - the result of neglect and lack of practice after high school. I would plop it into my CD player in my car and while baking in rush hour traffic, I would perfect my accent and have conversations with Claude on the CD. I booked my hotel, my ticket on the Eurostar, bought my guidebooks, my maps. I was so ready! I was excited.

I told friends and family about my trip. The responses were not dripping with excitement. Instead I got a lot of this:

"What? You going Paris by yourself??"

Ummm...yes. What was wrong with that? Apparently, plenty!

On my mum's side, she was more concerned about my safety. This would have been my first trip to anywhere without a buddy, or a family member or friend as host. She had already conjured up these images of me being robbed, kidnapped, and worse.

Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France
"And what about the language? You can speak French?"

This is the lady who supported me throughout my academic life, bought all my textbooks and should have known better. lol.

But the others were not as concerned by my safety as they were by the idea that it was simply unheard of to go anywhere alone, and worse yet, a city like Paris. Travel? Alone? What kinda thing is that? None of your friends can go with you? This is why you need a mister.

And I do admit, Paris is a romantic city and it's the kind of place you want to experience with a loved one, but if I had to wait for Mr Right to make that trip, I still would not have made it to Paris. I would still be sitting here, dreaming of all that could be, could have been and never may be.

Le Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, Paris

So when I ran across the book, Solemate: Mastering the Art of Aloneness, I thought, that is a great title and I am sure it is also a great read.

The book:
Mastering the art of aloneness is about having a good relationship with yourself. It’s about becoming the person you were meant to be, treating yourself well, and shedding the old beliefs and behaviors that limit your ability to live a healthy, happy, satisfying life – with or without a partner...(read more)

My life:

I think I have been very successful to date at mastering my aloneness, i.e. having a life without the burdens of what if, I wish, why me and so on. I think my family and friends have also come to terms with this and some are actually quite envious that I can just pick up myself and just go, without feeling self conscious or pathetic or without feeling the weight of any social conventions on my shoulders. My uncle always tells me each time I announce some new adventure, that I am so brave. I'm not really, but I am not willing to sit around feeling sorry for myself either.

Sure, I would love even more to have someone to share all these experiences with, but in mastering my aloneness, I also feel pretty secure in doing things by myself. If I want to do something, I don't wait...I just do it. I go to the movies alone when I really want to see a movie and noone else wants to, though some people look at me in horror when I say that -like, how could you do that?

If I am hungry, I have no qualms about asking for a table for one. I mean, convention would probably prefer that I catspraddle, dry-mouthed, in the middle of the road from starvation rather than enjoy a great meal by myself.

I have been witness to many nightmarish relationships, born out of fear of being alone...fear of not having someone else to "complete" one's being. That is one of the lines they peddle to single people to make them buy into bad relationships, stress and unhappiness, instead of enjoying life while waiting or looking for a good relationship, bliss and contentment - this "complete me" dotishness. It is very possible to be complete without the mister.

My glass is pretty full...and extremely good.
There are so many experiences I have enjoyed because I decided I would enjoy them, no matter what anyone thought. It's not about being fearless, but it's about loving yourself and taking care of yourself - treating yourself to...well, life. It has changed me in a lot of ways as well. I've learnt to be more outgoing, I talk to more strangers (shhh....don't tell my mother) and thus meet new people. I walk into pubs here and just talk to people...though in London, that can sometimes be like the kiss of death, or at least a reason for them to call the madhouse for you. But, I am more self-sufficient, braver, more outgoing and pretty much a solo superstar.

I don't feel I need to buy a book at this point of my life. It may be a good read, but I have lived as well. I really try to look at it now, not as a glass that is half full rather than half empty, but it's a pretty damn full glass. A daiquiri glass at that...with yummy strawberry daiquiri and 2 plump strawberries, waiting to be loved and devoured. Mmmmm.

Project Runway: Taking Fierce to a New Level

So I just watched last night's episode of Project Runway - The Unconventional Challenge - where the designers had to make a garment with materials bought from a pet store. Talk about fierce. I always love the unconventional challenges because it really brings the creativity to life. I said earlier this week that I have no crafty skills whatsoever but I do admire those who can bring life to the most mundane things - like pet stuff.

I must say, I really hated Bert's attitude last night. He won last week and thus had immunity from elimination this week and it seemed he was content to just coast on this fact. He sucked. You sucked, Bert.

Of course, I must highlight my Trini girl, Anya first. Her design was built from leashes and dog rope toys .

Anya's doggy design
Photo credit: Project Runway/Lifetime

It looked good but when I saw the top, I thought instantly of last week's design.  I just hope we see something completely different from her. But she is safe and lives to take part in another challenge. I love that I can watch my show and hear someone who sounds just like me.

My favourite though for this week, and he almost won it last night was Anthony Ryan's bird seed dress. I thought it was spectacular and if you did not know it was made from bird seed, you would probably want it. It looked great...amazing on the runway and was well executed for sure.

Anthony Ryan's bird seed dress
Photo credit: Project Runway/Lifetime

I also liked Joshua M's aquarium stone top and snake cage netting circle skirt, though I agree with the judges that his styling was just too much. The makeup was too garish, the shoes were hideous and the little tag thing hanging off the belt was unnecessary. But his design was gorgeous. I am amazed he made that pattern with the different coloured stones.

Joshua M's aquarium stone ensemble
Photo credit: Project Runway/Lifetime

The winner though was Olivier, with his blouse made from a dog bed and the skirt made from hamster cage filling. The model's eyebrows really did not work for me though. Looked very retro Star Trek.

Olivier's Pet Couture Winner
Photo credit: Project Runway/Lifetime

Next week the designers will work in pairs. Ugh. That can either make or break your design, depending on the person you are paired with. But what is also interesting, it is a fashion show featuring models on stilts so the designs are going to have be larger than life. Interesting to see how they use fabric and creativity to create a gorgeous, larger than life look.

Love this show. And does Heidi Klum ever gain weight? My God!

Nude Beach Memories

Orient Beach, St Martin
Photo credit: AOL Travel
Yesterday I found the list of the best nude beaches in the Caribbean and the first one that came up was Orient Beach in St Martin - a beach I am very familiar with. I spent a week or so in beautiful St Maarten/St Martin. Great shopping on the Dutch side, and great single girl adventures on the French side. Gotta love the French! My trip to St Martin was da bomb - French people, French guys, and that nude beach.

My girlfriend and I had made it a girls' trip and I had researched all the stuff I wanted to do, including parasailing and visiting this nude beach. You only live once! The parasailing was awesome and I met a cute French fella, who asked me to go out with him later that evening. Needless to say, that did not end well as my cute French vacation hottie was a hot mess at the party, totally stoned on marijuana and trying to get me to follow him and his 3 dreadlocked friends into some van in the carpark. Yeah, buddy. I must have had the "Idiot Here" sign on my forehead. You clearly were too high if you thought that was going to happen.

Chilling out in the nude
Photo credit: Wikinut
The other highlight of the day was this nude beach, or more accurately, clothing optional beach. I had never been on a nude beach before and though I had mentally (and physically) prepared myself for this phenomenon, I still was nowhere ready for what awaited me.

Why is it that all the so-called beautiful people don't go to these places and somehow it's all the Golden Girls and their equally wrinkled husbands. To say this was an enlightening experience would be an understatement. You don't see many nude scenes in movies featuring your grandmum, do you, cause that was kinda what it was like.

I went to the bar (clothed, mind you) to get two mojitos and there was a guy - maybe in his early 60s, sitting in the buff on the stool, with his stuff hanging out. And the stuff was not great looking either. Kinda looked like those sausages in yesterday's post. He then proceeds to seriously chat me up. Really buddy? I am like a million years younger than you and you're sitting with your 60-something year old stuff laying limp on the  stool. It also reminded me not to sit on any of the other stools while waiting for my order especially as every single person at the bar was naked and sweaty. (blech)

The women - saggy, wrinkly boobs everywhere, and equally saggy, wrinkly derrieres. But guess what? I salute their confidence and their "I don't give a hoot who does not like it" attitude. I really think it was pretty darn awesome. Not for my eyes, but awesome nonetheless. Being comfortable with your body, no matter what it looks like, is a truly remarkable thing. So many people starve themselves, go through periods of self loathing and yet others throw off their speedos and bikini tops and just go for gold. That's hot. Again, not always for my eyes, but it's great that they don't feel restricted.

But I would still definitely recommend a nude beach to anyone. It is great fun. You have to do it, if even once! Did I go nude? Not completely. Being one of maybe 5 black people on the beach made me an attraction as it was. Every time I moved a limb, eyes turned on me. I did not need to completely break the thermometer with my hotness.

Check out the Nude Beach Etiquette Guide. lol.

Kitchen Porn: Super Phallic Sausages and other Sexy Stuff

So it's a semi-wordless Tuesday night, and not quite Wordless Wednesday but I have loads of work to get through tomorrow and I am waiting for my 11am snack to come out of the oven before I start working again.

So decided to show you some kitchen stuff. I spend a fair deal of time in the kitchen, cause one needs to eat to live. In this previous post, I mentioned my bargain Saturday night at Sainsbury's where I snagged bargain sausages and the contentious 25p bread.

Taste the Difference with my bargain sausages! lol.

I usually put these bad boys in the oven to cook, but I like sealing them with some EVOO first. It took me months before I bought sausages in the UK cause as you can see, they have a more than normal phallic look about them that does not engender a healthy appetite. lol. Am I lying? Don't they look like the other thing in that post? They look more sexual than the typical sausage I think! Or maybe I just have a dirty mind!

My yummy, sexy pork sausages being sealed in the pan

Then we have the contentious, and now infamous 25p bread. They were reduced twice, cause when I went in earlier they were actually 39p and after dinner, they were down to 25p.

Perfectly good bargain bread! Not much you can get for 25p in this place

Then this morning, I decided to make a coconut bake, leaving the last roll for my 11pm student life snack. My dough, comprising of self raising flour, butter, salt and coconut milk, looked pretty damn sexy.

Perfect looking dough

I then rolled it out into a rectangle like shape using a sports bottle since this house has no proper cooking utensils like...oh...a rolling pin. lol. Rectangle like...

Not too bad. It looks rectangular, doesn't it?

Then with the last of the sausages, I had breakfast.

The sausages look much better this way don't they? And the bake was great!

I also thought it would be fun to show you the inside of the household fridge. Why? I live with a bachelor. He fully lives up to the bachelor stereotype. While the fridge is full, look at what's in it?

The container on the bottom shelf with an actual solid food product is mine!
And my yummy sorrel is next to it.

I own a drawer in the bottom where I have FOOD items, but this is ridiculous isn't it? lol. I am not sure what he eats exactly, but you can bet he is seldom thirsty.

Back to coding...

Walk with Me to Italy, to Baita Bondella

The view from the terrace of Baita Bondella - postcard ready!
I love travel and I love food. Put the two together and it's a wonderful trip. My trip to Florence has so far been my best culinary travel experience to date, but I still have many unexplored dining room and kitchens to encounter. One of them, if I want to live to see another birthday, will be soon, and will take me back to Italy but this time to the lovely region of Como. I have friends all over the place - Trinis at that. There is a saying, "Trinis in everything, like salt" and that rings true cause we are everywhere. Even near the stunning Lake Como.

It is there that my friend, from as far back as high school, the ever lovely Kisha and her husband, Stefano run Baita Bondella, gleefully located at Via del Colme 9, Brunate, Como, where it offers a magnificent view over the Brianza region and Milan. 

Having been a patron of their Tobago-based establishments, I can give an honest-to-goodness plug for the personal attention to detail in everything they do - from the way Stefano prepares every dish, to the extra personal service and the genuine warmth they bring to the experience, whether it be via their daughters' childish charms, or, dare I say, Kisha's unique Trini touch (we Trinis are fun people!). It is indeed a true family experience, coupled with the pristine environment - clean, fresh air, nature trails, and if you're lucky, you can sometimes spot some of the other residents like deer and wild boar.

Dining at Baita Bondella
Kisha recommends the brasato with polenta, and polenta with cheese. They also have a wide variety of wines, which should satisfy even the most demanding wine palate.

Previously, the Montis ran establishments in Tobago, the smaller of the two islands of my lovely homeland, Trinidad and Tobago. Having moved back to Italy, the family first settled in Puglia but I guess once a dream has been born, it's pretty hard to ignore it.

Kisha explains:
Very early in my marriage, during one of our yearly trips to Italy, my husband took me to see this lovely baita in Brunate that he and his family had run for many years. He had left it to open a trendy type thing in the centre of Como. And I commented, "Its really lovely up here. What ever influenced you to move away?" 
Famous last words. Eight years after that trip, he comes home one day ( in Puglia) to announce that he had taken up the lease at the Baita and the rest is history

A sample of what you can expect from Baita Bondella - freshly prepared food and a variety of fine wines

She loves Como, and explains why its charm enthralls her.
Well, its just beautiful. Lovely villas and palaces wrapped onto pine covered hills. Its like living in a postcard. And then, well, it is a very cosmopolitian area. Apart from the Italian dishes that one can try here, there are also Chinese resaurants and I saw an Indian one the other day. Lots of Arab stuff as well.
(No Trini roti shop. Yet. I am drafting my business plan as I type this, cause I am a wicked Afro-Caribbean curry star!)

And you can imagine, it has not been easy, with her moving miles away from her Caribbean home, her family and friends, to live in Italy. Yet, as a true adventurer, she takes it in stride. So, what are some of the unique and quirky charms that only a Trini can point out?
I still cannot get over the fact that stores close from 1 to 3 (in Puglia it was from 130 to 5) and then they reopen. What is the sense to open from 9 to 1? It has been explained to me but I still dont get it and never will. 
Pigeon peas. The only place I have been able to find pigeon peas is in a small Latin American grocery in Milan that sells it at the beauty of three euro a tin. Yes folks I pay $30TT for a can of pigeon peas!!! 
My little village is out of the main city of Como and like Princes Town (in Trinidad), we have our village intrigues, like who don’t shop there because thirty years ago, the man give me short change and that kinda stuff. 
Still getting to know the place since I have been here for a little more than two months but so far I am liking it

($30TT for pigeon peas is really rough. But then I pay almost $60TT for a roti here in London. It's tough being a Trini expat, lemme tell ya).

And in true Kisha style, and almost thinking like me, she adds,
"Oh and did I mention the fashion and the cars? I have always been dowdy and frumpy but Como is making me look like a bag lady. In need of a make over!!!!
Call Baita Bondella next time you're in the area
(Don't listen to her. She's a beautiful girl).

And when I asked her what has been the best part of the experience for her thus far, she did not answer from her seat as manageress, or as Trini expat in Italy. She answered as mummy.
Seeing my kids integrate after yet another move. I spent all my childhood in one place and I am always petrified that I am ruining my kids' childhood by continually uprooting them. So, yes that is the best thing so far - that they have new friends here, and that they are happy to be here.
Her girls are beautiful, by the way.

I plan to visit (soon, promise) so I will have photos and tales for sure, but if ever you are in Como, please do take a day to visit the area and Baita Bondella. You can tell them I sent you. No, you won't get any discounts, but you're sure to get an amazing experience. This I can guarantee!

You can also follow them on Facebook.

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