May 18, 2016

Wednesday's Window to the World: Celebrating 5 years!

Five years ago, I started a series called "Wednesday's Window to the World" on this blog. 

This idea was inspired by a blog I follow dedicated to creating a collection of individual views from individuals around the world. View from Your Window asked followers to email them a snapshot of the view from their windows with a small blurb to accompany it. Sadly, this blog is no longer active.

I decided to try something similar but with people I know personally - I'm so lucky to have interesting friends and family scattered all over the world, from L.A to Hong Kong, Dubai to Argentina. Some are 1000's of feet in the air whilst a couple of them are below the surface. Facebook has allowed me to keep in touch with them and follow their adventures. Over the years, Blackberry Messenger (Remember the days?) and WhatsApp have allowed this to be taken even further by allowing us to share photos and snapshots of our lives instantaneously. I love it when I get a photo showing me where someone is at that very second.

Photo credit: Krystal Boyea 

We all get that feeling sometimes when we look out of our window at a grey sky or are just stressed out with work. Or, perhaps it's the opposite, where you are somewhere amazing and would love nothing more than for some of your friends to be there with you. I've had that numerous times during my travels; when everything was ALMOST perfect but the only thing missing was close friends and family to share in the experience with us. A snapshot is that 'wish you were here' gesture. 

Since starting this series on my blog, it got to be a bit too much to manage and I started a Facebook group instead. Friends of mine invited their friends to participate, and it has since blossomed in to active photography group, with people posting photos from across the world. 

Photo credit: Maria Farrelly
Members are to take a photo of their view from a window - be it home, office or even car/public transportation at any point during their day - or somewhere they don't usually go.  TRAVEL photos are encouraged! It can be ANYWHERE in the world, somewhere they're visiting on holiday or for work.

With today's culture of 'oversharing' I quite like the idea that this group sets certain limitations/guidelines on the types of photos you can share. We encourage members to share views from an actual window/opening/door, rather than just a view from where they're standing and this forces some to be a bit more creative with their shots and framing.

I may try to shake things up a bit and start a 'themed' approach to posting, and I'm open to & white, an ocean or mountain view, view on your commute? Please share any ideas that you may have! 

We're celebrating 5 years of sharing experiences, and I hope you can join us!

Photo credit: Angie Rodrigues


April 26, 2016

Island Events: Caribbean Startup Summit

Selwyn Cambridge is a communications and branding specialist who has been dedicated to entrepreneurship and working with startups for more than 10 years. Selwyn and his co-founder Gregory Hinkson are the driving force behind the newly created regional Startup Community and Accelerator: TEN Habitat- An initiative helping to create a nurturing environment for the growth of entrepreneurs. He is also the co-founder of the Caribbean Startup Summit, a new event aimed at empowering regional startups. 

The Caribbean Startup Summit is a two day event for entrepreneurs in the Caribbean, taking place this Friday and Saturday (April 29th - 30th) . The event is focussed on covering every aspect of startups through master-classes, workshops, open forums, live linkups, pitches and Q&A sessions, thanks to an array of local and international business support services and experts. 

Selwyn has gathered together an amazing team of subject matter experts, global and local entrepreneurs to share key insights to building successful companies with startups and growth stage businesses. You can check out the impressive line up of speakers here.

Did I mention that tickets are only Bds$100 for both days? (This includes all workshops and master classes with coffee breaks and lunch included) Students can attend for only Bds$50. This makes it a lot easier for cash strapped start ups to attend and benefit from the experience.

I can't wait to see how this event will speak to my personal experience of starting and running a business in the Caribbean specifically. Too often, international workshops and events fail to meet the needs and challenges that we face as entrepreneurs in the region, and events end up being a 'whole lotta long talk', with little action. 

After being introduced through a mutual friend, I had the opportunity to meet Selwyn for a coffee and chat with him about his vision for the upcoming event and the plans that he has for the TEN Habitat network:

What inspired you to put together the Caribbean Start Up Summit?

Being an entrepreneur myself and working with many others for over ten years I have seen the struggle they go through to realise their dream and felt their passion to succeed. I knew we needed to do better than the traditional approach and felt more collaboration could go a far way in helping to empower startups [in the Caribbean] and expose them to global networks and support. So, instead of just talking, I decided to just do it and together with the co-founders and advisors to TEN Habitat we made the summit a reality. And this is just the first step! I just think we need better collaboration which puts the entrepreneur as the focus.

What can people expect to see at this event?

A totally immersive event that begins to engage attendees from the time they arrive. They will see business help boards where they can anonymously place questions on it and have others provide answers and panelists also provide answers in the open forums. The opportunity to have ANY startup question answered from a diverse panel. Opportunities to inspire others and leave your mark as a startup with engagement boards and live interviews to promote your startup and share your dreams to camera crews who then send your story across social media. And most importantly the launch of TEN Habitat, the Caribbean’s Startup Community that will change the game for regional entrepreneurs.

How is this event different from other Start Up events in the Caribbean?

This is a “ doers" conference and not another 'talk shop.'  

Our focus is on ensuring we create opportunities at every intervention for startups to learn something useful they can immediately implement in their venture and apply to their own ideas. So the master classes and workshops are short, intense and direct but more importantly it focuses on answering the questions of the entrepreneurs. So the majority is about getting burning questions answers, challenges addressed and solutions provided from the experiences of others who have gone through much of what every startup faces

Will there be any follow up after the event? 

Within two months after the completion of the Summit we will be staging a regional startup bootcamp with our global partners. Attending the summit will go a far way in helping you to attend the follow on event. There is so much more to come, that startups will be delighted at what is unveiled.

Will you be addressing entrepreneurship in the Caribbean specifically, and the challengs entrepreneurs are faced with?

This summit is all about entrepreneurship in the Caribbean and providing specific solutions for individual entrepreneurs to address those challenges they have control over. This is why we placed so much emphasis on bringing actual entrepreneurs to be speakers so they can talk the talk because they continue to walk the path. They will share personal stories of failure and triumph and solutions to issues they faced.

You can find out more about the event via the website and follow them on Facebook.


April 25, 2016

Barbados Beyond Boundaries

They say you can find a Bajan or someone with a Bajan connection anywhere in the world, so let's test that theory!
The Barbados Museum & Historical Society has launched "Barbados Beyond Boundaries" (BBB) - a community-constructed digital space, mapping contributions of the vast ways people from Barbados and the diaspora commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Barbados’ Independence.
Individuals can submit an artefact in the digital medium of their choice (text, movie, photo, soundbite) via the Museum portal for review. After approval, your artefact will be linked with the geographical location you specified on the BBB digital map. This then can be accessed by anyone who would like to hear about your experience!
Not only is this project archiving the way you are experiencing Barbados’ 50th Independence wherever you are, the digital map can also act as a connection device, facilitating interaction between different community groups across the world.
Contact Natalie McGuire at for enquiries into the Barbados Beyond Boundaries digital map, or to book a virtual consultation on how your community project could be integrated.

You can check out the website here and follow the Barbados Museum & Historical Society on Facebook.

April 11, 2016

Fleas on Fleek: a pop up fashion event

A couple of months ago, I started working on an idea to get rid of unwanted, unworn clothing that was still nice enough to be enjoyed by someone else.

I'm not a fashionista by any means, and as I get older I realise how little I care about current trends. I know what works for my personal style and what I feel comfortable in, so I don't know who I'm fooling by buying 'fashionable' things that don't work for me - I just end up with too much stuff in my closet. I decided to try to do a bit of Spring cleaning by combining a 'flea market' style event with a 'clothes swap' and inviting my [trendier] friends to participate.

In the last month or so, the idea has developed quite a bit and my friends agreed to go along with my plan - a 'Fleas on Fleek' event was born! :) 

In a nutshell, the concept is quite simple: We're combining an all female clothing swap with a pop up flea market in Barbados. 

Swap, Sell and Donate.

First, we swap amongst ourselves and then people are invited to come and buy our clothing from us after we have swapped.

All surplus clothing, shoes and accessories are then being donated to Jabez House
an organisation that provides vocational training and entrepreneurial opportunities to female sex workers in Barbados. They do amazing work and professional clothing and accessories are very useful to the ladies who are entering the corporate workforce.

Those who are invited to participate this time are encouraged to invite a few friends to sign up for the next event - so that we have a new group of people, with different items moving forward. 

Natasha, a local fashion blogger of InMyWardrobe, was invited to the event on Facebook and she since contacted me and asked me some questions, such as where the name came from and whether this is going to be a regular event. You can check out her post here. Thank you Natasha!

The event is taking place this Saturday, April 16th from 4 -6 pm - Check out our Facebook event for further details and invite a friend :)


April 4, 2016

Island Diaries: Diving right in

Diving, Underwater Photography, Barbados, Black and White Photography, GoPro

I had the pleasure of escaping the world and diving with my brother and a friend on Saturday morning in Carlisle Bay.

I did my PADI Open Water about 6 years ago in Thailand and I've been diving twice since then. 


I'm kicking myself for waiting this long to get back in to the water, especially since moving back to Barbados, and I'm so happy that my brother took the time to coach me back into it.

As soon as I touched the seabed I was freaking out with excitement - diving is the ultimate water baby experience. About half way through the dive, I got ahead of myself and had to take a breather - quite literally - reminding myself to calm down and not get overexcited. As we played around the wrecks, even taking a peek inside one of the larger ones, I realised that I was instinctively holding my breath as though I was free diving into the ship's crevice. It took a little while before my body and brain really connected with the fact that I could relax and breath underwater, while exploring wherever I wanted. It was such a liberating feeling.

The conditions weren't perfect by Barbados dive standards; it was a slightly overcast day and the water was not the clearest, but we stayed under for 70 glorious minutes and took our time exploring the shipwrecks in the bay. We were pleasantly surprised at the lack of garbage in the water and the absence of lion fish. Lion fish are an invasive species in the Caribbean and have been wreaking havoc on our marine life, but it seems as though the dive shops are keeping them under control in Carlisle Bay (or perhaps we just got lucky on that day!)

We reached a maximum depth of 55 ft. and the combination of low lighting and murky water made it pretty tricky to capture the experience. I shot these with my GoPro, which isn't the best with low light. I'm a sucker for underwater photography, and since the conditions weren't ideal, I edited these in black and white to add some more depth and mood to these images. Once I get a better handle on the diving, I'd like to figure out how to take better photos underwater. Any suggestions on the best cameras or accessories for shooting underwater?

I also took some video footage which I will be editing in the coming week.

Along with diving, I'm slowly easing myself back in to blogging and this little adventure was the perfect way to kick start some blogging goals for April.

Diving, Underwater Photography, Barbados, Black and White Photography, GoPro
Diving, Underwater Photography, Barbados, Black and White Photography, GoPro
Diving, Underwater Photography, Barbados, Black and White Photography, GoPro
Diving, Underwater Photography, Barbados, Black and White Photography, GoPro
Diving, Underwater Photography, Barbados, Black and White Photography, GoPro
Diving, Underwater Photography, Barbados, Black and White Photography, GoPro
Diving, Underwater Photography, Barbados, Black and White Photography, GoPro
Diving, Underwater Photography, Barbados, Black and White Photography, GoPro
Diving, Underwater Photography, Barbados, Black and White Photography, GoPro
Diving, Underwater Photography, Barbados, Black and White Photography, GoPro
Diving, Underwater Photography, Barbados, Black and White Photography, GoProDiving, Underwater Photography, Barbados, Black and White Photography, GoPro
Diving, Underwater Photography, Barbados, Black and White Photography, GoPro
Diving, Underwater Photography, Barbados, Black and White Photography, GoPro


February 4, 2016

#tbt: Trinidad Carnival 2014

I guess it comes as no surprise that I would share this video 2 years late....Thank god for throwbacks!
We're in Trinidad again this year and I can't wait to do this all over again, but with a few tweaks here and there, which I'll be sharing later on.

I won't be blogging while I'm gone but I will be tweeting & 'Gramming using #CarnivalChronicles, so feel free to 'maco' and follow along.

Happy Carnival!


February 1, 2016

Carnival Checklist

We're going to Trinidad Carnival in T-3 days and I'm so super, duper pumped!

I've been fortunate enough to experience my fair share of Carnivals over the years, from Trinidad, to Notting Hill in London and Crop Over in Barbados. Through a process of trial and error, my friends and I have learned that planning and foresight can make or break your Carnival experience. These experiences, coupled with my planning and list-making obsession, prompted me to put together a Carnival Checklist for a few of my friends who will be joining me this year. It's helped me prepare and it will continue to evolve over the years to reflect the trends and demands of Carnival! Is there anything you think I should add to this list?

Ps: It's available here as an open source Google Doc, feel free to share it and edit it as you see fit.

I'll be Tweeting & 'Gramming from Trinidad from here and here. #CarnivalChronicles 


December 3, 2015

It's ma birthday!

Ah, Dec 3rd.

December borns are always fighting an uphill battle to claim their glory before Christmas. I'm on the cusp of what is usually considered socially acceptable and I make it known that anything Christmas can not begin until Dec 4th.  Since embracing more religions and cultures in my life, I'm also appreciating that Hannukah gives me a bit of lee way depending on the lunar calendar.

Fun fact: 28 years ago, my Mum gave birth to me at 28 years old, on a Thursday. On that note: 

Helen Mirren once said  that “It seems to me that the years between eighteen and twenty-eight are the hardest, psychologically. It’s then you realize this is make or break, you no longer have the excuse of youth, and it is time to become an adult ― but you are not ready.”

That sums up my birthday sentiments quite nicely.

This year, I'll embrace the fact that I'm not ready to be real adult and also force my scroogy-ness to take a rain check and enjoy the over-the-top 'Christmassyness' that is New York City in December. After our Thanksgiving in New Jersey with J's family we drove over to the Big Apple for a week of chilly birthday celebrations!

The lights! The music! The food! It's beautiful and I'm loving it.

And since it's Thursday, here's a throwback from my first trip to NYC 2 years ago.

I'm so grateful to be celebrating my 28th year of life with this guy in a city that I love even more the second time round.


November 27, 2015

10 ways you can give back this holiday season

’Tis the season of goodwill – the time for family and friends to come together and celebrate all that they are thankful for. 'Tis also the season for giving and the holidays are a great time to focus on compassion and selflessness.

Sometimes you may not find the time to give back in the way that you would like to over the holiday season because of all of the social, family and corporate events that you have to attend, the food that you need to prepare, the presents that need to be bought and wrapped, etc. On top of that, not everyone has the money or the resources to donate or contribute to charities and charitable causes during the holidays, so here are a few different ways that you can support your favourite charity/ties in Barbados:

(1) Donate everyday items

Not all charities need the same items and simply giving your favourite charity a call to see what they may need can save unwanted and unnecessary stuff, whilst also clearing out your cupboards for the holidays. Women’s toiletries are also especially lovely to give to those struggling at this time of year and sanitary products and nappies are very helpful too.

The Barbados RSPCA for example, always needs old towels and sheets for the animals.

(2) Charity Cards and Calendars

When wrapping your gifts and sending out business cards this season, why not support your favourite charity by buying their seasonal card packs? A few local charities also print annual calendars, so be sure to snatch those up (They make great Christmas gifts!)

The children at Ellerton Primary School made gift tags this year and all proceeds are going back to the school. Help support these budding entrepreneurs by buying a pack of 4 cards for Bds$10. They're available at ArtSplash Centre on the South Coast and at the O.P.I. in Limegrove on the West Coast. You can also order them directly at 421 8188.

(3) Volunteer

You can become a general volunteer at one of the charities, offer transport or your skills in a particular area – hairdressing, healthcare or catering, for example. Keep your eyes peeled for a volunteer centre being launched in the new year to help with this!

(4) Give Blood

Many blood donors miss their appointments over the busy festive season, proving that taking the time to stop and donate blood is all the more essential.

(5) Give small

You will be surprised how a small donation from me, added to a small donation from you, can make a big difference to someone or something. Why not start a donation pot with a group of friends, or at a family event? That way everyone can add what they wish to the pot.

(6) Attend Charity supported events this season

You can try to find out about events that support charities over the holiday season. For example, Carols by Candlelight is a family favourite over the Christmas season in Barbados. Not only do the funds raised at the event support various Rotary International approved community projects but people are also invited to bring a wrapped gift (marked for a girl or boy) which are then distributed to the local children's homes, churches and charities)

(7) Don't waste food

There are a surprising number of people who would go hungry every day without the support of charities such as The Barbados Vagrants and Homeless Society and Streetlamp Ministries. If you have a surplus of food from a family dinner or a catered business event, why not give either of these charities a call to see if you can donate any excess food after the event? Please note that this is referring to untouched food that is in a presentable, hygienic condition.

(8) Spread the word!

Many nonprofits provide their followers with opportunities to give back through social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you love what a charity is doing you can help raise awareness and share their posts/page/updates with your friends. You never know who may be passionate about the same causes.

#GivingTuesday is a new global movement dedicated to giving back (it comes after Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday) On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, charities, families, businesses, community centres, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organisation to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Share the love on social media using #GivingTuesday.

(9) Support local

Helping out your neighbours becomes even easier, and more important, during the holiday season, when there's a spirit of community and giving. Shopping locally helps your community in a number of ways; It puts money back in to the economy, helps maintain local jobs and keeps non-chain ventures thriving. Shopping locally for your gifts and specialty holiday items also allows you to be sure of the quality of the items you buy. I recommend Brighton Farmer's Market, Hastings Farmer's Market and Holders House Farmer's Market. The Providence Christmas Gift Show is an upcoming event where you can find local gifts and items.

Local singers, musicians, painters, craftsmen and other artists are the people who bring culture and creativity to their communities. Support your local artistic community during the holiday season by attending their special concerts and events, buying the things they make and donating to them financially.

(10) Spread the love

The holidays are the biggest giving time of the year, but it can be overwhelming to respond to all the requests for contributions while your budgets are stretched thin for the holidays. Why not aim to support your favourite charities throughout the year, little bits at a time? That way the charities can get the support that they need during their slower seasons and you can more likely achieve your philanthropic goals. The needs of many charities are there year-round, not just at the holidays.


November 18, 2015

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

As most of my friends know, I'm not much of a hiker, walker or climber, so when Jus suggested we include Pfeiffer State Park at the end of our Big Sur road trip, I was more excited about the prospect of taking some fun photos of Redwood trees more than anything else. 

Well, our drive along the coast took longer than expected, and we ended up racing against the clock to make it to the Park before it closed. 

When researching and planning our trip, I read endless travel blogs and sites that warned against rushing to do too many things when exploring Big Sur. I didn't really take this seriously and we tried to fit it all in to one afternoon (We had the next day as 'back up' but figured we could see it all in one day) We were wrong. Oh so wrong!

After getting lost (Google Maps isn't great when it comes to Park entrances), followed by a typical lover's quarrel in a car (I still stand by the fact that it wasn't my fault for getting lost) we finally made it to the park and had a leisurely stroll along one of the more basic trails.

Some of you reading this post may be disappointed to see that we only saw one 10th of Pfeifer State Park and to those of you I say, I hear ya. We did miss out on quite a lot by trying to do too much. The irony is too real and we learned our lesson! 

So what do you do with an afternoon in a park when you're not really a 'nature' kinda gal?

You pretend you're a fairy and play around in foliage of course. 

Spot the Bajan....

After our 'hike' we drove back to Monterey for dinner on Fisherman's Wharf. Our meal was pretty incredible and after eating enough crab to satisfy the crabbiest of cravings, we decided to head back to our motel and call it a night. 

One of the things I struggle with when visiting the States is the food portions; and even as someone who can eat (a lot) I couldn't touch my main meal after eating an enormous appetizer. I couldn't face wasting perfectly good, untouched food, so we asked for a doggie bag. We saw a homeless guy begging on the street on the way to the restaurant so we planned to offer our meal to him. When we got outside, we couldn't find him, but I was sure that we would see someone else who may need a free meal. We were about to give up hope as we neared our car and didn't see anyone in sight. Out of nowhere, a group of teenagers appeared, walking a dog. They saw J standing there with his container in a plastic bag and asked:
"Hey mister,  can you spare any leftovers?"
"Of course! Here, enjoy!"
They giggled and I heard one of them mumble "score" as we happily handed over the food and watched the group of 4 sit down at a nearby picnic bench. They all began to tuck in and even gave some to the dog.
I don't know whether they were genuinely needy or not, but I wish more restaurants could offer to redistribute leftovers to local soup kitchens, food pantries, and homeless shelters. A lot of people argue that you can't give away food or donate it for a number of reasons, but I have personally seen so many people accept food (decent, cooked and cold food) that I can't stand the thought of wasting it.
If food and/or food wastage is your thing, check out this video by John Oliver for some food for thought ;) 

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