Carnival Sweat Shop

August 31, 2012

I insisted on including these photos in my carnival blog posts because it needs to be shown how much work goes into these gorgeous costumes. We signed up to the Euphoria band and got special permission to make our own costumes out of the materials provided, which was a real treat for us creative cats. Christina took the lead and designed our outfits, Nikita's dad sent up a whole box of goodies from their material supply store in Barbados {How perfect is that?} and the rest of us took orders from the Voss costume extraordinaires {Both sisters had made costumes before with our bands at home}. We set to work on Saturday afternoon, wine glasses in hand and cheese board on the floor, not quite realizing what we were in for. 9 hours of cutting, sticking, measuring, poking, prodding, burning and glue gunning, we had 10 beautiful costumes ready for the road.

Pint sized party

This was also the day that we had a eureka moment and discovered the simple genius of sticking an iphone into a big glass to double as a speaker system. Perfect for picnics & boat trips :)

Wednesday's Window to the World: Amorgos, Greece

August 29, 2012
Taken in a monastery in the island of Amorgos in Greece - Fotini Christulia, 2012

#CarnivalChronicles: Why everyone should try a carnival at least once in their lifetime

August 28, 2012

It's always baffling to hear that so many Londoners have never actually participated in Notting Hill or that there are Bajans who don't see the appeal of Kadooment/Carnival. 


These people have the chance to experience one of the greatest weekends of the year, when everyone gets together, drinks & goes completely mental on the streets. In this post I'm referring to a conversation had about Notting Hill Carnival but this can apply to any Caribbean Carnival around the world. It's a once in a lifetime experience (that's a lie, once you've tried it once you want to do it all over again!) and I highly recommend that everyone give it a try.

The lead up to the partying is just as fun, with j'ouvert/mudd mass, music and revelry, food, family & friends flying in from all over the place to be a part of the action.
Most girls fret & diet beforehand, worrying that their costume won't fit them anymore by the time carnival comes. On jump up morning everyone spritzes, glitzes, pokes & getting covered in glitter and your bedroom is suddenly like a chicken koop on steroids. Eyelashes are glued, safety pins are fastened & there are last minute panick attacks on which eye shadow looks best.  As you step out, everything in place, you hear the jingling of your beads and you forget about your love handles or that annoying bulge that refuses to budge. Because nobody cares anymore, everyone is too excited, smiling and chatting away, sipping on rumpunch before breakfast. 

You arrive at the start with a little knot of anticipation in your tummy, laughing at the reactions you got as you tickled someone with your feathers on the tube. You hear Bajans, Jamaicans, Trinis, Vincis, New Yorkans & cockney slang all jumbled together as blacks, whites, browns and all those inbetween meet & greet, ready to celebrate together again.

As you walk past rather large ladies in sequined thongs doing their thing without a care in the world, you promise yourself that you won't get so worked up about your diet next year.
And then it finally starts; the music blaring, everyone moving, shouting, singing and dancing together. The rest of the day is a blur of sequins, feathers, bright colours, smiles and some of the best ''feel good'' music on this earth.

I love being a West Indian and these days are a celebration of everything the Caribbean and it's diaspora represents.

If you can't tone it, tan it.

August 22, 2012
With carnival around the corner and Mr. Weatherman being quite unpredictable and unforgiving of this fact, I've decided to take matters into my own hands and fake tan. A wise friend once said "If you can't tone it, tan it" which is perfect for a lazy bones like me. All you need for a quick fix or a pick-me-up are sprays, creams and various other bronzing concoctions. Over the years I've tried a plethora of tanning products, thanks to a former tanorexic housemate who bought something new every week in the hope that she wouldn't look radioactive orange again. Sometimes, what didn't work for her worked perfectly for me {even though we were both fair and blonde} so it really is a matter of testing things out to see what works for you. It's also a much safer way to get a tan and after spending 20+ years in the sun, I'm giving my poor skin a break.

Here are my top tanning products: 

Dove Summer Glow Daily Moisturizer

This stuff is the bomb for keeping a year round colour. I use the darkest version available if I already have a tan but I'd recommend the lighter version for those with fairer skin tones. The plus side is that it's cheap and cheeful, smells nice and leaves you with a natural looking result. The down side is that if you don't use it regularly it starts to flake off and make your skin look questionable. Washing your hands after applying it is also a must, unless you want people asking if you have pigmentation issues.

Rimmel Instant Tan Cream & Spray

These babies are great for when you're feeling really pale and gross and want a quick pick-me-up on the day of a particular event. They come in various shades of course but I use Golden if I have a base colour already. If you're not happy with the colour or it looks a bit blotchy, you can just wash it off and start again. Easy peasy.
  And last but not least, God's gift to fair girls:

St.Tropez Bronzing Mousse

I discovered this a few years ago thanks to the same lovely housemate and it's my favourite product of all time. At £32.00 a pop {240ml bottle} it isn't cheap but one usually lasts me about a year so it seems like a fair investment {Especially considering a spray tan is around the same price in the UK/Europe} The mousse itself has a green tinge to it, which is perfect for avoiding that neon orange glow. The cons are similar to any other tanning products: it stains clothes and smells a bit funny. But it's the best thing since sliced bread if you want to have a deep, even tan without the skin damage.

Wednesday's Window to the World: Ireland

Aillte an Mhothair (Cliffs of Moher), Ireland - Matthew Armstrong, 2012

Wednesday's Window to the World: Norfolk, England

August 15, 2012
View from Blickling Hall, Anne Boleyn's ancestral home in Norfolk - Clare Hobday, 2012

Amsterdam Gay Pride

August 14, 2012

For lack of a better adjective I'd say this was the most gay experience I've ever had and I loved every second of it.
The bums, the boas, the tiaras, glitter & awesome music pushed Amsterdam Gay Pride up there with Carnival & Queen's Day.
The ominous clouds & scattered showers couldn't dampen this day; EVERYONE was happy, smiling & having a good time and it was contagious.

The only problem? All of the hot guys walking around just simply weren't interested and it was torture.

I didn't really consider how gay this event would actually be but it took 'festish' & 'camp' to a whole new level :) It shows how liberal this place is and the Caribbean could learn a thing or two about accepting people of all shapes, colours & sexual preferences.

Highlights of my London weekend

Seeing this girl again

Snapping the Olympic Torch

Watching the Opening Ceremony in Victoria Park

Catching up with old friends

Getting caught up in the Olympic atmosphere

An open letter to Danny Boyle

August 13, 2012
Dear Danny boy,

Thank you for such a lovely Opening Ceremony, for reminding everyone of what the Olympics is really about. I had to queue for almost two hours to get into Victoria Park (And down a bottle of red wine because we didn't realize we couldn't bring our own booze into the park) but you somehow made that line-up worthwhile. 

From the get go, thousands of people sat around me in awe of the theatrical masterpiece you put together and laughed our asses off at Mr.Bean and James Bond. Our Welshman shed a tear as he sang along to the national anthem and we screamed and applauded Queenie for her sense of humour as we watched her 'skydive' out of the plane. 

Thank you for giving the girls something to swoon over; Beckham looked delicious as he effortlessly cruised along the Thames. I appreciate you highlighting children, the NHS and little unknown gems such as the Arctic Monkeys. Here's hoping you at least include the Spice Girls in the closing ceremony though...
That was soon forgotten as we all sat down to watch the teams parade into the stadium. We behaved like wutless Bajans as our 7 athletes strolled onto the track and ignored the stares of everyone around us who probably questioned why these white kids were behaving so badly. We couldn't stop smiling. 

And last but not least, the fireworks added the finishing touch and everyone in the park hugged, held hands and swayed with a warm fuzzy feeling, truly excited for what the next two weeks would bring. 

It may not have been the most expensive, the most elaborate or the most exciting opening ceremony in the history of the Olympic Games but it was the most British and I was so happy to be a part of it. 

Thanks again Danny boy.