January 31, 2015

Island diaries: Exploring the wild 'North'

With Sheena's departure for San Francisco drawing closer, I managed to convince a group of my nearest and dearest to take the afternoon off on Friday and go explore the 'North' of  the island. 

Not only was it a chance to tick a few items off of Sheena's 'Barbados Buckelist' but for me to take some much needed photos in keeping with one of my New Years resolutions to make more of an effort with documenting island life. It was slightly overcast, and the clouds helped set the mood for the photos. I may have gone overboard with the editing, but I quite like the feeling of these snaps.

First, we checked out the new Animal Flower Cave, which is being re developed and is due to open fully next month. I got quite excited by their playground because it's a perfect spot for families to spend the afternoon with their little ones, so I made a mental note to write about it on the Island Sitters page.

Next up was the abandoned North Point Resort, which was a popular hangout for most of our Bajan parents back in the 1960's. The Olympic sized swimming pool was ahead of the times and my Dad has vivid memories of psyching himself up to actually jump off of the towering diving board.

It was abandoned almost a decade later I believe, and time has slowly eaten away at it. There's something really creepy and cool about this place, with it's hallow shell, overgrown grounds and cracked walls. It would make an awesome movie set!

Last but not least, we ended off our tour with a stop in Pico Teneriffe, with a slight diversion thanks to the cows making their turf.


January 24, 2015

Toronto in a Nutshell | Day 2

A big breakfast is one of the best cures for a hangover, and we were all thinking the same thing when we woke up on Saturday morning after drinking too much wine at Buca last night...

After a lot of grumbling and complaining, we finally rallied together and headed off to St.Lawrence market to gather ingredients for an epic breakfast. Grocery shopping is one of the most difficult things to do when hung over and tired, and we ended up with a tonne of unnecessary food (but yet so necessary in desperate times) such as strawberries and amazing cheeses.

The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing and catching up/recovering on the couch.....
We knew we had a big night ahead of us to celebrate Matt's birthday (officially)
First stop was pre drinks at Anya's apartment, which has the most beautiful views of the city!

A group of about 20 of us celebrated Matt's birthday at a really cute Spanish restaurant called Carmen's - it's a lively place with fantastic paella, tapas & cocktails. With such a big group, we ordered a gazillion tapas to share and even more wine & sangria. The gambas (shrimp) and fried green tomato with feta and red pepper chutney are to DIE FOR.

Our final (and fatal) stop for the evening was drinks at the Thompson Hotel. It all went downhill from there & the night ended with us decorating an elevator with pizza.


January 23, 2015

Toronto in a nutshell | Day 1

I'm currently lazing on a my couch, after a hectic week in Toronto involving a lot of food, wine and birthday celebrations. I'm also cursing the heat after enjoying some crisp, freezing weather (-10C) and snow! When you live on a tropical island nothing is more exciting than snow and I'm so happy I got a few inches of the magical white stuff before I left!

Our quick trip to Toronto to celebrate our friend Matt's 30th birthday was nothing short of wonderful: it was sunny and cold, we ate delicious food throughout the city & we both managed to catch up with friends with whom a catch up was way overdue!

Here are some highlights of the trip in a nutshell:

Day 1

We arrived around midday from Miami, so J and I checked ourselves in at Matt's apartment and scurried over to St.Lawrence Market for some late lunch. This market reminded me a lot of the indoor market in Leeds (where I went to uni): warm and cosy, with a million different smells sending your senses into overdrive.

We picked Buster's because of the long line (usually a great sign) and though we were impressed with the speedy service & the presentation of the food, it lacked oomph. We had lobster rolls with a side of calamari and both dishes needed some seasoning to bring it to life [though by that time we were both so exhausted from our 4am flight from Miami attributed to our lack of enthusiasm with anything by that point].

That afternoon, I met up with my friend Antoine (Fellow One Young World-ler) who introduced us to a great little tap house right around the corner from our apartment.

C'est What Taphouse is located in the cellar of a historic 19th century building in the St. Lawrence Market area  (67 Front Street East at Churchand offers a great selection of local and regional craft beers. J was in heaven! We caught up with Antoine over a few recommended brews before heading off to dinner.

Later that evening, a group of us went to one of Matt's favourite places in Toronto, Buca (604 King St W) for dinner.

(Image via)
Buca is tucked away at the very end of a side alley (Buca is the Italian word for 'hole'), but once you step inside you're transported to an italian-esque basement space full of warmth, chatter and energy. I was blown away by the atmosphere of this restaurant, thanks to the exposed brick walls and dim lighting. 

We ended up ordering a variety of things off of the menu and sharing starters, while everyone ended up trying each others' mains as well. The general consensus was that the the 'Polpo' (braised octopus), the 'Vitello Da Latte' (veal tenderloin with scorzone truffle, pictured below) & 'Ravioli Doppi' (double-stuffed ravioli with braised goose) were the best things on the menu!

The service was great too (Matt is a regular here) and I would highly recommend you give it a try if you're up for treating yourself to a nice meal in Toronto.

Stay tuned for Day 2 of our trip!


January 1, 2015

2015 Resolutions

2014 was a tough, exciting, loving, diverse, unexpected and challenging year for me.

I learnt quite a bit about myself along the way. As I reflect on the past year, I'm focusing on how to make things bigger, better and more meaningful in 2015.

Over the last few years, I've become a sucker for resolutions. I start jotting down new goals in November, so that I have over a month to chew on them and tweak them - a.k.a: make them more realistic.
I decided to split them up into 'specific' with clear goals, and 'general', which is more about consciousness on a whole. Here are a few of which I'd like to share with you:

1. Give up soft drinks

I never realised how much I love soda, especially coke when I'm hungover. Giving this poison up is a small step towards becoming more healthy overall.

2. Eat two vegetarian dinners a week

I live with a guy who is a bit of a meat freak, so I've been working hard on educating him on the benefits of skipping the meat every now and again. We're still working on it, but 'Meatfree Monday' is slowly becoming a thing in this house, even if it's remembered as we're cooking chicken for dinner.

3. Make travel more of a priority & Visit somewhere new

Top of my list: India
Ahhhh India! I've always been obsessed. With two of my nearest and dearest friends moving to San Francisco this year, California is also high on my list of new places to visit in 2015.

4. Dive into more volunteering and develop long term projects with wider scope

5. Start a new company (more on this later)

6. Move daily

Instead of pressuring myself to get my butt in the gym on a daily basis, I want to focus on finding ways of moving, having fun and burning some calories, such as surfing and trying new classes.

8. Send a birthday cards to close friends

Maybe it's a cultural thing, but Barbadians aren't huge 'card' people, whereas the dutch find any excuse to give someone a card for any occasion. I have kept most of my cards over the years and I love knowing that someone took time to hand write a message. Maybe I'm too old fashioned for my own good, but I treasure cards more than presents. So, I'm kickstarting my own 'trend' with my friends this year in the hope that they will see the value in it as well :)

9. Journal 

My friend Jess got me an amazing journal for Christmas and I feel like I would be doing it a disservice if I don't make a conscious effort to use it to jot down my dreams and ideas. This will also help me in being more grateful by taking the time and patience to find joy in the little things.

10. Be more mindful

I recently learnt what the word 'mindful' really means and I envy those who have mastered it. I am to practice mindfulness and to try to slow down and focus more.

11. Learn two new skills: basic graphic design & SEO marketing

12. Spend more time with the people that matter

There is just too little time in this life for us to waste it on insincere, duplicitous and toxic people. We should focus on those who we care about deeply, who care about us in return and who can help us grow.

13. Re - launch this blog :)

I'm going to end this post with some words I wrote a year ago, because I think these hopes still ring true for me:

I hope there are more coffee breaks with friends, more days of unplugging, more beach waves and trips to foreign places in 2015. I hope there are more handwritten letters to be mailed and long phone calls with dear friends and family who live far away instead of sporadic text messages.

These are just a few things I thought worth sharing.

How about you? what are you hoping to discover or change or improve upon in the coming year?

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