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Island time does not exist in Germany

From my experience as an island girl from Barbados living in Germany, I had a bit of a culture shock, when it came to punctuality.

When Germans invite you out, they expect you to be there at least fifteen minutes early, or exactly at the time you are supposed to meet. A meeting time of eight o’clock is not eight-thirty. They will be upset if you’re late, and it’s seen as a rude gesture towards them, so don’t be fashionably late.

You are also expected to arrive for official appointments at least fifteen minutes early and wait your turn. If you are not there for your time slot, you have missed your chance, and someone who was there early will be allowed to go next.

I’ve even noticed my friends starting a timer for steeping tea, or cooking rice/ pasta and shockingly the teabags are taken out of the teapot exactly when the 5 or 7 minutes are up.

I have never done this.

When it rains heavily in the Caribbean, things move even more slowly, the traffic piles up and somehow there are missing buses. However, rain and weather in general is not an excuse for tardiness or not showing up for an appointment in Germany, or in the U.S.

In fact I once went to class in a Boston snowstorm in the dead of winter with a temperature of minus twenty degrees.

Coming from Barbados, where the locals all run on what we call ‘Island time’ which can be described as the relaxed and unhurried pace that life moves at, when on an island, I had to acclimate quickly to this new ‘prompt’ culture in Germany.

Took some time to get used to the prompt transportation system

After barely making it to my engagements on time, arriving five to ten minutes late and seeing everyone else there early, I made sure to plan my route beforehand using transportation apps and get ready earlier so that if there is a transportation mishap like missing a bus or train, I still have enough time to get to my destination on time (early!)

Public transportation in the Caribbean can be sporadic, very different from the strict and punctual services I have pleasantly observed across North America and Europe. I was in awe when I saw how timely buses and trains ran and how easy it was to get around, no matter the time of day (or night).

When the LED display counts down the five minutes until your bus/train will arrive….and it actually arrives, that made me so happy. I have spent hours waiting for buses in the Caribbean, with just a general idea of when it was supposed to come, not knowing when the bus would really appear and because of this lack of punctuality, being late for work or school as a result of a no-show or late bus adds validity to the “my bus was late” excuse.

Island time can be frustrating to people who are culturally influenced to be on time and some people can become upset when it is evident that the locals are not ruled by the same sense of time pressure because they are so used to prompt service and being attended to quickly.

Island time is all about being chill and relaxed

Islanders really mean no harm by their seemingly happy go lucky attitude, it is simply socialization.  Even Rihanna is notoriously late to perform at her concerts. It’s just something that islanders are used to. After all, when in paradise, you are in the chill zone.

Cannabis to be legalised nationally in Canada

Canada is poised to become the largest country to legalise cannabis in the world and the second after Uruguay to have a legal national marijuana market place.

After years of planning and research, Uruguay launched their legal sales last year, however for Canada; October 17 becomes a very historic day for marijuana producers within the country.

This social shift promised by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is one that Hannah Hetzer, who tracks international marijuana policy for the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance called ‘extremely significant’, especially as there are at least 25 other countries who have already legalized the medical use of marijuana or have decriminalized possession of small amounts of the drug, while a few others, including Mexico have expressed interest in regulating recreational use.

dried kush cannabis on a table

“It’s going to change the global debate on drug policy,” she said. “There’s no other country immediately considering legalizing the non-medical use of cannabis, but I think Canada will provide almost the permission for other countries to move forward.”

Last year, Trudeau’s government introduced legalization to allow recreational use of marijuana after a poll by Forum Research Inc., found that 53% of Canadians agreed that they would like the plant to be legalized.

There is of course a long list of federal, provincial and municipal regulations that dictate to stores selling now legal marijuana. These include the requirement of frosted windows and product vaults; sales staffs are not allowed to promote products as having medical benefits or inducing certain feelings. Small jars of cannabis will be permitted for customers to sniff, but then the contents must be properly disposed of, to discourage anyone willing to dig the samples out of the trash and smoke them.

For many who are afraid that legalization will mean easier access to the plant by their youths, Canada has placed strict regulations on packaging to avoid appealing to the youth and there is a ban on various marijuana advertising, especially any that could be viewed by the youth or includes depictions of celebrities. Also some of the licensed producers are in fact huge companies and the Canadian federal government will be regulating the producers which so far have 120 licensed growers.

Canadian law sets a 30 gram limit on how much a person can buy at once or possess in public, however, there is no limit on how much Canadians can possess in the privacy of their own homes. Additionally, the law allows for residents to grow up to four plants at home, however, Quebec and Manitoba are the only two provinces that have opted to forbid home-growing.

This cautious yet bold move in their approach to legalization may ultimately set the course for the rest of the world, who will be observing how this process changes the landscape of the Canadian economy.

“Canada is leading the world on this paradigmatic change, taking this plant away from the bad hombres and putting it in the hands of the good men, the authorities, the regulators.” says former Mexican President Vicente Fox, who sits on the board of Vancouver-based cannabis company Khiron Life Sciences Corp.

 

Barcelona: Sorry, closed for August

Barcelona is a city of colour, vibrant culture, and a selection of shops and restaurants that leave visitors and locals alike spoilt for choice.

When they’re open that is.

This summer I was probably one of the many visiting Barcelona that wasn’t up to speed as it relates to a certain practice –“city-wide vacation”. During August, many stores close up shop. Personnel essentially take their vacation in one of the world’s peak travel months.

Usually I do my research before travelling to new places, but in this case I hadn’t made the time to. Though I was staying with a local – another expat – I hadn’t even considered this concept and as such, didn’t think to ask if stores would be open or not. Imagine my surprise when even some bakeries, popular Spanish clothing, grocery, hardware, and a variety of other stores high-end and otherwise, were shut up tight, but promised their return in September.

Street fair in Barcelona. Photo credit Jackie Jones.

Coming from Barbados, a country that currently relies heavily on tourism, the idea of this practice in the busy months was shocking to me. I wondered how these businesses managed to avoid what I saw as potential financial fallout. When you think about it though, if all your competition is closed too, you’re in the clear.

To add to their epic relaxation vibe, tourists or not, when restaurants decide it’s time for siesta, hunger pains can wait. I recall my partner and I searching for a place to eat after exploring the city for a few hours. Early afternoon seemed a good time for this.Or so I thought. One by one restaurants along a busy street boasted closed kitchens until 5 pm or 8 pm. It didn’t matter what kind of food you were in the mood for – there was no room at the inn.

This may sound like a bit of a downer if you’re planning to head to Barcelona some August. Don’t let the closed shops fool you though, there’s tons more to enjoy in the city. Remember, not everything shuts down; major chains, American-style bistros, and more are open all year round. Though I had disappointments wanting to visit stores I couldn’t, just being in Barcelona and experiencing the slower pace, beautiful scenery, and of course, delectable pastries, made it worth my while.

Amazing architecture! Photo credit Jackie Jones.

 

Places of interest like the incredibly detailed work of art,Casa Vicens, known as Antoni Gaudi’s first major work, are open to the public for small fees. Casa Vicens was one I visited and as a fan of architectural triumphs, this was truly a treat for me. Like this building, Barcelona’s landmarks are easy to get to if you’re staying in the city, or even if you’re on the outskirts. If you’re not within walking distance, trains, buses, and trams are available, or just look out for taxis with the green light on, as this signals they’re free and you can hail away.

Closed signs aren’t the end-all of your Barcelona August visit. Take a gamble and experience this luscious city for yourself.

 

 

Goop opens pop-up store in the UK

Gwyneth Paltrow is no stranger to the public eye, and with her company Goop, she catapulted even further into the limelight. She’s brought the goodness of Goop back to the UK for a short time, with a new pop-up store that opened its doors on September 25 in Notting Hill, London.

If you’ve no idea what Goop is, here’s a quick rundown: Goop is the widely successful lifestyle brand conceptualised by the actress. It started a decade ago as a newsletter in 2008, and has since evolved into a thriving lifestyle site, imprint, clothing line, with multiple products, and an estimated 150 employees as of 2018. Brand loyalty is impressive, and most Goop readers have an average annual household income of around $100k.

It is no surprise then that some prices found in the pop-up store may not match every budget. For example, you could pick up a few pretty shells from the beach or, get the “Goop Medicine Bag” for £76.99.

What’s in the bag? Eight healing crystals.

If you’re looking for something nice to catch your beverage sweat, why opt for any old coaster set when you can get a pack of four for £40?

Clothes shopping for the fall and winter seasons?

You can get anything from jackets to bras for as little as £90 or well over £1, 000.

Whatever catches your fancy is up for grabs if you’ve the budget to back it up.

Though the prices may be deterrent for some, that didn’t stop Goop fans, and interested shoppers from popping in throughout opening day, and making purchases of various products. This has continued and it’s safe to say that this could be the case until the pop-up store closes its doors on January 27.

Paltrow and her Goop brand have come under fire over the years from medical practitioners, and consumer advocacy groups to name a few, but this has not stopped customers from purchasing, enjoying, and promoting the brand’s products.

Some criticism was placed on the fact that many of the healing treatments and options purported by the brand, may be more a danger to users than help. This includes complaints that efficiency of these products is backed by no scientific proof and, they are not recognised or promoted by those in the field of medicine.

Some products that have raised eyebrows and can be bought in the UK Goop pop-up store are the £65 The Yoni Egg, which the brand recommends as a vaginal muscle toner, and the £40 “Inner Beauty Powder.”

Wherever you think about the Goop brand or its products, the store isn’t anything to sneeze at. Well laid out over four floors boasting pastels, coppers, and other colours and materials that match the brand’s theme, it offers other UK brands in the mix as well. Experience the Goop lifestyle, carefully sectioned into health and beauty, houseware, and clothing (fitness attire and closet essentials). This gives shoppers a wide range to choose from, while still getting all their favourite Goop products.

Barbados must vet foreign institutions more deeply

Barbados has recently joined the ranks of countries, who must adequately vet foreign institutions setting up campuses around the world.

Managing Director of the Washington University of Barbados Gopi Venkat Rao was arrested on charges of fraud recently, when the institution’s treatment of students and staff was called in to question. Rao had recruited students with the promise of gaining entrance to universities in China and USA.

Medical students and staff attending the ‘ for -profit’ Oldbury campus, situated at the Casa Grande Hotel in St. Phillip, lamented about their accommodations, with staff and students being left with inadequate air conditioning, food, water and other amenities since utility bills had gone unpaid for three months.

The onsite administrative and consulting staff was not paid for their work during their employment at the institution for the last 5 months and to compound matters, their work visas were never renewed.

Executive secretary, Tricia Newton, explained that the staff had yet to be paid and many  felt ‘defrauded’ by the man they had trusted and left India to work for.

“It is a dire situation, I watch people at work every day crying [and] begging,” Newton revealed.

She also explained that the Indian staff was routinely replaced in an awful cycle when their work permits were expired, instead of being allowed to renew them.

“They did not pay the persons for months. People were just around here begging; [management] would get rid of those and bring in another set,” Newton said.

After news broke that Gopi Venkat Rao was arrested, on charges of fraud many of the students were left both confused and concerned, especially upon the realization that their hard work was for nothing and their dreams of a better future smashed.

One student, Sowjanya Racharla, 23, spoke to the Barbadian press and said she felt ‘broken’ and ‘betrayed’, especially since she was the ‘hope’ for her parents.

“I came against my dad; my dad said, ‘Baby you already have a degree why do you want to go back there?’ and I said, ‘Dad I want to become a doctor and this university is saying they can send me to the United States where I can get placed better than India’,” Racharla explained.

University education is valued by most people because it holds the promise of a better life, which is the reason many enroll into any tertiary level institution.

While most have access to their choice of accredited colleges and universities around the world, some are lured in by the misrepresented opportunities touted by many ‘for profit’ schools which  usually gear their content towards students who may be single parents- usually women and are of limited means.

For-profit colleges and universities often create a grey area for students in Canada, the USA and most recently Barbados, which casts doubt over whether they were vetted for their accreditation in the same vein as traditional public, and private institutions and trade schools.

In the wake of this latest defrauding school scam, a consultant for the Washington University was questioned about the vetting procedures for the unaccredited institution, since staff was shown videos of a fully functioning school which supposedly met the local health and educational requirements.

Several of the students, who have lost money, simply wish to return to India however, some students may be given access to education at another facility.

The current  Minister of Empowerment and Elder Affair in Barbados, Cynthia Forde and other officials from the Ministries of Health and Wellness, Labor and Education reassured staff and students that they would be given access to the resources that they require.

Fashion this fall season all about creative mixing

The most noticeable and accessible fashion trends offer texture, sparkle and print to be paired with chunky knits and lightweight cardigans for this winter season. While animal prints, floral and western inspired clothing and accessories are always great staples to have in your wardrobe they are  being heralded as necessary core items for this fall and winter 2018.

Floral designs are making such a come-back this Autumn

The preference for animal prints started during the glamourous golden years of Hollywood but continued to enthrall the masses during the rebellious times of the 70’s and 80’ s.

This latest revival can clearly be seen on handbags, shoes and clothing from major fashion houses to ready to wear clothing brands. This latest rendition provides shoppers with chic and effortless options to incorporate leopard, zebra, tiger and snakeskin into their wardrobes.

cheetah prints on shoes
From clothes to shoes and other accessories, animal prints are the thing to be obsessed this season!

Classic Animal print pairing are often worn with well-tailored, structured neutral pieces of clothing, and Models and Fashion bloggers are sporting leopard print trousers with button downs for subtle daytime appropriate looks.

Small touches of zebra or snake can be added to a small clutch that can be easily worn with a monochromatic outfit. For those ladies who aren’t afraid of this trend, they can flaunt their love for fashion by mixing prints with patterns which are consider neutrals. If you are truly daring, choose two prints that complement each other.

This snake skin clutch, adds such a wonderful pop of colour to your outfits!

Leopard tends to look good on most body types however, larger prints like giraffe can be difficult choice to wear.

The trending resurgence of animal print tends to be modern, youthful and feminine. Designers have reinterpreted this trend with colorful dresses, pants and shirts in bright red, oranges and greens in sumptuous silk and other fabrics that offer a fresh take on a classic print.

Diane Von Furstenberg produced a romantic and feminine take on the trend, while Tom Ford had leopard print on red pants.

Check, Houndstooth and Plaid are also fun patterns that you can add to your wardrobe to mix and match with solids. Plaid and Check are similar and come in a variety of colors and shades with Gingham being a popular check print for fashionistas to wear.

These classic patterns accentuate most body types.

Traditional plaid or Tartan scarfs and accessories can help warm you up this winter.

fashion: plaid skirt and amazing bag
The plaids are in!

Winter Floral, jacquard and Brocade skirts and pants will be great for the upcoming holidays adding texture and shine to heavy autumn winter garments like oversize sweaters and jackets.  Aesthetically pleasing ruffled garments can be cleverly paired with small to medium size floral prints this season, with Ruffled and Floral shirts and dresses are sure crowd pleasers.

The western or cowgirl trend add color and texture to lighter pieces this fall with cowboy boots, western inspired shirts and jackets with fringe. Western inspired jewelry with tassels and turquoise is a great way to add a touch of the wild west to your wardrobe. Saddle bags and Hobo with fringe are great fashion finds to stay on trend and accentuate any outfit.

Large western inspired Belts can help to pull together a western inspired outfit. The designer Isabel Marant and Alberta Ferretti offered a stunning interpretation of this trend with structure pants and western style shirts. The western or cowgirl trend offers a great alternative to floral or animal print.

Cowgirl boots and floral designs- how to mix it up this season.

Which trend will you be trying this fall and winter season? I can’t wait to check out fringe jackets and western inspired shirts.

The French Airport Passport Challenge (Pt 2)

The first part of my harrowing passport tale took readers through the odd and at times utterly scary moments I experienced while trying to travel from France to England on my Barbadian passport.

That airport experience – and others – led me to realise that passports are not created equal, especially as things are drastically different when I’ve used my British one in the past.

When I left off, I’d just managed to cross the final barrier before being spit out into the busy Charles de Gaulle airport. My next task seemed simple: Ignore the men with machine guns and find my way to the check-in area. Though I had hours to spare and Parisian exploration was suggested, my paranoia heightened. My interest was in the destination . . . end.

After making it to the terminal I rid myself of the “suspicious” makeup brushes. I wasn’t about to go through a strip search in the next wave for some perfect contours.

My pseudo-zen was short-lived. Sniffer dogs and their beefy, no-nonsense looking handlers entered the terminal. I paid little attention, until a dog took way too much interest in my bag. My stomach catapulted from my body and landed on the floor.

Stepford smile!

The dog was called away, but during their up and down trek, both dogs stopped at my bag multiple times. This made one security guard stop for a closer look once, but luckily all was well. Until . . .

Time to check-in.

I would show my passport, then my ticket, and voila, onward to the departure lounge.

Wrong again.

Instead of heading straight to the counters, there was a pre-check of passports. The male and female security personnel were friendly enough. The woman took my passport, peered at me, then my passport again and asked, “What is your business in England?”

With a bright smile, I informed her I was going to live as I was a citizen. For a reason I couldn’t get yet, she didn’t like this answer and asked me for proof. I showed her my expired British one, and as she started to shake her head, I wondered briefly if I was going to be stuck in France till ‘Wheneverary’.

She questioned me about why I didn’t use my British passport to travel. In this moment I tried to keep my head as the answer seemed obvious enough, “Because it’s expired and I’ll renew when there.” She didn’t like this answer either and explained that they preferred if British citizens travelled on British passports. Who are they?

In this moment the Caribbean woman in me tried to take hold, but I managed to keep most of the edge out of my voice as I explained how expiration works . . . again. None of this mattered. I was told to wait on the side while her colleague made a call.

“We have to make sure it is okay to let you through.” she said to me.

Stepford smile baby. Stepford smile.

Final part: Visas, weird questions, and how many checkpoints are there?

Remote working may not be for you

Social media is full of remote workers exploring and discovering the world, while still managing to rake in sizable incomes but, is being a digital nomad really all it’s cracked up to be?

Will you really be able to relax in a pool while creating websites in Bali one week, and hop over to Germany’s Oktoberfest for a well-deserved beer the next?

Is remote employment the never-ending – work hard and play harder existence that many public highlight reels would suggest?

Those questions really boil down to a simple one – is remote working actually fun?

Before I get into the details, note that remote working doesn’t mean you have to be Instagram’s poster child for some travel network. You can work remotely from your hometown, population ten, if that’s what you want.

Most remote employment opportunities just require you to have a decent computer and an internet connection. Some will ask that you come in at times, but this isn’t a general rule. The idea of freedom and working from home – or anywhere really, has opened doors for people worldwide.

For women, it provides great opportunities as now the housewife or stay-at-home mum can have a job on the side, or the ‘9-5er’ can earn extra income, without having to do much but log on and get to work.

A few truths: It can be a hassle navigating freelance sites, trying to figure out the best way forward for your remote business, which jobs to take, and how much to charge. Basically, all the small print that social media doesn’t share, as it excites to the point that many want to be as free as the people in the pictures. Witnessing the glamour can make it hard to think about the work that comes with it.

My need for work freedom came well before Instagram made it visually enticing, and it truly wasn’t always pretty. As a contract/freelance worker for over five years, after being a journalist for many years prior to that, I can tell you that as with any job, remote work has its ups and downs.

Unless you’re already established in the field you choose and can immediately get new work, or are graced by a lovely bit of luck, it’ll take a little time to build a loyal client list. Even then, depending on your field you may get mainly one-off jobs.

In these cases it’s best to try to find contract work, which means you’ll be in the money while the contract lasts. In my opinion, as a freelancer or contract worker you need to always keep looking for that next job opportunity, even if you’ve already built up a lucrative base.

Why?

Things happen: companies change, contacts move on, and clients can decide to go in another direction. Being prepared can stave off financially lean months. Bonus though? The more you get out there and provide quality work, the better your chances of being discovered and sought after for your services.

Here’s the verdict: Yes, remote working can open a new world that can be pretty fun, just expect the actual work that goes with it.

 

Cream of pumpkin soup perfect for autumn

Cream of pumpkin soup is an easy and great soup all year round, but is especially a nice and warm addition now that we’re in the colder months. Pumpkin soup is a crowd pleaser which is filled with beneficial vitamins and minerals,that helps to improve skin, hair, prevents heart disease and helps to maintain healthy vision.

Ingredients

1tsp Salt

1tsp Black Pepper

1tsp of Crushed Garlic

2 Tablespoons of Margarine/ 2 pats of Butter

1 1/2 lb. Pumpkin

1 Large onion

2 Ribs of Celery

3 cups of vegetable stock

½ cup of milk or cream

Instructions

Cube the pumpkin and place in a bowl. Dice the remaining vegetables. Add margarine and the garlic to the pot, and Sautee for a minute. Then add the pumpkin and other vegetables and continue to Sautee. Next add vegetable stock to the pot and let soup boil for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool. Add the soup to the blender and blend until smooth. Return soup to the pot and stir in the milk. Reheat for 5 minutes. Serve.

Bonus:

I love making my own vegetable stock and it’s so simple, I added it to this recipe!

Homemade Vegetable Stock

4 cups of Water

1tablespoon of Butter

1 Celery Rib

1 small onion

1 tablespoon of salt

1 tablespoon of pepper

1 Bay Leaf

Instructions

Dice celery and onion then add them to the pot with remaining ingredients. Let the contents simmer for 20 mins. Remove the Bay leaf and then the contents can be added to a soup.

 

 

 

President Trump’s mocking of Dr Ford sparks outrage

The apparent mocking of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by United States President Donald Trump has sparked wide spread outrage and real fear that it will be even harder for survivors of these heinous deeds to come forward.

“I had one beer. Well, do you think it was — nope, it was one beer,” Trump said, mimicking Ford’s testimony. “How did you get home? I don’t remember. How’d you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know.”

These comments were made during a rally in Southaven, Mississippi Tuesday night by the President and unsurprisingly have many advocates for victims of sexual assault positively livid.

Ian Henderson, Director of Legal and System Services at the  Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA)  is worried that the President’s remarks will not only discourage victims from coming forward about assault, but also that if they do they might not be believed.

“It creates a disincentive for survivors to come forward,” said Henderson. “There are already enough reasons why victims don’t come forward because of fear of not being believed. But on the flip side, we’ve seen a lot of positive movement on social media like #IBelieveSurvivors and #WhyIDidntReport.”

The White House has come to the defense of the President, saying that it was not mocking Dr. Ford; instead he was simply stating facts.

“The President simply pointed out the facts of the matter and that is what the Senate will have to use to determine whether or not they vote to support him or not,” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday.

The President also reacted to the public’s outcry from the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh and expressed his concern of how this would impact other men.

“It is a very scary time for young men in America, where you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of,” Trump said. “This is a very, very — this is a very difficult time. What’s happening here has much more to do than even the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice!”

Actress, activist and sexual assault survivor Alyssa Milano, who continues to be very public in her support of Dr. Ford, reacted to Trump’s comments, saying that it was in fact a ‘scary time for women’.

“Men are having a hard time right now? I mean, c’mon,” Milano said. “Women, young people, have had it difficult for generations and generations and generations.”

In an interview with MSNBC, where she spoke of the backlash against victims who spoke up about their abuse, she said that right now they were in the process of finally defining their boundaries, and would no longer be silenced.

“And if that means men have a hard time right now, then I’m sorry, this is the way the pendulum has to shift for us to have the equality and security in our country.” She said.

Henderson, also took issue with Trumps’ comments, saying that they completely discount men and boys of sexual violence and lumped men into the ‘category of potential perpetrators or at least complicit in rape culture’.