My Caribbean Christmas

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Christmas is a time of celebration all over the Caribbean. Every Island celebrates the festive season in their own little way. From the parties, grand markets, church services to the special food and drinks prepared specifically for the season of Christmas. It truly is a great time of year which often sees many Caribbean people who live outside of their Islands make every effort to be back home for Christmas.

Sadly, the airfares to the Caribbean are absolutely ridiculous. Most people have no choice but to book up to a year in advance just to make the down payments more manageable. Aviation costs and fuel sub-charges are two of the main reasons why flights prices cost the average person an arm, a leg and a whole lot of sacrifices.

Sadly this is not set to change anytime soon, so us Islanders have no other choice but to get adjusted. For those who don’t get the chance to fly back to the Caribbean for Christmas, we do our best to bring it here to the UK. My family and I have found ways to infuse our Caribbean magic into our Christmas celebrations. I compiled a list below of just some of the things that we do.

The House

Caribbean people are extremely house PROUD. When it comes to the place where we lay our heads we go above and beyond. My nan is this way, so is my mum and you know this has been passed onto me. The cleanliness of the house is a top priority.

In the run-up to Christmas, Aunty Lorna will subject the entire premises to a what I call operation LG. Every room is assessed for renovations and has to be thoroughly cleaned and upgraded accordingly. So far this year I have cleaned cupboards, visited Ikea, hand washed tiles and helped mum with some DIY. Every bedroom in the house must have FRESH bedding on for Christmas day.

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The Food

Every year my mum puts on a fantastic spread for my brothers and I. Our Christmas day menu is carefully pieced together and finalised by the 19th of December every year. However, our Christmas dinner would not be the same if some of our favourite Caribbean dishes and drinks were not on the menu. The way we cook in my house is heavily influenced by Jamaican, Guyanese and Trinidadian recipes.

But I have to be honest and let you in on a little secret. There are no curry dishes on our Christmas menu. No Curry goat, no curry nothing. Now I know this might come as a surprise to some of my fellow Caribbean readers. I do hope that no one starts a petition for my Caribbean card to be revoked, lol. Being that we are half Guyanese we eat Curry dishes on a regular basis. So we are not interested in eating it at Christmas, sorry not sorry lol.

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My little brother holding our Turkey in 2016 wearing a West Indian Cricket kit lol

  • Ackee and Saltfish

Jamaica’s national dish of Ackee and Saltfish is served every Christmas morning as part of our Breakfast menu. Accompanied by festivals or fried dumplings, bammy, breadfruit and plantains. Last year my mum threw in a grilled Lobster and let’s just say it went down a treat.

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My Jamaican Christmas Breakfast 2017

  • Pepper Pot

Traditionally, Pepperpot is served at Chrismas time in Guyana and it is one of our national dishes. We serve PP a part of our breakfast menu. It is a stew dish, served with meats such as beef, pork and mutton. But, because most of my family do not eat pork, it is replaced with Cowfoot.

Pepperpot can be served with rice, roti or fresh bread. My mum is a perfectionist so she ensures that our Guyanese-style bread is homemade. Our breakfast menu is a mixture of both our cultures and I love that every year my mum gives us the option to enjoy both.

Other Breakfast options- Fresh baked bread and ham – (Trinidad & Tobago)

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Pepperpot, a traditional Guyanese Christmas dish.

  • Black Cake

I don’t know which Island this cake originated from but I so thankful for whoever created it. Black/Rum cake is a Christmas and wedding favourite that is enjoyed across many of the Caribbean Islands. Dark in colour and rich in taste the magic behind this divine creation is the diced up dried fruits which are soaked in rum and dark wine for up to a year.

If that is not enough once it is baked it must be laced up in more rum to give it that kick. I am so lucky that my mum is able to bake because we eat it around the clock.  At Christmas time, my mum bakes 4 of these babies and we slice them up for our Christmas visitors.

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The Drinks

  • Homemade Jamaican Sorrel

Every year without fail my mum makes 5 litres of homemade Sorrel. If I don’t taste any Sorrel during the Christmas season, did I even have a Christmas? lol. Sorrel is one of the most popular drinks during the festive season, especially in Jamaica. It is made from the hibiscus Sabdariffa flowers, which is washed, boiled and strained for up to 6 hours and then sweetened to our preferred taste and of course laced with Rum and more Rum.

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  • Guyanese Ginger Beer

This drink is a personal favourite for me because I love the way my Nanny makes it. Guyanese Ginger Beer is light and refreshing much different from the commercial ginger Ones.

It has to be prepared one week before Christmas because it needs to be fermented and combined with all the right ingredients within a timely manner before serving. It can be enjoyes with plenty of ice after a full plate of Christmas dinner. The only thing missing from this combination is the hot Caribbean sun cool breeze.

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Other Drink menu options: Rum, Guinness Punch & Carrot juice (Jamaica) – Ponche-a Creme (Trinidad & Tobago)

Entertainment

As I mentioned earlier there is nothing better than spending Christmas in the Caribbean. My Nanny is currently living her best life in Guyana as I type. Every day she messages me with pictures and updates, I love it. Sadly as I am not in the abroad this year so I just have to make the most of it back here in London. What better way to do this than by bringing the vibes of the Caribbean through our Christmas music and entertainment.

  • Christmas Soca Parang

This might comes as a shocker but there is a genre of Soca music called Parang. These songs are especially for the season of Christmas, it originated in Trinidad and Tobago but has spread across the Caribbean. Paranging is the process whereby we go house to house and exchange food and drink with our neighbours from Christmas day until New years. We drink, have a lime, a laugh and be merry.

On Christmas day at home, we set up our sound system and get the Parang pumping from about 8am. We have two Caribbean neighbours who we exchange food and drink with every year. I really love this element of my Christmas and look forward to gifting others with what my family have prepared. Aside from the Soca Parang, we play Reggae music, Gospel and other traditional Christmas songs.

Here are my top 3 Christmas Soca Parang Songs

  1. Sugar Aloes – Black Cake

2. Brindley Benjamin – Santa Looking for a Wife

3. Baron – It’s Christmas 

  • Dominoes

In most Jamaican households you will find a pack of Dominoes. Christmas is never complete without a  few heated games of Dominoes amongst the family. I highly suggest playing this one after exchanging gifts and eating food, because it can get intense and somewhat emotional. I am nothing but a spectator when it comes to the game of Dominoes, this is far from my lane and I tend to stay out of it. I just love the high energy within the atmosphere and the vibes amongst the players and their supporters.

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  • Ludi board

Another game that my family love to play at Christmas time is the Ludi board. I dabble in this game from time to time but I am not as good as I used to be back in the day. Just like Dominoes, the Ludi board can be just intense. But you just have to keep your eyes peeled for those sly cheaters because they can be so slippery. Our Ludi board at home is 20 years old and came straight out of  Kingston Jamaica.maxresdefault.jpg

These are just some of the things my family and I do to incorporate our Caribbean roots into our UK Christmas celebrtations. It may be a little different from the way you and your family do things but that is ok because we are all different. I love that even though I live in the UK, my family are still able to feel connected to our culture through food, music, and other family traditions passed down.

I hope you enjoyed this post and if you can relate in any way let me know below.  Also, I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas whether it will be A Bae-less Christmas or not, please try your best to enjoy it as Christmas only comes around once a year.

(Please note, I do not own the rights to some of these images used within this post)

PS: My Last post will be out on Saturday 29th December 2018 – My 27th Birthday!!

Family Christmas

Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

Stay Blessed

Lots Of Love

Jenna

xoxo

#TravelDiary:Like 2pac in 93, I get around

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When I launched JWV last month (March 2018), I kicked it off with a blog post about my recent trip to Rome (You can read about it here). I basically took my readers to Rome through a descriptive recap of how it all went down and it was a VIBE, if I do say so myself.

But, as I have said before I haven’t just been to Rome. Your girl has made a couple of trips here and there. Although it might not be as much as the average travel blogger, I have made some movements. I could be wrong but I don’t think there is a minimum amount of countries you are required to visit yearly to qualify as a travel blogger. If you love to travel, do it frequently and have the capacity to put out content, then BOOM you are good to go.

The most countries that I have visited in one year is three (2013 & 2017). Some people have the capacity to travel much more than that and that too is amazing. Whether you travel once a year or more, be grateful. As there are loads of people who would love to do it but just don’t have the time or resources.

So here is part one of my travel diary. I don’t have any pictures of my travel trips as a baby though. Issa long story, but have a read below, enjoy and stay tuned for part two coming soon.

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2002 – Miami

Daddy took his baby girl to Miami…

When my Dad told me he was taking me to Miami, Florida back in 2002. I was gassed. Super excited. Right up until I arrived in Miami, I kept singing “All night, on the beach till the break of dawn. Welcome to Miami, Bienvenidos a Miami”.  Hella cheesy but I was only 10 years old, so give me a break lol.

It was not all fun and games though because the real reason for this trip was my Grans funeral. If you ever had a death in the family you will know that it is usually filled with tears, sadness and “ole leap ah drama”. My Pups did a good job to keep me out of that though. I spent most of my time out shopping, recreating the Destiny’s Child “I’m a survivor” beach scenes at the beach, eating and of course a trip to Disneyland. I remember it like it was yesterday. I felt like one of those celebrity kids,anything I wanted or needed, my Daddy made it happen.

This was my first trip to the USA and if you read my (Is Sisterhood dying out here in these streets?) blog post last month, I shared how much I followed Black American Culture growing up. So you can just imagine how much of a field day I had out there. I was fascinated with everything because everything was literally 10 x larger than the stuff in the UK, especially the junk food.

I loved my time spent in Miami because it allowed me to reconnect with my Dads family on another level. I learned a bit more about my Fathers foundation and the type of family that I was born into.  I listened to him and his siblings share their childhood stories and looked through 100s of old photos. It really helped me piece together elements of my identity and of course understand a bit more about my Jamaican heritage.

2007 – Italy

Learning a thing or two in Florence…

My first school trip abroad and it didnt disappoint, I had so much fun. We didn’t fly though, we made our way to Dover got on the ferry and drove the entire way into Florence. It was everything I imagined a school trip to be plus more. I can remember sitting on the Coach with my Song Ericsson W810 listening to “Seany B ft Gemma Fox – Us against the world” (CHANNEL U classic) and thinking about my first boyfriend, who sadly was in jail at the time (sigh lol).  Anyway, the trip was eventful, educational and fun. I climbed the leaning tower of Piasa all the top to the top. Tossed coins in Trevi fountain, I made a promise to return & I did (click here to read about it). I also visited ‘La Specola Anatomical Collection, the largest and most famous wax anatomical collection anywhere in the world. After this trip, I vowed to myself that when I got a little bit older I would travel around the world as much as I could. It is safe to say that self- fulfilling prophecy is currently manifesting.

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2010 – New York

Big dreams in the concrete jungle…

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If you don’t know by now, I love Black America. I always have and I probably always will. When the opportunity presented itself for me to go to NEW YORKKKKK, I was all over that like Bees on honey. I had started my 2nd Job in ALLSAINTS head office the December of 2009 (shout out to my God sister for the hook up) and when I tell you I put in work for every bit of GBP that I earned to make that trip to New York possible.

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I don’t think no one truly understands just how much my heart bleeds for America, especially New York. I used to dream about living and working out there for yearssssss. It was a dream come true when I finally stepped on NYC soil. As soon as I checked into my hotel, I dropped my bags off and ran out onto Times Square. Those brights lights penetrated right through me and I couldn’t hold back my excitement. To dream about this place as a child and to finally be there many years later, confirmed to me that anything in life is possible. If you really want it!

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New York, has a piece of my heart. In some weird way, I feel like God has something patterned out there for me. I am not sure what that may be, but if the opportunity presents itself I will surely be ready.  I spent most of this trip shopping as sightseeing was kept to a minimal. I even declined to visit Ground Zero because I felt overwhelmed being quite close to the grounds. The shopping in NYC was top notch, I felt like a kid in a candy store and came home with two suitcases packed to capacity. I also got a chance to visit the Maury show, I was a big fan back then, so it was such a vibe to go down there and see everything up close and personal. I even got a chance to visit HARLEM and my oh my, it truly felt like being back home in BRIXTON. The multi-culture of the people and the vibes of the community felt oh so familiar. New York needs to see me again, as I have so much to see and much more to do.

2012 – Dominican Republic

Scared straight in the DR…

This trip to the Dominican Republic came about after a random convo one night on BBM. DR has got to be one of the safest holidays that I have ever been on. Reading those government safety warnings before travelling really made us take extra care. We were so scared on this holiday to the point where we only left the hotel complex, to go to the beach. Looking back now, I feel very dumb. Like a pie slapped in my face kinda dumb, lol. We were under the impression we would get kidnapped by our neighbours in Haiti or even some pirates. Lord forgive us for that high level of ignorance.

We stayed at the Ifa villas Bravo all-inclusive resort, which included spa facilities of course lol. The food wasn’t that great but the beach and spa made up for it. If you ever get a chance to experience a full chocolate body massage, do it. The pictures from this trip are hilarious. My weave was about 26 INCHES (see below) and my travel case was filled with maxi dresses and sandals.

Relaxing, taking pictures for Instagram (it was the new thing back then) and recording videos of ourselves rapping to Rick Ross & Drake was mainly what this trip consisted of. I do regret not exploring as much, but I was a novice in the Travel game back then. Its safe to say that the Dominican Republic needs a do-over, Baecation maybe? lol

2013 – Turkey

Young & not so carefree in Turkey…

I believe my whole trip cost me about £389 for a one week all-inclusive trip to Marmaris. I didn’t really know what to expect but it actually turned out to be better than I could of imagined. I enjoyed a photo shoot on a boat, I got dipped in Marmaris Jesus beach and I went snorkelling for the first time. I even survived Quad biking through the forest and experienced my first EVER Turkish bath.

My mum went into a crazy frenzy when she saw the picture of me blowing out the Shisha smoke, lol. Black Mothers & their theatrics never cease to amaze me, lol. Even when you become a legal adult your parents still don’t know how to let go of you. If my mum knew how many takes it took to get this one picture, she would not have wasted her time cussing me out.

This was my first holiday as a 21-year-old woman. It was during one of the best times in my life. My friendship circle, social life and education were truly buzzing. Life was good, life was really good and this trip was like a cherry on top of all the great things that were happening in my life.

2013 – Jamaica

Likkle miss, Likkle miss ah gwan like she big in Jamaica…

Going to Jamaica as a 21-year-old adult is much different than when you go there as a child with adult supervision. I need you to understand that when it came to leaving Jamaica, I cried like a big baby at the airport. I didn’t want to go home. My spirit was so peaceful and I felt free. I literally had no cares in the world, the only thing that was on my mind was my motives for each day.

Jamaica was everything plus more.  I was on such a high as I had played in the London Nottinghill carnival two weeks before flying out . So you know my head was still on a high from the moment I got on that plane. My Jamaica antics were plain and simple. I went to a dance every night, strolled back to the hotel at 7 am most mornings, I felt shame every single time and did it again the next day, LOL. I stayed at the Sunset Grande which has now been renovated and renamed Moon Palace.

I visited Dolphin Cove, Dunn’s Rivers Falls, Bob Marley’s Mausoleum. I ate KFC, juicy patties, box food and slurped bag juice on a daily basis. I even went to the infamous adult entertainment nightclub SHADES. I was truly horrified,because what I saw in that nightclub traumatized me for life. Google that if you are bad, but do it at your own risk, lool.

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In all honesty though you can never go to Jamaica and hate it, it’s just not possible.

2013 – Morocco 

Weekend antics in Morocco…

This was the first time that I ever took a flight by myself. Things were going well until I had to stop off in Casa Blanca for my connecting flight to Marrakesh. How was I supposed to know that my luggage would be transferred onto the next flight, without me having to go through bag drop again? Please believe I was crying frantically all through that airport. If you read ‘When in Rome, do shows‘ you will know that I am not fluent in any other language apart from English. I didn’t understand a word of Arabic and I am sure the airport staff couldn’t understand my English through snot & tears lol.

To cut a long story short, I managed to get my luggage once on the other side. I spent the weekend in a private 4 bedroom villa, which included individual bathrooms, wifi, an outdoor pool, private chef with a chauffeur.

Nikki Beach, Camel rides and fine dining at the Four Seasons hotel, were just some of the great memories that I made in Morocco. It truly deserves a do-over, but it will probably be somewhere I will go with my Husband for one of our getaways or anniversary trips. I am not married just yet guys, but my Husband will soon find me, so watch this space, lol.

I hope you enjoyed part 1 of my Travel diary, look out for Part 2 coming soon. Also let me know if we have been to any of the same places or if you plan to visit some of the places that I have.

If you are flying out this year and need help with your Travel Wardrobe, check out the first edition of #JWV TravelGlam Lookbook for some style tips & inspiration.

Need help packing your travel case? I got you, check out  #JWV Top 10 Travel essentials to help you get things in order.

As always my boo, thank you for reading.

If you enjoyed this blog post or any others, please re-post on your socials.

Stay blessed Peeps

Lots of Love

Jenna

xoxox