Island Interior Inspo: How to incorporate tropical decor all year round

So the weather might just be starting to cool down, and the abundance of PSL pics making their way into my social media tells me that we’re firmly headed into Autumn with no turning back. But with all this glorious Fall inspo around, I’ve decided to buck the trend and show you that – when it comes to decor – there’s no reason why you can’t live #thebeachlife all year round! I’m giving you island interiors inspiration today!


If there’s one thing that bloggers like Kat Gaskin (of Salty Pineapple and the Content Planner) and Rebeka Steen (Goldfish Kiss) have taught me (other than how best to take care of your pineapple plants and that there’s no such thing as layering too much delicate gold jewelry) it’s that you don’t need to live in the islands in order to embrace those tropical vibes at home (even if you live in Canada!) So this post is dedicated to that island interior inspo, and showing you just how you can bring some of that island sunshine inside. I’ll be featuring some of the items I already own, along with those on my wishlist!


Please note – this post contains some affiliate links, which means that if I have inspired you to click through and make a purchase today, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Happy shopping!

Leafy prints –

Nothing screams #islandlife and fresh tropical vibes like my signature leaf prints. I wear them, I use them in the branding for my blog, I have them all over my home – they’re everywhere! I’m addicted to all of the leaf prints but I definitely have a soft spot for banana leaves and monstera leaves. I’m thrilled that leaf prints still don’t seem to be going  a n y w h e r e and I am taking advantage of all that leafy loveliness still available in stores. I’m fairly certain that my husband might divorce me if I bring one more leaf print throw cushion home, but that doesn’t seem to stop me… Try to incorporate graphic prints – in order to keep things from getting a bit too floral and ‘Margaritaville’ in here, I like to balance the leafy prints with some bold black and white simple prints, like my black and white Aztec print cushions and a throw in thick black and white stripes.

Island Interior Inspiration with The Barefoot Angel

Banana Leaf Cushion Cover | Set of 4 Leaf Prints | Black and White and Palm Print Cushion Cover | Black and White Throw with Tassels | Grey and White Throw with Tassels | Black and White and Leaf Print Cushion Cover | Straw Floor Cushion

At home with The Barefoot Angel - Island Interior Inspiration

*Adorable island rescue pup not included…

Coffee table books –

The source of much of my island interior inspiration, there are some gorgeous coffee table books available, as beautiful as they are practical. My favourite features lovely seafood recipes alongside interior decor ideas and snapshots of beautiful coastal homes. All those glossy pages of coastal living, beachside chic and tropical tastes. Pair those beautiful books with some of these fun book ends, I love my seahorse bookends (similar here) but this chic white shell pair is on my wishlist! *BVI friends, House has some gorgeous coffee table books currently in stock. 

Island Interior Inspiration - Glossy Tropical Coffee Table Books

The Book of Palms | Seahorse Bookends | Shell Bookends | Surf Shack Coffee Table Book | Aloha Coffee Table Book | Seahorse Bookends | Coral Bookends | Coastal Living Coffee Table Book

At home with The Barefoot Angel - Island Interior Inspiration

Plants –

It’s not just pictures of plants, you also need the real thing! No better way to switch up the look of your house, and bring some of that fresh outside feeling in, than with some gorgeous house plants! If you’re not confident you’ll be able to keep them alive, start off with some succulents or cacti (the beginners houseplants) and take it from there! *BVI friends, my gorgeous plants and succulents all came from Fort Garden Center.

Scents –

You know that distinctive holiday scent – that heady mixture of coconut, sunscreen and tropical flowers that immediately transports you back to balmy summer nights with a cocktail in hand? Bring that into your home with some of these gorgeous scented candles. Notes of plumeria and hibiscus, or coconut and lemongrass. I’m also featuring my favourite room diffuser – Seychelles by the White Company which smells beautifully warm and beachy with notes of bergamot and bright orange mingling with coconut, almond and vanilla.

Island Interior Inspiration with The Barefoot Angel - beautiful beachy scents

Seychelles Reed Diffuser by the White Company | Palm Passion Coconut Lime Scented Candle | Coconut and Lemongrass Reed Diffuser | Plumeria and Hibiscus Candle | Plumeria Scented Candle
At home with The Barefoot Angel - Island Interior Inspiration
Palm coasters –

These guys get a whole section to themselves because whenever they feature on my Instagram I can always guarantee a flurry of DM’s asking about them! They were a gift from my little sister (who knows me so well!) but they are available at Sass & Belle. So here you are, and they’re in stock, you’re welcome!

At home with The Barefoot Angel - Island Interior Inspiration

Hanging Chair –

Bring the outdoor furniture in with a hanging chair or hammock chair for a comfortable and fun seating option that works as well in the lounge as it does on a deck or balcony.


Island Interior Inspiration with The Barefoot Angel

Sass & Belle Tropical Leaf Coasters | Papasan Chair | Removable Palm Print Adhesive Wallpaper | Hanging Chair | Wall Ladder Shelves
Feature Wall –

If, like me, you live in rented accommodation, it can be really difficult to bring your personality into your home when you are restricted to what changes you can or can’t make. I have been mulling over the idea of a feature wall using some of the excellent adhesive wallpapers now on the market. They come in so many striking prints and are a powerful way to switch up your space without damaging the paintwork. Just be sure to clear it with your landlord first, to be on the safe side! Some of my favourites are here, here and here.

Gold Accents –

Get that sunshine feel with elements of bright gold – including a gorgeous starburst mirror that I have had my eye on for months. My fingers are just itching to add it to my cart. My heart says yes but my credit card says no…


Island Interior Inspiration with The Barefoot Angel - Beautiful gold accessories

Starburst Mirror | Gold and White Pineapple Bookends | Urchin Tealight Holders | Gold Nesting Tables | Bold Round Mirror | Hanging Planters

So there we have it – are any of these featuring on your wishlist or languishing in your cart? In case you haven’t had enough leafy inspiration – here are some of my favourite Pinterest images inspired by my love of the islands. You can follow along on my Pinterest for more tropical vibes and beachy Pinspiration here.

Pinspiration - Island Interiors with The Barefoot Angel

Photo Credits Clockwise from Top Left: Sarah M. Dorsey | H&M | Soul of Mine Interior | Oliver Bonas | Frontgate | H&M 


Lessons That Hurricane Irma Taught Me

So, I agonized for the longest time about writing this post! In fact, if i had a dollar for every time I’ve started trying to write it and then stopped, I’d be able to retire the day job and blog full-time… You see, I still find it incredibly difficult to read or watch anything to do with the hurricane and for a long time I just couldn’t imagine being able to write about it. One of the things that prevented me from blogging for so long following the hurricane was that I felt this huge expectation that I should write ‘my hurricane story’, even though I didn’t feel like I was able to. But after a long  heart-to-heart with one of my closest friends, after a couple of glasses of wine, I was persuaded that I should at least try and that it might well be beneficial. With the anniversary approaching it had been on my mind a lot and I have found it to be remarkably cathartic putting all these words down, even if it usually comes with fresh waves of tears.


I do feel I must clarify that, my thoughts and opinions are by no means indicative of anyone else’s. Please understand that everyone’s experience going through the storm will have been different and that no two stories are the same. 

Storm clouds gather on September 5th as hurricane Irma approaches the BVI


So here we go, on the 4th September 2017, I published this – a sneak peek inside my Hurricane kit. A cheerfully optimistic (since updated) piece as we watched and waited for hurricane Irma’s arrival. I’d been through storms, I explained. Have your basic supplies ready, I preached. Food and water to see you and your family through a few days, I advised. But I had absolutely no idea what was coming and how it was going to change everything.


Now, I’m writing this blog post nearly a full 12 months post-Hurricane. Since being evacuated for my own safety by my husband’s company on September 11th and then returning four weeks later to the utter devastation that was our island community.


I find it hard to look back on my experience during the hurricane. I can’t bring myself to go through many of the photos (even my own), videos still bring me to tears. I can’t read the books or articles published about it. Writing this has taken me 11 months… It was one of the hardest experiences of my life and one which I struggle to articulately explain or adequately describe, so I won’t even try. I did just want to share a couple of the things that living through this unique experience has taught me:


Your community will make or break you – 


It was truly terrifying to see just how quickly the looting and stealing starts when people have lost everything and they get desperate. I’m talking less than 6 hrs after the storm, as evening came and most of us were still reeling from the shock of what had just happened – the stealing had already started.


Scuffles at the shelters, fights over supplies and more than a little sense of Lord of the Flies. Finding out that the prison on Tortola was open did little to allay our fears. Tensions are heightened, everyone is scrambling for the last of the items at the supermarkets, the last bottles of water and batteries. You are queuing for hours and pooling every last dollar (needless to say that no electricity means no cash points or card machines at the supermarkets) weighing up the merits of each item as you purchase it, in some sort of apocalyptic supermarket sweep.


With regards to the looting, I am definitely talking about the minority here, just a few bad apples. But you only need a couple of incidences to unsettle you, make you concerned and worry about your safety. 

Natural disasters seem to bring out the best and worst in people. Anxiety and fear take over when you find yourself in such extreme circumstances leading to behavior that might normally be out of character. Most likely the looters were just light-fingered opportunists who saw the absolute chaos as the perfect cover for their thievery. But the British military coming in to restore law, and a life under curfew was very much necessary. 


At the same time, you will band together with other people in your neighborhood and you will help each other out. People you had never known before will become close friends practically overnight. You essentially only have a couple of days before everything in your fridge/freezer is going to thaw and spoil. We got together and cooked it on communal BBQs, feeding a huge group of us for breakfast and dinner for a couple of days, sharing our food and our wine. I have never been prouder or more grateful to live on Virgin Gorda as I was in those days immediately post-hurricane. There was a strength and resilience displayed by the whole community and a powerful feeling of hope in the face of such adversity and hopelessness. As some of the community started to evacuate they passed food, water, toiletries, supplies, nappies and baby formula to those staying behind. Replenishing their neighbour’s dwindling resources as best they could with their own. The hugs we exchanged when we found our friends as the days wore on in September were raw and real, and almost always accompanied by unapologetic tears of relief. 

Community meetings on Virgin Gorda after hurricane Irma hits the BVI

Sharing food and wine with neighbours after hurricane Irma in the BVI - sharing the lessons that the storm taught me


Speaking of evacuations, I will say that leaving our island, and everyone that I love here, was one of the hardest things I have ever done. The uncertainty of when I would be back, when we would be together again and what that would look like broke my heart a little every day. To this day, not everyone has come back. There were friends and colleagues that I never got to say goodbye to. We never could have imagined in the days leading up to the hurricane that we would be scattered and that that would be it. But…


Get out if you can – 


There is no point in trying to be a hero. If you have the means and the opportunity to leave, you should take it. On the most  basic level you are a drain on already depleted resources. Unless you have a practical skill, medical experience or the brute strength to help rebuild, you are not needed and not helpful. Lessen the burden if you can and leave.


I’m not talking about forever, ultimately our little community needed us all to come back. Mass evacuation does nothing to help the local economy. But for the few weeks post-storm, when there is not much  in the way of food and water, it is best that all those supplies go where they are needed – to those that unfortunately can’t get away and to the incredible people that are helping out. I understand how hard it is to leave the life you have created behind, and I appreciate the practical and economical factors may mean that it simply isn’t possible, but if you can leave you might want to take the opportunity. I will never, ever forget the desolating feeling of leaving and the mixture of feelings as I landed in London on the morning of September 15th. Feeling utterly broken and wondering how I would ever be able to put it all back together. 

Evacuating the BVI following hurricane Irma on September 6th 2017

The views from the boat as I am evacuated following hurricane Irma in the BVI. Leverick Bay, North Sound Virgin Gorda

The view looking back as I am evacuated from the BVI following hurricane Irma - Leverick Bay, North Sound Virgin Gorda


Look after yourself – 


Regardless of whether you can leave or not, you really want to make sure that you look after yourself. Easier said than done. What you don’t know at the time, but may well find out later, is that you are running around in a state of heightened anxiety. Shock has a physical effect on the body and your adrenal gland is working overtime with all the adrenaline that is coursing through your system and that can inevitably lead to burn-out and a monumental crash. You need to take the time, where possible, to look after yourself – listen to your body and rest when you can.


When I got back to the UK I discovered that I had adrenal fatigue – my adrenal gland had been running for so long it was exhausted, this came with a host of health issues. Added to this I kept fainting! An existing blood pressure problem was severely exacerbated by the stress. My husband was firm, I was to leave and get help. What I had never fully appreciated was the toll that a natural disaster can have on your health in the aftermath, even if you aren’t injured at the time. Diabetics and patients with hypertension need to pay particular attention. Stress and a poor diet with the lack of fresh produce can cause real issues. The actual death toll from Irma has still not fully been calculated. There is a difference between the immediate figures and the aftermath.

Now a year on, a different issue lingers as members of our community still struggle with PTSD and other ongoing anxieties. We still need to remember to pay attention to ourselves, and to our needs. PTSD aside, life is just so much harder since the hurricane. I doubt anyone could tell you exactly why, or how it is harder – it just is. Everything is more of an effort and it’s exhausting, we’re all just tired. So, so tired.


People care – 


Never having found myself in the midst of any kind of humanitarian disaster before, it was something of a surprise to me when the marines started to arrive. When dawn came on September 7th and we finally had an opportunity to look outside, I was terrified – wondering how we were going to do this all by ourselves. But help was already on its way. And it wasn’t just the military support – humanitarian relief and charitable organizations like Team Rubicon and Serve On flew in as soon as they were able and our Puerto Rican neighbours loaded containers full of supplies and sent them as fast as they could. The support was truly humbling. One of the things that I really struggled with post-storm was how much Puerto Rico had helped us, yet when Category 4 hurricane Maria hit them mere weeks later, we had absolutely nothing to give back…


I will never forget the incredible sense of relief that flooded through me the first time I saw one of those naval helicopters fly overhead, assessing the area. I can still pinpoint the exact moment that I saw it. I was waiting outside the supermarket for it to open, it was one of the first to open and one of our only opportunities to top up our supplies. It was so hot, as we waited outside in the sun for over an hour. The queue was gathering and jostling as more and more people came to wait, we were all irritable and aggressive as some people started to push their way to the front. First we heard it and then we saw it, and I felt this euphoric sense of relief as I realized that help really wasn’t that far away. 


Finding wood to board up the house after hurricane Irma devastates the BVI

Respect for the strength of Mother Nature – 


It is truly incredible to learn what 240 mph winds are capable of. Before Irma we had no comprehension of the kind of damage that hurricane-force wind could do. For the record, I would have been quite content not ever knowing… But, now I can tell you first-hand that category 5 winds can twist metal girders like pipe cleaners, or toss a 20 ton catamaran onto a building. They will strip every single leaf and frond from the trees and leave them looking scorched, broken, dry and twisted. They can scatter cars like LEGO bricks, peel off a roof like a can opener and reduce a house and all its contents to matchsticks in minutes. I didn’t know before September 6th that the noise that a hurricane makes is like a hundred freight trains bearing down on your house, with the rumbling, the shaking and the piercing, shrieking whistle that comes with them. I, like many people that went through Hurricane Irma, will probably still hear that noise, for many years to come.


Damage to Mahoe Bay, Virgin Gorda after hurricane Irma devastates the BVI

Houses destroyed across the BVI following hurricane Irma


It’s not about the material things – 


Nothing crystallizes your feelings about your possessions like having to pack a bag with the items that mean the most to you. I was so fortunate. Many of my clothes, shoes and handbags were destroyed but the majority were fine and our house was still standing. Not everyone was as lucky as we were. Before I evacuated I packed three bags. None of them were guaranteed to ride with me, the smallest had to contain the absolute essentials and then the other two were bonus; allowed to travel only if there was enough space on the boat. You had to prioritize everything.


What did I take? A couple of my favourite handbags, some old photographs of my grandparents and my wedding dress… About as much use to me in London during my evacuation as a chocolate teapot, but memories that I couldn’t bear to leave to get trashed. (To be clear, when I left, the house wasn’t watertight and I couldn’t guarantee that it wouldn’t get ransacked.) I just took what I could. I have heard similar stories from friends about what they took when they evacuated. Not the most expensive, most practical or the most stylish items but the sentimental pieces.


Houses, businesses, cars destroyed in the BVI following hurricane Irma

Houses, businesses and cars destroyed across the BVI following hurricane Irma

 My car ‘Ruby’ ended up inside a local bar – when I found her weeks later, anything of any value (including the steering wheel) had been stripped for parts.


You will adapt and your perspective will change – 


When I was moaning in 2010 about a 5-day power outage following tropical storm Otto, I was told about the Cayman Islands being without power for 12 weeks following hurricane Ivan in 2004. I was absolutely astounded, I found it completely incomprehensible that anyone could live for 3 months without electricity. How would they store food? How could anyone cope with tropical heat without so much as a fan? How do you manage without showers and flushing toilets (for most of us no electricity means no running water)? But it is remarkable how quickly you find work arounds to these things when every electricity pole is down, the wires have all been cut and there is no hope of restoration for weeks or months. Before long the neighbourhoods hummed with the sound of generators, paper plates quickly became a necessity and you restricted your grocery shops to store cupboard essentials. FYI we got power restored to our house after three and a half months, relying on the generous hospitality of friends until our generator arrived. There were many others less fortunate with some only getting reconnected in March. Puerto Rico only fully restored power in August of this year. 


Your heart will break for those around you – 


Not one person in our island community came out of that storm with their life still looking the same way it did on September 5th. Irma ripped through our islands, tore through the community and changed everything, the devastation was inconceivable. Whether it was the loss of possessions, car, house, job, business or, heart-breakingly, a friend or loved one – everyone’s lives have altered in some way. Mother Nature is indiscriminate, she does not care whether you are a millionaire or on minimum wage – everyone lost something. It is a very humbling and leveling experience. Many have lost everything and I am still shocked each day by the horrific conditions that I find people living in. We have been scattered, children away from their parents, wives apart from their husbands. Families separated and displaced. Survivor guilt can be crippling – we fared so much better than many people and I find it unbearable to think about what some of my closest friends endured.


Once bitten, twice shy – 


You could accuse many of us in the BVI of being horribly blasé in the lead up to hurricane Irma (I am not in any way suggesting that we didn’t prepare, because we did, but still). It had been so long since a serious storm and we had so many near misses that we still, despite all the maps and forecasts that were determined to prove otherwise, believed that ‘everything would somehow be okay’… but it wasn’t. The size of the storm was unprecedented.


This year, as we edge further and further into hurricane season, there is a palpable tension and anxiety levels are climbing. Every time we get serious rain we seem to collectively have a little meltdown. And who could really blame us? Many are still without watertight roofs! Once upon a time a rain storm was just an excuse to stay inside all day watching Netflix and not feeling guilty, now they seem to have a sinister edge to them. We frantically monitor the weather news and obsessively check the apps. Unexpectedly Hurricane Irma did have many positive takeaways, if you look hard enough. Hopefully one of them will be that we will do our best to prepare better for future storms. Although quite how anyone could have ‘prepared’ for a storm of that magnitude, I don’t know.

NOAA picture of hurricane Irma as she makes her way across the Caribbean on September 6th 2017

 To date hurricane Irma is the largest Atlantic hurricane since records began. The eye of the storm passed directly over the British Virgin Islands and we spent 45 minutes in the eerie calmness before all hell broke loose again. Much of the damage to property was caused by the tornadoes that peeled off the eye wall.


This post feels very difficult to sign-off so I  just want to leave you with a quote that I found when I returned to London. I wasn’t looking for hurricane quotes, it sort of found me – in one of those peculiar ways that the universe has.


“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” ~ Haruki Murakami



The British Virgin Islands still has a long road to recovery – should you wish to donate please consider giving to local charities such as Adopt a Roof, The Family Support Network or Unite BVI. Alternatively donations for Team Rubicon and Serve On, as they support communities across the globe would be very much appreciated. 

*Special thanks to: my incredible action-man husband, Dominic. My ever-patient and supportive family. My generous, hospitable and beautiful sister-in-law for taking me in for 4 weeks when I was a little bit homeless and lost. And lastly, my rock-star BVI friends who continue to stay positive in the face of everything and have made it through one of the most challenging years of our lives. 


A Sneak Peek Inside My… Hurricane Kit (Post-Irma Update)

Things that I had been putting off since resuming blogging earlier this year are (a) making any reference to Hurricane Irma* and (b) updating this post…


But, after some panicked messages from friends with family in Hawaii this morning, I realized that I was being a little irresponsible and that this post could actually be a useful resource.

So here you are – ‘A Sneak Peek Inside my Hurricane Kit, the Post-Irma Edition’. Below is my original post (published September 4th, 2017) with updates to reflect what I learnt and found useful during and in the aftermath of a Category 5 hurricane. If you find this helpful, please be sure to share it. 


SEPTEMBER 4th, 2017

No sooner have I returned from my holidays and already a hurricane is on our doorstep. Never are you more aware of the beauty and power of Mother Nature than when you live in a hurricane belt.

Living in the Caribbean for as long as I have, I am no stranger to hurricanes and tropical storms but, by and large, (barring TS Otto that sent mudslides into my house in 2010) Mother Nature has been pretty kind to us in the BVI for the last decade. This year though, the gloves are off and we already suffered a huge storm in early August that caused widespread flooding and extensive damage to homes and businesses across the islands. Now Hurricane Irma is headed our way and looking increasingly like she’ll be at Cat 3 or 4 strength when she lands on Wednesday/Thursday.

2018 Update: Hurricane Irma hit the British Virgin Islands on Wednesday September 6th 2017 at Category 5 strength. She was the largest Atlantic hurricane in recorded history. Sustained winds of over 160 kts devastated the BVI and left us without power for months. 


The track of hurricane Irma in the days before she hit. Updating my hurricane kit and what I learnt after hurricane Irma


We only have to look at the damage done in Texas recently to know that these storms are not to be messed with and my heart goes out to all those suffering in Harvey’s wake, especially as I make my own preparations for Irma’s arrival.

Thankfully we have the weather reports to keep us updated (I’ve also downloaded a really helpful app – Hurricane Tracker for $3.99) and we watch anxiously as she creeps ever closer…

Still, forewarned is forearmed and these next couple of days will be spent stocking up on all the necessities and readying the house as best we can (readputting up the hurricane shutters, setting out the sandbags and hoping for the best…).

Obviously, we are keeping all of our fingers and toes firmly crossed that Irma causes no trouble for anyone, but the motto that I’ve always adhered to is ‘Prepare for the worst and hope for the best’.

Want to see which supplies I will be packing to see me through the storm?

:: Water

The general rule of thumb is that you should pack one gallon of drinking water per person/per day (this should include animals) so for our little family we ideally need 4 gallons of water per day and we should aim to have enough to cover 3-7 days at least (More water will be needed for cleaning and washing.)

2018 update: Keep on hand enough drinking water for 14 days. Water purification tablets would also be useful if you can get them. Stock more water than you think that you could ever get through.

:: Canned food, non-perishable items and pet food

Tinned soup, protein/granola bars, nuts (anything you can eat right out of the packet), crackers, cans of Beefaroni (don’t judge me…) and Pringles have always featured in my hurricane supplies since they can be eaten hot or cold, if absolutely necessary. I also like to ensure that I have an adequate supply of teabags (I might live in the Caribbean but I’m still British after all!)

2018 Update: Have food and water for AT LEAST 2 weeks. It may seem excessive, but non-perishable foods will always come in handy after the fact, or you can donate them to your local food bank if you’re fortunate and don’t need to use it all.

Do not purchase foods that require water or cooking. Pastas and grains won’t be much use to you if you have no fresh water to cook them in. You won’t want to waste your supply of drinking water. My recommendations are still tins of cooked pasta (Chef Boyardee or similar), tins of soup (not the concentrated kind), trail mix, protein/granola bars, tins of tuna, or anything that you can eat cold and out of a can. There won’t be any water for washing up either. I have also been meaning to try MRE’s (Meals-Ready-to-Eat) like those supplied to the military, as they are excellent for camping/hiking/emergency stores and keep for years. I would love to hear if any of you have tried them?

:: Passport, cash and important family documents

In a ziplock bag or waterproof box you need to ensure that you have your passport or travel documents, as much cash as you’re comfortable withdrawing (ATMs could be down for a while and card machines at the store won’t work either) and any insurance policy documents or other Id and banking docs.

2018 Update: Keep your passport and any other important documents on your person! My colleague had his passport in his house, but that wasn’t much use to him when the house collapsed. Getting him out of the country for evacuation was even more of a challenge than usual. Scan or send pictures of your passport to trusted family members or friends outside of the hurricane zone. Write down emergency contact details in case your mobile phone runs out of battery – you may need to hand them over to officials so that they can contact your family. 

Speaking of friends and family outside of the hurricane zone. Set up a central Facebook message and add friends and family. In the days following you might be able to get word to one (in our case it was a call my husband made on a borrowed satellite phone to my brother-in-law that lasted approx 14 seconds) and that one person can then update everyone to let them know that you are safe. 

:: Torches, batteries, candles and matches

No two ways about it, you’re going to be without power for some period of time, the question is, just for how long? Having an adequate supply of candles and torches will make life a lot easier. Then just grab a good book and hunker down. Be sure to fully power up your phone, kindle, laptop, tablet etc to keep them going for as long as possible.

2018 Update: Collect up any battery-powered LED lights that you have around the house, string lights etc. can be useful for providing a low-level of light to a room and making it easier to move around after dark. 

:: Portable chargers

I mentioned these in a previous post here, they are great for travel and an island essential to see you through the regular power cuts. But, never are they more useful than during hurricane season. I have two (one large and one small) and will be fully charging them both. This will hopefully mean that I can keep my phone powered – then I just have to keep my fingers crossed that the phone signal holds out.

:: Books, playing cards and board games

Not withstanding the fact that you have fully charged all your electronic devices, they are still unlikely to see you all the way through the power cuts. August’s storm saw some houses without power for 3-4 days and that’s nothing in the grand scheme of potential issues post-hurricane. My new favourite game is Monopoly Deal but you should also make sure you have a good book to read and maybe use this time as an opportunity to brush up on your poker skills with friends.

:: First Aid Kit and Prescription Meds

For all the obvious reasons you’ll want to make sure that you have a small first aid kit (our one is fab and reasonably priced) along with at least a 2 week supply of your usual prescription meds.

2018 Update: Aim to have at least one month’s supply of any prescription medications. Even though I was evacuated after 6 days it took a while to get set up with a doctor who could prescribe my medications – I was fortunate to have enough to cover it but these are things to be aware of. 

:: Wet wipes, dry shampoo, hand sanitizer, toilet paper and other personal hygiene supplies

As unpalatable as it is to think about, you may be without running water for a while… a pack of wet wipes, hand sanitizer and some dry shampoo will help you freshen up, since you’ll be wanting to save the bulk of your fresh water for drinking. I’m packing up all my mini travel supplies as we will be de-camping to a friend’s house to ride out the storm.

2018 Update: Water for washing – fill your bath (if you have one) and/or sinks with water. This can then be scooped out to flush toilet and wash. A portable camping shower and bucket of clean water could also come in handy for a fresh water rinse off. 

:: Change of clothes and spare underwear –

You never know if, or when, you might have to evacuate at short notice. Have a grab-bag packed and ready to go, just in case.

2018 Update: In the days leading up to the predicted hurricane – be sure to do as much laundry as you can. You will want to ensure that you have clean sheets, towels and plenty of clean clothes on hand, if possible. 

:: Other useful items –

battery-powered or hand-crank radio, paper plates/cups, cooler with ice, can-opener/bottle opener, duct tape, tool kit, fire extinguisher and car charger.

Further 2018 Edits
:: Boots

After the storm there will likely be significant amounts of debris everywhere; nails, glass, rocks and wire. At the very least you will need trainers, but preferably hiking boots or something more solid. I had a leather pair of moto boots that were super comfortable and sturdy. Every time I left the house people asked to buy them off me. You do not want to get cuts and scrapes on your feet – the debris will be filthy and it is the prime environment for infection. 

:: Grab bag

One of the things that I maintained during the storm and in the days after (before I was evacuated) was a grab bag containing all of my essentials. A change of clean clothes, my battery pack, a torch, batteries, my passport, some trail mix and a bottle of drinking water, my phone, wallet and kindle. Wherever I went, that bag came with me. With long days out of the house; finding friends, community meetings, trying to buy food/water/gas etc. it gave me a certain reassurance to have these supplies with me.

:: Boarding Up

It is vital that wherever you are planning to stay during the hurricane takes boarding up and hurricane shutters very seriously. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of securing your windows and doors as best you can. The damage that can be done to the house as soon as the winds start to get inside can be catastrophic.  If you are staying in rented accommodation – insist that your landlord takes their responsibility to board up your house seriously, even if you have hurricane glass windows. 

:: Do not get drunk

I have removed any reference to alcohol from my previous post. As much as it is tempting to hunker down with friends and crack open some wine. Please don’t. You will need to keep your wits about you – particularly if you suffer damage to where you are staying and need to move to somewhere more secure during the eye of the storm.  On that same note – it is impossible to know how long it will take the eye of the storm to pass over. DO NOT go outside during the eye unless it is absolutely necessary to move for your own personal safety. 

:: Gas

Be sure to fill your car(s) and any cooking gas cannisters. Gas and diesel were in short supply after the storm with long lines at the gas station and supplies rationed.

:: Big ticket items that are desirable but not essential

A gas BBQ – preferably one that has a gas ring burner attached for boiling water and heating food in pans.

A small generator – we were without power at our house for over three months and were fortunate enough to stay with very patient friends, but when our generator arrived we were able to move back home and live comfortably while we waited for power to be restored. Our generator cost in the region of $1,000 including shipping and duty into the BVI but they can be purchased for around $300-$400.

A satellite phone – these are very expensive so it isn’t realistic to expect many people to be able to afford one at home. But in the days following the storm they were the only way to get word to anyone outside the Territory. I would recommend that your office or business look into purchasing one as part of their disaster response plan.


My thoughts are with Hawaii as Hurricane Lane heads their way – and with everyone affected during hurricane season. It is a time of great anxiety for many of us. With the anniversary of Hurricane Irma rapidly approaching hurricane safety has been at the forefront of my mind. I hope that some of these tips and observations will prove helpful.

Stay safe!

*in case you’re new here (welcome!) we experienced a direct hit by Cat 5 Hurricane Irma in September 2017 – the strongest Atlantic Hurricane in recorded history – and life hasn’t been quite the same since… 

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Reef Safe Sunscreens We Love – 8 Mineral Sunscreens to Try

I’ve been giving a great deal more thought recently to the sunscreens and suncare products that I am using when I am at the beach or going in the sea. Much has been discovered in the past few years about the dangers associated with some of the key ingredients in most sunscreens both for our skin and for the reef life in the ocean. Given the number of people visiting the beaches around the world and the popularity of water-based activities like surfing and snorkeling, experts estimate that 14,000 tons of sunscreen enter the world’s reefs annually, with the chemicals quickly being absorbed by the fragile corals. 


Coral bleaching has been on the environmental agenda for years, the state of the world’s reef life is precarious and just this year we received the devastating news that since 2016 over half of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the largest in the world, has now perished. Coral reefs throughout the tropics continue to degrade year after year thanks to global-warming and human-caused chemical pollution in the waters. 


Our impact on the ocean and the reefs has been brought more and more to the forefront and places like Hawaii and parts of Mexico are leading the way by banning the sunscreens that contain the common UV-filtering ingredients that are harmful to the coral reefs. Stay ahead of this trend and think more carefully about the ingredients going into your sunscreen. A mineral-based sunscreen is much better for your skin and the delicate marine environment. The two ingredients that you should be particularly watching out for are oxybenzone and octinoxate. Widely used in suncreams because they absorb the harmful UV rays, they are also toxic and known to contribute to coral bleaching. 


I actually spend far more time in swimming pools than in the ocean, but on occasions when I am out in open water, like our SNUBA adventures last weekend, or out on a boat day, I like to ensure that I am thinking more carefully about my sun protection. Now readily available on the market, Mineral sunscreens are the perfect alternative to the chemical-filled sun creams. I thought I would put together a round-up of some of my personal favourites, and some of the mineral sunscreens that I still want to try out! Have you tried any of them yet? 

The Barefoot Angel's 8 Favourite Reef Safe All Natural Mineral Sunscreens

1. & 2. SunBum Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 $13.49:

Newer on the market, sunscreen giant SunBum was quick to catch up with the reef-safe products and has recently launched their mineral range. Featured here is their Mineral Sunscreen Lotion in SPF 50 ($13.49) and their Mineral Face Stick also in SPF 50 ($12). I was such a fan of their original suncare products that I will be sure to try these out.


3. Manda Organic Sun Paste SPF 50 $28:

As the name suggests, this is more of a solid paste and can leave some white colouration on the skin. This is a feature that many of the natural sunscreens share due to the use of zinc oxide. However it has excellent staying power and is highly recommended for more active users and claims that it’s performance-driven formula is specially designed for surfers, climbers, hikers, athletes and adventurers.  The Manda Sun Paste is full of moisturizing ingredients including organic coconut oil, organic beeswax, organic cocoa butter and organic shea butter. Even the packaging is environmentally responsible and made out of bamboo and tin, recyclable or reusable as a storage tin for other items.


4. & 5. COOLA Mineral Sunscreen Citrus Mimosa Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 $36:

My personal favourite for days out at the beach, I always make sure that I have it with me in my beach bag. Lightweight and non-greasy, it offers excellent sun protection and is water resistant. Plus it smells great! I have the Citrus Mimosa Mineral Sunscreen in SPF 30 ($36), but I am also keen to try the Sport Tint Mineral Sunscreen Stick in SPF 50 ($24).


6. Raw Love All Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 35 $24.99:

Using 100% all natural, plant based, farm to face ingredients, Raw Love uses antioxidant ingredients and moisturizes your skin as you use it. Another solid formula, Raw Love claims not to melt, even when in the hot sun. It goes on white and rubs in clear providing water-resistant SPF 35 protection.


7. Goddess Garden Organics Everyday Natural Sunscreen SPF 30 $12:

Vegan, organic and cruelty-free Goddess Garden products tick a lot of boxes for those looking for an eco-friendly and responsible suncare product. This one has great reviews and has been on my wish list for some time. Lightly scented with lavender essential oil the Goddess Garden Everyday Natural Mineral Sunscreen Lotion offers gentle yet powerful sun protection with a formula rich in coconut and sunflower oils to nourish the skin. 


8. Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 $24:

As with many of the other sunscreens featured, Suntegrity is free of parabens and phthalates and great for both kids and adults. The formula contains organic green tea extract, cucumber extract and pomegranate seed oil. Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen is labeled as Vegan, Non-Greasy and Non-Toxic.


So there we have it – just a small selection of the reef safe sunscreens available on the market. When in doubt, remember to carefully check the ingredients list. Ideally you’re looking for non-nano (meaning that ingredient particles are above 100 nanometers in size and cannot be ingested by the coral) Mineral sunscreens with natural and organic ingredients. The absence of oxybenzone and octinoxate are also key. The other advantage to using natural sunscreen formulas is that they work straight away when applied to your skin, instead of chemical sunscreens which need an average of 15-20 minutes of activation time before they protect you. Please remember to apply thoroughly and to re-apply after spending time in the water. A good sunhat and a decent rash guard is also advisable, especially when spending lots of time outdoors.


Have you made the switch to reef safe sunscreens yet?

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Your Summer Reading List: My Top 10 Recommended Summer Reads

Your Summer Reading List - My Top 10 Recommended Reads with a variety of genres.

Having an hour long ferry commute daily enables me to get a LOT of reading done. It’s my quality time to switch off and immerse myself in something other than Instagram or Facebook! My reading tastes are pretty eclectic, from best sellers, to book suggestions from friends, or recommendations from kindle, and I am always keen to read whatever I can get my hands on. 


I’ve seen so many posts on my social media recently from various friends looking for summer holiday read recommendations, and it got me thinking that I should put up a post with some of my favourites! 


So here are my top 10 summer reads! No matter your literary preference, I have tried to include a little bit of everything. Whether you’re a sci-fi nut or a thriller junkie, these are some of the titles you should be taking with you on your holiday! So grab yourself a cup of tea, switch the wifi on your kindle, have a read of these and maybe think about downloading a couple. 


:: Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

I have been running around recommending this book for months! A complete departure from my usual psycho-thrillers and rom-com reads. RPO is set 30 years in the future, a time when the majority of the world’s population is living in abject poverty the planet has been ruined by global warming and the resulting housing crisis means that most are living in the ‘stacks’ – trailers piled precariously on top of each other, twenty or thirty high. 

To escape this day-to-day misery everyone is living, learning and working in a high-tech virtual reality existence known as the OASIS – plugged in for days or sometimes weeks on end. OASIS’s creator (think: Steve Jobs) has recently died and left his entire fortune to the one player that can find the secret egg – hidden somewhere in the thousand of planets and kingdoms that make up the OASIS – and now the whole world is looking for it. The resulting scavenger hunt (or egg-hunt) is fast-paced, action-packed and liberally peppered with 80’s pop culture references which kept an 80’s baby like myself endlessly amused. The movie adaptation was released earlier this year and I have been dying to see it! 


:: The Orphan Train – Christina Baker Kline

In the late 1800s and into the start of the 20th century the orphan trains brought thousands of children from large coastal cities, like New York, to small mid-west towns. Often the children of immigrants, theirs was a very uncertain fate. Would they be adopted by a kind family desperate for a child, or taken on by farmers just looking for unpaid labour. The abuse that many of these children suffered was horrific and once re-homed the state abandoned them entirely. The story is told by Vivian Daly, now in her 90s, as she looks back through her journals with troubled teen Molly Ayer, who is committing to community service as a way of keeping herself out of Juvenile Hall. With more in common than maybe either of them realised, this is a story about resilience and finding your own family. 


:: Life After Life – Kate Atkinson

Do you ever wish that you could hit re-do? Atkinson’s novel cleverly explores the theory of multiple lives and reincarnation as protagonist Ursula moves through history living multiple versions of her life and seemingly learning from her mistakes along the way. It opens with Ursula shooting Adolf Hitler in a small cafe in 1930, the SS return fire and darkness falls. Suddenly we’re sent backwards and now back in 1910, the day of Ursula’s birth – but it is short lived, the umbilical cord is wrapped around her neck and the doctor isn’t on hand to assist, darkness quickly falls again. The next time is more successful, the doctor is present and Ursula makes it – at least until she becomes a toddler. From here we embark on a journey through her multiple lives, each one shifting slightly (for her and those around her) as events in the previous life have changed the course. 

This was a recent re-read for me and I’m already looking forward to reading it again. The story is beautifully complex and there are small details that you notice each time you read it afresh. 


:: The Wife Between Us – Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

I felt like this book was similar to others I had read (in particular ‘The Last Mrs Parrish’) but I still think it warrants a mention. Jumping between past and present, Hendricks and Pekkanen tell the story of Vanessa, the ex-wife of the wealthy and charming, but mercurial Richard. But, as with every marriage, you never know what goes on behind closed doors. The picture-perfect life of luxury that she lead while married, was not all that it’s cracked up to be, and there is more to her ex-husband than meets the eye. We assume that she was devastated by the breakdown of her marriage and his subsequent relationship with a younger model. We assume that she is the jealous wife that just can’t seem to let go, but is that really the case? The authors let us believe what we want to – but we should assume nothing. With a couple of plot twists the situation starts to become clearer. Can she stop her young replacement falling into the same trap? Or will history continue to repeat itself? 


:: The Couple Next Door – Shari Lapena

I love the way that Amazon suggests other titles. After reading the book above, Amazon had a slew of other psychological thrillers for me to work my way through. 

The story starts with the married couple Anne and Marco at a dinner party with their neighbors. They’ve had to leave their baby daughter unaccompanied next door, as the babysitter cancelled – but it’ll be okay, they have the baby monitor and they take it in turns to go back every half hour and check on her. But then the unthinkable happens, they return home at the end of the evening to find her gone.

The police are called and the investigation starts as they pick apart every detail of their lives, family relationships and business dealings. The plot keeps you engaged all the way through, and every time you think you figure out who’s responsible there’s another curve ball. Can you really trust those closest to you? 


:: Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

Moriarty is fast becoming one of my favourite authors, not only because her novels are well-plotted and engrossing but because her characters are so believable! 

Big, Little Lies starts with a murder at a school Trivia Night event and then rewinds six months in order to give us the back-story. We don’t know who the murderer is and we don’t even know who was murdered. 

The plot follows the lives of three of the school mum’s and covers various subject matters including friendship, marriage, bullying, rape and domestic violence. Each mother brings a different voice to the story with her own individual struggles. 

I love how real Moriarty’s characters feel to me, you can instantly identify with them on the basic level, battling their way through the kindergarten cliques and the ‘blonde bob’ brigade. Despite the dark topics the novel is full of humour and light-hearted observations, an excellent balance. 

This title from Moriarty was adapted for television by HBO last year, starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman – a fantastic adaptation, but is an adaptation ever really better than the book? It will be interesting to see where they take it with Season 2 – since they finished the book in Season 1. 


:: Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts

This book could last you all holiday, as it’s a pretty big read. It’s the first novel from, and semi-autobiographical tale of, author Gregory David Roberts who escaped maximum security prison in Australia and went on the run, escaping to Bombay where he tries to disappear in the busy streets, amid the teeming slums and in the midst of the millions of other residents. He learns the language, sets up a medical clinic in the slums, he fights a guerilla war in Afghanistan, stars in Bollywood films and gets tangled with the Bombay mafia. The sights, smells and sounds of India are vividly described as you follow the story of Lin as he lives his life on the run. The colorful characters that he meets along the way; captivating women, loyal friends, slum dwellers, mafia dons, fellow inmates become a part of his story. 


:: Bossy Pants – Tina Fey

This was an excellent recommendation by a close friend and makes an ideal beach read. Short and pithy, a quick and easy read (I finished it in one afternoon), this is life according to Tina Fey. Insights into the improv comedy scene and stories from her childhood sit alongside Fey’s hilarious observations about what it means to be a woman – particularly one that doesn’t fit the typical Hollywood aesthetic. This is guaranteed to have you chuckling out loud. I thoroughly enjoyed every smart, little anecdote. 


:: Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult 

I’ll preface this by saying that I’m a bit of a Picoult fan – I love the fact that she never shies away from a controversial topic, she takes agonizingly painful subject matter and lays it out unflinchingly. Small Great Things is no different, telling the story of Ruth Jefferson, an African American Labour and Delivery nurse, who ministers aid to the newborn son of a white supremacist couple, against orders, and finds herself facing murder and negligence charges. 

Picoult forces us to really examine what it means to be racist today – whether actively or passively, and challenges our cultural perceptions of racial discrimination, of prejudice and privilege. 


:: My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante 

Book one in a series of four – Ferrante’s novels collectively span almost sixty-years in the lives of protagonists Lila and Elena. My Brilliant Friend covers the early years – from their first meeting as 10-year-olds and into their adolescence. It starts in Naples in the early 1950’s. 

Ferrante’s novel is an interesting examination of the intricacies of complicated female relationships. Lila and Elena are very different characters, characters that can either compliment or conflict. Speaking for myself, I feel exceptionally blessed by the incredible support network of girlfriends that I have, but that doesn’t mean to say that it’s always easy. We grow up, we grow apart, we come back together, we feel like we never left, we move through school and college, different jobs, maybe marriage and motherhood, everything changes yet essentially remains the same.

Clearly I am going to have to get stuck into books two, three and four in the series now. Rumors are that an HBO series is coming. 

Wow – there are a good few titles there for you to sink your teeth into. Have you read any of them already? What did you think of them? Do you get enough opportunities to relax and read? It’s always one of my favourite parts of my holiday, a few hours guilt-free to just escape into whichever book I’m reading. 


One of the other things I love most about my kindle is the cost-effectiveness. Many of the titles listed above are less than $6 when purchased for the kindle, and that’s only marginally more than the cost of a trashy magazine and a coffee at the airport! Did you know that Amazon also offers a Kindle Unlimited membership? You can find out more about it, and even sign up for one free month’s trial, here.


Which one will you try first? 


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