travel

In Defence of Bread and Circuses

Anna Maria Island. Ever heard of Anna Maria Island? I hadn’t either until my friend Susan let me in on this secret ‘old Florida’ gem that flies mostly under the radar screen.  That is bound to change with magazines like Travel + Leisure naming it to the 2024 Must-Visit lists, although fingers crossed local council seems determined to preserve its essential unspoiled nature. AMI is the most northern of a string of barrier islands near Sarasota that run down […]

Matera – Arrival, Departure, Arrival (or why leadership matters).

The stunning opening scenes of the 2021 James Bond film, No Time to Die, were shot in Matera, which I recently visited. Matera is located in the Italian province of Basilicata, a smidge over the border from Puglia (but formerly part of it). It’s either the third oldest city in the world, after Aleppo and Jericho and/or the oldest continually habituated city in the world, depending on who’s telling the story. Either way, it’s no spring chicken, […]

Puglia, War and Figgy Pudding

I’m writing to you from the land of figgy pudding, carol concerts and endless streets strung with Christmas lights. December in London – my favourite time of the year. The city is jammed; one taxi driver told me it was the busiest he’d ever seen it in thirty years of driving. I made the mistake of trying to walk Oxford Street between meetings, only to find myself sandwiched in a mosh pit of humans, moving forward […]

Art Biennales, New Films + Substack

Happy September, friends! How did we get here already? It’s Saturday, and I’m writing this at the cottage, that very Canadian of experiences, having come from a mid-afternoon kayak in the hot sun, followed by a plunge in Georgian Bay water already cooling enough to be refreshing. Tonight’s temperature promises to be an unseasonably chilly 9°C/45°F; I’m thinking a blankie, roaring fire and small scotch will be required. Bliss, in other words. August usually finds me chasing […]

Special Edition: London Book Fair, Part 2/3

I don’t know about you, but I gave last weekend’s coronation a pass. The pictures on the news though, all that ceremony and pomp, cheekily reminded me of an event I stumbled upon at the National Gallery when I was in London for the Book Fair. The National Gallery’s Friday Lates is free evening arts programming that varies each week; in this case Life Drawing. Two performance artists  interpreted a Renaissance painting from the gallery (The Ugly Duchess) and […]

Special Edition: London Book Fair, Part 1/3

I’ve returned from a fascinating week in London in which I stayed in Shepherds Bush, a dynamic area west of Kensington I’d never really visited except to go to meetings at the BBC. My hotel was oddly fascinating. My room triggered an unfortunate muscle memory of Super 8 Motels from US road trips; the breakfast area was filled with publishing types and in the evenings hordes of men speaking Russian, often sporting loud gold jewellery, occupied the main floor […]

Origin Stories + London Book Fair + Book & Film RECs.

When my sisters and I were bored or listless, depressed or anguished, our mother would inevitably say, ‘you need a project.’ It set our teeth on end. Did she not understand the nature of heartache? The cruel injustice of the world that handed things to other people – whether that was a loving partner, a paying job, good health or the opportunity to chase your dreams – and denied it to you? We wanted to wallow in […]

Life of a Queen

Hello stranger. It’s been a while. While the Prince Harry memoir Spare breaks bestselling records, and British journalists sneer yet gobble up every available column inch to denounce it (apparently despising the media pretty much guarantees they despise you back. . .), I’m here to talk about the Queen. And I don’t mean Elizabeth II. Last May, we took a transatlantic crossing between New York and Southampton, England on the Queen Mary 2, decades after my parents and three older […]

Want To Join Me In Dublin’s Fair City?

The Dublin book launch of Pull Focus, postponed last fall due to Ireland’s strict Covid lockdowns, has been rescheduled for July 12th. I’m entirely delighted. As readers of this newsletter know, I hold dual Canadian and Irish citizenship, and have spent a lot of time in Ireland over the years, visiting friends and family (and my father’s grave, who’s buried in his hometown of Mallow alongside my grandparents). I also partially wrote Pull Focus during two residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie at Annaghmakerrig, […]

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