United Kingdom

The First Photograph of Canada was Taken by a Man from Newcastle

April 24, 2019
A daguerreotype image of Niagara Falls taken from the Canada side, 1840

The Horseshoe Falls, 1840. Licensed by Newcastle University under CC by 4.0

It’s all connected. You only have to take notice of the coincidences, the tiny ripples in space and time, to know seemingly unrelated events are connected.

There are a few stories for how Canada got its name but the one that stuck for me involves the Spanish. It was the mid-16th century when the first Spaniards set foot on the east coast of Canada and proclaimed, “aca nada!”, “nothing here!”

The Spanish named the land they visited via the St Lawrence River “Capa de Nada”, “Cape Nothing”. By the time French and British settled their 13 colonies in the early 17th century, the name had stuck. Capa de Nada. Canada.

Continue Reading…

A Winterlude’s Tale

March 23, 2018

Canada 150 Snow Sculpture at Winterlude 2017

I googled “Winterlude?” exactly like that, with the question mark, at work one afternoon. On a different afternoon in that same office, I was shamed for this question mark habit. I forget what I was googling. Something to do with food probably. “Where can I buy proper bacon in Toronto?” Something like that. Everyone laughed and I did too. It is funny. A question mark creates an inflection. Winterlude? There’s a pleading quality to a question mark search, a raising of shoulders. Help me, Google. Help. Me.

The first search engine I ever used was Ask Jeeves so I’m bound to have strange internet habits. In this context, though, the question mark felt entirely appropriate. I had questions about Winterlude that I didn’t yet have the language for. Would Winterlude help me to overcome my deep hatred for snow? Would Winterlude make winter in Canada feel bearable? And, more importantly, could the sub-zero conditions of Winterlude thaw a chill I was feeling that winter that had nothing to do with the weather at all.

Winterlude, according to the Canadian government’s website, was created to celebrate Canada’s unique northern climate and culture. The festival is held in Ottawa-Gatineau each February. Come to Winterlude, the website implores, and “rediscover the joys of winter.”


Continue Reading…

Search Blog by Country, Taiwan

Lost in Taiwan, or Why You Should Try Staying on the Wrong Bus

September 11, 2017

Taichung Temple

It was a very slow start that day, even for me.

I had managed to get out of bed at 8.30 to eat a breakfast of lukewarm rice, oily tofu and bitter greens washed down with orange juice but when I slouched back to my hotel room with its crumpled white sheets, drawn blinds and complete stillness, I couldn’t see a version of events that didn’t involve me getting back into bed.

After three hours of the kind of disturbing dreams that only seem to visit you when you try to have two sleeps instead of one, I showered and dressed. The plan had been to visit Sun Moon Lake, one of Taiwan’s best-known tourist attractions and a place easily accessed from the city of Taichung -which is where we happened to be.

Bad planning, bad advice and bus drivers’ bad attitudes led us on a merry dance all over the city, trying to find the bus that would take us to Sun Moon Lake. Eventually a dangerous ‘over it’ mentality settled over all three of us and with a confidence factor of less than half we got on the number 207 bus and got comfortable.

Continue Reading…


Extremely Slow Travel: Looking Back at a Year in Toronto

May 6, 2017

It’s been almost a year since I stepped off a plane in Toronto and was surprised by the warmth of the bright May day. Almost a year since I tried to get on a TTC bus with a $10 bill and made it onto the subway only to stand squinting at the map, disbelieving that there could be only two lines. Almost a year since I held Shaun’s hand and walked quiet residential streets as the sun went down that very first night – later sitting in a tiny Vietnamese restaurant and knowing, just knowing, both of us feeling it in our bones, that at that moment we were exactly where we were supposed to be.

Toronto Skyline Sunset

Continue Reading…


TIFF 2016 Days Two, Three and Four: Beer and B-Movie Antics in Colossal and Riding the Waves in Gaza Surf Club

September 15, 2016

I’m someone who likes to go to the cinema alone, preferably in the afternoon, preferably to the sort of screenings that only attract a handful of other people and preferably with absurd snacks like stuffed vine leaves or chicken nuggets or something. So, for me, the whole film festival experience is brand new and very exciting. It’s infectious, all the buzz and the applause and that sense that what’s happening it more than just a film screening- it’s an event.

On day three of TIFF, the event I attended was a morning screening of Colossal at the Ryerson Theatre.

Continue Reading…