… and welcome to it
Everything In One Place
Welcome to my space! Here you will find some of the stuff which makes up my world, online and otherwise. Below are links to my travel, blogging and photography sites, as well as various other stuff I enjoy.
I just do the best job I can with what’s in front of me and follow the path that reveals itself.
– Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa
Wherever you go, go with all your heart. – Confucius
If you’re interested in checking out my travel adventures from my humble wanderings around parts of the globe, this is the place to catch up with me.
Write what you know. – Mark Twain
Care for a peek inside my mind? Here’s some of my thoughts on modern living… don’t be frightened.
Photography is the story I fail to put into words. – Destin Sparks
What would I do without my camera? If you’d like to see either my casual photography or a portfolio of my better shots, this is the place.
More Of My World…
A few things beyond travel, blogging and photography
Music Sources & Channels
All Music Guide (AMG)
AMG is my first (and only) stop for artist album reviews. All Music Guide tend to be really fair and non-biased in their reviews unlike album review sites such as Pitchfork.
This is one of my favourite places to purchase digital music. On Bandcamp, artists and labels upload their music to the service and control how they sell it; they set their own prices and offer users the option to pay more if they like. The artists found here tend to be a little less mainstream, and the artist royalties passed on to the artist are at a better rate than the big companies (ie. HD Tracks). I love that Bandcamp offers the purchased music downloads in FLAC format, either 16 or 24-bit files.
ProStudioMasters is a Canadian company (yeaaahhh) so I always look here first to buy my music downloads. One of the things I love about these folks is that all, and not just some, of the music is available in 24-bit, high-res FLAC files. Their genre selection leans somewhat to Classical and Classic Rock, but I’ve found a lot of music here over the years.
7 Digital Canada
7 Digital is a UK-based company with regional branches in several countries of the world. The selection at 7 Digital Canada is quite extensive, although I’ve found that sometimes the quality of the downloads can be kind of questionable. They do offer high-res downloads, but their selection of 24-bit files is somewhat sparse compared to a service like ProStudioMasters.
Subscription-based, offering different levels of music streaming quality, Tidal is one of the competitors of Spotify. Myself, I have the HiFi service, which offers lossless High Fidelity sound quality (1411 Kbps), Master Quality audio (up to 9216 Kbps), and immersive audio with features such as 360 Reality Audio and Dolby Atmos Music. It sounds amazing. Tidal also has an extremely stable music app for Smartphones so you can download to the device and take the music with you.
Amazon Music Unlimited
The Amazon Music Unlimited streaming service is included in Amazon’s Prime package. I really don’t use this music service much as I tend to stick with SomaFM and Tidal, but there is a lot of variety with Amazon Music. They have a Smartphone and tablet app but the interface is absolutely horrendous and nearly impossible to deal with – that’s one of the main reasons I don’t listen much to Amazon’s music service.
Lush is a music channel from the brilliant people at SomaFM, who offer commercial-free, specialty music streaming channels. At our house, Lush is on for at least 12 hours per day, and it has greatly influenced my music buying and listening for the last couple of years now. SomaFM describe Lush content as sensuous and mellow female vocals, many with an electronic influence. Mellow electronica-tinged music but definitely not techno/EDM.
My weekend station. Another excellent channel from SomaFM, Underground 80s streams early 80s Synthpop and New Wave. The music is “underground” in that the songs weren’t major hits back in the day, but rather the less-mainstream tracks from the artists.
Artists I Follow
Bright Light Bright Light
A recent musical discovery of mine. This man is brilliant, hot and incredibly talented – he writes his own songs and sings, plays piano, guitar, saxophone, bass and ukulele. Bright Light Bright Light (real name Rod Thomas) is a Welshman living in New York City, who is very gay and very out. His musical genre incorporates nu-disco, synthpop, dance and house music. Bright Light Bright Light is massively popular in Europe and the UK, and has opened live shows for major artists on tour. He has recorded several tracks with Elton John, and has a massive back-catalogue of videos on YouTube.
Mimi Page is an underrated singer-songwriter, producer and composer from the U.S. In the studio she blends her ethereal vocals with piano-driven, atmospheric soundscapes, resulting in a haunting and luxuriant sound. In addition to her albums, she has self-produced and released several film and gaming soundtracks, Skyrim being the most prominent.
Yumi Zouma are an alternative pop band from New Zealand. The band’s name is an amalgamation of the two friends that encouraged the group to start writing together. If you had to pigeonhole their musical genre I guess you could say it’s a mixture of alt-pop, dream pop, electronic and indie pop. Wonderful music. One listen to their album Willowbank will hook you forever.
Ah, David Bowie… what more could I possibly say about this man that hasn’t already been said? An absolute artistic genius whose music and imagery shaped and transformed rock music. He is greatly missed. If you’d like to read my blog post of Bowie’s Serious Moonlight concert, click here.
If the angels came down from the heavens and started to sing, they would sound just like Hannah Reid. The music of London Grammar moves me in several ways, with their haunting mix of electronica, indie pop and balladry. To experience London Grammar live is on my list of things to do before I croak.
Another out and proud band from the UK. Autoheart has only two full-length studio albums out, but theirs is a case of quality over quantity. Their songwriting about love and loss is penned mostly by Jody Gadsden, who handles the vocal work as well. Jody’s vocal style is similar to Andy Bell of Erasure, but their music is less dance-focussed. Autoheart are much bigger in Europe and the UK, of course, but they have made a small impact over here in North America – MTV labelled the band as “Exquisite, outsider pop”.
I’ve been listening to the German band Schiller for many years now. I first became aware of Schiller (aka Christopher von Deylen) in the late 90s, and was swept away by their dreamy, haunting, almost eerie electronic music. Schiller’s (named after the German poet and dramatist Friedrich Schiller) style can be classed as a beautiful mix of ambient, trance and chill. Christopher von Deylen does not sing; as a result Schiller has worked with countless guest vocalists. Schiller is still going strong and have a CD and vinyl box set called Epic (“electronic meets orchestra”) set to release in late 2021. Highly recommended.
Pet Shop Boys
These boys rank right up there with David Bowie in my personal musical echelon. PSB have provided a big chunk of my life’s soundtrack from the 80s through to the present. I’ve seen them several times in concert, and it’s always been a treat.
Music History & Criticism On YouTube
Professor Of Rock
Adam Reader, aka The Professor Of Rock, has an amazing channel. This man is ultra passionate about rock music!! His channel celebrates the power of music, featuring stories of the greatest songs and artists of the Rock Era, as told by the artists themselves. There are some great artist interviews found here.
Channel 33 RPM
A Canadian Channel (yeeeahhhh!), Channel 33 RPM is hosted by Frank Landry out of Winnipeg. This is a great channel for rock history, album and gear reviews, and much more. Frank is heavily into vinyl, so a good chunk of the content can sometimes be geared toward that medium. Frank grew up at about the same time I did, both on the prairies, so a lot of what he discusses from the 70s and 80s, I relate to. A very interesting guy and, like the Professor of Rock, highly passionate about music.
Jamel aka Jamal
A couple of years ago this channel appeared in my YouTube feed. Jamal is a young guy from L.A. who has a music video reaction channel. He’s very animated and funny when he reacts to a video he’s never seen before and, for a young guy, has a real appreciation for classic/retro music (which he calls “throwback-ness”). Check him out!
It’s A Dog’s Life
Royal Frenchies is the wonderful kennel where we found our beloved Tulip. They have a very comprehensive site which will give you good insight and information about French Bulldogs and introduce you to the Royal Frenchies kennel.
Toronto Humane Society
In my opinion, this is one of the most important sites on the web. Over the years we’ve adopted several animals from the Toronto Humane Society. The THS do so many wonderful things for animals in their care. If you’re an animal lover, please consider making a regular donation to this most worthy and important organization.
Trust fall… Potato… Drumstick…Doggo… These words will all make sense when you subscribe and follow this awesome YouTube channel. Griffin and Haru are two French Bulldogs living an incrediblly rich and event-filled life with their pet parents in South Korea. Their videos always make me smile… check it out.
Herky The Cavalier
Ah yes, my other favourite dog breed – the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Herky and Milton are two Cavaliers enjoying the good life in Montreal with their pet parents Mai and Andy. There is always something interesting going on with these girls, and you will fall in love with them when you start following their video adventures on Herky the Cavalier‘s channel.
Hit The Books
Where would I be without my Kobo? The eReader is one of the best pieces of kit to come along in a long time (at least I think so anyway). I moved from paper books to Kobo ebooks in 2011 and have never looked back. It’s great to carry my library of hundreds of book in one little device. Moving to Kobo definitely encouraged the amount of reading I now do; a great habit to pick up!
I’m not a member with Goodreads, but I do enjoy reading their reviews and literary opinions. It’s book reviews from “real people”.
Louise Penny is one of our Canadian treasures. If you like the pure esacapism of a well-woven murder mystery, you’ll love these books – currently the Armand Gamache series is up to book 17 in the series. If you enjoy Louise Penny’s work you have most likely read one or more of the Kathy Reichs novels. Both these authors weave the French Canadian experience into their novels.
Louise Penny may be our Canadian treasure, but Armistead Maupin is our gay treasure. His Tales of the City books are priceless to me; no one can weave a story like Armistead Maupin – the characters of 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco are just so real and relatable with their very human foibles and complications. In 2017 Maupin published his memoir Logical Family: A Memoir, which I found thoroughly enjoyable; what an incredible life and career this man has had.
TV (oldies but goodies)
Elementary is a seriously underrated, brilliant show – plotsy, fast-moving and intelligent. This modern take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic character has Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) fleeing London for present-day Manhattan after a stint in rehab. He arrives to find that his father has assigned a sober companion to live with him – Dr. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) – a former surgeon who gave up medicine three years earlier after losing a patient. Holmes throws himself into his work as a police consultant in New York City. The two find they make a good team and are soon cracking some of the NYPD’s most-difficult cases.
We’ve been watching Yvette Fielding scream her way through many, many seasons of this ongoing British “paranormal” series. I use paranormal in parenthesis because you can’t really take this show too seriously on a paranormal level – so much of it is staged (lots of discussion on the web about this if you care to search). Most Haunted is about 9 parts entertianment to 1 part genuine, but we absolutely love this show!!
Meet Martin Ellingham, the grumpiest doctor in Cornwall, or eslewhere for that matter. Doc Martin is a wonderful British show that is totally engrossing – it’s an interesting mix of situation comedy, drama, soap opera and dark comedy. Some episodes are laughter between tears as the village doctor relocated from London – who has a phobia of blood – deals with the cast of oddballs and misfits in the fictitious Cornwall village of Port Wenn. Love it.
Are You Being Served?
Ah yes… Are You Being Served? One of my favourites. This British sitcom, about the goings-on of staff and slightly eccentric customers in a London department store named Grace Brothers, ran on the BBC from 1972 to 1985. It dates badly and is wildly politically incorrect by today’s standards, but the running gags and double entendres still really work (who can ever forget Mrs. Slocum’s pussy). I’ve seen each episode quite possibly a hundred times but never tire of this old sitcom. Molly Sugden and John Inman, along with a stellar cast, are utterly brilliant with their comedic timing.