Wine cheese laptop French countryside
What more could a writer ask for?
This was taken in the courtyard of small apartment we rented in the village of Grimaud in the south of France. It was a rather un-touristy town on top of a hill, but only 10 minutes from St. Tropez and not far from Nice and Cannes.
For some time I’d believed that I could not work well unless behind the desk in my familiar office. Afterall, attempts to work in other parts of the house or in the backyard had not worked out too well. But on this trip, rather longish at three weeks, I decided to take along some work, notes and such on a new book, and, should the desire hit me, I’d give it a go.
It was a resounding success. I had many extraordinary moments writing in this spot in the courtyard or at the table shown in the opening photo for this gallery.
When grand plans come true
For more than a year I’d planned a big trip to celebrate my 50th birthday. This was me, in my stunning villa in Marrakech living it and celebrating the success of my voyage.
Walking the dog
With Kona on the Casa Rio acreage. Before her younger half-sister Magic joined us about a year later.
A beach empty of everything but your thoughts
Visiting the home of the Singapore Sling
The Long Bar at Raffles Hotel, Singapore, is where the Singapore Sling was invented. The cocktail was invented by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon between 1910 and 1915.
Visiting hell. Stutthof Concentration Camp
Gdansk, Poland. I had never been to a concentration camp before. I don’t know that I will do it again. But I am ever thankful to have taken the opportunity to do it then. Nothing I can say can communicate what I saw there.
Often when visiting a foreign land, you see, you smell, you taste, but rarely do you get to feel, rarely do you hold the hand of someone from another land in any meaningful way. This was different. We landed on the swampy shores of a little village called Boca da Valeria and immediately these two boys grabbed my hand, anxious to show me their home. They rarely let go for the 90 minutes we were there. Sure, they hoped for a bit of $, and they got it, but that was the best $5 I spent in the Amazon.
Time on your hands
Taking time to simply sit and soak up sun in the middle of the day, middle of the week, rarely occurs in normal daily life. Too bad.
Time for thinking
Herb caught me doing something I so love doing. Often on vacation (this was taken in Maui, on our second floor lanai on Kaanapali beach), but sometimes at home too. As the day comes to rest, settling in with a glass of wine, watching the sun set, thinking and being quiet.
Three Times a Charm
I was trying to utilize the auto timer function on our camera to capture our time in the Forbidden City in Beijing. Twice, just as the photo was taken, someone walked in front of us. Then this. Captured something fun.
The Perfect Pint
June 2014 – Not a beer guy, this isn’t something you’ll see me do too often. But I’m always up for local activities. This is in the Guinness Brewery, once the largest brewery in the world, and still the largest brewer of stout. I learned how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. Hold at 45 degree angle, pour without tip touching the liquid, straighten out when about 3/4 full, then set aside until the white swirling mess turns black, then top up.
The Perfect Party
Big tent in the garden. Guests donned in white and leis. 7-course gourmet meal with wine pairings. Birthday cake made to look like my books. Utterly fantastic guests.
The perfect combination
Marseilles, France-I love finding that perfect sunny spot for lunch, serving just what you were looking for – in this case: moules and frites and cold rosé wine. A perfect combination making a special moment.
The Office Party for 2
Every year, my best neighbour ever, Bev, and I, both working from home, have biannual office parties – summer and Xmas. Always a great time to spend together and catch up. Several hours will pass in the blink of an eye.
The Lammies and NYC with The Moms
We planned for months about doing a big trip with both our mothers. And this was one of the highlights. Being in New York City (my mother’s first time, Herb’s mother on her X4th birthday), at the Lambda Literary Awards, where I was a presenter. The entire trip was an unqulaified success. And having them at the Lammies, all gussied up, was a real treat.
Tasting the first grapes of harvest
This was fall, just outside Grimaud, France. The harvest on this vineyard had just begun the day before.
Tapas on the Ramblas Celebration
It was the Cake-makers versus the Fondue-makers at this dinner party celebrating the launch of Tapas on the Ramblas with friends Kelly, Rhonda, Rob, Jill, Herb & Dori.
Taking the cake
I’ve seen some weird food. This took the cake. This guy (in a Beijing late night outdoor food market) was impaling LIVE scorpions on a kebab.
We first met Marianne (front centre in black) and husband Mortiz (back centre) from Switzerland on our honeymoon cruise in 2008. Here, 5 years later, they surprised up by showing up on our Amazon cruise. What a thrill to have them, alongside our Saskatoon friends Art & Janet, along with us on this special adventure.
Sun will Shine
After two days of solid rain, the glorious sun arrived and suddenly our rented house in South of France became the paradise we’d been looking for.
Sundowner Ubuntu Celebration Dinner Part Deux
Here are Catherine, Dori, Rob and Jill at the Sundowner Ubuntu celebration dinner. That night Dori described her favourite way to spend time as having a good meal, good wine, good talk and good laughs with friends. I couldn’t agree more.
Sundowner Ubuntu Celebration Dinner-Kelly, Jan, Paul and Herb
We had a wonderful celebration dinner the Saturday after the release of Sundowner Ubuntu. Our caterers extraordinaire, Jordan and Dan, created an African feast in honour of the book, and I’d discovered an Ubuntu Shiraz which I was able to get shipped in just in time for the night.
Sumo Wrestling Tournament – Osaka, Japan, 2015
One of those things I never thought I’d do. Oddly exciting and the rules very easy to learn. Basically first big guy to push the other big guy outta the ring, wins.
Succeeding against odds
One of my last days in Marrakech, feeling-finally-like I belonged and made this adventure work for me. Instead of hiding in my beautiful villa, I kept at it, pushing my way into that city and culture and figuring it out.
Strolls at Dusk
The lighting, The charming narrow streets. The distinct European smells and sounds and atmosphere. Nothing like it.
Strolling through The Hermitage
It was arranged for us to have the place to ourselves after hours. Truly astounding.
Stepping out of comfort zone
When no one else stepped forward, I volunteered to take a tai chi lesson while visiting a spa (ish) facility in Qingdao, China.
Stain of the Berry Launch Celebration Dinner
It is the weekend of the Saskatoon launch of Stain of the Berry. And this is a celebratory dinner party with some of my greatest pals: Rhonda, Rob, Jill, Shelley, Kelly, Herb, Pat, Lynne, and Marv.
As a wonderful surprise, Herb arranged for then to come prepared to read their favourite excerpt from any of the Russell Quant books. Thats what I call very cool experience with very cool people.
Spending time with Mom on her farm
We’d spent the day together on the farm where I was raised and Mom still lives, walking around, checking out her garden. Across the road is a tiny church (where I was an altar boy!) and next to it a wheat field where Mom was selecting stalks for her wheat weaving.
Sometimes a glorious chill
Every so often, a cool wind, warm blanket, and setting sun make the perfect trio.
Simple joy of strolling
Sometimes there is nothing better than enjoying green space and the grandeur of being home.
Shopping in St. Tropez
Not for the faint hearted!
Sharing Laughter – with Dori and Herb, on La Playa beach – Zihuatanejo, Mexico – Feb 2009
Sharing a house in south of France
For a long time a dream of ours was to rent a house in our favourite Provencal town of Grimaud and invite friends to join us. We’d cook, drink wine, tour the countryside. We finally made it happen in 2015 and it lived up to its promise of being a spectacular time.
Many years ago, on my first visit to Nice, I was vaguely intimidated by this French Riviera Beach & the people there, this time I made it mine.
Waiting to go on. With Herb. Those last few seconds before you go on stage in front of any crowd are always special. Sometimes nervous, always excited.
Book Signing with my mom. Mom has now sat next to me at my Saskatoon launches four or five times and it is always a special moment. What a thing to be doing together! Never would have thought about it so many years ago while milking cows together in the barn!
Sailing down the Amazon
It’s something you dream about as a kid, seeing the jungle of South America, sailing down one of the largest rivers in the world, being immersed in a culture and lifestyle you can only imagine. Wonderful. Hot but wonderful.
Sailing beneath London’s Tower Bridge
The draw bridge rose as we approached, Rule Britannia and Pomp & Circumstance blaring over the ship’s speakers, hundreds gathered on the embankments to watch the spectacle – fantastic!
There was something odd about this. A picture taken by us of a reflection of us. Even sitting there seeing ourselves was like seeing ourselves through other’s eyes through our own.
Returning to the scene of a book
Holding Tapas on the Ramblas…on the Ramblas, Barcelona, Spain. This was a particularly cool moment for me because it was sitting and drinking sangria on the Ramblas on my first visit to Barcelona many years earlier that inspired a scene in and title of the third Russell Quant book, Tapas on the Ramblas.
Receiving Nation Builder Award from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress
October 2017 – Ukrainians doing cool things. It was truly an honour to be amongst the recipients at the 2017 Nation Builders & Community Recognition Awards presented by Ukrainian Canadian Congress. Perhaps the best part of the day for me…other than making my mom beam so hard for so long I’m sure her cheeks were sore…was to meet Ukrainians (including the Lieutenant-Governor of Saskatchewan the Honourable Vaughn Solomon Schofield – who you may notice is wearing the colours of the Ukrainian flag) doing spectacular, interesting things around the world. People like Ryan Boyko teaching us about internment of Ukrainians in Canada (look for his series on YouTube); Savelia Curniski working with NASHI, an organization whose mission is to raise awareness of human trafficking in Ukraine; Connor Moen who brought the National Ukrainian Canadian Student’s Union Congress to Saskatoon for the 1rst time in 25 years! Nadia Prokopchuk, developer of Ukrainian education curricula and involved with Holodomor Awareness. I can go on and on. Making it a very special moment was that in my speech I was grateful to pay tribute to my parents and raise further awareness for Camp fYrefly Sask. Many thanks to my nominator Danylo Puderak.
We celebrated our 20th anniversary aboard the Silver Shadow cruiseship, Singapore to Seoul.
This was another one of those unexpected moments that could have been kinda so-so, but ended up great. We were in the Bahamas for a conference (with benefits) and the weather was simply not cooperating. So I sat down in front of our balcony, with a gorgeous view, lovely wind, some pretty fair rum, and got some great writing done.
Quirks of Fate
By a quirk of fate, I was upgraded to this $1,500 a night Villa in Marrakech, with my own pool and butler. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. And made sure to take advantage of it.
Being on water in small boats is not my favourite thing. But, as is my way, I’ll do it if the payoff is worth it. This unforgettable ride in the Mekong Delta qualified.
In 2015 we took the plunge and bought a place on the beach on Providenciales. Our favourite time is late afternoon, as dusk approaches, on the beach (our new front yard), with a pitcher of something tasty, and watching the sun go down.
Private concert in The Hermitage
Taken from a camera in my lap – a 25-piece orchestra played for us in one the museum’s beautiful galleries – this was really a special moment
Preparing to Elope
Preparing to Elope – Calgary, AB – within minutes of this photo, I was married. Can I even remember what was going through my head?
Planet S Cover
Let me tell you, when you’re an accountant, you never really believe that a day will come where you’ll be on the cover of magazine with a jaunty scarf around your neck and the wind blowing through your hair. So, yup, this was a pretty cool moment for me.
Picture perfect summer Sunday nights
Walking the labradoodles, Kona & Magic, on a picture perfect, Sunday summer night.Not a cloud in the sky, not a mosquito in the air, our freshly bailed acreage in sight.
Picking your own grapes – in Saskatchewan!
Penguin Parade on Philip Island
Phillip Island is an Australian island located about 140 km (87 mi) southeast from Melbourne.
Each night at sunset hundreds of Little Penguins return to shore after a day’s fishing.
These are the world’s smallest penguin in its natural habitat.
As the sun fades in the sky, Little Penguins waddle up the beach to the safety of their homes in the sand dunes.
It’s one thing to see this on a documentary but I was surprised what a stunning magical experience it was to see it in person, hear their noise, watch them make their memorized way home (not nearby).
I think this is the moment I relaized – in Parintins, Brazil at a mini version of their famed Boi-Bumba festival – that I can never go to Carnival or Mardi Gras. Even at this smaller version I was overcome by the music and frantic dancing and had to join in. Similar in intensity and fanatic fervor to Rio’s Carnival, the Boi-Bumba, meaning Bull Dance, is a three-day event held annually in Parintins. The festival doubles the population of this usually sleepy town. It is the second-largest annual festival in Brazil; only the Carnival festivities in Rio de Janeiro draw more participants.
On the Land Where the Grape is Grown
I don’t exactly know why vineyards hold such appeal for me. Perhaps its because we have none in Saskatchewan. Strolling in this French vineyard was like walking on air for me.
On the Edge of Danger
Nov 2013 – This was an extra special moment. I’m swimming in the Seven Sisters waterfall in St. George’s Grenada, following a treacherous hike up and down steep, rain-slicked mountain paths to get here. We didn’t know how nearly dangerous the route would be, and I’m not a strong swimmer, but after all we went through to get here, I was not about to miss taking a dip.
One of lifes great simple pleasures walking the dogs
Our acreage on a beautiful August Friday night with Magic & Kona (the best part of their day). And one of my favourites too!
Although neither us knew much about the religions, our minds are always open to learn and admire. The Japanese say they are born Shintos, marry as Christians, and die as Buddhists. Before now we’d been to shrines in other parts of the world, but this time we learned what to do, how to offer prayers differently depending on what kind of shrine you are in. Wonderful experience.
Anthony Bidulka Oblivious moments with the dog minutes before a downpour June 2016
Nothing like hometown support
This is the book launch for the eighth Russell Quant book, Dos Equis. Hometowns never let you down. Yet again they came out in droves to show their support. Really an extraordinary feeling, always makes for a special memorable moment.
Nigel Lake as Russell Quant
My long time editor, Cathering Lake, brought her 11-year-old son, Nigel, along with her from Toronto for the Saskatoon launch of Sundowner Ubuntu, October 2007. During the weekend of many celebrations, I was surprised one night when Herb, Catherine, and Nigel staged a play depicting a scene from the second Russell Quant book, Flight of Aquavit. Nigel donned my leather jacket and sunglasses and made a dashing Russell Quant.
My first Headdress
My first Headdress – Salalah, Oman – I was kind of forced into by an aggressive souk keeper in Salalah – but it turned out to be kind of cool – and I wore it out to dinner that night.
Meeting of the Waters
Travelling down the Amazon we learned there are 3 types of water here, clear, black and muddy. This is actually one of the most beautiful spectacles provided by nature in the Amazon. Known as the Meeting of the Waters, which occurs when the clay-acre (muddy) waters of the Amazon meets the blue-green (clear) waters of the Tapajos. They don’t mix for severeal kilometers due to density, temperature, composition factors, instead just floating side by side like this.
Meant to Meet
Surprisingly, and with no planning, we have found ourselves on the same cruise with Bob and Polly three times.
MCing the 2011 Arthur Ellis Awards
Victoria, BC – Always a special moment when you don a tuxedo and step in front of your peers to help celebrate their accomplishments.
Eldeen, Moo, Herb – Waikoloa Beach, Kona, HI – March 2009
Luxuriating in the the sea breeze
Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico – this is the human version of a dog sticking his head out the window of a speeding car, ears and tongue flapping in the wind.
Luxuriating in Being at Sea
Luxuriating in Being at Sea – we were leaving Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt and heading into the Suez Canal – the world seemed very big at that moment
Lunch in Athens – What a World Moment
Lunch in Athens – this was a particularly cool moment because as we sat there in the Athens sunshine, eating dolmades and greek salad and moussaka, drinking a cheap Greek white wine, we were blown away by the shear number of contrasting cultures we’d visited in the immediately preceding month – from Paris to the Middle East to Greece – it seemed almost impossible that even though we’d been riding camels and been dune crashing a couple weeks ago, and walked through the Valley of Kings a few days ago, that we could simply be sitting here in the shadow of the Acropolis having lunch
Lunch in a Swiss garden
With Marianne & Moritz at their home in Gahwil, Switzerland. It was like living on the Sound of Music set. Everything perfection and green.
Living That Dreamed Of Moment
When I thought about taking my mom on this cruise, I had this dream about the perfect day at sea, where we’d sit on a sun-drenched balcony, play a game, laugh, and enjoy a sea-going afternoon together.
Learning I Can Never be a Monk
This restaurant in Seoul specialized in “Temple” food – as eaten by Buddhist monks. No meat. No dairy. No spices. Certainly creative…but it was kind of like grazing.
Learning how a cashew is born
While in Costa Rica we learned that the cashew ‘nut’ is outside of the fruit, and this makes it different from other tree nuts.
The cashew apple is an edible artificial fruit, joined to the externally born nut by a stem.
Anthony Bidulka wins Lambda Literary Award 2005
I was so certain I would not win the Lambda Literary Award for Best Men’s Mystery, that we did not even take a camera to the ceremonies. This photo was taken in our hotel room later that evening. Which may be why I’m looking a little deer-in-the-headlights.
New York City
Labour of Love
Every year, sometime in November, I reserve a weekend which I call Decorating weekend. I spend from Thursday night to Sunday decking the halls and decorating seven trees for the upcoming holiday season and especially for our annual Xmas Opener party. The trees, each year rotating through a series of about two dozen themes and colour combinations (to date), are a labour of love for me. I enjoy creating them, and sharing them with guests in our home. And for a couple of months its like living with a little bit of Christmas magic.
A stolen moment during a trip to Switzerland, where I’m journalling about our adventures to date. Some of this stuff may very well end up in a book some day.
Joining Wall of Honour
In 2011, the College of Education, UofS inducted me on their Wall of Honour (BEd ’91). It was a surreal moment, remembering being a student there, figuring out life.
I was having a ball at Book Expo Canada, June 2006, signing books and kibbitzing with conference delegates, when who comes by but a photographer from the literary magazine, Quill & Quire. Now, I have no false illusions that they were seeking a photo of the famed author Anthony Bidulka (when there were about a zillion other writers at this thing); it was the jacket that done it! Lesson learned – always wear a good jacket.
It’s a Satellite World
Life on the Amazon is not fancy. These two boys live in this house – on stilts because of the dramatically high tides come June. And still, right next to their simple abode is a satellite dish bringing them music and news and soap operas.
One of the reasons we decided to get married at all once it became legal, was to have the opportunity to share the special occasion with our two moms. I think they enjoyed it as much if not more than we did!
Honeymoon Address by The Queen & Her Beefeater
Home Magazine Winter 2014
Home Magazine had heard about my status as a Christmas-Tree-a-holic, which was the genesis of this article. Because of publishing timing logistics, we actually shot the photos November 2013 for the 2014 Winter/Christmas issue. To get both Kona and Magic looking straight at the camera, calmly, was the coup of the day.
Harajuku Street, Tokyo, Japan
Japan, we found, was a study in contrast. On the one hand, very organized, efficient, polite and tranquil, and on the other – well displayed by the craziness of Tokyo’s youth-culture epicentre, Harajuku Street – is wild and noisy and obsessed with bright colours and dressing up in odd costumes. Marvelous.
Truly unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
I took this photo, at arms length. We’re visiting the Anne of Green Gables house on PEI. The day was invigoratingly cool, and sunny. We were just happy to be there. Looking forward to a lobster lunch. It was perfect.
Golden dusk at sea
wind in our hair, feeling fine…
In the Pacific, near Manzanillo, Mexico
Immortalized in the novels of Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling, Raffles Hotel, Singapore’s colonial-styled architecture and lush tropical gardens exude an atmosphere of timeless elegance. Just sitting there made me feel like I was living in a different time.
Who says you can never go back? We stayed at this Hong Kong Grand Hyatt 15-20 years earlier, long before we could actually afford it. I remember the place blowing my mind with how elegant it was. Our bathroom had a black marble tub and the bobby had a champagne bar.
Getting fleeced in Acapulco
I wanted the ridiculously huge sombrero for an event I was attending and my price haggling skills apparently need some work! This guy was a good sport and the hat was a hit.
Gathering of Family & Friends in Celebration
Having so many of our close friends and family share in this day – our honeymoon brunch immediately following our return from eloping and subsequent Arabian cruise – was powerful and felt like a love-fest.
That perfect writing spot
In a house in Grimaud, FR
In the pool with best friends.
It was a hot Saturday, late July, we were celebrating a couple of birthdays, just the four of us, cocktails in the pool followed by roasting hotdogs over an open fire. Great night.
Flight of Aquavit Celebration Dinner
Only good friends would put up with wearing pointy witch’s hats to sit down for dinner to celebrate the launch of Flight of Aquavit. The witches (which are visible) are: Karen, Rhonda, Herb, Pat and Catherine.
First time picking coffee cherries
At a plantation in Guatemala. Very interesting to see the whole process from picking the cherry bean to letting them roast in the sun. I still like the drinking part best.
First time in South America
Our actual first visit to South America was to have been to Santiago, Chile, but only days before we were to depart, they suffered a massive earthquake.
This was a sometimes harrowing, always exhilirating ride through downtown Ho Chi Mihn.
I’m off to the side, waiting to do my first ever reading from Amuse Bouche. I am being introduced, first by the McNally Robinson events coordinator and then by Catherine Lake, my editor, who’d flown in from Toronto for the occassion. A million things were going through my head. The support of the huge crowd was palpable in the room. This was truly a great moment.
First glove fitting
Lisbon, Portugal – I never knew there was such a thing as a glove fitting. We’d met this couple on a cruise a couple of years earlier who told us that if we were ever in Lisbon, this was the thing to do. They gave us the name of the shop, told us to go early because the lines get long. It worked perfectly. The shop was about the size of a broom closet, with a big mysterious area behind a curtain. We were early enough to be first in line, but a crowd had gathered by the time we were done. These gloves I bought truly ‘fit like a glove’ should.
First earthquake drill
Lima, Peru – Sirens were blaring, everyone emptied into the centre square, the region was on heightened alert because of a recent earthquake in neighboring Chile, and Peru is like earthquake central.
First Contact – Vietnam
We had sailed for two days out of Singapore, headed for Ho Chi Mihn (Saigon). Getting up early, the morning was shrouded in fog. As we approached land this small vessel appeared, and I knew we were there
First Books on Shelf
This was my first view of a book I’d written on a shelf, at the McNally Robinson Bookstore in Saskatoon. My writing career could have ended right then and I’d have been a happy man. Although I’m quite ecstatic it didn’t.
First Camel Ride
First Camel Ride – one of those ‘things I want to do before I die’ – checked off in the desert just outside Dubai, UAE – tip – always lean waaaaaay back when getting on and off
Featured in CA Magazine cover story
A full circle moment for me, with surreal qualities. As a practicing CA I never dared dream I’d one day be in the profession’s national magazine for my writing.
Falconry School – Ireland
May 2014 – Definitely in the category of once in a lifetime experiences. The School of Falconry on the grounds of Ashford Castle in Ireland’s County Mayo is the largest of its kind. They purport falconry (the sport of hunting with any bird of prey – falcon, eagle, hawk, owl) to be the oldest sport in the world. The first landing on your glove is quite spectacular and a bit daunting.
When my second book came out, Shelley, my ex-boss from my days as a Chartered Accountant offered to throw a pre-launch party at a local club for a few of the people I used to work for. I thought there’d be three. There were many more than that, and she’s now thrown a similar party once or twice more. I was surprised and, to be truthful, a little overwhelmed that these once co-workers would come out to celebrate this occasion with me. Awesome moment.
Even as the sun sets
Even as the sun sets, the garden party under a big white tent in our back yard goes on-pure bliss for me.
My grand 50th birthday adventure done, I made my way to Nice and again scored a fabulous suite with great views of the Promenade de Anglais and the sea. I remember feeling peculiar and realizing it was euphoria that I’d done it. I completed my Morroccan adventure.
Enjoying the world with my mom
This was on the thrillingly rough coast of Prince Edward Island, with the sea-salted air blowing through our hair, having a blast with my mom, showing her parts of the world she’d never seen before.
Enjoying backyard with friends & croquet
Enjoying Aquavit in its country of origin
Copenhagen, Denmark. This was special for me – taking me back to writing about Aquavit for the second Quant book.
Enjoying a ‘blond’ beer in Belgium
I must admit, not being much of a beer drinker, I’d not heard of blond beer before this afternoon. But sitting there, in the sun, sipping the local brew, having just bought some chocolate and about to hunt down some art. it was a perfect Belgian moment.
Sometimes, even if you’re wearing a tux and drinking champagne, being silly is A-OK.
Eating breakfast at a Bedoin Camp – UAE
East Meets West
East truly meets West at his Starbucks in Dubai, UAE = and the coffee still tasted exactly the same!
The Art of Thinking About Nothing
Discovering a new favourite guilty read
The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher – discovered on a warm summer night, with a lovely glass of wine.
Contemplating Life. Dark Sea. Stunning sunset. Aboard the Silver Cloud in the Baltic Sea.
On the Pacific, in my private spot – for some reason no one came to this particular part of the ship, so every day I’d head here for a stretch of quiet contemplation, just me and the sea and my thoughts.
Conquering the Unknown
Taking on Marrakech on its own was a challenge. Language. Culture. Traditons. Agressive souk vendors. Extreme heat. Here I am in the El Fna Square late one evening, feeling for the first time I’ve figured out how to survive and eventually love the place.
Colliding Cultures – we were in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – the first western world cruise ship to dock there in five years – I was at first nervous about wearing the headdress a souk shopkeeper put on me – but the locals saw it as a sign of respect and acceptance of their culture and I was their instant friend wherever I went that day – truly an awesome experience
Getting a new painting signed by the artist, Josef Lootens, in Bruges.
Only recently have I started to describe myself as an art collector. I think the great number of canvases that grace our walls finally convinced me. For years now, when we travel, as souvenirs we try to find local art to bring home. When we meet the artist, as I did here, it is a special moment and especially nice mental keepsake.
Christmas Tree Decorating Weekend
Every year I spend a weekend putting up seven themed Christmas trees. It’s one of my favourite weekends of the year.
Chilly summer night’s walk with loved ones (and warmed Kahlua)
With one of our oldest friends. A simple night at home. We’d just had a filling dinner, and decided to put our after dinner drinks in to-go mugs and take the dogs for a walk. It was summer but the evening turned chilly with the setting sun, adding a bit of refreshing vigour to the experience.
Catherine Lake as Jane Cross
During the weekend of the Sundowner Ubuntu launch in Saskatoon, my editor Catherine Lake (who flew in for the event), took part in a Russell Quant play. She played a character that I must admit fits her very well – that of the wily, cantakerous, Regina PI, Jane Cross (kidding). She really got into character and did a fantastic job.
Being without a care in the world!
Acapulco with sister-in-law Eldeen, boarding the Silver Spirit – we were in a great mood having just spent the day in hot Acapulco and about to get ready for a party aboard ship.
Being with my Ernst & Young alumni family
With every book these people come out to a special signing event hosted by Shelley Brown – even though we haven’t worked together in over ten years – that is a family
Surrounded by friends
We asked everyone to dress in white for my 50th birthday garden party. Most did and it looked great. Somehow added a bit of a Gatsby-ish feeling to the day. Croquet anyone?
This was towards the end of my 50th birthday party. I was overwhelmed already and then they bring out the perfect cake, a replica of my my eight books in two stacks. Astounding. Happy happy boy.
Being on The Wall – when I first saw that McNally Robinson had added my photograph to their Author Wall, it was definitely a big moment. Suddenly you are part of a group of people you’ve long admired, in a collection of writers you could only dream to be part of one day, this very public inclusion a suggestion that maybe you really do belong.
Being named 2014 CTV Saskatoon Citizen’s of the Year
We were literally speechless to be named co-Citizen’s of the Year. We could think of so many others we work with or have worked with likely more deserving, and maybe that’s a testament to all the great people doing wonderful things in and for our community.
Being ‘In Bruges’
On the Bruges, Belgium canal tour – right out of the 2008 Colin Farrell movie: In Bruges
Being a guest in a 1954 Bentley
June 2014 – Every so often you have a wow moment of privilege. I’m not really a car-guy, but being driven to dinner one night to Powerscourt Manor, just outside of Dublin, in this 1954 Bentley was really a wow moment, reminiscent of days of splendor past.
Beholding the collection
The Russell Quant collection – seeing this display for the first time, I was momentarily stunned – I don’t know that I’d ever before seen my collection of books publicly displayed in such a way that made me say – wow – I did all this? These are all my books? Maybe having that sixth book was the tipping point.
Bathed in Blue
I was anything but blue. Rather, it was that lovely point in a long trip when you have a few minutes alone, time to look out, seeing nothing, seeing everything, letting your mind wander freely, getting perspective, soaking in all that’s happened.
Atop a Mountain
In more ways than one. This is near the top of the Atlas Mountains. I’m not one for heights or narrow twisty roads,so the journey getting here was a challenge, and being atop a triumph in so many ways.
Art of Doing Nothing
This was a great little spot in Aix-En-Provence where we’d go, sit, order coffee, or wine, or a bit of food and do nothing more than watch people pass by. Glorious.
A seventh book launch
When did that happen? This was the signing for the launch of Date With a Sheesha. I’m always so amazed and grateful by how book after book the long lines of hometown supporters keep coming back. Truly a special moment each time.
Anytime anyplace is perfect for champagne
Unexpected & unique moment. We happened upon a festival-they gave us two plastic flutes full of champagne & off we went to stroll around Nice. How often do you get to toast each other while walking the streets of a European city.?
August, 2016 – Writing at our place in Providenciales. This was the first time I seriously took an extended time away, from my usual writing spot in my office at home, to write elsewhere. I worried the sun and sand would prove too much of a distraction, but thankfully it worked.
Announcing support of Saskatchewan Roughriders support of Camp fYrefly
A wonderful sign of progressive times, a Canadian Football team endorsing a camp for LGBTQ youth
A hilltop getaway in France Grimaud, France – one of our favourite hidden corners of the world.
30 Years Later
Sailing into St. Petersburg, Russia. Thirty years ago I was part of a 6 week University exchange to Ukraine and Russia, then joint as part of the USSR. It was my very first trip to a foreign country, first time on an airplane, first time travelling without my family. It was the scene of my coming of age as a traveller.
Unbeknownst to us, our 2019 visit to see our dear friend and mentor and fellow-bon-vivant, Holly, was to be our last.
Holly moved on, nigh on 92, to somewhere she can once again drink gin, laugh uproariously, be irreverent, and charm the pants off of everyone she meets.
Holly was one of the great influencers of my life, teaching me to appreciate art AND the artist, how to throw a good party, laugh loud and often, the importance of asking questions then LISTENING, see the world as a playground full of adventure, to be a “prince of the earth”, to appreciate the charms of a good gin and well-placed naughty word, and how to find that something special about anyone you meet.
I could have posted many pictures or videos of Holly, but I chose this one, from our last visit. I know its the one she would pick because its quintessential Holly and would make her laugh her ass off.