Weekend Getaway: Quebec City

Pack up your Jeep and head North. Head north up 93, through the forests of New Hampshire, beside the great gray wall of Mt. Canon, beneath the snowy crowns of the Presidentials. Head North.


Cross over into Vermont and cross the border into Canada toward Montreal and then head North to Quebec City.


There is only one place to stay, Chateau Frontenac. It is a majestic hotel of soaring roofs and turrets, with incredible views of the Saint Lawrence River. With its wonderful interiors, spacious historic but modern rooms, restaurants, and pool; you need never leave the hotel, but you should.


The city is the best of French Canadian culture; wonderful restaurants, quaint shops, interesting bookshops, fragrant cafes.


The city is even more magical at night, and romantic off season. Sure it’s cold, but that makes it more intimate; bring books and a blanket to snuggle under. Buy parkas as big and deep as sleeping bags with fur-lined hoods, and wander the city as the snow falls lazily.


Once you experience this place, share it with your love, internalize it together, it will live inside you. You will miss it when you leave, yearn for it like faraway family. You will long for sights, tastes, smells that are only there; wafting coffee, caramel eclairs, crepes, the ice flows on the Saint Lawrence. It’s a pleasant haunting, and it’s permanent.


All photos by the author. 

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Things Everyone Should Know How to Do


There are some things that are essential for everyone to know how to do; to save your life, to be a more well-rounded person, or to just be helpful. Here they are in no certain order.

  1. Change a tire – Everyone should know how to do this. AAA may not always be available or you may need to get off of a road quickly. As with anything, there is a trick to this and the trick is to loosen the lug bolts before you raise the vehicle. You do this by putting the lug wrench on each of them and standing on it until the bolts loosen. There is no need to wrestle with it.
  2. Sew on a button – Or any minor repair, really. Learn to sew, make do and mend. A fine garment can be maintained for many years; buttons, seams, small tears and holes. These are badges of honor and contain your history and the garment’s. Always have a sewing kit close by.
  3. Change a Baby – This is one of the most intimidating things to new parents, but it shouldn’t be. Learn how to do it and you will be helpful to them and your other relatives. This is a useful and helpful skill for everyone.
  4. Fight – Yes, this is something that you should be able to talk your way out of, compromise your way out of, or call the police for, but sometimes, when your safety is on the line, you should know how to handle yourself and this goes for everyone. Of course, fighting is a last resort.
  5. Cook a Few Meals – Once again, this is an essential survival skill. You should have a good breakfast, lunch, and dinner; a couple of dishes. Learn how to do them expertly, even if they’re simple, and people will appreciate it.
  6. Basic Home Repair/Maintenance – Can you fix a crack in the wall, paint a wall, fix a garage door, secure a step, fix a hinge, shave a door? You shouldn’t need to call a handyman or the super for the little things, and in the case of the former, you will go poor if you do. Be self-sufficient; there are many YouTube videos to guide you.
  7. Spelling/Grammar – For clarity, to express yourself with specificity; you should know the difference between “It is” and “it’s,” “Your” and “you’re,” “They’re” and “their,” you get the idea.

Is there anything that I have missed? Tell me in the comments. If you like this blog, please subscribe, like it, and tell your friends. Thanks!

When Your Hat and Coat Match Perfectly


The Author in Boston’s North End

Tweed is a complex material. It has deep hues and patterns reminiscent of the areas where it was made. It can have colors in it that you would never find side-by-side anywhere else in Western sartorial culture; purples, pinks, oranges, reds, and more.

There are rules that you should never mix more than two patterns. I think that, like most rules, is complete and utter nonsense. In the photo above I am wearing three patterns: a traditional Barbour Tattersall shirt, a classic Barbour-lining pattern tie, and a Barbour Tweed field coat with a matching cap. The cap and coat are both Barbour Sporting Tweed, which makes mixing other different patterns easier.

But had the cap had a slightly different pattern, would that have had that much of a different impact? That would have been 4 patterns, and so enough about rules.

The Tweed field coat is generously sized, made of Barbour Sporting Tweed (that used to be a ubiquitous pattern for them before they aspired to an upmarket demographic), it was voluminous pocketed with snaps and a bit of fabric to keep them open, it has hand-warmer pockets, and a soft velvet collar lining with leather outside. The hat was from the same line. I had pants and a jacket as well, but I was much thinner when I purchased them.

Sartorial tip: get a traditional Barbour tie; it will match all Barbours and especially the waxed cotton jackets. Look for the scarf as well.

So what do you think? Am I out on a limb here? Let me know and let me know how you like this blog. Please follow and share.

Same Shirt / Same Sweater / Different Tie


IMG_2771A Tattersall shirt offers so many opportunities for matching. Here, the first photo pics up the orange color and carries it into the tie. The second photo shows how you pick up the blue color with a knitted tie that compliments the texture of the sweater. In the first photo, the sweater also has a blue line for the sweater to pick up.

Be bold in your choices and how you match your clothes. You will stand out that much more.

All clothes shown  by Cordings of Piccadilly.

Fair Isle Sweaters


Fair Isle sweater from J. Crew with white shirt and Fox Bowtie from Beau Ties.

Fair Isle sweaters originated from an isle off the coast of Scotland and part of the Shetland Islands in the North Sea. They are characterized by distinctive rows of patterns and colors whose meanings are mostly unknown though some sources liken them to XO patterns and Ram’s Horns. Artisanal sweaters tend to be full of local symbolism; think Guernsey or Aran.

The Fair Isle pattern was brought to public consciousness when Edward Prince of Wales was photographed at St. Andrews golfing in one. Supposedly, his was knit for him from a traditional pattern. I suppose that it would make sense for him to attire himself in local pattern.

I like them as vests over plain colored shirts, and they go quite well with bowties. Mine is a “vintage (90s)” from J. Crew.

How do you wear yours???

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Still Wearing Braces


The Author in His Office Wearing Braces by Brooks Brothers.

I am a fan of braces. The make a man look commanding and ready for anything. A bit of color, a stripe or pattern, make them slightly less formal. Many people call them “suspenders” here in the US, but I like to make a distinction between the clip-on type and those made with leather that buttons onto one’s trousers. Those are braces to me.

I buy many of my suits from Cordings; their City Suits, because they are very well made, are of substantial weight, and drape magnificently. Their suits only pair with braces; there are no belt loops, and so this has become a part of my personal style.

What do you think of braces? Do you wear them? Have you had your tailor sew buttons onto your trousers for them? Let me know in the comments.

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The Allure of Libraries

I am obsessed with libraries, and this obsession is entirely separate from my obsession with books. There are few things as intriguing as the arrangement of the spines of books, in cases, in a beautiful setting. So many titles, colors, possibilities. There is a sense of history and how many people have read those books and have been inspired by them. There is also a sense of discovery; never knowing what title you may find next, page through, and be introduced to something you have never thought before.


The Reading Room at the Boston Public Library. 

Libraries are more than the books. I enjoy going through random books searching for the ephemera you find there: a love letter, a shopping list,  some notes, someone’s secrets. These remnants of the people who have read them are so interesting, so informative of the people’s inner lives. These are hints at the unvarnished truth, like finding a diary open to the best part.

I also like the architecture. The more Gothic and dramatic the better. When I travel, I look for libraries, new places, new forms.


Maison de la Littérature Library