Saint John Love, Part 4

Here is Part 4!

I can’t believe the positive response I’m getting with this series. Wait – YES I CAN! Saint John-ers love Saint John.

Aaron McFarlane is a relatively new resident of the City. He moved to Saint John and started the Sistema program for Elementary Youths in our area. You’ve probably seen him at an event or two with his back to the crowd, grinning ear to ear conducting the kids.

I met Aaron when he just moved here. Typical Barb – I messaged him out of the blue on Facebook (oh yeah, I creeped him) and invited him out for coffee. He’s become a great friend :)

Enjoy!

Part 4 – Aaron McFarlane

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*Note: This is not in Saint John ;)

Your go-to coffee shop (and ​your ​order):

Java Moose in City Market.  Decaf Coffee, black.

The place in ​Saint John where you feel ​calm, cool and collected:

Any of the nearby beaches.  Black Beach near Musquash is my favourite, but not technically “in Saint John.” Closer to home is the beach near Irving Nature Park.

The One-stop gift shop:

Handworks

The place you celebrate special occasions​:

East Coast Bistro.  Hands down my favourite restaurant in the city.

The place that is a solid date night spot:

A picnic with wine on any of the beautiful lookouts on Rockwood Park’s MacKay Skyway trail.  I love these views of the city that blend the skyline with industry.

Favorite place to order take-out:

Asia’s Best Cuisine!  Cheap, tasty, and an easy walk.

The best under-the-radar bar​

None that aren’t pretty well-known, I think.

The place you go for a little bit of culture:

The Imperial Theatre is a gem.  Saint John is so lucky to have it in the city.  Acoustically it’s a terrific place to hear an orchestra.  I also really appreciate the little theatre Saint John Theatre Company has on Princess – the shows I’ve gone to there are so intimate.  For live music I don’t think you can beat Interaction Theatre – I’ve seen a few really terrific shows there.

The place you always take your out-of-town guests that wows:

Partridge Island.  Everyone is astonished that it isn’t a developed heritage site.  People also really like the Kingston Peninsula market – it’s fun to take the ferry and the atmosphere is really welcoming.

Where you shop for everyday basics:

City Market on Saturdays, Superstore on weekdays.

Saint John Love, Part 3

You guys… here is Part 3 in my favourite series that I’ve ever done.

Mark Leger is a Saint John lover, like me! I’ve known Mark for years, but really just “met” him while working on a Placemaking Committee through the True Growth project.

Enjoy!

PART 3 – Mark Leger

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Your go-to coffee shop (and ​your ​order):

I’m a stay-at-home dad so I spend most of my time with the kids, their grandparents, and other parents with kids. As a result, I don’t have nearly enough “grownup” conversations. When I go out for coffee, I pick places that have a lot of pedestrian traffic and people I know who go there. I can catch up on their lives and talk about “grownup” stuff like city affairs, local gossip (often one in the same). Though I like Java Moose in the City Market and on Prince William, and Second Cup on King, my favourite place to go is Starbucks in Brunswick Square. I can sit there on my own to read or do some work, and several people will wander by and stop for a quick chat. I also spend a lot of time in Rothesay visiting family or taking Ella to her pre-school. I’ll often spend an hour or two at the Java Moose out there, and bump into my “Valley” friends I don’t see very often. My coffee tastes are simple. At each place, I order a small-size dark roast.

The place in ​Saint John where you feel ​calm, cool and collected:

I’m a marathon runner, so I’d have to say the open road. I run through all parts of the city, but favourite route these days is the Red Head Road toward Canaport and Mispec. The views are spectacular and the traffic is light on weekends. One of things I love about Saint John is that the more rural parts of the city aren’t far from the urban core. They’re within running distance!

The one-stop gift shop:

I don’t shop at one place in particular. When I buy gifts, I try to support local potters, painters, and jewellers. I also buy tickets to Imperial Theatre shows or Uptown restaurants.

The place you celebrate special occasions​:

Well…as I’ve already pointed out, I’m the father of two young children, so I hate to admit this but special occasions seem to revolve around children’s birthday parties these days. Bowlarama seems to top the list! When my wife and I celebrate a birthday or anniversary, our favourite spot seems to be Sense of Tokyo on Waterloo Street.

The place that is a solid date night spot:

Again, Sense of Tokyo on Waterloo Street.

Favorite place to order take-out:

Shwarma Hut in the City Market. I order the falafel almost every time. Special ingredient: French Fries! The regular sized one is so large it takes me an hour to eat it!

The best under-the-radar bar​:

Another question you’re asking a father of two young children. I’m lucky to have a favourite bar, let alone a “a best kept secret” one. I’ll have one of those when they’re teenagers. I have to say “happinez” even though I know this is one of the most popular places in the city. And I’ll actually drink wine there now. I used to joke with the owner, Peter Smit, that I was the guy that went to the wine bar to drink beer.

The place you go for a little bit of culture:

I’d highlight the Saint John Theatre Company, especially with the sheer volume of great shows they’ve started doing, and events they’re hosting, at their own space on Princess Street and at Imperial Theatre. In March, I attended a sold-out, hilarious comedy show featuring James Mullinger and other comics at the Princess Street space. That month, I also went to the theatre company production, “Every Good Boy Deserves Favour”, at the Imperial Theatre. Last year, I started attending – and sometimes participating in – some of the Improv shows staged by Scott Thomas and crew at the Princess Street space. They’re incredibly entertaining and creative events that include local musicians, artists and storytellers. They’ve got another one of their monthly shows coming up in May. There’s just a lot going on there, be they theatre company productions or other arts and culture groups taking advantage of a great space to host shows and events. I’m part of a group hosting an event there May 7th called Ignite SJ, an evening of inspiring five-minute talks on a range of subjects by local people, including James Mullinger. Your readers can learn more about that event on our web site: http://www.ignitesj.ca

The place you always take your out-of-town guests that wows:

Happinez, Sense of Tokyo, Suwanna restaurant on the West Side.

Where you shop for everyday basics:

I shop mostly at the small grocers around the city. I like to support local businesses with a friendly small-store atmosphere, but I also find their prices generally better for fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and meats. My favourites? Dean’s Meats and Balemans in the City Market. Olsen’s on the West Side. Cochrane’s in Rothesay.

…..

There are more <3

See you tomorrow!

Saint John Love, Part 2

You guys… here is Part 2 in my favourite series that I’ve ever done.

If you haven’t read this story, do it. Saint John is full of people that love it as much as I do.

Part 2 - Trent Seely

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Your go-to coffee shop (and ​your order)

Java Moose, Prince William Street (gotta support local). Moose-size Authentic, black.

The place in ​Saint John where you feel ​calm, cool and collected

The boardwalk deck near Market Square and the harbour slip. At all times of year, I enjoy looking out at the waves and glancing at port’s large cranes and tankers. Not sure why this place chills me out, but I like the way the harbour hugs the Saint John River.

The one-stop gift shop:

Feel Good Store. I love the Feel Good Store. It isn’t just that the location is charming and the staff is friendly, it is that the products available are so unique and diverse. There are natural remedies, teas and tea holders, spa treatment products, natural toiletries, yoga equipment, spiritual items, baby-friendly products, and more. Plus, Anne is a sweetheart.

The place you celebrate special occasions

The Saint John Ale House, usually. Saint John is lucky to have a number of excellent restaurants, but I tend to gravitate towards the Ale House for the celebration of most special occasions. The food is great, the bar selection is inexpensive, and I really appreciate the relaxed atmosphere. It’s a more adult vibe, and I think that’s what I’m looking for now.

The place that is a solid date night spot:

King Square during a warm summer night. Seriously. Just because you don’t have to pay to be there, doesn’t mean it is any less romantic. The bandstand is usually well-lit and the fountain is constantly running. In addition, strings of lights decorate the center of the square providing just enough mood lighting for a night-time coffee or picnic. Small tables now surround the bandstand in the summer, making the space better for conversations and dining. Try using this spot next summer for a low-key, but romantic outing.

Favorite place to order take-out:

Our taste in take-out food shifts based on what mood we’re in, but Ta-Ke Sushi on King Street is a regular haunt for us. Take-out items are usually well priced and Ta-Ke doesn’t skimp on food. If you’re in the mood for Sushi, but also want to watch Netflix I would advise calling ahead and dropping by.

The best under-the-radar bar

I can’t say that Big Tide is under-the-radar, but it certainly is underrated. Outside of having an extremely affordable food menu, Big Tide has delicious brews made in-house that you can even grab in a take-home 1.89L growler for $10. They also have a points program for every dollar you spend, larger beer mugs that you can lease for a year, a nice gluten-free menu, and regular trivia nights. Like I said, I can’t say they are the best kept secret, but I can say that not enough people check it out.

The place you go for a little bit of culture:

Trinity Royal. You know, because I’m one of those weird people who likes walking around the City and glancing at incredibly old buildings. One of the biggest strengths that Saint John boasts as Canada’s original city is its architectural design. Buildings in the uptown core have a unique vibe to them, and it isn’t uncommon to see somewhat unorthodox designs paired with beautifully intricate wood- and brick-work. Buildings also tend to sport incredibly old and faded product advertisements for tobacco or cola. That characteristic has turned a few of the buildings into living relics, and in some cases the innards have been completely refreshed and modernized to juxtapose the outward appearance. It’s a nice mesh of new and old, and I would argue that is representative of the city itself.

The place you always take your out-of-town guests that wows:

I like to take guests to the City Market. It can be argued that there are more important landmarks in the city, but market’s atmosphere is unique and comforting. It’s always a busy place, and I dig the variety of products. More than that though, this place has a history you can sink your teeth into. It’s the oldest farmer’s market in Canada, has a roof that resembles an inverted ship’s keel, and the floor sloops with the natural grade of the hill it stands on. They say it was built by unemployed ship builders, and even if that isn’t true I like that story and how it ties into Saint John’s ship building heritage.

Where you shop for everyday basics:

Giant Tiger. Say what you will about the shitty kitty, there are name-brand products available and prices that are usually half that of major grocery chains. The place was renovated not that long ago making the shopping experience much cleaner and more organized. I still buy all of my produce elsewhere, but when it comes to picking up basic toiletries or condiments I only go to the GT.

……

There are more <3

See you tomorrow!

Saint John Love, Part 1

You guys, it’s no secret that I love Saint John. What started as a “creative” outlet (barbbarbbarb.com), quickly morphed into a love story for my waterfront, blue collar City.

Similar to Kurt’s story from the weekend’s TJ, Saint John is full of people that love it as much as I do.

Here are a few little surveys (over the next few days) on what, specifically, people love about this place.

Maybe you’ll get a few ideas!

Part 1 – Heather Desserud

Heather just moved to SJ a little over a year ago. She has embraced the City, and we have embraced her!

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Your go-to coffee shop (and ​your ​ order)

Starbucks, a grande English breakfast with room for milk

The place in ​Saint John where you feel ​calm, cool and collected:

Definitely Good Fibrations— whether I want to buy some yarn, admire the amazing work in the shop or chat with Liz.

The one-stop gift shop where you can shop for dad, mom, siblings, baby showers, etc.:

Feel Good Store. They’ve got everything!

The place you celebrate special occasions:

Britt’s— what better way to celebrate than surrounded by friends, beer and good food

The place that is a solid date night spot:

Port City Royal or Happinez

Favorite place to order take-out:

Thai Pho

The best under-the-radar bar:

Pete’s Pub — the best little pub in Saint John

The place you go for a little bit of culture:

Imperial Theatre. Love the visiting dance performances!

The place you always take your out-of-town guests that wows:

Billy’s Seafood, City Market, and King Square

Where you shop for everyday basics:

Lawton’s and Sam’s Convenience

 

…..

There are more. Stay tuned <3

Interview with: Nick Pereira

I met Nick in the Spring of 2014 when I started helping with a committee at Gentle Path for their Theo Fleury event last September. I didn’t know him at all, but was immediately impressed with his professionalism toward volunteering and the event.

I was happy that he agreed to meet me for a coffee to tell me about Saint John and his love for the community here since moving from Toronto a few years ago.

On April 2nd he’s hosting at event at Bayside Middle School called – TRANSFORM SAINT JOHN 2015.

Enjoy this interview with Nick!

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Hi Nick – tell me about who you are and what you do.

Who am I? This is a question I believe we human beings have been asking ourselves for ages. What I can say about this is I have figured out that we are ultimately what we say we are. I AM that I AM, while I play many roles in my life, boyfriend, Life Coach, Speaker, Cat Lover, friend, son and how many other labels and titles that I may carry, I truly am none of these things. I am simply a human being like every other person on this planet and, like every other person on this planet I am exploring myself to answer the ultimate question, who I am?

As far as what do I do, I do many things, however I have broken my life down to three main focus that all intertwine. My mission statement in life is to Strengthen Communities by strengthening individuals. How I do this is what I think is important, The first thing I do is work on my relationship to the divine, I tend not to use the word God as this word has so much history to it, God to me could mean something completely different to what you may see as God or no God. As best as I can, I do not put things I truly do not understand into a box or one definition, this keeps me open and always exploring. One thing I learned a long time ago was that to truly master life, we must never define life and therefor truly never define ourselves as we are part of life and not separate to it.

The second thing I do is put importance to those who are closest to me. The reason I do this is because I believe it starts at home, when we are placing importance on our closest family and friends we are automatically strengthening our communities, when we have strong individuals, we will have strong families and we have strong families we will have strong community. To be clear, I use the word strong not in a physical sense, however that is also part of it, but rather a broad sense of people who are empowered to live life pleasantly in all experiences.

Lastly, I work on service to others; this is my business and my title of a Life Coach. We are all servants to each other in our own expressions; some of us transform buildings, some of us fix cars, make music or work in restaurants creating and serving dishes. It’s all a form of service from my point of view, for me I build people up to such a level where they can reach their goals and dreams. While this may sound like lofty “positive” thinking, it is so much more. I encompass process and systems that are proven to work time and time again. Nothing about me or what I do is accidental; everything about me is intentional and has been trained. I am the way I am and do what I do because I have been taught by great mentors, teachers and through studies.

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Tell me about what you used to do?

I use to be a rapper, I laugh when I say that as it seems like I am speaking of someone else. I also should note how life come’s full circle as I still rap today, just in a different context. I use hip hop now as way to connect with youth and gain “credibility” with our younger populations. My story as a hip hop artist allows me to have a point of connection where I can use it to now spread a different message. Hip hop, just like anything else, should not be labelled or defined, it is consistently changing and reflects the state on mind the rapper is in, when we as a human population are so consciously aware that our words carry tremendous power, we will also see a shift in all music forms. I already hear it today happening, the radio is full of songs that uplift, tell inspiring stories and create a feeling of euphoria, this is all a reflecting of the rise of consciousness on our planet.

What happened to you that made your career path take a 180?

What happens to us all when we don’t learn to be our own best friend and our own cheerleader? The “little voice” inside our head knocks us out the game. The more attention, the more I got booked and the more it looked like I was actually going to make it in the music industry the louder and louder the little voice got in my head. It said things to me like “you will never make it.” “You are not good enough” “You know what the chances are of you making it as a rapper, you have a better chance winning the lottery.” When your little voice speaks doubt you naturally begin to start to believe that little voice.

It was around this time I got heavy into drugs and alcohol. I smoked more pot than I could ever describe, I did cocaine, ecstasy, mushrooms and was mixing it with alcohol. It wasn’t long before the abuse on my body became too much and I lost all motivation, concentration and focus. After a car crash that woke me up to the path I was going down, I decided that I needed to do something different. I quit music for a while and began a journey of self-discovery that would lead me to my true calling, what I do today.

How did you end up in Saint John?

I was fortunate enough that during a seminar in Toronto to cross paths with another young man who was on a similar journey. While we have different styles and different approaches we saw that it would be mutually beneficial at the beginning stages of our missions that we work together. He brought me out to Saint John and so we began. After only 3 months it was clear that we both still had lots of growing to do and decided to go our own ways. What was interesting was during one of the departing conversations, he said, feel free to go back home.

My immediate answer was no, “I see opportunity here and what I see is a city that could use an empowering message” I instantly fell in love with the beauty of our city, our ocean and water ways and most importantly the people. I have made some of the best friends I have ever made in my life here and myself and Sarah (my girlfriend who also moved from Toronto) feel blessed to be part of this community and now call it home.

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What has happened in the last two years that keep you in Saint John?

I have been in Saint John for 4 years at the time of this interview. I would be a liar to say that it’s been all roses and sunshine. Some of the toughest challenges I have faced have been here, I arrived in Saint John with whatever I could fit in my jeep and a dream to empower people and be a speaker/coach for a living. I worked hard, mainly on myself and pursued my dream with passion and determination and what I began to see was that not only was I here to serve Saint John, Saint John was here to serve me. For me, Saint John became my ground for personal and spiritual growth.

Saint John for me is a place where I have grown so much and therefore feel a great appreciation for the city and its people. I feel a huge calling to pitch in and do whatever I can to help us as a community prosper. From my perspective, that begins with us understanding that we are part of a community and we will be stronger together. That the health of each of us determines the health of the whole, let’s invest in our youth, our neighborhoods and teach the life skills that drive health, wealth and happiness. When people are empowered we will see the Renaissance that we are looking for. Always remember that the greatest investment you can make is the investment in yourself. We all benefit when you are your best.

Would you say that you are a spiritual person?

How does (your spirituality) inform your public speaking?

We are all “spiritual” however that means different things to us all. I’m just a person like anyone else; I get called spiritual because of the language I use. Inspiring people to be better and teaching life lessons seems to have put me into the spiritual category, however let’s always remember, there truly is no spiritual life, there is just life, we call it spiritual, if we gave it another name would it make a difference?

My own growth spills into everything I do, especially my speaking. You can hear it when I speak that I have learned to become a fulfilled person through spiritual exploration. I do not hold any labels, I am not Christian, I am not Buddhist, I am not Hindu… I am a human being that allows me to explore all philosophies. I believe all belief systems should be respected and treated as sacred knowledge, if one path is not getting you the results, do not be scared to explore different paths, find what works for you and go with that, there are no rules to the game.

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Tell me about “Transform Saint John 2015″.

Transform Saint John 2015 is an event designed to empower and instill new perspective as well as give real life skills that can be used immediately in anyone’s life. We have musicians, speakers and even a young magician from our city that is sure to leave everyone amazed. This will be an event like no other Saint John has seen before. Inspirational, without it being religious allows us to speak on a level on humanity and not have any secular nonsense thrown into the message. We will be highlighting local success stories to show everyone, that opportunity is abundant here in Saint John, it just takes the right mindset to see it and act on it.

This is the first time we are doing this event and hope to make it an annual event that gets bigger and bigger each year. Currently we have registered 150 tickets for the event with some tickets still left, we have kept it at the lowest price point we could, $10 per ticket which allows anyone and everyone to have access to the event. Here is a link to register if this sounds like something you want to be a part of. http://tinyurl.com/m2r3hye

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What’s a typical day like for you? What about your dream day?

Every day starts with gratitude’s, I make no distinction between week days and weekends, when you live a life of passion and you have created a business where your passion pays you it is truly different than the usual lifestyle. I believe it to be more natural, rather than the 9-5 deal. We are not meant to work like this and to be slaves to our jobs. Everyday consists of me working on me, reading and exercise, spending time with my family and of course, coaching, training and spreading the message of who we truly are, powerful people with the ability to create lifestyles that we love. It is different for us all however dispelling belief systems that have been instilled that no longer serve us is a powerful way to create a life you love. This is how I spend my day. Helping those who want more from life understand how to achieve that, as I have done and still continue to do.

What’s next?

I am just getting warmed, I feel like I have just found my voice. From the point of view of what’s next for the mission, we are creating programs, events and messaging that will blow away anything I have done so far. Myself and team are getting better each day and as we get better so will the message and our ability to help more people in a truly meaningful way. Other than that, I plan on living my life to the fullest experience I can and having boat loads of fun while I do it… What is life if you are not having fun? :)

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Thanks, Nick!

Purchase tickets for Transform Saint John 2015, here.

Check it out – the Gold Collection from Derek Cardigan (ClearlyContacts.ca giveaway!)

I was so excited to be approached by ClearlyContacts.ca to try out a pair of New York Fashion Week – retro inspired glasses.

Adam and I are big fans of ClearlyContacts.ca and tend to order our prescription glasses through their site.

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Burgundy, emerald and amethyst jewel tones with metallic gold accents are symbolic of the new Gold Collection. Paired with this season’s 1970’s inspired collections from NYFW – any pair of frames from the Derek Cardigan collection could complete a vintage look.

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I am far from fashion forward, and my outfit could not be any less “retro inspired” – that didn’t stop me from loving these glasses with my normal day-to-day looks.

I loved the large grey plastic frames from the Derek Cardigan collection. I especially enjoyed them for writing reports and looking at my dual computer screens for extended periods.

The frames are a little larger than I would typically pick out for myself – but I think they work. Especially with my hair down.

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ClearlyContacts.ca would love to give you a chance to try out a pair from this collection!

All you need to do is enter below through the rafflecopter widget. I’ll contact the winner and put them in touch with a rep that will place your order.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The fine print: This contest is open to Canadian Residents only.

See you soon!

An Event You Should be Attending: The Silver Daisy Tea Party

… I’m trying to decide what I would give to check the weather forecast and see sun, 15 degrees and not a sign of precipitation for a week. Sigh. 5 more weeks or winter, give or take. They can’t go by fast enough!

Take a moment this weekend and join Silver Daisy for a tea party – Sunday afternoon from 3-6pm.

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David’s Tea will be on hand serving up a cup a tea. Perfumes Plus will be offering express manicures. There will be prizes and giveaways. PLUS – enjoy 15% off your purchase.

Kate posting this photo on Friday – that’s when my lust for spring was in full force!

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If you want to find out about these events a little earlier (as I know Facebook is frustrating when it comes to following stores you love), become a Silver Daisy insider! Click on the photograph below to head to their Facebook page.

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Rumour has it that every once and awhile a surprise coupon or an event invitation will land in your inbox!

See you there!

#30IN30 VERSION 2014 POST #27 – THE SAINT JOHN MILL RATS

2015! We’re here!

I’ve finally dug myself out of the insane snowfall over the past week – and I’m back with 4 more giveaways!

I figured I’d save a few #30in30 giveaways that might brighten your spirits leading into the next week of snowstorms.

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We’re so lucky to have a pro basketball team in our very own City. The Mill Rats are killing it this year – currently in 3rd – but neck and neck with the Halifax Rainmen.

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Photo: Michael Hawkins

The Saint John Mill Rats are offering one lucky barbbarbbarb.com reader COURT SIDE SEATS to one of the last games of the 2014-2015 Season!

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Enter below for your chance to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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See you tomorrow!

(and thanks Michael Hawkins for the killer Mill Rats photos!)

In Their Natural Habitat – James Mullinger

Since meeting James in May of 2014, I’ve gone head first into the comedy scene in Saint John. Not only that, I’ve added James to the list of my friends who like Sons of Anarchy more than I do. This is awesome because he is literally my only friend who likes Sons of Anarchy.

In the short time James and his family have been back in the Saint John area (Rothesay, specifically), they have made it their home. James has supported numerous charities through his comedy gigs (including a cash donation of over $6300 to KV Outreach!), has hosted more than one yard sale (a New Brunswick must) and still seems to be on the Town more than I am!

He has a new show on Bell’s Community One called Blimey! An Englishman in Atlantic Canada (featuring a full length from his fall tour in England)!

Here’s case No. 14 of creative people living and working in the Saint John area….

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Hi James! Tell me about yourself and what you do.

Hi Barb. Well firstly I am a big fan of what you do. As are many people in Saint John. So thank you for all you do to celebrate this fantastic city on your blog and in your work with local culture and the arts.

I am also a husband, a dad and a comedian.

My desk where I sit all day

What is the main function of what you do, day to day?

Admin! For a comedian this is the bulk of what we do (travel arrangements, booking arrangements, chasing work, contracts, interviews, promotion – which is another way of saying ‘Facebook’!). Looking after my sons while my wife works (she is the North American Publisher of Monocle Magazine) and then in the evening I go and do shows. A few days a week I film my TV show Blimey: An Englishman In Atlantic Canada. So my days are split between sitting at my desk doing boring stuff, laughing at my sons then going out to make other people laugh. I like it.

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Who is your typical client?

Interesting question. Almost anybody I suppose. Obviously comedy clubs. TV companies. For the main bulk of my work as a comedian. But all kinds of people and companies might hire you to either perform at their events, write press releases for them that are funny, write pieces for newspapers and magazines (I was a journalist for a number of years before becoming a comedian), consult on ways to reach wider audiences for their products. It could literally be anyone.

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What is the coolest thing to have happened to you in the past year?

Well, moving to Saint John, New Brunswick without a shadow of a doubt. It’s one of the best things I have ever done. I left a lot behind in London – family, friends, work, clients and audiences I had spent years building up. So it was a risk moving here. But my wife is from here. I love it here and we knew our children would love it here. I knew our home life would improve dramatically. But I really wasn’t expecting my career to take off like it has here. I expected to be travelling back to England frequently to earn. Luckily I don’t need to do that. Because I want to be here with all of you!

But a lot of cool things have happened here this year. I am working on the second series of Blimey! An Englishman In Atlantic Canada for Bell Aliant. I sold out the Imperial Theatre with a new show about my life here, which turned out to be one of the most enjoyable shows of my life. In England it is very difficult for a comedian who isn’t very well known to sell out a venue that size (almost 900 seats). I was honoured and very emotional which I think shows in the televised film of the show.

Very few comedians can even tour solo in the UK because there is so much going on in every town and city that you have purpose built comedy clubs with four of the best stand ups in the country selling struggling to sell out on a Friday night. I loved playing clubs but I also booked my own tours and was lucky enough to build an audience that way, without the backing of the industry in any way, shape or form. I didn’t do Edinburgh every year because I didn’t have money to burn, I wasn’t on panel shows. I was never a darling of the industry suits. Quite the opposite. I built an audience myself by finding people who liked what I do, created a TV show (Movie Kingdom) with a very talented filmmaker friend named Mark Murphy and it found a following. A lovely commissioner at Comedy Central named Sarah Farrell took a punt on us and helped us finance a web series for them which was a dream come true. This led to another show focused solely on comedians. And even then when I toured, I could only sell out on average 200-seater venues. Sometimes bigger, sometimes much, much smaller. I got to a point where it was quite easy to tour because I would go back to the same places where I knew I had a following or rather people that liked what I do. People that had the same sense of humour as me.

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Last year though, after 10 months living in Canada I had to go back to the UK to do a tour that had been booked in for some time and it was a bit of a struggle. Some loyal supporters came out but I was out of sight out of mind. I wasn’t there on the ground to promote it and we struggled with numbers. Only about half of the shows sold out. But that’s obviously not what it’s about and why I do it and I did enjoy going back. I only say this to illustrate that while it was hard leaving England, things aren’t all rosy there. As you will see in The Blimey! feature length special that shot during the tour. It really is warts and all. I had been told though prior to moving here that things were even worse for comedians in Canada by a few people. Turns out that – in my case – they were totally wrong. I have been enormously lucky. I hope to continue doing things people like here and most importantly introducing all the nice people who come and see me to all the awesome acts that you have here on your doorstep that you perhaps weren’t aware of. People like Glen K Amo, Shane Ogden, Darren Elmore, Roger LeBlanc, Neal Mundle, Scott Campagna, Debra Steeves. All great acts who have been doing great work here for some time. And there are many more. Right here in New Brunswick. These people are now the funniest thing about my TV show. I am not afraid of being upstaged by them as I frequently am.

Let’s put it this way. If you’d asked me any other year what is the coolest thing that happened to me that year, it would have been one simple answer. The birth of my son. Or selling out this venue. Or getting that TV show off the ground. But this year – the year I moved to this beautiful city – the list is endless. I can’t pick just one thing. So it would have to be moving here. Because that is why all of these wonderful things have happened. My wife and family happier than we’ve ever been. We’ve made dozens of wonderful and amazing friends here. The TV show I’ve been dreaming of making for a decade being commissioned thanks to Jeff Liberty introducing me to Csaba Domokos. Selling out my favourite theatre in the world. Doing the Montreal Fringe. Getting nominated for the Just For Laughs Best Comedy Show award. Opening for Orny Adams in Edmonton. Being booked for a corporate gig in Banff. Working closely with New Bruswick’s best comedians. Working with a director I respect massively on the TV show. Raising lots of money for charities I feel very strongly about like KV Outreach. Any other year it would be easy to pick a highlight. This year, not so much. There’s too many. Every week a new highlight arrives. Which is why I love it here so much. And I will never leave. Moving to Saint John is the best thing I ever did.

I should also say how surprised I have been by the mass of talented people there are here. I have been lucky to meet and work closely with some of the hugely talented writers, photographers, journalists, interior designers, poets, musicians, chefs, music promoters, charity workers, designers that you have here. It’s incredible. So many brilliant people here at the top of their game. Loads of great photographers. And Lindsay Vautour is just the best designer. Incredible. She never fails to wow and amaze me. My favourite poet lives here in Saint John. And then you have people like Wayne Hansen who is not only a highly skilled musician but also a very funny stand up. How dare he be so good at two things! Bastard. I knew it would be a great place to live. I had no idea it had a creative pool as deep and as varied as London.

What’s a typical day like for you?

The biggest misconception and greatest myth about comedians (which is often perpetuated by comedians) is that we only work for 40 minutes a night. In many ways I work more hours now than when I had an office job because the work never stops. You are always looking for ideas all the time. And I am turning over material much quicker living here. I am currently building a whole brand new 90-minute show for the Imperial Theatre this year. About 850 people kindly came to see me and I want them to come again and bring their friends. And they deserve to hear brand new material so I am building a whole new show. Bit by bit, writing all the time, testing the jokes in small venues like the R-Bar where Jon Forward runs an experimental comedy night called No Jokes Barred.

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And then there’s all the desk work. Booking shows, arranging travel, all the admin stuff. Especially if – like me – you do all your own PR, marketing, tour managing, venue booking. And for the TV show I am responsible for everything relating to the production side. I have an amazing director John Borbely who has the really hard job of editing hours of footage of me being an idiot into something that make sense. But I have to sort the locations, script, performers, everything. It’s a lot.

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It’s not than I am a control freak but it has just ever made sense to me to pay someone to do so something for me which I will be chasing them about all day ever day. Why not do it yourself? No one wants the show to go as successfully as me. Because it’s my name on it. One thing I learned working on the picture desk of a glossy fashion magazine and organising shoots with the likes of David Bailey and Mario Testino is that nothing can wait. Everything must be done now. No excuses that this has to wait until that is done. There is a way to do everything now and you have to find a way. I did this for 14 years. I hate excuses, I hate whining. Just do it now. And I live and work by that philosophy. It’s the only way to survive when you are a full time parent, have a full time job that involves performing most nights and making a TV show and also want to help out your local community, son’s school etc.

In short, I spend a lot of time on the road but also a lot of time at my desk. It’s a mess. Piled up with journals, folders and envelopes stuffed with jokes, half formed ideas. I am writing all the time, analysing my material, reworking it, polishing it, honing it and I keep everything. You never know when you may find a way to make a joke work that you have been struggling with.

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How can people stay in touch?

Email me, find me on Facebook. I am also on Instagram and Twitter. I even have a separate Instagram page for my collection of weird and wonderful movie memorabilia. I love sharing this with people.

I love people getting in touch. The greatest pleasure for me is people emailing me after shows saying that they have had a good time. And given I love every single person I’ve met in Saint John and surrounding areas, I’d love to hear from anyone!

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Thanks James!

We’re happy to have you :)

Important Update:

Enter below to win one of five copies of James Mullinger’s Living the Canadian Dream recorded live at the Imperial Theatre!

Don’t want to take your chances? Or maybe you want to order a copy for someone else? Click here – it’s available for purchase!

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See you soon!

#30IN30 VERSION 2014 POST #29 – RIVER AND TRAIL

River and Trail has been such a great addition to the Valley. Specializing in everything needed to be outdoors anytime of year – camping equipment, snow shoes, pots & pans, boots and shoes, jackets and long johns.

They’re located at 47 Clark Road in Rothesay.

Sean has a great selection of clothing for men and women including the North Face, Arcteryx, Mountain Hard Ware and Lolё.

River and Trail is open until 3pm Christmas Eve!

Check out the gift ideas!

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I feel like this is a gift every Dad would love:

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In addition to the huge clothing selection, there are great camping tools and accessories available:

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The Paracord Survival Grenades from INCH Survival are made right here in New Brunswick! They come packed with items you may need in various types of emergencies.

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Sean has a great selection of GoPro Cameras and Accessories. I specifically loved the pieces that attach the camera to your helmet or attach itself to your camera to make sure it doesn’t sink when you lose it water skiing.

Sean also has various “selfie poles” – that’s not actually what they’re called – to get  the full view on your next adventure.

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Enter below to win an MSR POCKETROCKET – an ultralight, fast boiling canister stove + fuel.

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See you tomorrow!

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