A long-awaited newsletter, travel thoughts, donkey pics, and crossword love.

My TurnipseedTravel newsletter nearly became a casualty of the pandemic but I'm feeling optimistic.

Regular newsletters are for boring bloggers, right?

In a year with very little travel, you might think I’d be talking about it more - where I want to go when “all this” (gestures broadly to a variety of dumpster fires) is over, what destinations are wildly underrated and must be backpacked’upon the minute we all have vaccines. But the truth is that talking about travel has felt sad. Sad for the many communities which have shown me so much hospitality but I cannot help. Sad for the friends and colleagues across the industry who are drowning in worry. It’s been a heavy, not very newsletter-y kind of year.

I’m hoping that 2021 turns that around.

It’s not just that I’m optimistic about the possibility of safe, effective vaccines on the horizon. I know there’s a long journey before travel is open and carefree once more. But I’m optimistic about how travel has transformed. In many ways, travel is more accessible and universal than ever before. I’m also excited by how the concept of local travel has grown and evolved and become something more universal.

So I’m putting it out there that 2021 is going to be a year of travel (albeit mostly virtual) - and of newsletters too. I’m writing this on the Substack platform, hoping its simplistic set up takes away my barriers to writing and motivates me in the process. I chose the name “The Clothesline” because there is nothing cozier than the look and smell of line-dried clothing and I liked the image of having a virtual backyard where we can all air out our thoughts. Also: I’m a bit lazy and I was happy to capitalize on a properly sized and formatted photo that I already had.

I’m excited to write to you directly about travel, of course, but also the other writing passions in my life, from food and wine to modern media and social marketing strategies, all of it driven my belief that clean, cozy material is best.

So let’s dive in. This is what I’m loving right now and I think you’ll love it too.

1.) Crossword puzzles. I grabbed a New York Times “Wednesday” book (ie not too hard) at my local shop this week on a whim/a desperate need to find a hobby to fill my winter. Ummmm IT’S AWESOME! How did I not know just how gloriously engaging crosswords could be? It sounds so simple and obvious but it’s the most delightful pastime I’ve discovered all year.

2.) I have a new article coming out this week -maybe early next week -on Buzzfeed Canada. You’ll have to check their site for updates but it’s about culture, quirks, and Cape Breton Island. Mainlanders, get ready for a few burns….

3.) Good things have been happening with the revenue generated with my blog’s affiliate ads. You know all about affiliate ads, right? You click on an ad or link for a hotel site and, if you make a booking, I might get a tiny commission. Or, I might not. It’s not exactly a lucrative game, at least not for me. But I’ve noticed that my blog readers are still booking their hotels and other travel-related reservations through my site, a loyalty I hugely appreciate in a difficult year. As such, I’m giving that affiliate ad revenue back to travel, writing, and community-minded organizations that deserve some extra support.

That includes sponsoring Gerry the donkey, who lives at the Donkey Sanctuary near Guelph, Ontario. This caring organization provides a safe, supportive, species-appropriate home to vulnerable donkeys. Donkeys are often misunderstood and even abused and I’m proud we could sponsor Gerry and shine a light on the Donkey Sanctuary’s good work, as they have lost a lot of visitor revenue this year. Also: JUST LOOK AT GERRY. Have you ever seen such gentle eyes or such a nice, dappled coat?

In addition to Gerry, affiliate ad revenue is supporting the monthly Patreon of Maureen Googoo, the powerhouse journalist behind Kukukwes.com: Independent Indigenous News in Atlantic Canada. Plus, on World Toilet Day (yep, that’s a thing - and a very important thing at that!) a donation was made to WaterAid Canada. And you, my beloved readers, made that happen.

4.) I’ve found a newsletter that makes my life easier and I know the other writers reading this will love it too. Bitchin’ Pitchin’ is a resource for writers that demystifies the process of pitching your stories using real-life examples of successful pitches, plus includes tips, tricks, and plenty of resources. You can support it for $3 a month on Patreon.

5.) I’ve been writing about gift-giving with a twist lately. My latest TurnipseedTravel blog post focuses on virtual travel experiences that support small businesses for the most part and target some of the most difficult people to shop for (like that person who always says stuff you don’t understand or the friend who says that they love to travel but, in reality, they just love Las Vegas).

Before that, I wrote about a very special distillery guidebook that puts Canadian spirits in the spotlight and I was able to ask the author about his favourite cozy drinking spots and more. It was a great interview.

Back when I was a well-behaved blogger who sent newsletters out every month without fail, I always used to end them with a picture of a furry friend I met on my travels. While my newsletter format may have changed, I see no reason why that can’t continue. But since Christmas is on the horizon, I thought I’d share a pic of my favourite fur-beast of all, Ollie dog! This was taken back in 2019, when Ollie, Ryan, and I got to meet Santa-Paws at the MacGowan Christmas Tree Farm just outside Ottawa.

Hope your holiday season brings you as much joy as this memory brings me!

Vanessa