The second of three Tales of the Wilderness, in anticipation of Wilderness Festival, where Toast will be curating the Lakeside Spa this August.

Extract from The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane.

Water – North

Listen now. Listen to the singing of the guga men on the bare rock of Sula Sgeir, hunched in a stone bothy on that little island far out in the North Atlantic, on an August morning nearly sixty years ago. If I could sing it or play it to you I would, but I cannot, so this will have to do. The scene: a rough hut, six feet high at its tallest, built out of blades of gneiss, its cracks plugged with rags. In its centre a peat fire, above which hangs a storm lantern that lends light to the space. Rough stone benches around the edges, on which the men are sitting, wearing tweed jackets and heavy wool jumpers. The mutter of the fire. The wind moving outside, testing the bothy. The singing begins. First comes the leader, his voice low and rich, incanting the verses of the day in Gaelic – ‘ach is e an gràdh as mò dhiubh so’, ‘and the greatest of these is charity’ – his voice dipping then rising at the end of each verse. The lesson ends. A pause. A cough to clear the throat. Then the leader offers a high line from a psalm, his voice gaining in volume: pure notes sung from the throat and chest. This is the ‘throwing’ of the line. The other men answer in song, the sound swelling to fill the bothy. Another line is thrown, followed, completed. Shades in the singing of cotton-field gospel, and hints too of the muezzin’s call. These are fire-songs of worship, consolation and comradeship: song as devotion and as stay against the storm. These are the guga men of Ness, the gannet hunters, singing in the Year of Our Lord 1953.

Extract courtesy of Penguin.

Purchase a copy of The Old Ways here.

Photograph by Gareth Jones.


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Untitled 4 (from his tabletop series) by Jochen Klein.


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by TOAST ( 17.05.13 )

Orlando Gough.

The highlight of our one and only trip to India was a hilarious, surreal, heart-warming visit to Fort Begu, a sprawling Gormenghast of a fort in the very south of Rajasthan, covered with peacocks, pigeons and pigeon poo. It had been partially restored by the Maharana, Rawat Sawai Hari Singh (M.Sc. Agron., ex-Minister, Rajasthan) and his son Ajay, to make a hotel. We were the only guests, and we were the epicentre of their epic hospitality. They showed us everything, told us everything, asked us everything. It was breathless – and breath-taking.

A memorably bizarre moment: we are in a huge unrestored wing of the fort, with a banyan tree growing through the walls; the Maharana orders up a bucket of water and a mug, chucks water casually at a plaster wall, and reveals some eye-wateringly frisky wall paintings. Religion and sex – there doesn’t seem to be much distinction round here. Another: we have ordered tea in our room, first thing in the morning. The two servants, Suresh and Deja (probably the most handsome man in the universe), tap on the door and bring it in. Two servants, one pot of tea. Wow. They are followed by the Maharana himself, who starts fiddling with the remote control for the air con, muttering ‘ Sixteen degrees, it’s got to be sixteen degrees, like England’. Another: as we are leaving, a protracted negotiation between the Maharana and Ajay about what kind of envelope the final bill should be put into. (They eventually settle on the fully crested version – very flattering.)

The Maharana has a gag of which he is understandably proud: ‘You conquered us with gunpowder; we conquered you with curry powder.’ On the face of it, this is unarguable…


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by TOAST ( 14.05.13 )

The Long Road. (A clue to our next catalogue location…)


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by TOAST ( 10.05.13 )

Seb Emina is the creator and editor of the London Review of Breakfasts blog, where he writes under the brilliant nom de plume of ‘Malcolm Eggs’. Reviews come in the form of poems, political musings and Freudian dreams, dispatched by Malcolm and a host of other contributors (all with equally ingenious aliases such as Tina Beans and Vita Bicks). Nobody knows breakfast quite as well as or is as passionate about the topic as Seb. Here, we present an extract and a recipe from his recently penned his debut book (co-written with himself), The Breakfast Bible:

TOAST

‘There is another kind of bread and butter usually eaten with tea, which is toasted by the fire and is incomparably good. This is called toast,’ wrote C. P. Moritz, a Swiss pastor, recounting a holiday to England in 1782. What’s surprising about the quote is that he seems to see toast as groundbreaking, when surely cooking bread until hot and crisp is blindingly obvious? Toast is one of the simple foods. This is why ‘toast and cereal’ are forever paired on breakfast menus in hotels, the ever-present footer with a slight air of flippancy. You can imagine a sarcastic hotelier adding, ‘and the rooms will contain beds and doors and stuff’.

When making a cooked breakfast, the simplicity of grilling bread shouldn’t be cause for complacence. Quite the opposite: toast can easily become an afterthought, and with grave consequences. For tragedy value, few things match the moment when toast arrives late, breathless, as the final bead of yolk is mopped up by that reluctant understudy, sausage. Or this: you’ve remembered to shoo it into the toaster and have removed it before it burns. Are you in the clear? No. At the very beginning, before you’d even started on the sausages, you failed to remove the butter from the fridge. Unscheduled minutes are lost as you scrape away despairingly with a knife, wondering where it all went so wrong in the world…


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by TOAST ( 10.05.13 )

Ski Jacket by Peter Doig.


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by TOAST ( 03.05.13 )

The first of three Tales of the Wilderness, in anticipation of Wilderness Festival, where Toast will be curating the Lakeside Spa this August.

Extract from Wild: An Elemental Journey by Jay Griffiths.

Wild Earth: Feral Song

The wild. I have drunk it, deep and raw, and heard its primal, unforgettable roar. We know it in ourselves, for we are wild to the core. We know it in our dreams, when the mind is off the leash, running wild. “Outwardly, the equivalent of the unconscious is the wilderness: both of these terms meet, one step even farther on, as one“, wrote Gary Snyder. “It is in vain to dream of a wildness distant from ourselves. There is none such,” wrote Thoreau. “It is the bog in our brain and bowels, the primitive vigor of Nature in us, that inspires that dream.”

And as dreams are essential to the psyche, wildness is to life.

For the Native American O’odham people, the term doajkam, wildness, is etymologically tied to terms for health, wholeness and liveliness. “Life consists with wildness,” wrote Thoreau. “The most alive is the wildest. All good things are wild and free” and “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

We are animal in our blood and in our skin. We were not born for pavements and escalators but for thunder and mud. More. We are animal not only in body, but in spirit. Our minds are the minds of wild animals. Artists, who remember their wildness better than most, are animal artists, lifting their heads to sniff a quick wild scent in the air, and they know it unmistakably, they know the tug of wildness to be followed though your life is buckled by that strange and absolute obedience. (“You must have chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star,” wrote Nietzsche.) Children know it as magic and timeless play. Shamans of all sorts and inveterate misbehavers know it; those who cannot trammel themselves into a sensible job and a life in the sterile suburbs know it…


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by TOAST ( 03.05.13 )

Today is the first of May: the first day of the bright half of the year, the beginning of summer. Today is a day of life and light, a day of revelry and celebration – a time to gather flowers, a time to laugh, a time to dance…


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by TOAST ( 01.05.13 )

The third dispatch from author, printer and dealer in ‘Vintage Fishing Tackle for the Soul’ John Andrews (a.k.a Andrews of Arcadia). John is one of the six working men photographed by Neil Gavin for our spring/summer menswear collection.

The coming of spring prompts a changing of the guard, an audit of the kit that has got me through another winter on the floor of the market. Usually, this is nothing more than a list of repairs given to the Empress, the sewing up of ripped sleeves, the re-tying of buttons, the strengthening of pockets and shoulder straps and perhaps the re-heeling of a pair of boots. In one year it was a call to the scrap merchant to tow away the car whose wheels had seized and whose seats had rotten. A ritual as bruising on the heart as the shooting of a horse. This year it was something almost as significant, a change of shoes…


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by TOAST ( 30.04.13 )

A Northern Lake by Tom Thomson.


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by TOAST ( 26.04.13 )
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