The Toast catalogue dropped into our über cool stainless steel mailbox this morning. Kerplunk.
Anybody familiar with Toast? No, no, not the stuff you put under poached eggs or slather with marmalade. It's 'mail order' clothes and stuff; accessories for the home too in a nicely produced little booklet, silky to the touch and promising the benefits of the simple life for a king's ransom. Hard to categorise but Laura Ashley meets Johnny Boden perhaps. Country clothes I think but not for country sports - rather stuff for drifting wistfully and enigmatically in.
Flicking through the pages I fancied me a little dress - perfect with opaque tights and sturdy boots, a 'boyfriend' cardigan and leather bag; the perfect 'look' for rambles through crisp autumn leaves under cold clear skies. Then home, I imagined, to sit in front of a roaring fire snug in my sensible PJs, wrapped in a merino Braemar blanket before hopping into bed where a hot water bottle warms those candy striped sheets. Ah, bliss.....
I go online to buy the dress that will make my autumn perfect. It only takes a few clicks to discover that for some unfathomable reason it is currently available only in size 8. Sigh. I could never diet fast enough to get into that. Size 8 doesn't seem a very 'country' size - apart from elves and will 'o' the wisps us country gals are made of sturdier stuff.
I flick through the catalogue again - perhaps something else will take my eye. Something cosy for the home perhaps.
That candy-striped bed linen needles me slightly. It's the candy striped bed linen of my childhood. (Cosy flannelette from before the days of sparky-slidey-ezee-care Brentford Nylon sheets - another nightmare.) Except Toast's candy striped bed linen is made from organic cotton and has two rows of satin stitch on the pillow cases.
Slowly I begin to understand Toast. Like all the others it sells the dream. Is this one the shabby chic and country cottage dream? I've been here before though in my childhood homes - and don't get me wrong, they were the best of times - but the clothes (with the exception of my velvet party dress) were horrid and houses draughty.
Layers of wool and wellies, sheets, blankets and hot water bottles were necessities and not life-style choices. I'm not sure we did life-style choices back in the day, not in size 8 anyway. We've come a long way and I don't want to go back. Give me warmth and light and choice - lots of it.
But it doesn't stop me wanting part of that dream. A pair of felted wool slippers perhaps. If they have my size.