Drat it! I forgot my camera when I visited Mr Toast recently, and would you believe it? - the official Sunday Roast photographer didn't turn up either! Nor was I able to manage a suitable artist's impression. So this week, for the first time ever, we are stuck for a photograph - sorry folks! However, I shall do my very best to describe this gentleman with whom I sat during our very pleasant interview on a sunny day in very salubrious surroundings somewhere in Western US. As he handed me a Jam Toastie and a mug of his famous tea I could tell immediately he is a London expat, because he spoke with an authoritative typical posh 'upper crust' English accent and gave me a non-cockney smile with no winks or nods. His round face revealed two well proportioned ears, two brown eyes and a straight normal sized nose. He is of medium build and I would estimate his age about 35 ish. His face revealed a friendly grin with a harmless and full set of brilliant white teeth, suggesting he might be related to the distant Scottish McClean clan. Fortunately he has a very good sense of humour (thank God). He possessed a good head of curly hair, indicating a lifetime addiction to toast and jam. His contented countenance suggested he had eaten his fill of Hot Toast and Jam for breakfast. As we talked he showed me a graphic from his blog which inclined me to think he also likes mushrooms and toadstools . . . . and listen folks . . . . he sometimes disguises himself as an ant and wanders around blogland. What a peculiar fellow.
"OH EDDIE, WHY DIDN'T YOU ASK HIM FOR A PHOTO TO SAVE US READING THROUGH ALL THIS PALAVER? COME ON EDDIE, WE'RE HUNGRY!! GET ON WITH THE ROAST!"
"OK - sorry! Thought you'd all like to know what he looks like - sorry! I'll draw a line under it then!"
who writes the blog, Hot Toast and Jam
. . . and I believe there's good tea there too!
A very warm welcome to you and your followers
I like doing my own interviews because there is so much incredible talent out in blog-land and if I can somehow help shine the spotlight on that, then wonderful! I totally love to connect with people. I like to get to know what makes someone tick inside, so will often spend a fair bit of time exploring their site initially before asking questions that, hopefully, go one step beyond what they might present, whilst respecting any privacy they wish maintain too. Every question is optional.
(Thanks Mmm. I too think it is great to 'connect' as you explain and I would add that you and I are in a very privileged position to be able to do this regularly . . . but now let's continue with your own interview)
Mmm... Good question. :) Firstly, why I began blogging. A good friend of mine moved his family back to PA and as I was tired of usually losing touch with dear friends, blogging became a way to continue our conversation. Neither of us had done that before. It was very "topical," actually, mainly about our faith and such, with some personal reflections thrown in for creative expression. When that fizzled out, I began another blog upon my wife's initial suggestion as a way to meet other people since I felt so cut off from those perhaps with a background more like mine, or at least from a more diversified culture compared to the homogeny of sorts around here. I was, after all, a big city boy (Londoner) now grown up and stuck in "Aggie-land!" I missed talking about things other than what often men here gravitate towards, you know: sports, TV, hunting, camping, or what have you. Since then, I've gone through about 3 blogs, each meeting a different need for a different period. Sometimes I've used a blog as a cathartic change to force myself out of isolation when having felt so far away from those things one would normally consider "home."
What's the story behind your blog name?
Well, haha, I love simple creature comforts and anything to do with Tea-time, so, as with my other previous blog titles, this one too elicits those same feeling of coziness, familiarity, homeyness. I went from being called, "Mr. Sponge" to now "Mr. Toast!" I have to laugh. (...Just butter me up, won't you? No pun intended...well, OK, maybe a wee bit!) :)
What is the best thing about being a blogger?
Meeting other people one wouldn't otherwise have a chance to know, let alone going beyond that superficial level to discovering something unique about another, whether that's their expressions of life, art, fears or aspirations, or what have you.
It also allows me an avenue to express myself in ways daily life can't afford, such as my first annual Christmas Tea or my regular Creative Tuesdays art co-op, open to anyone regardless of perceived talent -- just making that effort is what counts..and there are even the occasional surprise gifts thrown in. (I dearly love my little community of creative bloggers there.)
I also love being able to write when the mood hits and going back to read it later. (I wouldn't journal as my penmanship is so appalling!) Now, one thing though, I'm a horrid typist, actually, so find myself continually having to go back to fix things. Ha! The typos I leave as comments on others' blogs can be such a hoot sometimes, let me tell you!
What key advice would you give to a newbie blogger?
Ha. Well, that rather depends on their objective, no? I won't discuss how to gain traffic -- one can read that elsewhere easily enough, so here's a few things from own experience:
1. Boiled down, blogging is about "community," so make it inviting! Or, at least, don't slam the door in someone's face with loud, garish background colors or patterns, or offer huge images that haven't been downsized where one is forced waiting for ages to see what's downloading. Studies show people simply won't wait, in fact, but will just move on. With that, make sure the type is easy to read too -- that's essential!
2. Be true to yourself. Decide upfront what kind of blog it will be: personal/journalistic, topical, and stick with it? For me, it's my chance to share my world, inside and out, without trying to give too much info that could potentially be damaging or such to anyone. Sometimes that's meant leaving out some huge trials of hardships or heartache, or even joys, but that's my preference. Yet I want to be real too, so might then say things between the lines at times. Also, though, I want to offer a warm hearth, as it were. A place where I can invite you in, virtually make you a cup of tea for a nice sit down -- something I dearly love to do and don't get to practice nearly enough here! "Real Men" after all, don't do tea here, right? Pity, that. -- Missing out on one of THE greatest traditions of modern civility! Hee. (Well, that's what I like to imagine anyway!)
What is the most significant blog post you've ever read?
Wow. So many. Some have touched me deeply. I'm not so interested in someone arguing their point, even if I wholly agree with it, as much as connecting with that sincerity flowing from another's words. (Show me heart, not just convictions.)
Susan at 29 Black Street is one such person for me. She was my initial blog inspiration, actually. Although quite different in world outlook, I've loved reading her initial honest morning confessions of pain, loneliness and so on, whilst still trying to keep that business edge for her "creative empire building," as she calls it! Now, as it happens, she is madly in love and living a Canadian fairy tale of sorts up there in Nova Scotia! Perhaps masochistic, but I've loved reading those who, in spite of incredible hardships thrown at them, face life to the best of their ability and forge on. It reminds me that life is super complicated -- I can't pretend to know (or offer) all the pat answers to everything in spite of whatever I truly believe and think; that however hard life can be, there is always beauty around too; and comfort, of sorts, can be found in that sharing.
What is the most significant blog post you've ever written?
Whoa. Hmm.... Well, there are some I've written that have felt like they most resonate my longings or inspirations. Some of those might include My Clouds, New Year's Soup, Lost in the Glow, and Snow. All the Christmas Tea posts during, before and after were significant too in how enjoyable it was netting together bloggers under one event and enjoying all their imaginative company. I did love that so and can't wait, in fact, to do it again, come this next Christmas time! (So, stay tuned there and join in! It's great way to meet others in the blog community in a festive Christmas setting.) :)
Which two blogs would you recommend for roasting?
Ha. Well, the ones I've already featured myself, of course! Oh, beyond that? Hmm.. I think Betsy with her Five Men would be an interesting roast! Here is this happily married full-time mom with 4 teenage sons, one in college and three being triplets, each autistic and non-verbal, to boot. If you read her "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" posts" you can see the type of challenges faced daily, yet with this air of grace and that innate ability to make lemonade out of life's lemons -- something of which I myself need to learn to do a lot more!
That concludes the formal aspect of the interview but it would be nice to get to know you a little better while you are slowly turning on the roasting spit. So while you are screaming in agony above the open fire here are a few more questions for you.
You know, I rather like being hot and toasty though, so no probs there, really!
Describe in one sentence your perfect day.
Spending a day with my loved ones and children and, yes, throw in some intense yet full of laughter banter and discussion with one or two, or a couple of good friends, all over a nice Tea, say? You know, one with real warmed up raisin scones, clotted cream, strawberry jam, cucumber whole wheat sandwiches (with the crust cut off) and, of course, good strong cuppas! Retire the evening away in front of a cozy fireplace, tucked under shared covers with a good book in hand and nothing but the tick-tocks of some old grandfather clock the crackle of the fire. Snowing outside would be ideal too. Yes, that sounds just about perfect, really. Ahhhh. Oh, and of course, filling my tartan covered hot water bottle and snuggling down under a soft white quilt and fresh laundered cotton sheets, intertwined through to the early morning light.
(You don't want much, do you? LOL)
Oh, well, I am quite good at that really. Ha. One such time was back in uni when I was always having to work a lot (graveyards shifts) whilst going to school full time. I was constantly exhausted and, with dreaming a lot anyway, often dreamed I was working or going to school too! No rest or time off. One morning, whilst walking outside, right in front of the cafeteria windows, I suddenly had this sensation I was actually dreaming! I thought, "Whoa. Lucid dreaming! Hey, that means I can do anything I want, right? I just have to believe it hard enough!" Convinced, remembering going to bed and not waking up, I wanted to fly and be just like Superman! With one arm and fist outstretched upward, I jumped high, ready to take off! But, umm, no! Of course that didn't happen -- just the inevitable thud back down to hard concrete a micro second later. Haha. Well, "silly, of course," -- I wasn't trying hard enough! Dreams can be so convincing, you know! So, what did I do? I proceeded to unload my heavy backpack ...lightening my load, right there in front of all the gathered students. This time I properly assumed my Superman pose, lowed myself down on bended knee and jumped up as high as I could, to rocket up, up and away! Half way in the air though, just as I was about to start my curve back down, I remembered, with horror, actually, in fact, waking up earlier.! Oh no! This was NO dream! UGH! "Quick! Improvise! Make do!" As my thud hit the pavement, I started to quickly, stretch out my limbs and jog on the spot, punching the air and such, like I was doing some morning Rocky makeover! Yeap, great, that! LOL. The faces aghast around me, let me tell you! But, oh so fun to tell and re-animate at gatherings all these years later. Hahahaha.
(Quite dangerous for you to go to sleep, I imagine! LOL)
If you awoke to discover you had changed gender what would be the first and second things you would do?
Well, of course, I'd try to go back to sleep, realising I was having another one of those weird dreams again (LOL), before I might do anything really dumb! Perhaps I'd then resist this dilemma about wanting to go out and look great in some glamorous black cocktail dress yet, definitely NOT wanting to draw the attention of other men so that would be a problem! OK, in all altered reality, I suspect I'd want to experience feeling a baby kicking inside me during the last trimester or perhaps breast feeding my cherished infant. Yes, that would be incredibly miraculous really, wouldn't it?
(I think I would prefer to decline that experience . . . . but it is indeed a wonderful experience for the ladies I would imagine)
Your turn to ask me a question if you wish.
OK, a question for you:
What, if any provisions do you have for how to take care of your blog should you ever unexpectedly die or be rendered unable to continue? Do you want it to remain up there for an eternity until the internet is no more or would you want it duly shut down, buried with you, so to speak? Hmmm...
What a morbid question LOL. Well I have not as yet included a provision for it in my last will and testament! LOL. This is an interesting question which I have never considered. I knew a lovely blogging lady called Renee who died recently, sadly. Her blog, Circling My Head , is now continued by her daughter - so in a way Renee's blog lives on.
I think mine will lie in 'suspended animation' in it's present form and will probably be forgotten after a while. But one day I hope to include some of my stories and experiences in a book . . . and in that sense some of it may live on. Now you have mentioned it I must make some sort of contingency plans to get the roasts, simmering in my oven and in progress, posted if the grim reaper were to knock unexpectedly at my door. I will put on my famous thinking hat to solve this problem - it never fails me!
Today's Sunday Roast with Hot Toast And Jam is the 128th in
a weekly series of interviews with bloggers from around the world __________________________________________________
This interview will feature in The Roll of Honour
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