Eat your heart out, townies!
I was driving south-eastwards yesterday, intending to go walking in the brilliantly bright sunshine high up on the South Downs near Alfriston, when Jane from Aston Bourne in Brighton phoned me to say that my new Dubarry boots had arrived. Well, what would you do? I completely changed my plans. I turned Fiona around, and sped off in the opposite direction, well south-westwards anyway. She was just as excited as I was, and her blazing headlights cleaved a path throught the afternoon traffic as we thundered into Brighton, other drivers saluting us as we passed. Well, they honked their horns! The police must have fixed the traffic lights specially: it was a green wave. Within half an hour I was smiling inanely at Jane, and we opened the box, as if it were a delicious shared conspiracy.
The size 42.5/8.5 boots fitted perfectly. I didn't wear them straight away. I took them back to my favourite underground car park in The Lanes, hid them in the boot, and went shopping for a cream short-sleeved cardigan, to expand my collection of items that would look good with these new boots. I found exactly what I wanted at Jane Norman (who seem to have come through their rocky phase earlier in the year - full of really nice autumn stock now). Then it was Debenhams. I thought it worth looking for a brown or dark tan long jacket or short coat that would also go with the boots. And Betty Jackson had just what I wanted. I hesitated over the price - I was stretching my new monthly budgeting arrangements a bit here - then made up my mind and bought it. So now I'm all set to step out into the autumn sunshine - or rain - properly attired!
And nicely in time for my Somerset holiday in early November. I've booked it. I'm pitching my caravan at the Caravan Club site at Cheddar. That's perfect for the coast (sunsets at Burnham-on-Sea, Weston-super-Mare and Clevedon), the levels (more sunsets) , the Mendip Hills and Cheddar Gorge (some nice walking, and maybe a spot of tourist caving), Bristol, Bath, Wells, and the American Museum at Claverton, to name some places I intend to visit. And my aunt in Newport is just an hour away.
Now for some pix. Here are the boots, just after unpacking at home, so the labels are still on. The sunset light in my lounge has intensified the colour of the leather very well:
I think they're gorgeous. I've been wearing them around the house, of course - and have them on at this very moment - but I can't wait to wear them out and about for the first time. You'll see at once that these are not 'fashion boots', even though they are very fashionable. They are not made of thin leather that hugs the shape of your calf. There's no heel. Nor will you require long shoehorns or discreet zips to get them on and off. Nor will they be a problem if your feet swell, or if you are prone to corns. They are supple and roomy with a decent rubber grip pattern on the sole, and their underlying purpose is to keep you stylishly dryshod (and sure-footed) in muddy farmyards, on moorland paths, and when watching Highland Games or hurling in the rain. If kept pristine, I'd expect to wear them around any town, even on Oxford Street, in any store, in any restaurant, in any kind of gallery. I wouldn't wear them to the opera. And if walking craggy hills I would wear my proper Alt-Berg walking boots instead. But for half the year, if I want a degree of style, then these boots will be my outdoor footwear of choice, and I expect them to age well.
They are lined with Gore-Tex, the water-resistant but breathable material, and I understand that I can wade across streams in them, as if they were posh wellies. I'll take that with a pinch of salt! But they should shrug off the effects of long wet grass. Their roominess means that in icy weather I can wear snug and warm socks in them.
One of the labels said 'Yard manure and waste liquids can be very corrosive to leather. To prolong performance and protection for your Dubarrys, always scrub them with fresh tap water after exposure'. Oh damn. That means I can't stomp through cowpats, slurry and chicken shit and then simply step into Fiona, fire her up, and arrive triumphantly at the Hunt Ball. I'll first have to find a mountain stream or cold water tap and wash 'em off. What a palaver! All for the best, I suppose.