I am now the proud owner of a pair of wellington boots by Gumleaf, the Norfolk manufacturer. Or at least Norfolk is where their HQ is. The claim is made that these boots were designed there, and 'made in Europe'. Does the location really matter? Personally I don't mind if they were made in Timbuktu, provided they are of high quality, fit for purpose, and fit my feet.
I bought them from Bodle Bros, who have an equestrian shop (I should say 'warehouse', and I could say 'Aladdin's Cave') in the country just north of Burgess Hill. They cost £80, so we are talking middling-expensive wellies here - but you do get a nice-looking, heavy-duty, clearly serious product, which I feel confident will last me for a long time to come. Here's the box they came in:
And here are some shots of the wellies themselves, unpacked at home:
I also bought this natty thing called a boot jack:
That was another £7.84. But it will save me getting my hands (or gloves) muddy. You put one foot on the black rubber patch, and the other between the forks, pull your foot out of the forked boot, swap leg positions, and repeat with the other boot. In the bottom photo, I should really have placed the right boot on the black patch. But then you wouldn't have seen the boot jack so clearly! I'm sure you get the general idea, regardless of any comments from me. And indeed, for all I know, you have a collection of antique boot jacks at home, and are obsessed with them to the point of monomania. There must be some for whom using a boot jack after a hard morning's mucking-out at the stables is the very spice of life.
So that was nearly £88 blown on wellies and a handy accessory. Can I justify this? Of course! Because my old Joules wellies have just split, rendering them useless. These were the trendy blue ones with the hens on them, purchased for £31.50 in December 2009. They looked like this when new:
Hmm. That may have been my style in late 2009. But since then I have developed different notions of what is down-to-earth and practical. We are talking about boots fit for wet grass and mud, after all. Boots that will get dirty. I no longer consider that boots with pretty hens on them cut the mustard.
Sneering townies might go on to say: how often are you really going to wear your overpriced new wellies, Lucy? Well, the answer is: rather frequently. In fact, every single day when on holiday.
You simply can't go caravanning without wellies, especially if pitched on grass - as I shall be for much of my next holiday in the West Country, only three and a half weeks away now. Even if it doesn't rain, there is always a heavy dew in the morning, and that's especially true as Summer fades and Autumn begins. And there are always things to be done outside the caravan before or after breakfast, such as fetching water, or getting something from the car. You can't do any of it in slippers, or normal shoes, unless you want to get them soaking wet - instantly.
And of course you need wellies if walking on a sea shore. Think 'Sussex by the sea'. Think of proverbial sticky, squelching Sussex mud, as found somewhere along every footpath in the county.
I'm pleased to say that these new rubber boots by Gumleaf come higher up my leg than the old Joules boots, which means that this winter I'll be able to walk in deeper snow than hitherto. And more sure-footedly too.
So, an indispensable purchase. Nothing to raise eyebrows about.