“Let’s go for a walk” used to be a dreaded phrase. When I was eleven, and my brother six, we collaborated - spinning outlandish excuses and reasons why staying at home was the better option. It was largely a pretense, or maybe just an inevitable part of the routine – enacted between the making of sandwiches and the pulling on of wellies. Our protests melted away faster than icecream on a warm day once we were outside. We clambered through the next few hours, stick fighting and climbing trees, or chasing each other through fields in the evening light. And yet, the next proposed walk would be met with exactly the same response, and the cycle started again. We had to be tempted out by promises of blackberries or bags of sherbert lemons. We folded arms, deliberately left our anoraks behind and grumbled as we left the house.
The desire to stay inside has been thoroughly broken now. I love a quick pound up the lane before twilight, or an early morning visit to the lakes. What I most like about the countryside is its mix of the solid with the ephemeral. It’s comforting to know that whatever happens, the crops are sown and the hills sit amiably. Trees, fields and flowers are a constant presence. They remain after each generation has bloomed and gone. But nature, like a snake, is always growing and then sloughing off new skins.
Whenever I’m feeling wound up, I head outdoors. I’ll walk down the road, swerve around the edge of my neighbour’s house and along a path with sentinel trees on either side. There are steps hacked into the bank at the end, with a rather ugly silver gate at the top. But the two interlinking fields beyond provide just the right distance for quickly beaten footsteps. From the top I can gaze across the village. Pheasants screeching further off are rusty saws, and the tang of fox hangs in the grass. Depending on the time of year, the view will be curled with woodsmoke, blurred by mist or bright in summer sun. Recently the scenery has been obscured. With a month’s worth of rain falling in twenty-four hours, leading to floods, cancelled trains and half-submerged cars, never has a decent pair of wellies been more needed.
The wonder of wellies: ideally they shouldn’t be too clean, but crusted with mud and spattered with puddle water. They will have stones stuck in the grooves of their heels. They’ll have been used to wade through streams, slide across fallen trees, and tramp along the edges of fields. Everyone has them, often stacked up - or more likely tossed together in a pile. They have a Russian doll–like sense of scale – going from huge to tiny as they encompass the foot sizes of the family.
For now though, my usual sage green wellies have been cast aside and replaced with this delectable Joules pair shown above. They have been on only one (dry) outing so far and are thus still very shiny and new-looking, but I can’t wait to kick them through leaves. It was hard to say no to an offer of a pair, particularly once the practicality was factored in alongside the style. I can escape cagoules and fleeces, but wellies are just one thing a country girl can’t be without. However, I can happily state that they are usually the only practical part of my outfit. I have clambered over barbed wire fences in long lace skirts, taken three hour hikes in tea dresses and capes, and even took a stroll last Christmas day in a full-length red jumpsuit with white polka dots.
Big thanks to Joules for the Welland Women's premium lace wellies. It was difficult choosing from the many varieties and colours, but these laced blue beauties were the ones that absolutely jumped out. They arrived in a great floral-print box that I'm already re-using for storage and they even come with an alternative pair of dusky pink laces, which I will be making good use of in the future. Here's to many years of rambling and wandering around.
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Alongside the wellies, I'm wearing a vintage lace and cotton slip from a market stall. The jacket is Karen Millen (bought in a charity shop), the hat is vintage and the little blue bag is second hand.