Dunlop, Hunter, Barbour, Le Chameau…
These names, in conjunction, might not mean much to you unless you live a rural life and need your wellies every day.
The most obvious difference between the brands is price, with a pair of Le Chameau wellies costing ten times the price of a pair of Dunlops. Are they worth it? Well, it depends on who you ask.
There is, too, a snob factor – but I’m not going there.
Where I am going is a winter country walk.
Just imagine it: the moistness in the air, tiny drops of water beading the branches and hedgerows, the soft scents promising Spring and that wonderful squelch, squelch, squelch as you splash through puddles and mud.
And then, you realise something isn’t right: your big toe is colder than it should be. The cold spreads over your whole foot. The squelch is coming from inside your wellie. Yes, your wellie has a hole and it’s letting the cold water in.
It’s a horrible sensation. It takes all the joy out of the walk. You trudge, squelch, trudge, squelch – with a totally different kind of squelch - back home, take off your wellies and peel off your cold, wet sock. You dry your foot and put on warm dry socks and your slippers, and make a mug of hot chocolate.
What you should do, of course, and you know you should, is buy another pair of wellies right away. Whether your wellies come from the garden centre, or the country store or the internet, you should get a new pair as soon as you can.
But you don’t, do you. Well, I don’t. We don’t remember the wellie has a leak until the next time we wear it and get a cold wet foot. Somehow, we carry the hope that the wellie will have magically mended itself. Even when we do get new wellies, sometimes we keep the old ones as “spares,” even though we would never keep a spare tyre for the car if we knew it had a puncture too.
We tend to hold onto old habits and old relationships too, even when they have stopped serving us or we have been betrayed. It is said the definition of madness is to keep doing the same thing but expecting a different result. If a habit or environment or relationship is toxic - if you keep getting cold, wet feet - then it’s time for a change. Whether you invested only a moderate amount in a pair of Dunlops, or a small fortune in Le Chameaus, you still need new boots.
This new year, especially if you are going for a county walk, think about those things in your life that make you uncomfortable and even destroy your pleasure in living.
It may be as dramatic as needing to change your job or end a relationship, but it might be a simple as buying a new pair of wellington boots.