Well it’s getting so close to Christmas the inevitable had to happen. I was summoned by my better half to go shopping. So on Sunday we dropped the dog of at the in laws and headed to the mall. Now I like my walking, Its one of my passions, but somehow to trail around the shops for four hours stretching my arms with the weight of the shopping bags wasn’t much fun. Plus I’m a few hundred quid lighter!
On our journey home it was apparent that the weather had taken a turn for the worst. The car was saying an outside temp of 2℃ I know that’s not cold, but if you add in the gale force winds it felt very unpleasant. All I could think was, crap I have to take the dog out when I get back. A task I wasn’t looking forward too.
So we arrived home about 8pm, I hadn’t eaten for hours and was really looking forward to some grub, but instead I had the pleasure of getting all my winter gear on and hitting the wet muddy fields with my boy Bailey (black lab in pic).
my boy Bailey
He is an all weather dog. In that I mean come rain hail or shine he is always ready to go walkies. In his short 4 years living he has never missed a single walk! that’s twice a day everyday. I don’t be-grudge him his walks, he is the most important part of our life’s, believe me this dog wants for nothing!
As I set off through the fields, sleet was driving in hard from the east (the coldest direction around here as it is from the north sea) making the going quite hard. As I walked I started to realise as I always do, being out in these terrible dark wet and windy conditions isn’t a chore, in fact I actually love it. I get excited by the harsh conditions, the inclement weather refreshes the mind body and soul.
I guess there is something in my genes, something that makes me happy when I am outside in the the country, I can’t say what exactly it is, but if you asked where I would rather be; in a nice warm shopping center or struggling up a hillside in a gale force wind, the hillside wins every time.
Now where is Baileys leader? its peeing down rain outside and it’s that time again, yippee!
As a child I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time in the country, rural Durham to be specific, at a time where crime was something you’d only read about in the papers rather than personally encounter. Youngsters could freely play without the need of constant supervision; by the term play I am referring to sports you understand, unlike today’s computer obsessed culture. This was a time where children were expected to socially interact; likewise parents and guardians were too.
We’d spend many weeks throughout the year at a holiday home based in Hamsterly which was owned by my grandparents, at the time we’d take for granted the freedom and sense of simplistic living associated with living in a caravan. As time moved on the health and wellbeing of my grandparents deteriorated thus resulting in the sale of the property, this was a sad day, no more would we have a river gently trickling by our front door, the swing-ball set would see its last day.
To our surprise my father purchased a caravan a short while later in Staiths, North Yorkshire. Our sense of freedom was restored. Many happy years were spend in Yorkshire; once I become old enough to travel down alone, it became a retreat from the stresses and strains of life living in the city. The vast unpopulated open space made life feel less complicated, I found myself intrigued by the local farmers carelessly yet methodically carrying out their daily duties ranging from milking cows to gathering eggs.
As time went on my connection with the countryside and the way of life there become somewhat disconnected, the demands of work along with relationship commitments meant that my life back home was more exciting than that of evening strolls down to the beach and along the riverside. During this period the site closed down due to the ill health of the land owner, however, being slightly self obsessed at the time my thought were centred on different things at home.
Many years later, 11 years to be precise, I still feel a connection with the country. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, I remained firmly rooted in the city. By no means do I intend on stay at my current location in Newcastle upon Tyne, on the contrary in fact.
A dear friend of mine has recently moved to a rural location which offers all the benefits associated with country life, my visits up there remind me of the years I spend with my family and friends as a child away from bright lights and industrial backdrop of the Tyne. My trips up to Ulgham, Northumberland, will always hold as special place in my heart knowing that the simple country way of life still exists. The casual walks down past the stream may not be as enjoyable as the times spend paddling as a child but then again I don’t think my joints would take it now, or maybe I’ve just got a little more sense. I hope someday when my children are growing up they have the opportunity to experience all the great things I have over the years, If I don’t manage to achieve what I aim to in life i.e. the country home, I think it’s important to ensure my children and my children’s children appreciate the simpler things in life and I genuinely feel we can learn a lot from country folk.
It’s never easy wanting something that is potentially unattainable, yet I find myself striving to achieve the impossible, the good thing about being a professional is there is always job opportunities available which will inevitably help feed my dream of being reunited with my country roots.
As I spend so much time traipsing through wet muddy fields walking my dog I though it was about time to sling my cheapy wellies I have had for years and invest in a decent pair.
Lets face it there are not many reviews for wellies by real people, yea there are plenty of generic reviews by people trying to get you to buy them, but I wouldn’t trust them to much!
So the only good quality welly boot I had heard of were by a company caller Hunter. It seems if your looking for a good quality welly boot then hunter wellies are very well known and probably the welly boot of the upper and middle classes.
My partner Helen already has a pair, but she got the standard bottom of the range ones!! they seemed OK and looked like a decent enough welly, I think she paid about £45 for them. Now I am no welly expert but I just couldn’t see what made them any better than a standard no name cheap pair. She assured me that they were extremely comfy and felt better than her previous cheap ones.
OK so I’m almost sold on hunters wellies, but I do like to research before I buy, so decided the best place to find out what real people are saying about hunters wellies were the outdoor forums like horse and hound for example. To cut a long story, there were mixed reviews about the Hunter boots but what I did find out was, if I was to buy hunter boots then go for the Hunter Balmoral and if your budget would stretch the Neoprenes.
I couldn’t justify the extra cost of the Neoprenes as it’s easy to put on a thick comfy pair of socks in the winter. So I decided on the standard Hunter Balmoral in olive.
You can see from the first picture how the Hunter Balmorals look next to the hunter original (excuse the mud But I do use them).
Hunter Balmoral next to Hunter Original wellies
Bear in mind in the above pic the Balmorals are male size 8 (uk) and the Originals are female size 5 (uk) so my Balmorals will be a bit bigger anyway.
The obvious difference is the sole the height they go up your calf and the adjustable side strap.
Here you can see the substantial difference between the soles of the Balmoral and the Original.
The Balmoral has a much more substantial and grippier ( is that even a word?) looking sole.
The adjustable side strap also serves a purpose. You can see from the two pics below that you can actually adjust the Balmoral if you have a larger calf (like me)
The strap on the Original doesn’t really do much.
I can’t say what the Hunter Original wellies are like to wear but I can say the Balmoral are very comfy. In fact they don’t really feel like you are wearing a welly boot, I would liken them more to a walking boot.
Initially I did struggle to get them off! as I have a high instep, but after a few days of wearing them they come off OK and there is also a slight lip on the heel that you can use to aid removal.
I also spent a considerable amount of time trying to find the cheapest online store. ( I did have a look around the garden centers but they were so much more expensive)
after a lot of research i ended up getting mine here Simply Hike
But have recently found them to be a little cheaper here.
I have been wearing these wellies everyday now for over three month and can say I am still 100% happy with them and would definitely say they are worth the extra money and they also look the part!
Her is the genuine Hunterboot website http://www.hunter-boot.com/
And here is a fashion type advert by Hunter themselves!!
Nov 2012 update.
Just thought I would add this little update as I have had quite a few emails asking how my wellies are holding up.
well I have had them well over a year now and still use them almost everyday (we had a very wet summer) to walk the dog.
They are still as good as new! if I were to clean them up properly they would look the same as the day I bought them.
So big thumbs up!
I must say though I have a friend who bought the cheaper hunter classics, he walks his dog maybe 3 hours a day and he says the heels on his are wearing down. I haven’t actually seen them to make my own judgement though.
I do remember that the heel was one of my considerations in buying the Balmoral as I thought it looked an awful lot more substantial.
Any way I’m still really pleased with mine I will update this again this time next year to see how they are doing.