Now I have had the same set of wellies since I started caving in Derbyshire. They were all the rage when I bought them. Everyone (I say everyone, but actually only the people I caved with) had the same brand. I think they were called Sure Treads, but they were known as Sure Slips as wet limestone which has been polished by water tumbling over it at high pressure for hundreds of years is particularly slippy even with the best boots in the world. Until a couple of years ago I still had two strips of car inner tube around each ankle so that you could wear your Troll oversuit over the wellies and secure the bottom of the legs tightly to the boots. This meant that you could wade through deep water for short distances without getting wet feet. Deep is a relative term, I know; in this case deep is between knee and waist. If the water was over one’s head then the rubber bands failed to keep your feet dry. So these boots are now over thirty years old and sadly they have sprung a leak. Well, actually the right boot has sprung a leak. I tried gaffa tape and insulation tape to cover the offending slit but neither stayed on in the wet. It was fine when dry but not in the wet. And it’s in the wet that counts. If I only wore them in the dry they are actually still quite serviceable.
So, I have had to buy my second set of wellie boots. They are green and have treads on the soles. After thirty years the old ones were similar to racing slicks and skidded about all over the place. Maybe having graduated on wet limestone I didn’t notice the lack of grip. Or maybe over the years you don’t notice the gradual deterioration but they were worn out. The new boots also fit. This is also a revelation. I didn’t realise that wellie boots could fit. Not that I tried them on in the shop; I just selected a pair which stated they were the correct size, seemed to be intact and were middle of the range budget wise. What is more they fit around my calfs as well, especially when I am wearing my Seasalt Wellie Warmers inside. This is an added bonus as they gather no sawdust from the chainsaw. The good old Sure Treads were like funnels for sawdust, leaves and twigs, not to mention water. This was irritating to say the least. Not only did it mean stopping frequently to empty the detritus, but it also took ages picking the bits out of socks before they went in the wash. The snug calf fit also makes them quieter and the slapping noise of the top of the boot flapping against the leg as you walk has completely disappeared. I can imagine this would make them better for sneaking up on animals and people who weren’t deaf much easier.
I am contemplating administering a hole in the left boot, filling my old wellies with potting compost and planting strawberries in the top. After thirty years of mediocre service they deserve a second life and I think they will look rather good hanging on a wall around the barn. By the way, I do not recommend or condone the use of wellie boots in conjunction with a chainsaw. There are many boots which offer far better protection and are designed for the purpose.