Growing up in Wales meant that for much of the year when venturing into the Great Outdoors I had my wellies firmly welded onto my feet. As a teenager, however, I scorned folk who wore their wellies into town to do their shopping!(How gauche!). It took me a while therefore to realise that the girls I saw stomping round shopping centres in the UK in multi-coloured, multi-patterned gumboots were actually making A Fashion Statement! I blame it on the proliferation of outdoor music festivals in Britain – Glasto Chic, indeed.
Last year someone posted The Hounds of Geevor on my facebook timeline and I had to look up David Kemp’s work. A master of the found object, he says :-
A friend, working on the maintenance staff at Geevor, watched a mechanical digger burying a pile of redundant miners boots, & gave me a shout, I drove over & filled my pickup with the discarded boots, not knowing what I might do with them. This discarded footwear was to become THE HOUNDS OF GEEVOR.
“Relics of a vast subterranean workforce that rarely saw the light of day, each of these Hounds fed up to three & a half families (seven boots per dog). Released from their underground labours, they now wander the clifftops, looking for a proper job”
I also found the picture below with a Boris lookee-likee giving the whole thing scale. Check out David Kemp’s clever pieces at:- http://www.davidkemp.uk.com/blog/tinners-hounds.html and http://www.davidkemp.uk.com/blog/well-heeled-bitches.html
Not a lot of people know this… One of my neighbours used an old wellie to repair the distinctive chevrons on the front of her Deux Cheveux citroen. Here in Spain the wellie is known as a bota de regar or bota de agua (I don’t think they’re very keen on the imperial war-leader, Wellington…) Commonly seen in these parts are elderly campesinos stumping about with azada in hand buscando la acequia. And the locals here still think it’s Not On to wear them in the supermarket.
I thought the welly was a truly egalitarian item of footwear (apart from the snooty Hunter range) but then I discovered Le Chameau, as modelled by certain recently married members of the Brit nobility, which are a snip! (a snip! I say) at £285. The cheapest wellies I’ve spotted are £5 a pair – but I can’t gettem up my steely muscled calves…. (top tip from your correspondent: always, but always, wear good quality wool socks in yer wellies to properly regulate the temperature of the tootsies – cotton? Oh no, no, no!).
In Wales the gumboot as well as being essential survival kit is also used as an exhortation to have a go, as in “give it welly, bach!” Often heard off-pitch while a scrum is under way. Hwyl!!! http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-hui1.htm
I recently had a tour around walking mate Martin Elliot’s website – he’s another keen photographer – so here’s a wee link- Martin Elliot photos. No photos of wellies yet dispite the evil storms which have menaced The Beach Hut over the last month.
Last thoughts on Giving It Welly –A quote from Autumn Walking 2013 – “If I had known how steep the first walk was – I wouldn’t have done it! If I had known how difficult the concrete path (down to Soportujar) was – I wouldn’t have done it! If I had known how hot it was going to be – I wouldn’t have done it! Then I might not have done the last walk which was superb. But I did do it all and I survived and am really happy with myself!” Result!