In her weekly column, Maddie Grigg shares tales from her life in rural Dorset . . .
LIVING where I live, in Lush Places, a good, sturdy pair of wellies is a must, because sometimes this part of Dorset is more like Slush Places. Mud and puddles everywhere.
A year or so ago, Mr Grigg caught me eyeing up the boots of one of our neighbours, Mrs Regal Bird. I don’t think I’ve mentioned her before, but she is a very elegant and serene woman. She is so graceful, she reminds me of a swan.
Not just any old wellies for her. No, her boots are of brown leather, with a criss-cross pattern on them and a thick sole.
“Don’t tell me,” Mr Grigg said. “You’d like a new pair of boots like Mrs Regal Bird’s.”
The question had arisen because the boots I’d had for years had decided to spring a leak, just as I was walking Arty through a muddy puddle, causing me to wail like a baby. I hate having wet feet.
“Well,” I said. “The thing with boots like Mrs Regal Bird’s is that they wouldn’t look out of place if I had to hot foot it from the field to the high street. They’re perfect.”
So, one Christmas, I became the proud owner of a pair of boots just like my neighbour’s. I later discovered that Mrs Putter and our next-door neighbour, Mrs Champagne Charlie, had been given exactly the same by their other halves for Christmas.
It seems that word about Mrs Regal Bird’s boots had got around.
Mine lasted two whole weeks. I was walking through a stream with Arty and suddenly became aware of my sock being as wet as the riverbed.
“That’s ridiculous,” Mr Grigg said. “It’s not as if they were cheap.”
Discovering a split in the sole, we went back to the shop and got an identical pair as a replacement. Again, these lasted a fortnight. This time, however, it was not the manufacturer’s fault. It was that blessed dog of mine.
Artemis is coming up to three years old now, but she still hasn’t outgrown her habit of chewing anything she can get her paws on.
Back in Greece, when she was just a pup, she demolished my granddaughter’s beautiful butterfly sandals. She’s eaten her way through slippers, Christmas presents and the base of a pine cupboard next to her bed.
It can’t be boredom, because she does it even after a five-mile route march through Dorset’s most undulating countryside. That dog just loves to chew.
It was my own fault, really. I shouldn’t have left my new boots where she could see them. But they were on the draining board of the utility room sink after I’d scrubbed off the soles.
I forget that Arty is a big dog, especially when she gets up on her hind legs, which she is apt to do when she spots something she fancies.
I should have known, really. I was busy with some admin on the computer on the dining-room table when I realised that Arty was no longer at my feet. She was quiet. Too quiet.
That’s when I discovered my lovely boots had been reduced to a mangled wreck. Well, actually, just one of them, but it might as well have been the other one as well. Unless I planned to hop around the fields, my boots weren’t much use to me.
So I’ve abandoned the Mrs Regal Bird look and bought myself some cheap wellies which do the job very nicely, thank you, and also come in the most delightful shade of pink.
I am also very careful where I leave them so that Arty can never be tempted again.
Some hope . . . n
Wellies are a must in Lush Places!