Thought Hunters were the daddies of the welly world? Me too.
But allow me to introduce you to Aigle: the king of rubber footwear.
These bad-ass boots, handcrafted in France, turn everything you thought you knew about wellingtons (rubbery and er, green) on its head. I first heard whisperings about them in the last year or two (although they’ve been around since 1853).
But it wasn’t until the husband entered the market for a pair of new wellies this winter, that I knew there was only one brand I was going to turn too.
(Quick ‘foot’note here: Aigle are arguably usurped by French brand Le Chameau – the absolute crème de la crème for those in the know. But at £200+ a pop, you have to basically be Prince Charles to own a pair.)
Naturally, procuring a pair of Aigles wasn’t as straightforward as simply popping down to the local shoe shop (is it ever?). I won’t go into details but let’s just say it involved much internet research and a train ride to London. Excessive, I know.
I finally settled on a pair of Aigle’s ISO Parcours 2. With their neoprene surface, special ankle-hugging contours and anti-fatigue insulation, these water-repellant bad boys laugh in the face of puddles and sneer at cold toes.
The husband was a little sceptical about his new wellies at first. Like the electric toothbrush, I had to convince him that these really were WELLIES FOR LIFE.
But as soon as he’d paced around the lounge a few times, he deemed them incredibly comfortable and very warm (in fact there’s even been internet rumours of them being TOO warm. First world problem alert).
Today’s walk from Addingham to Ilkley was the perfect day to try them out: the first sunny day after two months of torrential rain.
If you’ve never been to Ilkley, I urge you to get in your car and head there immediately. It’s an attractive market town nestled in the Yorkshire Dales. There’s a Betty’s tea room, independent book shops and an air of English finery about the place. It’s little wonder that is was recently dubbed the happiest place to live in the UK.
We sat and ate a M&S sandwich on a bench outside Betty’s (the only downside to donning wellies for a muddy walk is that they don’t quite cut the mustard in posh tea rooms). Still, we love park benches (and there wasn’t a Pizza Hut pizza in sight!).
If there’s one criticism, Ilkley is trifle twee and a bit middle class. Heck, even the buskers appear to be straight out of the local grammar school.
Addingham is Ilkley’s little sister further up the River Wharfe: all bubbling brooks, cutesy cottages and waddling ducks.
The village is also home to the husband’s favourite-ever house: a Georgian beast of beauty that he believes he will one day retire to.
Anyway, before I digress into one of those smug ‘lifestyle’ blogs rambling on about bracing country walks and Gywnnie-style organic juices, let’s get back to the boots.
The husband bloomin loved them. He sloshed through sludgy mud, sploshed in bulging becks, and splashed in over-sized puddles.
As more and more walkers passed us in their hoi-polloi Hunters (moi included), he felt like the Duke of Wellington.
And then the inevitable happened.
Striding towards him – looking every inch the country squire in his flat cap and black Labrador trotting obediently at his heels – was a man, wearing… an identical pair of brown Aigle boots.
As he passed, the husband locked eyes competitively. They exchanged a knowing look.
‘He has your boots on!’ I whispered.
‘I know,’ said the husband. ‘And he knew that I knew he had!’
‘But did he know that you knew that he knew that you knew?’ I said.
‘That makes no sense whatsoever,’ said the husband.
Back in Addingham, the duke lingered longingly over the gate of his favourite house.
He might be the duke of wellingtons…
But he wasn’t quite the lord of Addingham.