The purpose of boots

I love my boots. Fashionistas are immediately imagining a neat row of highly polished designer footwear – a pair for every winter occasion. Well, good for them, and they look great when they wear them. I am no fashionista, but I do love my boots.

I am a one pair of boots at a time kinda gal. One pair can last years. When those boots wear out, they become gardening boots. Wearing my gardening boots for any length of time makes me really love my real newish boots. To illustrate the point:

My Courtney boots from Zimbabwe, now ten years old, two of which have been spent as gardening boots. I dropped them on the concrete after gardening one day, and this is how they landed.
My Courteney boots from Zimbabwe, now ten years old, two of which have been spent as gardening boots. I dropped them on the concrete after gardening one day, and this is how they landed. Those are the original laces, by the way.

The purpose of boots is that they protect one’s feet, as do many kinds of footwear. Imagine what damage  you would do to your feet if you did not wear shoes? Boots such as the ones above are also useful when one pushes the spade into the earth to dig a hole with one’s foot. I dug a new vegetable bed barefoot once. Just once. Never again. It was boots or nothing from then on.

My gardening boots pictured above were not always mere gardening boots. They doubled up as my smart boots. This meant that I did a lot of polishing of my boots, chiefly after using them as gardening boots. Here is the very first picture I took of my boots in mid-March 2011. I am at the train station in Lisbon staring at concrete and steel and tarmac in the late afternoon. I came to this city to negotiate my contract for the translation of ‘the Vine Book‘ with the publisher, and now I am on my way home.  There were too many thoughts running through my head, so staring into space, with my feet in the foreground, seemed like the best thing to do. You will be delighted to know that the top half of me was much more presentable than the bottom half would suggest.

I need groovier socks.
I need groovier socks.

I did not know it then, but the photograph of my boots on a suitcase while waiting for a train or a plane would become somewhat of a tradition with me.

That might sound weird.  Wait until I tell you I that I can identify the occasion and the date of  each boots-on-suitcase photo. That not only sounds weird, it is weird.

Whatever you think of my boots, it is important to remember that I like them.

This was in winter 2015.  I was having a cup of coffee outside while contemplating all the work to be done in the garden.  The year before, my new boots had walked the length and breadth of Porto, and walked extensively in England during an 11-day holiday there. They are Spanish hunting boots, waterproof but not stain-proof, warm, and immensely comfortable. The garden is considerably clearer now!


I published this photo on Facebook. Immediately, one friend exclaimed, “With boots!”
I replied, “I don’t garden in these; I merely contemplate gardening with coffee in hand when wearing this pair.”My friend commented, “That’s a very specific purpose!”
I probably had better things to do than talk about my boots on Facebook, but I was having fun, so informed my friend, and anyone else who cared to follow this ridiculous conversation that my boots were “also used for communing with goats on a friend’s farm in the south of England while on holiday. Actually, these boots have many uses.”

So now, much more had been revealed about my boots.  With her next comment, my friend teased me and pulled me up by my bootstraps, so to speak, for not having explained everything from the outset: “Oh, coffee AND goat boots. You should have said. I think everyone has a pair of those.”

If you have not got a pair of coffee and goat boots, then you cannot possibly also take photographs in them while a photographer takes a photo of you doing so in an intense moment of concentration. As you can see, these Spanish hunting boots are also photogenic.


The only disadvantage of boots is that you cannot wear them in summer in the Algarve. Even sandals feel too hot, so barefoot is the best option, except when gardening.

The most delightful thing about summer being over is being reunited with my boots, pictured here two weeks ago on a stone bench two minute’s walk away from my home while I waited for the mobile clinic to arrive .


The glorious purpose of good strong boots is frequently lost on the general population. It is certainly something that city folk can find strange. Sometimes, even as a freelance translator who is free to wear her boots as often as she likes in her semi-rural home village, business comes before comfort. That’s okay, I have boots for business meetings in big cities too. These boots do not require a suitcase for support, but do serve the purpose of looking at railway tracks quite well. They are not good for walking, though, and I only wear them when I feel obliged by social constraints to do so.


As I get ready to travel to a conference of editors and translators, I have remembered another amazing purpose of boots: to hold up the entire queue at airport security checks. While the same is true of belts, jackets and laptops , boots do it best. Removing your boots also gives you the satisfaction of showing off one’s comfortable socks to complete strangers. Once they are back on your feet and all laced up, boots make it easy for you walk quickly and overtake all those people who were subjected to viewing your rather inelegant rebooting amid the half-unpacked mess of your essential travel items just minutes earlier.

I expect I shall be taking yet another photo much, like this one, of my frequently x-rayed boots in the next couple of days:


By way of useless information, my old gardening boots have finally given in. I haven’t the heart to throw them away just yet. Not until I find another fantastic pair to wear as new ones, I suppose.

©2016 Allison Wright

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