Visit the Paul Bailey's Beer Blog site

I splashed out and treated myself on Wednesday to that long promised new pair of walking boots. I’d waited patiently before replacing the trusty pair of Trespass boots, I’d purchased from their shop in London’s Covent Garden, eleven years ago, but despite a valiant attempt to re-affix the Vibram rubber soles that had parted company with the leather uppers, (the repair lasted for just two days walking along the NDW), it was definitely time for a new pair. The patience part came into play because I wanted to ensure that any new boots I acquired would fit snugly and correctly, which is why I booked an appointment at Cotswold Outdoor’s Tunbridge Wells store as soon as "non-essential retail" was allowed to reopen.
The morning of Wednesday 14th April was the day of appointment, which suited me fine as it fitted into my plans to attend a pre-booked, afternoon session in the garden of the Nelson Arms, in Tonbridge. This booking had been made by a friend, almost as soon as Johnson’s much vaunted “Roadmap out of Lockdown”plans were announced, and as word got around via the WhatsApp Beer Socials Group that many of us belong to, it became necessary to increase the booking to two tables. There will be more about the boozy afternoon that followed, in a separate article, so continuing with this one, I decided to make full use of my recently acquired Concessionary Travel Pass and take the bus over to Tunbridge Wells for my 10.30am “Outdoor Footwear” appointment.
It’s true to say that I’d been waiting for this travel pass for some years, as originally, they were handed out when one reached 60 years of age. A few years before I reached this milestone, the government moved the goalpost and recipients must now reach state retirement age in order to qualify. I did have a slight concern that our penny-pinching government would abolish this well-earned “privilege” altogether, but fortunately they did not, and I now have pass that is valid until the end of March 2026. It entitles me to concessionary (free) travel on local bus services throughout England, between 9.30am and 11pm Monday to Friday, and at all times at weekends and on public holidays.
So, onWednesday morning, I timed my walk down into Tonbridge, in order to arrive at the bus stop shortly after 9.30am. I must have just missed the Tunbridge Wells bus, as I had a wait of around 20 minutes. A wise man would have checked the times online, prior to leaving the house, but frustrated at the wait, and eager to partake of my first free bus ride, I used my phone to check whilst standing at the bus stop.
Service bus 77 duly arrived, having battled its way through the road works that seem to be blighting many local roads at the moment. I boarded the bus, mask in place of course, and offered my pass card up to the card reader, close to the driver. Naturally, I made my way upstairs, in order to enjoy the ride and, more importantly, the view. There was a reasonable number of passengers on the bus, but still plenty of room for people to spread out. The journey and the scenery were both enjoyable, although it was sad to see that the row of trees, along the ridge that looks towards North Farm, has been cut down. It might improve the view, but I’m not sure about the motive behind the removal of these trees; some of which were quite substantial. (They were affected by ash die-back disease, apparently).
I arrived in plenty of time for my appointment, the bus having dropped me off about five minutes’ walk away. Cotswold Outdoor in Mount Pleasant, is housed in the town's former Congregational Church, built out of local stone. For a while, the building was home to the local branch of Habitat – whatever happened to them? But for quite some time now it is the place to go for all things outdoors. I had booked my appointment online, so after heading upstairs to the footwear section and announcing myself to one of the assistants, I was escorted to the fitting area at the rear of the store. Following considerable research I’d already decided that Meindl was the brand I was after, and that leather, rather than fabric, would be my material of choice.
The company’s Bhutan design was the one that I’d more or less decided on, but before trying a few pairs on, I had to have my feet measured. The last time anyone measured my feet was when I was a child, as buying a new pair of shoes wasn’t just a case of trying a few pairs on, it was the Full Monty as far as my parents were concerned. This meant my feet had to be measured, as apparently, I had rather wide feet. Mum and dad were also rather choosy when it came to brand of shoe, and for them, that make had to be Clarks. At a time when money was tight, they were both content to splash out on an upmarket brand of shoe, with a good reputation. As Mrs PBT’s would say – you get what you pay for!
The assistant duly measured my feet, and after removing the footbed from one of the boots was able to assess the most appropriate size. In the end I tried on a couple of sizes as Meindl, in common with other reputable boot manufacturers, offer half sizes within their range.
I walked around the store several times, and also had a ramp to climb and descend, in order to establish how the boots, feel on sloping surfaces. Once both parties were satisfied as to the fit and comfort, I decided I would purchase the boots – after all I had been waiting a long time for this moment. I also knew that whilst I might have been able to purchase that particular brand and style slightly cheaper, elsewhere, I’d tried this pair on, they fitted and were comfortable. I am now the proud owner of a brand-new pair of Meindl Bhutan boots, and I am itching to try them out in the field – literally!
Pleased with my purchase, and double pleased that I’d taken the effort to be measured and have my boots properly fitted, I walked along to the bus stop and waited for the bus back to Tonbridge. There was an afternoon in the pub beer garden, and after all, that was something else to look forward to, .
Follow Blog via EmailClick to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.