Saturday, 17 January 2015

Winter brogues

In which G.M. Norton encourages chaps to be safe this winter and wear their rubbers.


I love a good pair of shoes. Whenever I have a spare moment, usually between the hours of 9-5, I can’t resist visiting various shoemaker websites and admiring their finely crafted leather goods.

Naturally, leather soled shoes are the preferred choice for any self-respecting gentleman but I must confess to being an advocate of the rubber soled variety. 
 
I realise that some may frown upon such creations and that just the thought of a rubber soled shoe is enough to send a shiver down the spine of any thoroughbred chap.
As one sees it, inclement weather has a disastrous effect on leather soles. If you find yourself having cats and dogs launched at you from a great height, it is crucial that your shoes are treated with the utmost care afterwards. To aid in the preservation of your favourite leather soled shoes, you should always put shoes trees inside (or failing that, newspaper) and set them on their sides to allow them to dry properly. Shoes should also be rotated regularly, rather than worn every day.

As I breezily announced a moment or so ago, I do feel that rubber soled shoes are a gift from the shoe gods (no, I don’t mean John Lobb).

During the winter months, not only do we have to carefully dodge puddles but we also need to avoid ice and occasionally, tread through a thick layer of snow. Unfortunately, leather soled shoes have no real traction and as a result, it is quite likely that you will fall head over heels and land on your bottom. That’s where rubber soles save the day for me.

Keen to avoid such embarrassment, I recently acquired a new pair of winter shoes. Following extensive research, I plumped for the Barbour Ilkley brogues which come complete with a commando sole. 
They are dark brown in colour and ideal for country pursuits. Of course, Barbour is synonymous with both the Great Outdoors and excellence. As the proud owner of a Barbour jacket, it only made sense to go with the Ilkleys. Especially at half the price. Usually priced at £160, I managed to get them for £80. I love a bargain almost as much as I love shoes.

So far, I’ve been highly impressed with them. I can confidently escort my beloved and two little ones across the icy paths. The shoes were comfortable from the off which is always pleasing and they look rather smart too. A sturdy little number, they seem very well-made and with a Goodyear welt, they can be resoled when the chunky rubber heel has sufficiently worn down.

They seem to be available at a range of prices at the moment. I acquired my pair from John Norris of Penrith but given the low price tag, they only seem to have a couple of sizes left. Barbour are also currently offering them at £100.

G.M. Norton
Protagonist of ‘Norton of Morton’



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