At 9 o’ clock this morning the thermometer on one side of our flat showed the temperature to be about -31C (that’s about -23.8F for anyone who uses Fahrenheit). The thermometer on the other side of the flat disagreed, and adamantly showed a temperature of nearer -22 (-7.6F). To be honest, either one is pretty cold.
Living in Finland you’d think I’d be used to the cold. You’d think I’d be prepared for it… I think that, despite having been here for at least a little part of the last three winters, my brain is still hard-wired to English winter, and finds anything below zero to be a bit on the chilly side. I truly feel sympathy for those students in my class who hail from warmer climes – I’m sure they’re finding the temperature difference far more difficult than I am.
Winter here in Finland, as you would imagine, normally means lots of snow. I have been told that there are sometimes winters without snow(!) but I am yet to experience such a thing. Lots of snow, of course, requires suitable footwear. Which brings me to a story. A story about boots.
For my first visit to Finland, back in 2009, I bought a pair of winter boots from an on-line retailer. I say winter boots because that’s what they were advertised at. And whilst they were suitable for a short visit for which very little time was spent outdoors (too cold!) I would later come to release that they were certainly not winter boots. Not in Finnish terms, at least.
Only a few months after buying the boots, when I was once again in Finland, the zip broke. On one of the boots the slider came off of one side of the zip. I returned them to the retailer and got a replacement. By this time I had, however, started to notice some problems with the Winter-suitability of the boots – they were fairly thin so added no extra warmth, and the grip on them was laughably minimal. But, having paid for them and arranged a shiny new replacement (they weren’t actually shiny…) I figured I may as well use them. I counteracted the problems by wearing extra thick socks, and always holding on to S when we ventured outside!
The replacement pair did last a fair while longer. I would guess it was a bit over a year later, near the end of the winter, that the actual teeth of the zip began to come away from the tape. Being the end of winter I wasn’t bothered about buying a new pair. We looked into getting the zip repaired, but as it would cost almost as much as the boots we decided not to bother. Instead we sewed a “stop” on so that the zip wouldn’t go down as far as where the break was. Seeing as the break was fairly low down the boot the solution seemed to work.
Later that same year, when winter came once again, two things finally made me decide to replace the boots. The zips continued to break, firstly just above the “stop” on the one boot, and then much higher up on the other boot. As zipping past the break would make the zip stick, this was rather inconvenient for wearing them. The second thing that made me decide to buy new boots was the lack of grip finally catching up with me. I was walking down the steps at the bus station when one foot went out from under me and I fell (rather dramatically I might add), managing to hit my back in the process. I somehow managed to hold my head up so that it didn’t hit the step, which was pretty lucky, but it did mean that I had a very sore neck for the days that followed.
Now, you’d think deciding to buy new boots would be fairly straightforward, but no. It’s now a year later and just last night I bought another pair of boots. By no means am I suggesting that I’ve only just got around to replacing them. Far from it. Over the past year I have now had three (or four, depending how you count it…) new pairs of boots!
Having finally come to the realisation that those boots really weren’t going to cut it we went boot shopping and very quickly found a new pair that I loved! They had far better grip, a nice soft and warm lining, and a special rubberised waterproof thingy around the bottom (no I don’t mean the sole…). Of course we bought them, and I wore them proudly whilst we were out and about (we had our dear friend Bambi visiting at the time, so lots of excursions were undertaken).
The lovely new boots lasted me a week. Just one week.
For whatever the reason, the dandy rubberised waterproofing decided it didn’t like the cold or snow (well done, winter boots…) and decided to crack into multiple pieces. The shop happily offered us a replacement pair but I was disheartened and took a refund instead. Much hunting yielded no results as we failed to find any boots that a) I liked, b) came in my size, and c) didn’t have that rubberised waterproofing that I now vehemently distrusted.
Last September, as winter was once again approaching, we finally found another pair of boots. They wouldn’t have been my first choice, I must admit. But the grip was good, and the fluffy insides would certainly keep my feet snug. Plus they were inexpensive. They lasted well. Compared to the previous pair at least. I wore them pretty much every time we went out from late October to early this month. The exception being some of the time we were in England, as the mild weather meant winter boots were unnecessary.
About a week ago, as I was taking my boots of, my finger slid through the heel, between the fabric and the sole. I’m sure you can agree that’s pretty odd behaviour. Fingers should not slide through solid things, and by all means this fabric-sole connection should have been fairly solid. There was a hole. Somehow the fabric had disconnected from the sole, and the hole went right through so that I could stick my finger in and touch my foot if I was wearing the boots. So we dug out the receipt. I continued to wear the shoes (they were wearable so long as I avoided snowdrifts…) until we were finally able to get to a shop to return them last night.
The staff apologised. They seemed quite surprised, telling us that they’d sold loads of these same boots and nobody else had had any problems. Well good for everyone else. Looks like I have a boot curse…
We traipsed around the shop and found another pair, similar to the ones I’d fallen in love with about this time last year (but more durable, I hope!) and the staff happily exchanged them (with us paying the difference, of course, as they were slightly more expensive). I really hope this time the boots will last. No more boot curse? Well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see!
What’s winter like where you are? Have you had a bad clothes-buying experience?