SHORTLY before sitting down to write, I took our walking boots outside to brush them clean after the previous day’s outing. They were clogged with so much rich red loam we might as well have been dragging a ball and chain. Last week, after a theatrical slither, Alan consigned a pair of old boots to the bin. They had served him well, but the tread had worn so flat that a slippery grass slope was all it took to bring him down.

Not to be caught out this time, we set off in drizzling rain wearing our stoutest boots. Even so, we stopped to discuss footwear with a neighbour walking her dog, who was sporting a sturdy but sleek pair of knee-high boots which, she said, had terrific grip. Muck boots, they were called, and after Googling, I know what I’d like for Christmas.

It’s noticeable around here that people’s footwear is made for hard graft rather than glamour. In practical terms, the fashion for “hiker” boots as seen in Princes Street shoe shops, alongside party heels and sling backs, is laughable. They might be lovely to look at, with shearing linings peeping out over the ankle tops, and a gloss so high they could be mirrors, but put them anywhere near a scree escarpment or a field of cows, and they would be ruined. These are the stuff of city strolls or magazine feature weekends, spent in front of a pine cone fire in a log cabin, looking Nordic and chic while embracing the concept of hygge and doing nothing more rural than pulling a tartan rug over their knees.

When it comes to tackety boots, visual appeal is all but irrelevant in Hoolet unless you’re dressing to impress. Back in early spring, during lambing season, a woman hurried into our local bakery and ordered 20 morning rolls. From the knees up she looked respectable, but below that line she was more farmyard than female. Her hastily parked, mud-splattered 4x4 pointed to a night spent in the labour ward. Not that dirt is an uncommon sight around here. As they walk down the street, some folk leave a trail of clods a tractor would be proud of. I’m certain there are other regions with a fine tradition of mud, but in this the Borders surely is prizewinning.

A few miles away, on the banks of the Tweed, is Sir Walter Scott’s baronial home Abbotsford. Originally a farm, it was called Cartley Hole, but became better known as Clarty Hole. Since Scott was a devoted walker, clocking up miles every day, he would have attracted his fair share of rustic grime.

Last autumn, a friend spent the night with her young spaniel. When we got back from a sodden walk, Pip needed to be deburred, doused and rubbed down. The outdoor tap was fine for him, unlike some dogs around here who are soaped in buckets of warm water, lucky things. Then Gail had to take off her wellingtons. What followed was not a scene you’re likely to find in a Bertie Wooster novel. Jeeves would not have muddied his hands or trousers or jacket like me, as I tugged and wrenched, unable to budge them an inch. Meanwhile Gail clung to the doorframe, as if I was trying to drag her out against her will. I dreaded the boot suddenly shooting off like a cork from a bottle, sending me ricocheting into the garden. Our hysterics didn’t help, but one of those v-shaped boot removers might have.

So you can understand why I was perplexed to read the property renovator Sarah Beeny’s take on boots. Ahead of a new television series about her family’s move to deepest Somerset, she told an interviewer, “Imagine having to take your wellies off when you walk into the house?”, as if this was the last word in fussiness. If this is how the country set lives, no wonder Farrow & Ball do so many shades of taupe and toffee and brown. They call them earthy neutrals, I call them glaur. That said, I don’t envy the neighbours across the green the sight of me wobbling on one leg as I undo wet double-knotted laces and twist off one mucky boot, before hopping indoors on a thickly socked foot. On the other hand, what is our role in life if not to entertain?

The logistics of keeping the place clean after every foray up the hill or into the garden is no simple matter. I don’t like to think of the state of Beeny’s carpets. More sensibly, a property expert recently advised people searching for a home in the country that a boot room should be near the top of their must-have list. This house had one, when we arrived, but we pulled it down. It was a porch, at the rear, with a cat flap and a corrugated plastic roof that helped funnel the wind indoors through the cracks in the doorway. It reminded me of a derelict shieling, or the sort of ramshackle lean-to less fortunate farm workers have to stay in during seasonal work.

And yet, while dismal in appearance, it had its uses. Here you could rub down dogs and get children out of filthy clobber before they entered the house. Once over the threshold, safe from wind and rain or snow, you could change out of gardening shoes and not worry about getting out the hoover. Also in its favour, for our first winter when we had no fridge or freezer, it doubled as an ice box. In this capacity it excelled. Orange juice was so cold it made our teeth sing. Butter could take three hours to spread.

Without the porch the house looks immeasurably better, but it does mean we no longer have a decompression chamber when we return from the great outdoors. Finding a solution to this problem is our next priority. In the meantime, after a technical glitch, Alan has ‘accidentally’ ordered three cases of wine to get us through the winter months rather than one. He reminds me of the man from Hoolet who had 74 cartons of long-life milk delivered during lockdown, when he thought he’d clicked on 4. One day soon what we will urgently require is not a boot room but a cellar.