One of my favourite stories when I was little was The Elves and The Shoemaker, a story of two elves who would appear in the Shoemaker’s workshop at night to make the most exquisite shoes. To me this story spoke of kindness, of communication between the worlds and of beautiful shoes. I could actually feel the leather as the elves cut carefully into it. There has never really been a pair of shoes that I have liked as they have never matched up to this dream in my head of the elves crafting the softest, most wonderful pair of shoes just for me. I had a pair of red Doc Martens that sort of came close but they were a poor relation to the fantasy shoes that dangled in my mind’s eye.
Then I discovered El Naturalista shoes. A gasp escaped me as I saw these red shoes waving at me from the shop window and calling me to take them home with me. El Naturalista shoes each come with a story of their own, of how they came into existence and how they were made and they were the nearest shoes I had ever seen to The Elves and The Shoemaker shoes. The red shoes came home with me but, much as I loved them and still do, they weren’t quite the shoes that were in my dreams.
In the winter of 2013/14 I did a 6 week evening writing course, mainly to make myself leave the house and see people during the winter evenings. Each week we would be set an assignment on a certain topic and one week we were asked to describe a pair of shoes. I wrote about my dream shoes, the ones that I have been able to see for over 4 decades but never been able to put into words. I ended the assignment with ‘we haven’t met yet but I know they are out there.’ Just one week later I received an email from El Naturalista to say that I had won a competition for writing a slogan for their shoes. My prize was to be able to pick any pair of shoes that I wanted. I scanned through the pictures drooling and then there they were! My green shoes absolutely just like the ones that I had always pictured even down to the little V bit on the front. I had written them into my life.
There are many things in life that we may say are our happiest moments – becoming a mum, jumping out of a plane, walk in the woods – but the day the green shoes were delivered to my door is up there at the top of my list of happiest moments. They are now my storytelling shoes and when I put them on I am immediately transported through the portal to the world of stories. To the 8 year old me reading The Elves and The Shoemaker under the covers with a torch. Finally, after all these years, we have met and the union is a truly, glorious and happy one.