I’m just not a fan of those tiny folding umbrellas.
I’m sure they fit in a handbag for emergency downpours, but my handbags are never big enough. When I do take them out I don’t want to put a wet brolly back in my bag and end up leaving them on the floor in pubs and restaurants. They’re generally feeble in construction too and end up inside out at the first gust of wind.
No, for emergency downpours I am firmly attached to my rain hood.
However, there are those days when the rain just keeps coming. When before you leave the house you can already see it settling in for a good old drenching. Those days, I will confess, make an umbrella a handy thing to own. You don’t need to get those weedy folding things though. Remember proper umbrellas? Ones you can swing as you walk down the street and make people jump out of the way?
They’re called walking umbrellas. I have a golf umbrella I take out sometimes, but I really fancy an umbrella that’s a proper accessory. Something I’m proud to carry and does more than just keep me dry, it makes me feel happy too. I also have a vintage walking umbrella, but I’m not sure after 60 years I trust it to actually keep the rain off me.
So, much like a girl scout, I have been preparing myself for the torrential downpours I know are on their way (I am in England, after all) by indulging in some fantasy shopping at Fulton Umbrellas (by appointment to the Queen dontcha know!). They’ve got a gorgeous range of walking umbrellas designed by Cath Kidston, Morris & Co, Ella Doran and Retro Chick favourite Lulu Guinness and they’re not even *that* insanely expensive, so I might even actually buy one in February.
I’m torn between 2 styles. The large transparent ones, as I quite fancy the idea of peering out at a grey rainy world through beautiful flowers and decorative birds, and the traditional fold up handled umbrellas which look so elegant.
My favourites (all available from www.fultonumbrellas.com):
Lulu Guinness Birdcage £32
So pretty! I fancy being a beautiful bird in a cage.
I’m not that keen on most of the Ella Doran designs, there’s nothing wrong with them, they just don’t grab me in the way Lulu Guinness does, but I quite fancy the idea of being surrounded by a pretty floral meadow as I walk down the street in the rain.
Then, onto the more traditional styles.
This has a real art nouveau type of print. The traditional curved handle and the print make it feel like a proper ladies umbrella. I like.
Lulu Guinness Every Cloud £35
A far more modern style with a slim straight handle, but I LOVE the sentiment and the shiny silver inside. It reminds me of an umbrella I fell in love with in a gadget shop back in 2002 with blue clouds printed on the inside and a boring black exterior, it’s nice to get some benefit yourself from your umbrellas decoration.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Cath Kidston. I find some of her floral designs almost unbearably twee and can’t understand how anyone can stand to have it plastered all over bags, purses, tea towels, mirrors, sewing kits and anything else anyone might want. On the other hand she does some lovely non floral designs as well and I like the general aesthetic of the idea behind it, and on summer picnics it suddenly feels much more appealing.
This umbrella IS floral, but it’s navy which takes away some of the twee and has a nice traditional curved handle and big pointy top for poking annoying people with in shops.
So there we go.
I’m hoping that it’ll only rain over night or at times that I’m tucked cosily up indoors. But having lived in the UK all my life I know from experience that it is very likely that the exact reverse of that will be the case. At least now I’ll be prepared instead of walking down the road with a rag on a stick draped over my head (which is what all of my fold up umbrellas end up like, until I give up and throw them in a bin)