Le Chameau in the field: Gemma Bailey

Le Chameau spent the day with Gemma Bailey, whose lifestyle and two young children certainly keep her on her toes. With the demands of family life and farm life, Gemma insists she'd be lost without her much-loved Le Chameau boots. Fieldsports are very much in Gemma’s blood, having grown up on the family farm in Lincolnshire with her three sisters and spending much of her time riding or on shoots. She and her husband Peter, who she met on a shoot, live on a game farm deep in the countryside near Newmarket, with young daughters Winnie and Willow, Mac the labrador, Piggy and Kermit the terriers, and Tam Tam and Lola the ponies. Gemma and her girls are always out and about, whether creating dens on the farm, visiting the chicks or going on walks for picnics, though Winnie and Willow’s main love is a little John Deere battery-powered Gator which they fly around the garden and farm on. ‘I want the girls to have the upbringing I had, always messing around in the countryside on numerous adventures!’ Gemma laughs. Tam Tam and Lola have to live in and can only be let out on the grass for two hours, so need to be mucked out the whole time - another reason why Gemma’s days are so hectic. ‘The girls try to help me' she says 'but they’re little and you don’t want them anywhere near the ponies’ legs.' Gemma with children and pony In fact, when it comes to avoiding getting trodden on by ponies’ hooves, being stung by nettles, or putting up with the mud and puddles that kids are drawn to, trainers just can’t compete. Gemma admits to being in her boots pretty much every day, all year round - whether at the beach on holiday in Norfolk, on the nursery run or even at the supermarket. ‘They are just the comfiest thing,’ she remarks. ‘I never get too hot in them either – even if it’s a boiling day.’ Gemma at the Shepherd hut Before having the girls Gemma was a chartered surveyor, dealing with the studs and training yards, so her boots would always be in the back of her car because of having to walk for miles around the stables and field: ‘I could just whack on my boots and they’d still look good with my suit!’ Originally a fan of the Vierzon style, Gemma switched to the Chasseur when pregnant as she found them easier to get on and off in a hurry without having to bend down! Gemma at the Shepherds Hut Shooting has always been a great passion of Gemma’s, using her grandfather’s 20 bore and, before she had the children, would be out on a shoot day most weekends in the season. ‘It’s always been a part of my life,’ she says. ‘I was part of roaming syndicates with friends, each paying for a peg and moving round the country to different shoots.’ Gemma in the field The Baileys are invited several times a year to shoots at Belvoir Castle, where her father, Phil Burtt, is Estate Manager. She describes the event as ‘something unbelievable as the birds - especially the pheasants - are incredible’ though confesses that some of her favourite shoots are the small informal ones she and her husband hold at their farm for family and friends. They shoot through the day, with a traditional elevenses stop for a Sloegasm cocktail made with her mother-in-law’s amazing sloe gin(!) and supper back at the farmhouse. Family boot line-up ‘When you’re on a shoot, the last thing you want is to be stuck out in a field getting cold, without vehicular access to get home and change your footwear’, adds Gemma. ‘When your toes go, it wrecks your whole day: I never have that problem in my Le Chameaus!’