My first trip to New Zealand was right after university to work on a sheep farm for 8 months. One of the best pieces of clothing that I borrowed from my employers was a Swanndri bush shirt.
Made of 2 layers of 100% wool, it was the perfect jacket to wear when working around the farm. Wool is a natural product so it breathes with your body. It has a warming and a cooling affect to keep you comfortable while working outside.
The bush shirts were roomy and rugged. You could move easily and were protected in a misty rain or a windy day.
I really wanted a Swanndri to take back with me to Canada when my work term ended. Alas, because they are so well made from 100% wool, they are a bit of an investment. Investment dollars that I didn’t have at the time.
My next visit to New Zealand occurred in 2001. I was excited to show off this wonderful country to my husband. I had not forgotten the Swanndri from my time on the sheep farm and was determined to make sure there was one in my luggage on the trip home.
I have worn that Swanndri for the last 21 years to do all kinds of gardening and farm jobs. It was my constant jacket as soon as temperatures started to dip in the fall until the much-awaited warmer days of the spring. My mother patched it up a few years ago but it was really starting to look a touch ragged.
I started researching to see how much it would cost to get a new replacement. It was still a significant investment once you factored in shipping and duties. So that idea went on the back burner again.
In mid-November this year I could hear that my husband was quite irate with someone on the phone. His credit card company had put a hold on his card because of an out of the ordinary purchase. He chased me out of his office and I didn’t know exactly what was going on until Christmas Day. I opened my present from my husband and there in my hands was a brand new Swanndri. It was still made with the same high-quality materials and the same comfortable design.
I heard in detail the challenges he had getting my present into the country and his persistence in making sure I got the treasured item. There was no way the Swanndri could be exchanged!
I was thrilled with it until I looked at the label. It was an “M” when my old one was an “L”. Oh no!! I tried it on over my bathrobe and it felt a stiff and a little tight. Oh no!! Okay. I thought, let’s compare how much smaller this version is by laying them out on the floor on top of one another. They matched perfectly!
Thank goodness – all I have to do is work the new jacket in a little. My flower farming efforts can now continue in comfort.