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Barefoot Living
My First Barefoot Outing

Early in March 2007 I had to drive to Gloucester for two bell ringing committee meetings. The first was to be in the morning, and the second in the afternoon, with a rather long break for lunch in between. Predictably, I chose to make the journey up the M5 motorway barefoot, but not yet having found the courage to venture beyond the car without shoes, at the end of the journey I put my socks and shoes back on. The morning meeting came and went, and then it was time for lunch. I'd identified a suitable spot near the river before I left home, so I once again bared my feet and set off in the car to the other side of the city.

Lunch eaten in comfort, I then had some considerable time before the afternoon's meeting, so I decided to go for a walk around the historic city centre. But what to do with my shoes? After some deliberation I resigned to putting them back on for my walk, then unsure of people's reactions to this strange young man walking barefoot around Gloucester. The walk was uneventful, even a little boring, so I was glad to get back to my car for the return trip to the afternoon meeting. This was all over in a couple of hours, so feet once more suitably freed, I headed for home.

The weather on this day was particularly nice – clear blue sky, sunny, and relatively mild. So part way down the M5 I decided to take a detour to Slimbridge church, to take some photographs and see what I could find out about its bells. The village was deserted apart from one chap in his garden, so I parked the car near the church and ventured forth... just as I was. Yes, I'd left my shoes in the car, and had begun my first foray into the outside world barefoot! I found grass and tarmac, concrete and stone (not all of it comfortable to walk on), and it was all new! And inside the church, which (probably thanks to its remote location) was unlocked, I found iron gratings, carpet, and a wooden pew. Well, I wanted a better view of the ringing gallery...

It was whilst standing on this pew that the chap I'd seen earlier came into the church to see what I was up to. It turns out I'd met him only weeks earlier at his father's birthday party, and by strange coincidence he lived in the village. We chatted for a bit, and then I decided to go out into the churchyard to take some photos of the church itself. My companion had until this point not acknowledged my lack of footwear, but on hearing that I was going outside, he decided to mention it. (I don't know whether he'd considered how I'd got to the church in the first place.) I simply shrugged it off as finding it more comfortable, and outside we went.

More grass and some horrible rough old tarmac later, I'd taken my photos and we parted company. The rest of the journey home passed by without ceremony, and thus ended my first barefoot outing. I continued to drive barefoot when I got the chance, including a trip to Taunton Library ten days later, but felt that as I didn't have any shoes with me that were easy to put on if I was asked, apart from nipping out to pay for the car park in Taunton (with people around!), I kept my bare feet firmly in the car. However, only three days after that trip to Taunton I bought my first ever pair of flip-flops, which made my future outings much more straightforward.

Venturing Forth