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Barefoot Living
We are Not Alone

The next big day out for me was the 2007 Annual General Meeting of the Bath & Wells Diocesan Association of Change Ringers, which took place at Shepton Beauchamp in Somerset. I once again spent the afternoon barefoot, from setting off just after lunch right through to arriving home again nine hours later. The only times I put my flip-flops on were to navigate a particularly painful-looking path on entering and leaving one of the afternoon's churches. Only a few fellow ringers commented on my lack of shoes, and one even admitted to "running around barefoot" herself when she was my age!

I did have one heart-stopping moment when I found myself being pulled over by a friendly local police officer whilst travelling between two churches. Luckily my only crime was looking like someone else they were interested in, so it wasn't anything to worry about. Nevertheless, police officers can be intimidating when you're not used to them! Whether or not he noticed I'd been driving barefoot I have no idea, but he didn't mention it.

From then on, I would rarely be seen with anything on my feet. Whether ringing bells, at a committee meeting or anywhere, barefoot was more comfortable for me so barefoot I was. At a few churches I even became known for my bare feet! Of course, I'm not daft, so if there was any danger of injury or severe discomfort wherever I happened to be walking, then on went the flip-flops for protection. But despite initial expectations, I was never asked to put them on by any establishment whilst shopping or in a pub or restaurant. In fact, over that summer I noticed a number of other people enjoying life barefoot in all sorts of places. It seems that in England at least, bare feet are more acceptable than many people realise, and it really isn't that much of a big deal when someone feels more comfortable without shoes.

So when did it end? We had a cold snap around the end of September during which I decided to wear shoes again for a visit to Bristol Zoo, but they didn't half feel uncomfortable. Worse still, the weather warmed up in the afternoon and I found myself in the presence of children who had shed their shoes as a result! It was therefore almost five weeks – and the beginning of November – before I finally called a halt to my own barefoot season. The weather had turned persistently colder by then, and it was beginning to get somewhat chilly underfoot. I remained barefoot at home, of course, but chose to wear shoes whenever I went out. And to avoid a repeat of previous years' wet feet due to rubbish trainers, I even invested in a new pair of "proper" shoes. Needless to say, though, that I'll be returning to my barefoot lifestyle just as soon as the weather's warm enough again.