Barefoot Living

In The Beginning

As far as I can remember, I've worn shoes pretty much for my entire life. Even at home the custom was to wear shoes - plimsolls generally (or "daps" as we in Bristol call them), and slippers first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. The only time I really remember being barefoot during my childhood - except for the obvious times like when getting changed or in the bath - is on the beach, and even then it was so unusual for me that I probably had to be told. That said, if there was even the slightest hint of shingle or pebbles, on went those hideous plastic beach shoes with the rusty metal buckles!

Eventually (i.e. sometime after the age of 20) I got thoroughly fed up with having to wear slippers just to traipse between the bedroom and the bathroom, so I stopped. Hooray! My first barefoot step on the road to pedal freedom! (And that's pedal as relating to the foot or feet, not what you would use to power a bicycle.) But that wasn't enough for me. I knew of plenty of people who spent all their time at home barefoot, and there were even people on the Internet who went without shoes at other times, such as at work or when walking in the woods. Clearly I was missing out on something.

I remember an episode when I was at school, probably around the age of 14, when my best friend had forgotten his PE kit. It was a warm summer's afternoon, and the activity for the lesson was to be tennis. PE kit therefore comprised white T-shirt, shorts, socks and trainers. Most of this was available for my friend to borrow from Lost Property, but sadly shoes of the appropriate size were less forthcoming, so he had to spend the lesson in his bare feet. Apart from his obvious discomfort at the sun-warmed tennis courts, I have to say I envied him. In fact, I often wished I could enjoy my own PE lessons in bare feet, just as we'd always been able to do in the hall at primary school. And my naturist tendencies were definitely present when it came to team games with "shirts" against "skins" (i.e. no shirts). But I digress.

My first "out-of-shoes experience" was purely for comfort. After a long summer's evening of bell ringing somewhere in the wilds of Gloucestershire (well, North Nibley), followed by the obligatory post-ringing drink in the pub, my poor feet were hot. So in the car before I headed home, I decided that enough was enough and denuded them. Oh, the relief! It was quite an adventure to be driving barefoot for the first time, but having previously read about it on the Internet, I at least knew to expect it to be different. My driving barefoot for comfort was repeated with increasing frequency when travelling home from bell ringing at various places, and from other events such as committee meetings.

When the weather turned colder and wetter, my rubbish old trainers began their annual letting in of water so I was able to bring further comfort to my feet by virtue of the in-car heater. Sadly, though, nothing could really preclude my having to put wet socks and trainers back on once I arrived home. That is, until I once again decided that enough was enough, and started going barefoot around the house. My second big step! However, I enjoyed driving barefoot so much that I started doing it just for fun. I looked forward to the occasional long journey to Cirencester, Taunton or Gloucester, because they would be the most worthwhile. But there was one trip that proved a real turning point for me.

Next: My First Barefoot Outing