Sunday, July 17, 2016

Shoes-Off Sign for my New Apartment

I bought this off Amazon and put it up on the front door of my new flat. It had some handy self-adhesive strips. I think having the sign in German comes across as a little less officious, plus I am very much an Europhile.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Russian Orthodox Churches in Thailand

Russian Orthodox Church in Bangkok, Thailand

Russian expatriates have colonized parts of Thailand in the same way that British expatriates have colonized parts of Spain and southern France. I suspect they are probably as badly behaved as Britons abroad.

The Russian Orthodox churches in Thailand, ministering to the large Russian expatriate community, seems to have adopted the local practice of removing shoes in their churches, as you would in temples or other public buildings in Thailand. This is a very interesting example of cross-cultural mixing. While the Thai custom of removing shoes in homes is nothing new for Russians, removing shoes in churches is not part of the Russian Orthodox tradition. I have also seen photographs with men wearing shorts in the Orthodox Churches in Thailand, which you should definitely not do in an Orthodox Church in Russia or anywhere else. This is a fascinating example of cultural adaptation in Eastern Orthodoxy.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Ceausescu's had a shoe-free home

The New York Times: At Ceausescu’s Villa, Focus Is on D├ęcor, Not Dictatorship

Our guide, Andrei Stancu, a slender and bookish man in his mid 20s, told us that the Ceausescus, both born into peasant families, always took off their shoes at the door to preserve the carpets.

They might have kept Romania under a brutal dictatorship, but at least they kept their carpets clean.

I've suggested before that the dominance of the shoes-off custom in Eastern Europe has at least something to do with Communism. It's not a custom that fits in with the western bourgeois ideal.

If Communism had not triumphed and the old regimes, like the Habsburg empire or the Kingdom of Romania survived, would middle-class people in Eastern Europe be following the more western practice of wearing shoes in homes? It's hard to say. Austria escaped Communism, yet people generally remove their shoes there. Though this may reflect the egalitarian tendencies of modern Europe.

Any thoughts?

Thursday, July 07, 2016

My New Apartment

The hallway, my sister's sneakers next to my flip flops.

Living room

The kitchen. It's got a lot of cupboards.

Monday, July 04, 2016

New Home

I got the keys to the new apartment I've purchased today. I hope I manage to keep it a bit cleaner than I've kept the place I've been renting.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Expert Home Tips: 21 clever ways to reduce the dust in your home

Expert Home Tips: 21 clever ways to reduce the dust in your home

As soon as people get in your home, ask them to take off their shoes. Any dirt on the bottom of their footwear that gets trodden into the house will eventually turn into dust when it dries.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Elegant Home Blog: A Shoe Rack Organizer Keeps Shoes from Becoming a Heap on the Floor

Elegant Home Blog: A Shoe Rack Organizer Keeps Shoes from Becoming a Heap on the Floor

"When we laid new carpet in our home, we also made a rule that said that everyone coming into the house had to take their shoes off at the door. This wasn’t something that was exactly easy to do at first, but eventually we all started to remember that we had to take off our shoes on a regular basis. We were able to take off shoes all of the time without any issue.

Of course, one of the big problems that did come from this was that there ended up being a huge pile of shoes by the door all of the time. This was a problem because the shoes in a pile were really ugly and not very pleasant at all. We had to do something to make sure that these shoes weren’t the first thing that people coming into our home saw."

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Asian Shopping Experience

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Rub and Scrub: How dirty are your shoes really?

Rub and Scrub: How dirty are your shoes really?

"Since childhood we’ve been ordered to “take your shoes off before you come into the house” or “wipe your feet” on the doormat, and we’ve obeyed without question. But how dirty are our shoes really?

When you start to think about it, they are the only part of us that come into contact with all kinds of surfaces, dirt and bacteria apart from our hands. And we wash those regularly (at least most of us do). So, understandably, shouldn’t we know what exists on the bottom of our shoes? And whether they are as dirty as we’ve been told.

Food, people and their pets are the most common carriers of germs into a home. And the soles of our shoes are the most culpable culprit."

Sunday, June 12, 2016

West Wales Chronicle: Only 25% of Wales take off their shoes at other people’s houses!

West Wales Chronicle: Only 25% of Wales take off their shoes at other people’s houses

Northern Ireland may have come top of their group in qualifying for the European Championship, but they also ranked top of the league when it came to not taking their shoes off, with only a staggering 3% removing their footwear when visiting a friend’s house.

Research released today by Vax shows that just (25%) of Wales remove their shoes when visiting someone else’s house. This is despite the region’s biggest carpet bug bear being muddy footprints, with 44% moaning about this pet hate.

Of course, like the tales of sailors, opinion polls may be believed or disbelieved at will. No doubt the figure would be a lot higher for London and the South East.

Health and Safety Executive

A case regarding asking cleaners not to wear outdoor footwear:

Health and Safety Executive: Case 131- Carers' footwear challenged during home visits


Carers carrying out a home visit refuse to wear slippers or take off their outdoor shoes due to health and safety. The householder bought slippers for each of the carers to use but they refuse to wear them and their outdoor footwear is leaving dirty marks on the carpets.

Panel decision

Employers will have provided the carers with/require them to wear sensible footwear which take account of the type of work they are likely to do on their "rounds" eg lifting or carrying. Simply trotting out "health and safety" as the reason for rejecting the slippers is not helpful. This problem could be easily solved to everyone's satisfaction by the carers having a supply of plastic shoe covers to wear indoors to protect the resident's carpets.

Saturday, June 04, 2016


All my weekends these days are devoted to campaigning for the EU referendum. I was in Codicote this morning, a village in Hertfordshire, delivering leaflets for ConservativesIN. Codicote has a lot of Tory voters, so it's naturally the place to go to seek Tory votes for Remain.

Quite a lot of houses had shoes left by the door. Understandable with the muddy fields out in the countryside. It got me thinking about whether shoes-off is more urban or rural. On the one hand, you have all the mud and muck of the rural environment. On the other hand, a lot of people in the country live in older, colder houses, where removing shoes may be less comfortable. The cities have their own kinds of dirt. You also have more ethnic diversity in the cities and modern etiquette, that may be more pro-shoes-off.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Wall Street Journal: Delivery Service Brings Groceries to Your Fridge When You’re Away

Wall Street Journal: Delivery Service Brings Groceries to Your Fridge When You’re Away

STOCKHOLM—In Sweden, groceries and fresh food can be delivered in your absence and directly to where they belong: your kitchen and fridge.

A Scandinavian courier company, PostNord AB, and supermarket chain, ICA AB, are testing the new service with about 20 households in the Swedish capital, promising that messengers will remove their shoes and unpack online deliveries, even when customers are away.