Friday, March 20, 2015

Bed and Breakfasts in the UK

It does seem to have become very common for B & B's in the UK to ask guests to remove their shoes at the door. It is encouraging that they feel able to ask this of paying customers. It makes sense to do this as they are taking in visitors into their homes on a regular basis. They don't want their carpets or flooring ruined.

It seems to be most common for bed and breakfast places in the Scottish highlands to ask for shoes off. That is unsurprising, as their guests are going to be doing a lot of walking. However, there seem to be a fair view bed and breakfasts on the south coast and other parts of England with a no-shoes policy.

It sometimes gets negative reviews on TripAdvisor and other review sites. I suppose it is part of the different experience of the British 'Staycation.' People may be used to holidaying abroad and staying in hotels where they can keep their shoes on. Staying in somebody's house and having to shed the shoes may seem a bit strange for a lot of holidaymakers.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Et tu, Magistra

A short story I wrote some time ago. It's not one of my best.

In British schools, there has been legal requirment for a "daily act of worship, of broadly Christian character." I imagine that sounds completely bizarre to Americans. These 'worship' ceremonies are called assmblies and typically involve no more than the headmaster telling a story with a moral lesson ('broadly Christian character'). It's not a rigidly enforced, but it is still technically a legal requirement (please don't argue with me about this).

These assemblies are often held in gyms, hence this story. I remember when I was eleven years old, our head of form used to wear really high heels and kick them off for the school assembly in the gym.




Kate was just grabbing a coffee in the school staff room when she was approached by Judy, the headmistress.

"I liked the display you put up in your classroom, Jane," said Judy. "Those kids put some real effort into that work and it shows."

"Thanks a lot, Judy," replied Kate.

"Um, I know this might sound awkward, Kate, but I have noticed that when your class take their shoes off in the gym for the assembly, you keep yours on," said Judy, looking slightly embarassed.

"Yes, I do. I always make sure the class take their shoes off before they come in the gym though," replied Kate. "I've always kept mine on. Jennifer and Helen keep their shoes on too."

Judy nodded.

"Um, yes. Well I was going to speak to Jennifer and Helen too. I just caught you first," said Judy.

"You want us to take our shoes off too?" asked Kate, making a face.

"Well, yes."

"Seriously? Is that really necessary? I mean, the kids take their shoes off in assembly, so it can't make that much difference," argued Kate.

"Yes, but their shoes are all flat. Your shoes have heels. And I have noticed a few scratches in the gym," said Judy.

"I'd rather not take my shoes off. I'd feel a bit silly with my class in my stocking feet," said Kate.

"You're not the one giving the lesson. I'm the one standing in front of them all and I take my shoes off," said Judy.

"You don't feel at all silly?" asked Kate.

"No. And it gives my feet a break," replied Judy.

"But you know what my class are like. When they are coming in for assembly, they are pulling each other's hair and talking. How am I supposed to keep my authority with them when I'm standing their with no shoes on? I'll be a good deal shorter as well," protested Kate.

"You really think it would make that much difference, Kate?" asked Judy, who was starting to look exasperated. "I'm not sure why you are being difficult about this."

"I dress for work. I dress to present an image of authority and elegance. And now you want to take that away from me."

"I'm not asking you to teach the class in a boiler suit. I'm not asking you to have your shoes off all day. I'm asking you to take your shoes off for twenty minutes during assembly. Is that so difficult?" asked Judy.

Kate said nothing.

"You can always wear slippers in the gym," suggested Judy.

Kate gave a disgusted look.

"No thanks! I'd feel ridiculous in my bedroom slippers. I'd rather be barefoot if I have to be," she replied. "You are absolutely firm on this?"

"Yes, Kate. We spent a lot of money on that gymnasium. There is no money in the budget for replacing the floor."

"Fine, but if you get ill, I'm not leading the assembly," said Kate with a shrug.

"Sure Kate. Get the vicar in to give a talk if that happens," said Judy, satisfied with winning the argument.

"If he does, I'll leave it to Helen to ask him to take his shoes off."

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Daily Tonic: 4 Reasons to Leave Your Shoes at the Door

The Daily Tonic: 4 Reasons to Leave Your Shoes at the Door


'I didn’t always but, now that I have little ones crawling all over my floor, I ask people to take off their shoes upon entering my home. Most of the time I feel bad asking that of them, especially if it isn’t their first instinct (I’m working on that). But, the more I learned about why it’s a good idea (as if the fact that those shoes have most likely been in a public bathroom recently isn’t enough), the more I felt confident in my request. Below, see my top 4 reasons to remove your shoes when you walk in the door.'

Bob's Stuff: Reasons It's GOOD To Ask Guests To Remove Shoes When Visiting

Bob's Stuff: Reasons It's GOOD To Ask Guests To Remove Shoes When Visiting


'OK...at the Bonenfant household we're one of "THOSE" people. Yes, we ask guests to take their shoes off when visiting inside. Check out this story:

Do you annoy your friends by making them take their shoes off when they come over? Well here are five reasons you're NOT crazy for doing it.'

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Houzz: Take a Step Back and Turn Your Home Into a Shoe-Free Zone

Houzz: Take a Step Back and Turn Your Home Into a Shoe-Free Zone

The momentyou enter your home after a long day is an opportunity to slow down — and one simple way to ensure you do that is by getting in the habit of taking off your shoes and slipping on a pair of comfy slippers. This small daily ritual says that the inside of your home is a special place. It encourages relaxation and ease. Why not give it a try?

Realtor.com: Why You May Have to Take Your Shoes Off at an Open House

Realtor.com: Why You May Have to Take Your Shoes Off at an Open House

It’s been a long week, and now you’re spending your weekend house hunting, running from one open house to another. You’re tired but still hopeful as you step into yet another home, only to be greeted with a command: Take off your shoes. What gives?

It might sound like a ridiculous request, but it’s not. Sellers have good reasons to make their open houses shoeless, but they should also take care not to offend buyers in the process.

What’s the big deal about shoes?

Sellers go through the trouble of making their homes sparkling clean before an open house, paying for that shine from their wallets or with their own sweat. Open houses can attract hundreds of people—and twice that number of feet—so some sellers want to reduce the chance of floor damage, like from the following

Big in Finland: No shoes at home in Finland

Big in Finland: No shoes at home in Finland



'Not only Japanese people remove their shoes when they walk into a home: Finnish people do so too.

To everyone who isn’t used to remove their shoes at the entrances of the houses – like me – this is quite shocking.

I went to Finland at the end of a summer, and it was then when I learned about this tradition. I must admit that in summer it doesn’t seem to make that much of a difference, but in winter you truly understand why Finns do what they do.

And not doing it is truly a faux-pas in Finland.'


Green Mom: Reasons to Remove Shoes Inside

Green Mom: Reasons to Remove Shoes Inside

When you visit other people in their homes, do you keep your shoes on or remove them? I come across more and more people who ask visitors to remove their shoes, and I am completely comfortable with this request. Over the years I have discovered that this informal policy is not appreciated by everyone and is quite controversial, depending on whom you ask.
People have various reasons behind wanting shoes taken off before entering a home. In some countries, it is considered disrespectful to walk into a home with shoes on. However, in the United States and Canada, most people leave them on. Many remove shoes due to cultural customs, but I began to wonder what other motivations there are to remove shoes when entering a home.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Decision Revisited

A new short story.


It was Tuesday evening, which meant it was the church youth group's Bible study. The church's teenagers began arriving at the house of Alan the youth pastor and his wife, Wendy. Some of them were being dropped off by their parents, others had walked.

The young guests removed their shoes as they entered, as they knew that Wendy and Alan asked for shoes-off in their little house to protect their carpets.

One of the members of the youth group stepped into the house. She was a pretty blond girl of sixteen, by the name of Emily.

Emily was wearing a pair of towering high-heeled shoes.

"Nice shoes," commented Alan after she stepped inside.

"They're new," replied Emily. "My dad bought them for me the other day." Emily's parents were divorced. She did not see her father as often as she would have liked, but he seemed to make up for it by buying her lots of presents.

Emily began walking down the hallway. She made no move to remove her shoes.

The girl gave Alan and Wendy a pouty look as if daring them to ask her to take off her stilettos.

Alan looked at Wendy in a silent inquiry as to whether to say something to the girl. Wendy shrugged, as if to say this was typical Emily-behaviour and to be humoured.

Emily was staggering in her new shoes. She was clearly not used to walking in high heels. Wendy stifled a laugh.

"Sexy!" said one of the boys, looking down at Emily's shoes. "Shut up!" said one of the other girls, while another boy gave him a playful thump.

Emily sat down on the sofa in the living room where they held their Bible study.

A girl called Hannah, who was sat on the floor near to the sofa turned to Emily.

"You should take your shoes off, Emily," Hannah chided.

"I don't want to! These shoes are new," replied Emily.


"OK, people, can I have your attention?" announced the youth pastor.

The noise of chatter died down slowly.

"We're going to be looking at a passage in the Bible tonight. But first we need to find it. I've written the reference on a piece of paper that is hidden somewhere in this room. You need to look very hard to find it," instructed Alan.

"If we can't find it, can we watch television instead?" asked one of the boys.

"No!" replied Alan and Wendy together.

The young people immediately began busying themselves looking through every corner of the room. All except Emily. She remained seated on the sofa. Perhaps she was starting to worry about damaging the carpet and thought it best to remain still.

Wendy sighed. She supposed she should have just asked Emily nicely to remove her shoes when she had first arrived. It was rather too late now. If she did it next time, she would just have to be straight with her.

Eventually, the paper with the passage was found; lodged carefully between two CDs.

"It's Isaiah 53:1-10; if you've got your Bibles with you," announced Wendy.

Wendy then proceeded to read the passage in a brightly coloured edition of the New International Version.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.


Alan then gave a short summary of the passage, explaining that the passage was a prophecy regarding Jesus Christ, explaining that it foretold Jesus' suffering and death on the cross.

"On the cross, Jesus paid the price for our sins," said Alan. "He was punished for all our cheating, all our stealing, for all the bad language we used and for all the lies we told. Have you ever been mean or disrespectful to somebody? Jesus was punished on the cross so you could be forgiven."

Throughout Alan's short sermon, Emily looked very uncomfortable.

One of the girls asked a question about whether forgiveness was automatic or whether repentance was needed. Alan gave her a careful reply. Once that was done he took out his acoustic guitar and began leading the young people in a worship song.

During the song, Emily slipped off her high-heeled shoes and tiptoed out to the hall. She then pattered back in her bare feet now looking far more cheerful than she had when she came in.

Wendy gave her a warm smile. At least something of the evening's message had sunk in.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Visiting the Vicarage

A short story I wrote a while ago.

Phoebe Walker, wife of the Rev. Martin Walker, was dusting when the doorbell rang.

Phoebe pattered over to the vicarage door and opened it to find Helen Lewis. Helen was a slim, dark haired lady in her forties. She was wearing a floral dress and sandals.

"Helen, it's nice to see you," said Phoebe.

The visitor stepped into the house.

"I've come to show you the Sunday school rota I've drawn up. I wanted to check it with you first," said Helen, as she entered the hallway. "We definitely need to get it done before the term starts and before everyone goes on holiday. I know Mary is planning on going to France for three weeks and Louise is away most of August. We also need to put Tina on the rota now that she said she could help.."

What Helen was saying barely registered with Phoebe. All she could think about was the sight of Helen's sandaled feet moving across her carpeted hallway, desecrating and despoiling it.

Phoebe took her eyes off Helen's feet.

"Have you forgotten something, Helen?" asked Phoebe.

Helen looked back blankly.

Phoebe couldn't believe that Helen had forgotten about the shoes-off rule in the vicarage. She had visited plenty of times before, including coffee mornings with a whole bunch of ladies in their stocking feet. Not to mention the huge pile of shoes, sandals and boots she had just walked past.

The vicar's wife gave Helen the look she always gave people who forgot to take their shoes off. She looked down at Helen's feet, then looked up at her, making a faint smile with gritted teeth. It usually did the trick.

"Ah, of course. I forgot," said Helen with a smile. "You have to take your shoes off here. I'm visiting the Mosque. Or is it a Gudwara?"

Phoebe was a little irritated at Helen's sarcasm.

"We get visitors every day. We don't want to wear out the carpets," said Phoebe.

Helen did not move away from where she stood on the carpet. She seemed to be standing her ground.

Phoebe looked down at Helen's feet again and stepped forward.

Helen was forced to retreat towards the door. Instead of removing her shoes, she gave a laugh.

"Very sensible, Phoebe. What with the weather being so awful," she said.

The woman was of course being sarcastic. The weather had been delightful over the past week with sunshine and not a drop of rain.

"Whatever the weather, the streets are never clean," replied Phoebe.

Phoebe knew the game Helen was playing. She wanted her to say It's okay, you can leave your shoes on.

Helen looked down at her feet, as though contemplating removing her sandals.

"I'm only going to be five minutes," she said.

Helen seemed to be testing her limits, seeing how far she could push the other woman. Her eleven year old niece had behaved the same way when she had stayed at the vicarage for a week, straining at the boundaries of her aunt's patience.

"It won't take you long to put them back on again," replied Phoebe.

Helen gave Phoebe a pleading look. She was still hoping that Phoebe would say It's okay, you can leave your shoes on.

The visitor lifted up her leg, as though about to slip off her sandal. She gave Phoebe one last desperate look, trying hard to look a little like Bambi just after his mother had been shot.

Phoebe remained silent.

The defeated Helen removed one sandal and dropped it to the floor by the door.

The vicar's wife was starting to look forward to the prospect of unruly children at Sunday school.

Knowing the game was up, Helen finally removed her other sandal.

Phoebe wondered if perhaps Helen did not want to be barefoot.

"Did you want to borrow some socks?" she offered.

"No thanks. As I said, I'll only be five minutes, I'll be fine in my bare feet," she replied, giving a loud sigh.

Phoebe smiled, elated at having stood her ground. Was that really so painful?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

From Here to Saint Valentine's Day #8

Things we love about having a shoe-free home.




All the family together with their shoes off.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

From Here to St. Valentine's Day #6

Things we love about having a shoe-free home.



Shoeless parties- they're fun!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

From Here to St. Valentine's Day #5

Things we love about having a shoe-free home.




A safe indoor environment for children to grow up in.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

From Here to St. Valentine's Day #4

Things we love about having a shoe-free home



Equality: No matter how important or famous you may be- the shoes-off rule applies to you.


It's not a surprise that removing shoes is strong in social democratic Scandinavia and in former Communist Eastern Europe.