Saturday, December 03, 2016


Given the popularity of the Hygge fad among the British middle class, it is perhaps surprising I haven't mentioned this before. Hygge is the Danish culture of coziness. It's all about woolly jumpers, warm fires and scented candles. It seems to be taking Britain by storm.

It's worth bearing in mind that in Denmark, people generally don't wear shoes indoors. Stomping around your house in shoes is very un-Hygge. Woolly socks are very essential to Hygge.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Kristin Schell: Barefoot Hospitality

Kristin Schell: Barefoot Hospitality

"My neighbor and I walked slowly side-by-side down our street to her house. She opened the front door and motioned with her hand to a rack neatly lined with shoes.

“Please,” she said in a heavy accent I have grown to understand. I slipped my shoes off, acutely aware of my need for a pedicure.

This was the first time I had been invited inside my neighbor’s home. We usually meet in the front yard at the Turquoise Table or at neighborhood gatherings. Barefoot, I followed my host into the kitchen for a delightful morning of conversation while savoring homemade chai.

Taking your shoes off before entering someone’s home is one of the world’s most universal customs. To put off the shoes, or sandals, has long been an act of respect in many cultures and religions. In ancient times, it was forbidden to enter a temple or holy place with shoes on. Jews removed their shoes whenever they entered a house as a sign of civility and reverence. The priests of Israel wore no shoes while ministering. Moses and Joshua were commanded to take off their shoes when on holy ground."

Sunday, November 20, 2016

When in Qatar..


I found out this week that I have something in common with President Elect Donald Trump. Both he and I prefer our steaks well cooked.

Yes, I am one of those awful classless people who like their steaks blackened to a crisp. You might think with my Europhile metropolitan politics, that I would be a sophisticated foodie type, but I am in fact thoroughly plebian and provincial in my tastes. Alongside well-cooked steaks, I always drink beer with my meals, never wine, I like spam and I prefer death metal to opera. And I wear Crocs.

I am probably not the best person to try and persuade others that having a shoes-off policy can be classy and not at all tacky when I'm such a classless jerk myself.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Celebrities on Yachts

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Europhile Tories know best!

A Twitter exchange with the excellent Charles Tannock, a Conservative member of the European Parliament and a solid voice against the delusional Brexiteers.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

HellaWella: The 6 sneaky ways you’re making your home dustier

HellaWella: The 6 sneaky ways you’re making your home dustier

"Walk in the house, take your shoes off. It sounds simple, but after a hard day’s work, stopping on your way to the couch sounds like a pain. Instead, think of it as a way to save yourself from extra dusting duty. Even a few scuffs on the doormat won’t keep dirt, dust and grime from being tracked into your home on your shoes.

Stepping out of your kicks helps you chill out, too. When you take off your shoes, you’ll physically signal that the day is over and you can relax. Sold? Make things easier by placing a basket by the front door to catch shoes or lay out a mat to set dirty or wet shoes on as soon as you step inside."

64% of Britons say you Should Take your Shoes Off at the Door

Mail Online: The 10 etiquette rules you should NEVER break when visiting someone's house (including looking in the fridge and asking for the Wi-Fi password)

House-proud Brits also flagged wearing shoes on the carpet as a house-guest no-no, with 64 per cent revealing they think guests should take off their shoes when entering someone else’s home.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Nina Bradley Clarke: Why We Have a “No Shoes” Rule In Our House (and You Should Too)

Nina Bradley Clarke: Why We Have a “No Shoes” Rule In Our House (and You Should Too)

"So where does this bacteria come from? Mostly from the feces we walk on left behind by birds, dogs, and humans (from public restrooms…OMG…gross). 96 percent “of coliform and E. coli bacteria on the outside of the shoes indicates frequent contact with fecal material, which most likely originates from floors in public restrooms or contact with animal fecal material outdoors. Our study also indicated that bacteria can be tracked by shoes over a long distance into your home or personal space after the shoes were contaminated with bacteria,” said Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona.

But bacteria isn’t the only thing your shoes can bring into your house. Chemicals and toxins like pesticides can also make their way into your home from the chemicals that are found on lawns. Other chemicals include coal tar from asphalt roads and gasoline from rainwater. If you have pets or children at home, they are the ones who are at greater risk of exposure since they are the ones who are crawling and laying on the floor."

Hotel-Style Slippers

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Understanding my Sign

I went to a restaurant with some neighbours from my apartment block yesterday evening. I invited them back to mine for drinks afterwards. One lady acknowledged the sign on my door and said she would take her shoes off. She obviously understood it.

A few people have said they can't understand my sign because it is in German. That surprises me. I never studied German at school, but I knew 'bitte' means please. There are pictures of shoes on the sign and one might guess that 'schuhe' means shoes. I don't think it should take any great intelligence to conclude that it means 'please take off your shoes.'

Not that it matters; I am quite happy to ask people politely to remove their shoes.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Real Housewives of Auckland Episode 2

Some inane reality show from New Zealand. In this episode this group of socialite ladies visit another wealthy lady who has a no-shoes rule to protect her marble floors. Good for her. Marble floors are strong, but they can still get scratched or marked.

The ladies seem surprised and bothered at being asked to remove their shoes. I had the impression that removing shoes in homes was at least slightly more common in New Zealand than here in the UK and a lot of NZ people like going barefoot, but evidently not Kiwi ladies with lots of money.