Take your shoes off and get in amongst it: barefoot walking

Barefoot tramping
Barefoot tramping

A walk in a nearby park filled with Oak, Beach, Ash and Chestnut trees reveals the last vestiges of summer are slowly disappearing day by day. Though the sight of greenery and decay can be seen as woeful, this is the perfect time for leaf peeping and getting some fresh Autumnal air through the windpipes.

Around October many colds and other sickly viruses float around in stuffy spaces when people are feeling run down and partied-out after a season of fast paced action. But there is hope in sight! Research from Dr Mercola implies that walking barefoot allows people to pick up electrons from the ground which help keep our immune systems in check and improve our overall health:
“Your immune system functions optimally when your body has an adequate supply of electrons, which are easily and naturally obtained by barefoot contact with the Earth.
Research indicates that electrons from the Earth have antioxidant effects that can protect your body from inflammation and its many well-documented health consequences. For most of our evolutionary history, humans have had continuous contact with the Earth.
It is only recently that substances such as asphalt, wood, rugs, and plastics have separated us from this contact.”

The park near my residence
The park near my residence
Indeed, there is much evidence to suggest that on a day to day basis, most of us will walk around in socks and shoes and most often on tarmac or un-organic flooring of some kind. The research continues to suggest that not only is barefoot walking beneficial for picking up electrons, but that it is good for the foot and its muscles; strengthening the bones and increasing overall flexibility all the way up the leg.

Personally, I like to walk barefoot amongst the grass and crispy leaves for sensory enjoyment. It feels truly refreshing to press my (usually very squashed) wide feet into the soft brown earth, to feel with my soles the moving of life under the soil, to spread my toes and get air between those ignored little figures. People wonder and sometimes ask “does it not hurt, stepping on a prickle or stone?” it does, a little, but never enough to put me off. And it is good to feel a sting or stub once in a while, to alert your feet, to spread them out like the beautiful petals of a flower.

So, next time you’re out and about with the birds and the trees I urge you to kick of your shoes and bound fearlessly amongst it; do not step gingerly my friend, half the benefits of the action are in the vigour of which you go about it.

Beautiful conkers; like jewels on the ground.
Beautiful conkers; like jewels on the ground.

Information from :
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/11/04/why-does-walking-barefoot-on-the-earth-make-you-feel-better.aspx

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Freshers Week- The Aftermath

“DOWN IT FRESHER!” There I was, cornered amongst the ironing boards of a humid student flat, 30 odd students crammed into a kitchen- lounge in our ‘beach party’ themed get-up, attempting to intoxicate myself for the fifth night in a row. Loud music sounded though someones very swanky looking MacBook Air from atop the fridge and a hap-hazard game of beer pong was taking place amongst the havok.

“WHO WANTS SHOTTSSS?!” Yelled a daring Dutchman wearing a bandana from across the room. He lunged himself hither and thither with a bottle of Glens Vodka in each hand, freely dispensing it wherever it was wanted. Shoulder top wrestling commenced outside while a seemingly sober group of people attempted ‘Ultimate Frisbee’ with their flat mates crockery. All this before we even leave campus.

After some time of increased drunken debauchery around the student village, the hoard dispersed to find the bus stop… where is it? When does the bus come? Which stop do we need and where are we even going? So many questions to which no one had any decipherable answer.

After much consulting with a (clearly very distressed and fed-up) bus driver, we reached our destination- the nightclub! Hurrah! But look, the que stretches halfway down the street forcing many desperate punters to find a quiet alleyway in which to empty their bladders and throw away old bottles of back-washed pre-drink. Inside, the club was full and booming; while waiting in line for a drink I observed awkward hook-ups… they looked so nervous and afraid of each other I begin to wonder what the actual point of the whole exercise is “there’s no point” confirmed my Norweigen flatmate “It’s just the alcohol”.

Anyway, enough about the sweaty clubs and filthy hangovers, that’s half the challenge; the other half is trying to work out where you need to be for your enrollment, how the library works (it’s very futuristic if there’s anything to be said from it), and where to buy food and aspirins. It’s all very confusing and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so clueless in my twenty years but at least we’re all in it together, eating food from Iceland and signing up to way too many societies and clubs in the midst of the Freshers Fair.

Though it was a fun week and I met so many interesting, witty and vivacious young people all living within four hundred meters of me, let’s just say I’m glad it’s over. That is, until next year when I’ll probably find myself being a club promoter or warden of some description to pay for the rent. Until then, I’ll let my liver rest and put my brain in gear for some hard-out study time!

Humble pie: The therapy of gatherer cooking

Apples and blackberries

On a section of Bridleway I call ‘Crumble gate’ I quietly pick blackberries, succulent and ripe, from their thorny stalks while listening to the sound of birds and the gentle rustling of trees in the cool, autumnal breeze. In terms of harvesting and enjoying the free fruits, September is my favourite month of the year, not to mention the sight of the gradual turning colour of leaves into crisp caramel swathes.

I believe there to be a certain therapy in picking berries and apples, specially if it’s only up the road. Away from traffic is preferable to avoid pollution on to the fruit. I feel so at peace with nature and somewhat primal while I quietly pluck away at what will later become a delicious pudding treat. I also feel a sense of nostalgia; much of my summer childhood was spent looking forward to and making blackberry and apple pie, cutting fruit shapes from leftover pastry to glue atop the dish with milk.

Aside from the enjoyable experience of gathering blackberries, the small dark fruits are a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese (Source: Self Nutrition Data) making it an even more appealing snack or pudding substance!

So, why not make an autumnal afternoon of gathering and cooking the ingredients for a pie or crumble? If you’re lucky, you may also come across cooking apples too! Relish the last of the English sun, breath in the cool air and taste the fruits of 2014… but most importantly, EAT PIE!

‘Poetry is just songwriting for Hipsters’

– said an acquaintance of mine not long ago. ‘No!’ I protested, ‘I just can’t play instruments!’. I feel that actually while poetry can go so very wrong, with the many cliches and faux pas that many writers can mistake for art (I include myself in this, you know) poetry is creating images, nostalgia, and scenes with the simplicity of words. Songwriting, while a noble profession is about performance, music, actual singing.

Plus, there’s the fact that many of us aren’t actually fortunate enough to be musically talented… I for one have no sense of rhythm, and try as I might on my £4 market bought guitar I still cannot create any decipherable tune; it’s still so awful my mother won’t let me play in the house. I would love to turn my poetry into music and sing away… but instead I find myself labelled as a Hipster- how ghastly!

On top of that, poetry is more transportable (unless you have a harmonica or really tiny guitar) than music and arguably more digestible? Anyway, I didn’t want this to turn into a long list of pros and cons for poetry and music because I love and appreciate both. Just wanted to right a wee column to say poetry is for everyone! Not just try-hards!

But do we actually NEED vagina spray?

Some of the vast number of Goodle results for 'Vagina Spray'
Some of the vast number of Goodle results for ‘Vagina Spray’

Recently I was disgruntled and annoyed to see vaginal odour altering sprays advertised on the television. I’ve always known such a product is on the market; it has been for fifty years or more. But the question is, do we really need them, and are women being targeted over the insecurity that their flower smells less than fruity?
I argue that no, women do not need such sprays and may actually be damaging to the ph balance of the vagina! A simple daily rinse with water in the shower is all that is needed to keep ones genitals clean… thats why women have discharge, to keep everything tip-top on the inside. To ‘seal in’ odour or give the vagina a ‘scented freshness’ is frankly damaging and may cause unnecessary irritation.

The other point I’d like to make about such products is that I believe them to be targeting women’s insecurities. What is the most sensitive and taboo subject for women? Vagina smell you say? Let’s cash in! How obtuse of the product creators to make us feel we have to buy their product so our genitals are more appealing. What’s more, a similar search on the same search engine for mens penis sprays had less than half the results, few of which targeted smell, but rather, ‘lasting longer in bed’ (another play on insecurities, but still not as damaging as being told you need to ‘block odour’ everyday).

I will just extract a quote from Germaine Greer: “Vaginal secretions are the subject of a vast folklore; the huge advertising campaigns for deodorants and sweeteners of the vulvar area deliberately play upon female misgivings about the acceptability of natural tastes and odours. One vaginal deodorant is even flavoured with peppermint to provide an illusion of freshness and inhumanity. Others are metholated. The vaginal is described as a problem preventing some of the niceness of being close. The excessive use of douches with chemical additives is actually harmful to the natural balance of organisms existing in the vagina, and yet no doctor has dared to denounce it openly.”-The Female Eunuch Page 290, (published 1970).

The popularity and money being made by the products concerns me. They is not only unnecessary and damaging to women’s bodies, but damaging to the psyche too; as if women do not have enough trouble in shaving, plucking, waxing, and buying pretty lacy panties, we are now expected to deodorize and flavour our flaps too. Men don’t have to put up with this, and I’m having none of it!

What’s the E-Spliff all about?

Just over a month ago a Dutch firm E-Njoint BV brought out the new E-spliff. The product is nicotine, tobacco and THC free, but is still supposedly has the medicinal benefits of of real marijuana. I’m not sure how that can be as the vapors contain plant based products and propylene glycerol. Still, the manufacturers claim that is is selling well for many summer festivals and events and they are producing over 10,000 a day so it must be popular with people wanting to replace their pot smoking habit or enjoy a legal high of some sort.

It does raise questions for me though… I feel that the government have not fully considered the ethics of having such a product on the market. Surely the E-Spliff stylizes the consumption of recreational drugs through it’s neon green light-up leaf and sleek tubing? Is it not obvious that people who buy this product have smoked marijuana and may use it as a replacement while dealers are thin on the ground? To ignore the demographic this product is marketed at is to ignore a huge culture of people who may use the drug for medicinal purposes such a pain relief, insomnia and muscle spasm as well as those taking recreational drugs. But it is the THC content in marijuana which can alleviate these problems, so surely the vaporising E-spliff is just an accessory?

I believe having this product on the market in the UK yet disallowing people to grow their own hemp and marijuana plants seems backwards; it’s almost like making growing your own poppies illegal, but legalizing Heroin and Morphine as a recreational drug.

Either way, I think in selling this product in a country that comes down heavily on drug takers, dealers, and growers, it is contradicting the reason for actually making marijuana a class B drug and surely inhaling glycerol vapours isn’t all that good either?