On Vivo Barefoot shoes and achilles pain

I’ve got osteoarthritis in my right big toe at the ball of the foot due to an old kickboxing injury. I’m kind of slowly growing a bunion due to it. It got to the point where the toe would go rigid after a run and was excruciatingly painful. It also was getting difficult to do some yoga poses like Hero pose / Virasana as my foot would cramp up. A little under 3 years ago now, a massage therapist recommended that I try Vivo Barefoot shoes as they allow your feet to spread out and encourage a greater foot mobility. They also make the muscles in your feet stronger as they move more as your foot has less support from the shoe. Given that I know that movement of the joint and strengthening of the muscles around it is good for arthritis, I decided to try them, and it worked! The

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On writers, writing, art, and artists

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has an incredible collection and, when I lived there, I used to like to take advantage of the free admissions on Sundays. In particular, I was mesmerised by this painting by Giorgio de Chirico, The Poet and His Muse. I still have a postcard of it on my desk, alongside postcards of Carlo Crivelli’s The Dead Christ supported by Two Angels, two postcards of Henry Miller, one of Brian from the Magic Roundabout, and a giant badge which says ‘BE NICE, it’s catching!’ whose advice I only sometimes take. There is lots to love about this painting, but what I tend to get stuck on, is the size of the muse compared to the poet. It feels right to me that the muse towers over the poet as if it were the poet’s progenitor; but more, the muse feels protective of the poet as well as infinitely more wise. All of these are

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On making lactic acid bacteria juice (LAB)

Continuing my adventures with microbes, I have now made lactic acid bacteria juice (aka LAB aka curds and whey) which is an important part of Korean natural farming, according to the YouTube hole I fell down a while back. LAB is used as a foliar spray and also as a soil drench. (Apparently you can also use it in hair and skin care too!) I literally have no idea if this is a bunch of mental people on YouTube talking rubbish or if it is real, but I don’t care. Cultivating various microbes is genuinely the most enjoyable productive pastime (lest it enter into an unnatural competition with spa) that I have engaged in for a long time. Learning how to sew my own clothes was never this much fun, nor this easy and cheap. Anyway, to make LAB, the first thing you do is get some cheap white rice and

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On urban gardening

This is what my garden looked like when I moved in a couple of years ago. It had recently been cleared of brambles, and had been the foxes home as no one had used it for years. One of the first things I did was buy a potting shed as I just really, really wanted a shed of my own. My original plan was to have a small patio in front of the shed and some kind of ‘cottage garden’ with native pollinator and bird friendly plants at the other end. I even went so far as to find a load of terracotta paving slabs for free and stacked them up in a corner ready for getting around to laying a patio. Yeah, that never happened. As I have said before, I just couldn’t quite muster the enthusiasm to do much of anything with the space for the first year and

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On black mould and the energy crisis

One of the reasons I don’t do much more than look at the headlines of mainstream media, is because when I read the actual articles, I usually get enraged by the logical incoherence of the article in the context of the overall narrative framing of the moment. For instance, we have the tragic story of Awaab Ishak, who, a coroner has determined, died as a result of black mould in his home. Black mould is a serious health hazard, especially to people with respiratory conditions, and plagues a great many (rental) properties in the UK. One of the properties I lived in was so damp that maggots had somehow gotten into the foundations of the flat and literally ate their way out of the walls. Yes, you read that right: maggots came out of my walls. The bedroom was particularly affected, with two of the walls being so damp that they were

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