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400 Day LETS Odyssey
Copyright � James Taris

JAMES TARIS around the World- (2003-4)

Michael and Helen Loxton, alias the Kingsbridge Huggers.

ENGLAND - Kingsbridge (1 week)
Week 23 of World Tour

1. Kingsbridge Huggers

In Greece and France I got lots of kisses which is the Mediterranean way of greeting family and friends. But in Kingsbridge I got lots of hugs which isn’t an English custom, it’s the Loxton’s way of greeting family and friends.

Michael and Helen Loxton are a loving couple in their 50’s. They are both Kineisiology therapists, heavily into healthy living, numerology and new age lifestyles. And they’re into hugging in the morning, hugging in the evening and hugging at supper time! And they’ve developed a friendly way of preparing their (sometimes unsuspecting) hugees for one of these warm, welcoming hugs. First of all they give you a big smile and then they come towards you with out-stretched arms (right arm higher and left arm lower, so you know where your arms are supposed to go). I was with them for a whole week. It was awesome.

Kingsbridge is a small town in what Helen refers to as her “Heaven in Devon”.

But even though Kingsbridge is a beautiful town (the view from their 3rd floor apartment was breathtaking) the memories I’ll keep will be of the people I met and the things I did. And my agenda for Sunday, Nov 9, was the most hectic and the most memorable.

After a busy morning rehearsing my play and sending emails, I accompanied Helen and Michael to their Circle Dancing class. In the middle of the dance floor was a small arrangement of flowers, and all the dancing revolved around them. Luckily, the first dance being taught was of Greek origin. And being Greek, I was able to keep up with everyone during that dance. But I’ve always had a sense of rhythm, so I didn’t look foolish at any time during the 90 minute class.

Immediately afterwards, and at the same venue, I gave a performance of my humorous and inspirational play, The Glory Of Athens. Most of the audience had been given some red wine earlier on, so the audience response to my jokes was instant, and very encouraging. Maybe I could suggest this to my producers in London?

A night of pampering had been arranged for me, so after dinner at the Loxton’s, we visited Nola’s for a steam shower and Kineisiology Balance. The Kineisiology session was interesting. By placing pressure on different parts of my arms and legs, Nola was able to determine which parts of my body (head, heart, kidneys, liver, etc) were suffering. I breezed through this examination with a clean bill of health, and once Michael and Helen had got out of the steam shower, it was my turn.

“Take as long as you like,” Nola said.

So as Nola and her husband chatted away with the Loxtons, I ventured into the steam room for a unique experience.

Nola’s home is also a Bed And Breakfast business, and one of her suites has a steam shower installed. It’s like a cross between a Turkish Bath and a sauna. The glass shower is large enough for 2 people and sealed to retain the steam and keep it from spreading to the adjacent bedroom ensuite. It was suggested that setting a temperature of 40 degrees celcius would be best, so that’s what I did. But sitting naked on the seat inside the shower was somewhat challenging, as the hot steam became a little too hot for my er, extremities, but I managed to overcome this problem quickly by using my hands as a ‘protective covering’. The steam shower was bliss after that, and I stayed in there for about 30 minutes. All the while I felt a clean sweat oozing out of my pores, and the following day I was 2 kilos lighter!

Once I was out of the steam shower, I lay down on the queensize waterbed for a rest. It was nearly 9.00pm and I could’ve fallen asleep for the rest the night! But as they say, all good things must come to an end, so 15 minutes later I was dressed and ready to go back to my own waterless bed, where I began to dream about having my own steam room one day.

A chance meeting with Conrad B Born, the first Western man to declare non use of conventional money in 2001.

2. First Western Man

My first encounter with Conrad B. Born was from an email he sent me back in 2001, soon after I launched LETS-Linkup.com.

“The first Western man to declare non use of conventional money in 2001 - As of the 16th. March 2001, I Conrad B. Born have ceased to use the common accepted currency of any nation. That is to say, I will not use money in any way to enable my life. Instead I will use the means of "Complimentary Currencies", or barter.”

So you can imagine my surprise when I arrived in Kingsbridge, and Michael Loxton told me that Conrad was a member of his LETS group. Instantly I decided to make ‘meeting Conrad’ a top priority during my stay there. And the opportunity arose on the very next day, though not exactly as I’d imagined.

On our way back from Burgh Island, we drove through Modbury when the Loxtons noticed Conrad walking into a charity shop. I couldn’t believe my luck, so I asked Michael to stop the car and drop me off.

“Let me go inside alone,” I told them, “and you can come in afterwards”.

So into the shop I walked. Conrad was at the back of the store looking through some clothes on a rack.

“Hi!” I said to Conrad, with my arm stretched out to greet him.

Conrad shook my hand politely, but looked very puzzled. “Hi,” he responded.

“How have you been?” I asked, determined not to give away too much too soon.

“Er, your name doesn’t come to mind right now,” he said, desperately hoping I’d give him a clue.

“It’s Conrad, isn’t it?” I said, just to make sure he knew I hadn’t mistaken him for someone else.

Well, this absolutely floored him, because he knew that I knew him, but he still wasn’t able to return the recognition.

“What was your name again?” he asked, with an uncomfortable look on his face.

“It’s James,” I replied, trying to stretch his confusion a l lot further.

“James who?” he said, hoping that my surname would put him out of his misery. And it did.

“James Taris form Australia,” I said, with a huge grin on my face.

“James!” he exclaimed, “I was looking at your web site just last night. But you’re wearing different clothes. How did you find me here?”

At that point I turned around and pointed to Helen hiding behind some bookshelves.

Conrad’s eyes gave her the ‘I’ll pay you back later for this’ look. And when Michael arrived, I got him to take a photo of ‘LETSaholic meets First Western Man’.

There were several other meetings with Conrad over the next few days, and I got to know more about this amazing man. A carpenter by trade, he’d spent much of his life traveling the world (by boat!) and surviving by trading his carpentry services for just about everything. And now, in his 50’s, he was about to marry and settle down. A happy ending to a life of travel, intrigue and adventure.

This article is taken from the ebook,
400-Day LETS Odyssey

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