This year has been good for finding naturist friends in our own age groups. We had already met a lovely couple at our local swim last year and our friendship has thankfully endured. But thanks to Twitter, WordPress and Facebook it’s been a productive year and we’ve met a number of singles and couples in their 20s and 30s for swims, skinny dips and beach visits. It makes me excited about the future and who else we might find along the way.
But it’s taken work. People don’t just appear from nowhere and being where we are in the country, many people and locations are not within convenient traveling distances. I’ve spent hours on the internet, blogging and promoting, posting messages on Facebook, we’ve driven hours to events, put people up at our house and endured cold conditions for skinny dips. All worth it of course.
But now that it’s September autumn, and cooler weather, will quickly follow. We were hoping to get in another beach visit before the end of the year, but the unpredictability of the weather has made organising group events very tricky, especially when others have to travel so far to get to our nearest coast line in the Midlands.
Our main focus of attention over the following months will probably be our local swim at Sleaford which is always accommodating to accompanied guests. We have been housed in a temporary pool for the last year whilst our regular location has been undergoing a total refurbishment and we’re all excited about going back there permanently in late October.
Additionally, living conditions have changed and my partner and I now have a parent and housemate free house so being naked is no longer a novelty or a special treat. There’s also the added perk of a hot tub and a secluded garden so really we are well set up here. Swims therefore, are going to be less of an opportunity to get naked and more of a social experience and a chance to meet new people we might invite to our home once we have got to know them. We always take great care when meeting new people and I think we should all be mindful of protecting ourselves in the first instance.
There’s no doubt that if you want to find people, you have to do the leg work. And if you want to keep your local naturist community alive you have to join in to keep things going. Sometimes it’s very tempting to just sit back at home and get on with your own life. But trying new things with other people and particularly if you are introducing new people to naturism or just staying in contact with friends further afield is a valuable and useful task.
I haven’t been keeping up with all the news from Clover Spa lately but I finally got a chance to read up on its new alcohol licence in The Telegraph‘s travel section today.
I am stunned that there was opposition to the licence application and disappointed that those who opposed it assumed that alcohol and naked equaled what basically amounted to swingers parties. As The Telegraph wrote:
‘This is the scene feared by a group of local Conservative councillors and residents who opposed the liquor licence just awarded to the Clover Spa & Hotel. Appealing to Birmingham City Council, they said that permitting the sale of drinks could lead to “a rise ‘in inappropriate behaviour and displays of flesh” at the hotel…’
Frankly, I find this insulting. Once again, it’s another example of everyone assuming that naturists are predators who are just there for sex and frolicking with as many anonymous partners as they can find.
The article (which seems to me to be firmly on the side of the naturist message) highlighted the case of the Kestrel Hydro Naturist Spa in Surrey which was recently closed down after it was found to be operating as an adult private members’ club, complete with a dungeon.
British Naturism made a valid point by condemning the venue, saying there are “far too many adult clubs masquerading behind the respectable image of naturism”. But it is clear to everyone that these are NOT genuine naturist clubs. Latching on to the naturist word simply because people are naked does not make it naturism and it does not hide the adult nature of these places.
Well done to the Clover Spa and Hotel for winning their licence. And two fingers up to the prudes and bureaucracy that can’t accept the people who accept their own bodies on face value.
It makes me want to dance naked round my garden with the bottle of champagne that’s been nurtured in my cupboard for the past month.
I recently read that there are around 4 million naturists in the UK. Here are some statistics courtesy of British Naturism. But according to The Urban Nudist only 10,000 of them are members of British Naturism. So who are all these people?
Renewal numbers are down, perhaps because of the aging nature of existing BN members. But additionally new memberships have fallen drastically as well. Even so, at its height, BN still only numbered just over eighteen and a half thousand members. That’s still a lot of naturists missing from the UK’s premier naturist organisation.
Urban Nudists suggested that ‘We can infer from the figures, that working hand in hand with financial constraints and the reluctance to spend money on a leisure purchase, the accessibility of online information about naturism and naturist events, is partially responsible for BN’s declining membership numbers.’
But are these the main reasons for the decline? Naturism is not something you can do just anywhere or with anyone and surely being linked to a well recognised organisation with other naturists would be a useful addition to any naturists social calendar?
What if the younger generation of naturists don’t need the umbrella of an organisation to show them the way? What if they are self-motivated and arranging their own events, using free social media to develop their own network of friends?
Perhaps they are like myself and my boyfriend. We are active naturists in so far as we help organise and attend events with naturist friends, visit our local swim as often as we can and try to stay in touch with what’s happening in the wider field via the internet. You only need an internet connection and a grasp of social media to open up a whole new world that doesn’t require an expensive membership.
Maybe this is how the next generation of advocators of naturism will manage their interests? Maybe you cannot herd them into one place to become a useful statistic. As a couple we don’t belong to any affiliation, primarily because of our location, which seems to be a million miles from anything club related most of the time. We aren’t members of any sun clubs although we have tried one or two. Generally we have found them considerably older generationally, a bit unapproachable (many have very cloak and dagger style websites) and they just don’t offer anything for anyone under retirement age.
If sun clubs want to attract younger members to keep their numbers up they have to change what they provide and alter their pricing structures. Given the British weather annual subscriptions of several hundred pounds cannot be realised by your average Brit.
Joining an approved in advance, free membership list and then paying a small amount for a day visit would be far more attractive to people like us provided what was on offer and the clientelle matched the age group.
Andrew Welch, spokesman for BN said of his organisation ‘There are benefits to the individual too, such as access to the largest online Naturist community in the UK and a full-colour quarterly magazine – and all this for less than £3.50 a month, it’s a no brainer!’
But is it? Most of the news items that appear in BN can be sourced via other social media, and there are some very vibrant UK naturist organisations and newsfeeds on the internet for free. Additionally sun clubs that are embracing the younger generation are using social media as an effective advertising platform and communication tool and making themselves far more accessible whilst retaining the privacy and security of their members.
At some point things will change. We are running out of older naturists, that is a fact. And there are thousands and thousands of naturists out there who are clearly active in some way enjoying beach visits, skinny dips and local swims as well as making the most of secluded back gardens and overseas resorts. Touching base with them isn’t that difficult and it doesn’t take an approved organisation to do it.
I had an interesting conversation the other day about whether naturist beaches in the UK were a spent force. It seems that despite the good intentions of the naturist beach it just attracts the wrong people. Holkham of course being the latest case in point. And the end result is often closure of the beach concerned and then everyone loses out.
So why don’t all beaches just have a clothing optional section with notices posted that you may see naked people upon entering that part of the beach? Naturist only beaches do not stop undesirables from using them or prevent ‘blokes with cameras’ trying their luck for a few quick snaps, a problem that exists on regular beaches in any case.
As one person who was party to the conversation said ‘putting nudity in amongst regular beach users normalises it’. If there is a section of beach that is clothing optional anyone can use it knowing what to expect. It means both nudists and textiles will use the beach together. It teaches tolerance, particularly in families with young children who NEED to grow up with balanced views of nudity and the human body if they are to be confident with their own bodies as they get older.
This seems to be me like a good idea. It certainly can’t do any harm. Naturist beach numbers are dwindling. But any clothing optional section on a beach will swell numbers and give us all somewhere to go. So why don’t we follow our European comrades and introduce nude optional sections on British beaches?
Please shut up about your body issues. Seems a bit harsh doesn’t it? Well read further. This is a really good article about how not to spread negative body image. I can totally relate to what Victoria Carter, writing under the xojane banner, is saying.
Girls, we’ve all done it. One slipped in negative comment to invite a few compliments and suddenly everyone’s dissing themselves. I do it, you’ve probably done it. I’ve had size 6 models do it to me to fish for compliments on shoots and I bloody hate it! I’ve heard that guys do it too. Here’s the clip used to illustrate the point.
Instead of inflicting your personal diatribe on yourselves, be complimentary to yourself and to others. It’s uplifting. It makes you feel confident and it doesn’t make you a big head or a selfish individual. It’s about body positive and people will admire you for it.
It’s also ironic that despite the absolutely naked nature of genuinely naturist events, I have never ever heard anyone dissing themselves or anyone else over the way they look. An interesting observation don’t you think?
Can you successfully introduce a friend to naturism?
Well yes, but only if they are interested in the first place. You know the old saying ‘you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink‘? Well it’s just as true of people trying naturism for the first time. And I understand why it is a daunting and scary prospect. Feeling like you’re being pressured to take part in something you’re not entirely sure about isn’t going to end well. You want to try it in your own time and for those around you to be supportive.
Being introduced by a partner feels like the safest way to start your journey into naturism. My partner introduced me over a year ago now and I have friends who have done the same with their female partners. It’s been a success from my standpoint.
My boyfriend and I have access to a fabulous eight man hot tub and for the next few months we are going to have sole use of it. Not surprisingly we are keen to get some friends over for a dip – both naturist and otherwise. The thing is, we don’t wear swim-wear (obviously) so if you’re going to share with us, you’d better get used to seeing naked people.
We never tell anyone they have to shed their layers but we do expect them to respect our decision not to wear any in the first place, as we accept their decision to remain clothed.
Initial ‘Yes’s’ from friends (M/F couples) with the guy expressing interest are soon followed by ‘no’s’ from the females in the relationship and a sheepish back down from the male partner when it becomes clear she’s not going to let him go on his own. So why is it so difficult to get women to try naturism? Here’s a male perspective on introducing lady friends to the beauty of nudity.
We know from current statistics that men are traditionally more at ease in a naturist setting. And the backing down of the girlfriends in these scenarios only serves to remind me how uncomfortable women are with their own bodies and/or the security of their own relationships. As always I blame the press, media, fashion, peers ‘blah blah blah’ for the body image part of this.
But it also signifies to me that they assume their partners are going to ogle other women. Perhaps with non-naturist couples that may be true. And certainly when you’re new to naturism the temptation to look at the bits of the human body you’re not used to seeing on view, is to be expected.
But if you’re into naturism for the right reasons you do settle down to the normality of nudity early on. Again, I always feel the need to explain that naturism isn’t about sex. But how do you tell that to people who have been brought up to associate nakedness with sexuality.
It’s not a light bulb moment that happens overnight. The only way to realise it is to go to naturist events. But if your friends won’t go or are in two minds about giving it a try, how do you start the ball rolling? Are women’s only days at clubs or swims an effective ice-breaker for timid female partners? Or perhaps having a few like-minded friends round for a back garden party is the way forward?
Have you had success introducing friends, both male and female, to naturism and what was the best scenario for you? Suggestions on a postcard, comment or twitter feed.
Following on from my recent posting about what you can do on a budget (In The Buff – Just What Can You Do On A Budget?) and in the absence of anything else to do a couple of weekends ago I went for a stroll in my local area to see if I could find anywhere for a bit of sneaky nakedness.
There is a large common near me as well as canals, footpaths and bridleways. You wouldn’t think it would be difficult to get lost in that. But everywhere I went there were dog walkers, cyclists or couples ambling hand in hand. Three hours of wandering proved fruitless and left me as frustrated as ever. The weather has been beautiful recently and I feel like I’ve wasted it all. I should have been swimming in a river or having a naked picnic somewhere.
What if there were a group of friends I could call on at any time, some with gardens of their own, some with a secluded plot of land nearby, and I could say ‘Hey! What’s everyone doing today? Naked picnic anyone?’ And off I’d go.
Unlike London and other big cities, the Midlands has very little on offer for naturists of the younger persuasion. There are several clubs: Lakeside Farm, Candy Farm, Sungrove Club, Oaklands Sun Club Leicester and East Midlands Sun Folk as well as the Sleaford Swim Club and an unofficial naturist beach at Theddlethorpe.
This does actually sound like quite a lot. But if there are so many clubs, why are people saying there isn’t much to do in the Midlands? I’ve attended one of these sunclubs for a day visit and whilst it was very pleasant, quiet and relaxing I couldn’t see what it was going to offer a group of younger naturists looking for a positive social experience.
Predominantly these clubs are static caravan / camping sites, set in acres of land, with fields, a swimming pool and some games. This is fine for those retired and looking to take it easy but if you’re in your twenties to forties, do you want to sunbathe? Maybe you want to play tennis, or have a group barbeque or maybe even play karaoke?
So my question is, what do you want? If you were looking to join a club or simply have somewhere to go for a day what would you want to be able to do whilst you were there? What do other groups around the country do? What, as an individual or couple, do you do to make the most of your naked time?