I must admit this isn’t the easiest question to answer. Not because it is hard to talk about, because clearly running a naturist website, it isn’t for myself. But difficult because it involves putting into words my thoughts and emotions. It also needs to be coherent. Here goes…
I have never been nude in front of strangers. Not so in my adult life, and not in the context of being in a public place. For sure I’ve had to changed out of my wet trunks at the beach before, or in the swimming pool changing rooms. And I’m of the age that there weren’t any cubicles in those areas when I was younger. But aside from these instances, I’ve never willingly visited a place where it is expected to be nude.
It should be noted however that just because I have never put myself in a situation of being naked, it isn’t something that overly bothers me or causes anxiety or stress. I’m the kind of person who simply doesn’t care what others think. Each to their own, and all that. If someone wants to express their opinion of my haircut to me, they are welcome. I don’t care what their opinion is, I may not even listen, but they are welcome to voice.
And so the the thought of taking my clothes off on a beach doesn’t bother me either. If people are looking at me, then so be it. But as I don’t tend to notice others, I’m sure it is likewise for those relaxing near to me.
But my nonchalant outlook shouldn’t be confused with confidence, or self-admiration. I’m not the most confident or outgoing person. I struggle with speaking to strangers when there isn’t a barrier between ourselves, or if I am not in a position of obvious authority. And I certainly do not have false pretences over the desirability of my body. I am short, slim, not at all musculer and frankly very boring to look at. I am not unhealthy or freakish in nature, but I’m not the classic tall, dark and handsome fellow that often cover the pages of adverts and magazine articles on fashion and the like.
All that aside though, my interest in naturist beaches went up a gear when one afternoon in one of 2020’s many lockdowns, I caught my bare backside in the mirror on the afternoon following a trip to a local clothed beach at Southbourne. My torso and legs were suitable bronzed, my arse looked as pale as an anaemic goth in the depths of an arctic perma-night winter.
It was at this moment that a thought popped into my head. I have no idea why it presented itself in the way that it did, or why my brain phrased it in the way that it did, but it happened.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way of getting a great tan all over, bum included.
Living in a converted townhouse which is now four apartments in a city centre location, there is a small courtyard garden to the rear of the property. But needless to say, it isn’t appropriate to lay out a towel and show my bare backside to my neighbours in an attempt to reduce its albedo effect.
So my thoughts turned to naturist beaches, and I was already aware that there may be one at Studland, a relatively well known beach not too far from where I call home. A quick scavenge around Google and my suspicions were confirmed. I checked it all out, read as much as I could, and then fired up the weather app to check to forecast.
Alas, my suspicions on British weather were also confirmed and it seemed the summer of 2020 was already passing with little hope of temperatures exceeding 20°C until the following May or June. Not wanting to spend my first afternoon on a naturist beach huddled under a blanket and tarpaulin in the hope of keeping warm and dry, I put the thought out of my head and got on with preparing for winter.
And so, the following year came and as spring started to warm the land, thoughts again turned to the first trip to the beach. And just as the regular clothed beach at Southbourne popped into my head, so did Studland and its 1km stretch of clothing-optional sunbathing shoreline.
In mid-summer and after things started to turn towards the positive with regards to the pandemic, the mercury start to climb out of the teens and a trip to Studland was planned. It would be a day all to myself; some fun traveling to Dorset, a good book, my thoughts and the warming sun glazing my body.
I packed some simple food, lots of water, some sunscreen and a couple of books to keep me amused. The train ride to Bournemouth went quickly enough and some time on an open-topped bus was looked forward to. Passing across Poole Harbour, I had decided to alight at Shell Bay, the first stop on Studland’s side of the chain ferry. I then began my trek around the headland and down the beach.
After what seemed like an eternity of walking – it honestly felt like I had walked halfway across the country – I started to see some naturists ahead of me. Hugging the shoreline in my shirt and shorts, I trudged along while looking for the famous blue signs that designate the naturist area. I must have missed them, because it wasn’t much further that I noticed nude sunbathers soaking up rays on the white sand.
Feeling confident I had found myself in the correct area, my thoughts turned to finding a suitable place to set myself down. It was July, the temperature was expected to touch 30 and the beach was busy. Any thoughts that naturism is very niche and only enjoyed by a select few can be dispelled. The beach was packed. Well, packed when you consider you might want some space to yourself. It wasn’t like the sardine tin you often see at nearby Bournemouth, or indeed as rammed as it probably was further up on the clothed section of the beach. But busy it was.
Looking for an appropriate spot, I thought I would eventually end up at the other end and be forced to turn back, but soon enough I spotted what seemed like a decent place. Further back where the dunes meet the beach, with no nearby pathway that would cause disturbance. A couple had already erected their wind breaks on one side and to the other there was no one for a fair few metres. I ventured up, laid out my towel and took my clothes off.
This is the point where I imagine many would hesitate. The actual act of stripping off on a public beach. But I’m the sort of person who just gets on with it. I was here for a reason, I wasn’t the only one and there was little point in thinking too much about it. I slipped out of my shirt, took off my shorts (and because I was traveling on public transport to get to the beach) I pulled off my swimming trunks. Sitting there, stark naked, I surveyed the area briefly, laid back and made myself comfortable.
Behind me and above on the dunes I could here some people chatting away fairly constantly, which to be honest was quite nice. Having spent the best part of the previous year cooped up inside with little in the way of general noise and chitter chatter, it was nice to be around this. It was almost as titillating as being nude around others.
It didn’t take long to forget my lack of clothes, and soon enough I was engrossed in a book, headphones in and enjoying my own world. The occasional turn when the sun started to bake and the occasional reapplication of sunscreen were the only interruptions to the afternoon.
Feeling ever more confident at being naked around others, I eventually stood up and walked down the beach to the shore and went for a swim in the sea. I should probably point out that the bay at Studland is very shallow and it takes a good while of wading before the sea covers your waist. If you are thinking that you would be able to quickly hide yourself from onlookers by diving into the water, think again. But once out into a depth that is good enough for a paddle, the warm water felt really nice moving around my body.
My day at Studland was just what my mind needed. To push myself into something potentially uncomfortable, but to have the self-assuredness to not be anxious or hesitant about it, only affirmed to myself that many things in life aren’t as scary as they initially seem to be. And while I wasn’t all that scared to begin with, or hesitant about being there, laying naked on a beach without a care in the world was simply liberating.
Knowing I wanted to do this again, knowing this wasn’t a simple one-off fancy, I started to research other beaches. Although Studland was a great introduction, for myself it does take a while to get there. Searching around the internet it seems there are a few beaches around the south coast that are either officially designated or at least accepted as naturist beaches.
Unfortunately, by the time worklife relented again to allow an opportunity to venture away to the beach, the temperature started to drop and as I type this, it is September 2021 and the thermometer isn’t even topping 20°C again. The summer, as it does each year, is beginning to pass.
But it was a good year in terms of my own personal development. Of course much has happened around the world over the last 18 or so months and none of that can be considered positive. But for myself, in a somewhat selfish perspective, it was definitely positive. And it is something that will be repeated many more times in 2022.