‘The day before lockdown started, we hiked 15 miles through countryside in various states of undress. We started around 8:30am and finished around 5pm, taking the time to enjoy naked picnicking and a bit of naked paddling in a VERY cold river. Thank goodness we did; it was to be the last day of true freedom for a long time,’ say Sue and Andrew.
What is it about being naked outdoors that brings such joy to those of us enlightened enough and brave enough to try it? And how have we managed maintain that joy under lockdown? Recent research suggests that naturist activities lead to an increase in life satisfaction. To us, like many others who practice naturism, that means being outdoors in the fresh air and sunlight.
Fate smiled on us in three ways: we were working from home, we have a garden, and this springtime, the weather was particularly fine. We had many idyllic tea breaks and lunch breaks sitting naked in the garden. With time on our hands, the weeds stood no chance - their days were numbered. Digging them up with the sun on our bare backs was very satisfying. It warms not just the skin but the soul too. And we could potter around in the dirt without a care in the world about getting our clothes dirty because we were not wearing any.
Prior to lockdown we used to go to a yoga class. It's supposed to be calming but the stress of trying to get there on time and then find a parking space was often counter-productive. Not so when we joined the BN yoga classes online. Although we did need to rearrange the furniture to make room! Other times we avoided the furniture problem by doing naked yoga in the garden. The liberating effects of yoga unencumbered by fabrics, walls or ceilings is the ultimate way to experience it.
Not having to (or being able to) drive places saves a lot of time. This gave us the chance to do some DIY, including dismantling an old armchair to re-purpose its leather upholstery (SO many staples!)
We live close enough to a naturist beach that we can walk there for a bit of sunbathing. It's remote enough that even in the height of summer it's uncrowded. In springtime it's almost deserted. Once it was allowed, we did some exploring using the BN beach guide and checked out other nearby naturist beaches. We've had some glorious days out.
There's nothing quite like a skinny dip. For many people it's their first taste of naturism. We've managed a few dips in the sea at the naturist beach already this year - some of them quite short when the water was still cold. One new thing we've tried recently is river skinny dipping. We were introduced to it by a friend. It's quite different to paddling naked in streams on a hike, or swimming naked in the sea. The technical term, apparently is “swooshing” which means letting the river take you downstream past the scenery. All very easy and fun but you still have to swim about a bit to avoid getting cold. And carry your towel in a waterproof bag as it's a one-way deal.
We like a good hike. Initially we were restricted to short hikes near home and I think by now we know every footpath in our neighbourhood in minute detail. It's especially useful to discover where it's safe to strip off and get some sun on your bum as you walk along.
We celebrated world naked hiking day by hiking in the New Forest with a couple of naturist friends - at a safe distance of course. As we parked and saw the heaving crowds of clothed people our hearts sank, but 200 yards from the car park there was not a soul to be seen on the path ahead. By careful choice of route we walked 10 miles naked with only very brief cover-ups to cross busy roads.
Another day we travelled a little further afield and met up with a couple of friends on the South Downs. They are NatRam members and they led us on a leisurely five mile stroll with beautiful scenery and quite a lot of clothed walkers - who seemed friendly on the whole.
More recently the weather's been a bit wet and windy but then there was a nice calm Saturday and so we got out the canoe and went on the usually quiet river, hoping to do some naked paddling. But oh dear! Everybody else who'd been cooped up in the miserable weather had the same idea. We paddled six miles and only managed less than half a mile naked. Oh well, you win some you lose some.
Necessity is the mother of invention. The necessity of staying close to home, with so many leisure facilities closed, has forced us to invent new ways of having fun. We have discovered that you don't need to jet off to exotic locations or rely on other organisations to amuse you and arrange activities for you. There's a world of fun to be had right on your doorstep if you apply a bit of inventiveness. And the best thing is, most of it doesn't cost you a penny!