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    So where do I start?

    Once the decision to be a Naturist is made, some people simply find themselves somewhere suitable and strip off, whilst others want to be but are still not sure how, where or why!

    Let’s start with the easy bit: Why?

    Okay so we dress it up, (a rare thing for a Naturist, I know) with explanations of soaking up the much needed Vitamin D for some really good health reasons, for not having to sport “white bits”, especially strap marks for the ladies, (well, usually for the ladies), for it being a leveller among people from all backgrounds, for the feel good factor of no soggy swimwear and the relaxed atmosphere we all share but when it comes down to it, the reason we do it is simply because it feels good! Of course you might not understand this until you do it for yourself and if you have never considered Naturism before but your partner is asking you to give it a go, please do as they ask because although I was reluctant at first, the day a warm breeze caressed my naked skin, it became apparent! There’s a feeling of freedom, liberation and confidence. You’re doing something you’ve been told not to do all your life: social nudity!

    How and Where?

    There could be some among you who find it hard to walk around naked even in the privacy of your own home, curtains drawn and handy wrap left by the front door in case the doorbell should sound someone’s arrival. So perhaps that is the first place to become accustomed to your own nudity.Next time you’ve showered don’t be in a hurry to dress, relax in your own skin.

    When that feels completely normal you can venture outside.

    Every Naturist dreams of having a totally private back garden and if you have that privacy then the first step is to take advantage of that garden and bare all in your back yard. Of course, you have might have spoken to your neighbours and they applaud what they regard as your rebellious, brave or cranky behaviour and don’t mind an occasional, accidental flash of skin if they look your way.You might even find that they are Naturists too! In fact you might well know several Naturists already but just don’t know that you do!

    There are a number of naked walking groups. Whilst it is not illegal to be naked in public there is always the chance someone might think it is and if that happens it is generally the Naturist who comes off worse so please be careful and carry something to cover up the moment you see anyone in your vicinity. It’s often accepted without comment, especially if you are in a group. BN will back you as long as you weren’t intending to cause ‘alarm and distress’ which is the bit you could be arrested for.

    Now that you’ve got used to being naked in the privacy of your own home and back garden the next step could be a Naturist beach. I had mixed feelings about these but it worked for me, when my husband suggested trying it out at the Welsh Morfa Dyffyrn beach. I thought it was okay as I didn’t know anyone there and I was hardly likely to meet them again and that’s exactly what happened.

    A naked man walking past stopped for a friendly chat and even insisted on taking a photo of us when we said we were on our honeymoon; on our camera I hasten to add!

    There were one or two inquisitive faces bobbing up and down from the dunes; single men, (sorry single men, I’m not blaming you all) who are often referred to as “meerkats” (sorry meerkats, I know you don’t always do that). The trouble is that if you are new to Naturism and a little nervous the last thing you want is someone staring at you, for whatever reason so please think ahead and decide if you can deal with this behaviour whilst coping with public nudity for the first time – and of course it doesn’t happen everywhere or everytime.

    There are many Naturist swims held at public swimming pools. The life guards employed by the pool will be dressed but they easily adapt to our lack of swimwear and work in a professional manner and you will only feel they are looking at you in the same way as they would if you had your swimsuit on. Communal changing rooms are often the norm at these events and you will soon realise there is no need for concern. It’s so much easier especially if you have children with you to see to. By the time you leave you will realise you became blasé with naked bodies of both genders being in the same space!

    The next choice is a recognised Naturist club. If you look at the lists at the end of this magazine, you will find the contact details of swims and clubs and if you read the Club Reports you will get an idea of what goes on. Most clubs are of a similar nature: clubhouse, pool, patio, sports facilities, sauna and sunbathing lawns and if they’re as lucky as we are at Blackthorns, natural woodland to wander through.

    Contact the club of your choice and ask to go along for a trial visit to find out if you like the club, if the club likes you and most importantly, to determine whether you will overcome any nerves and enjoy the experience.

    Do explain how you feel and they will do their upmost to ensure you enjoy your first taste of social nudity.

    Don’t be scared to ask questions: I much prefer to answer and deal with any concerns from “Where do I undress?” to “Can I bring my dogs?” and all those worries in between, which is why I devised a leaflet called, “Frequently Asked Questions” (see it on www.blackthorns.org.uk for ideas).

    This will put you at your ease instead of worrying about how to ask if genital piercings are acceptable or if you have to undress whatever the weather and temperature.

    These questions apply to everyone, nervous or not.

    I remain clothed to meet prospective members at the gate and to help them feel at ease, I stay dressed whilst showing them round and only undress when I feel they are comfortable with my nudity and hopefully, the next step, their own.

    Undress wherever you feel at ease, be it in the car park, in the shower room, toilets, on the lawn: you choose. Few clubs have lockers to leave your clothes in: either leave them in your car or take a bag and keep them with you. Of course you won’t have pockets so pop your keys in your bag with your mobile phone, sun cream, sun hat, sun glasses, towel and change for the showers.

    Often the best way to overcome nerves is to undress as quickly as you would remove a sticking plaster to reduce pain but you could take the slower way and choose a quiet spot in the club, (we have a lovely clearing in our wood; yes I am boasting) and maybe go topless to start with and then remove it all but perhaps slip a sarong or towel around you when you need to walk around and feel more on show. People will look at you but only because you are the new person, not because you are a naked person.

    Clubs vary so once you are over that first hurdle do familiarise yourself with individual club rules. Many tend to hold evening socials as clothed events though communal barbeques are usually completely nude if the temperature gives you the comfort of being so.

    That’s another misconception: we do not stay naked all the time and when we’re cold, we cover up!

    There are simple little “dos & don’ts” like: always carry a towel to sit on when using communal furniture and, and, and…do you know what? I can’t think of any other set rules to follow: it’s a case of respect and consideration to others just the same as you would if you were clothed.

    A common worry is where you will be looking when speaking to a naked person and the answer is simple: exactly where you would be looking when talking to a clothed person. If you look at a man’s crotch when talking to him or a lady’s boobs when speaking to her, I suggest you change your attitude and quickly because that is quite rude and offensive in general let alone in a Naturist environment!

    Yes, of course you see naked people and to start with you might expect to feel embarrassed but once you are in the situation you realise it’s a non-sexual nudity and though you see, you do not look.

    I can say this with complete honesty as a friend at Blackthorns came across the patio to speak to us and only 10 mins later neither me nor my husband could recall if he were still naked or dressed to depart!

    Please don’t talk yourself out of the enjoyment it gives by worrying that you carry extra weight than is ideal, have cellulite, scars, skin complaint, stretch marks etc. Whilst none of us are what we might consider to be perfect and most of us wish to make improvements, we accept ourselves and each other for what we are and get on with our lives.

    The only place you must be naked is in the pool but who would want to come out in soggy, wet swimwear when you can emerge, garment free and easy to dry? The only time we insist on our younger members, under 18yrs, to be undressed is in the pool and they all do so without complaint and whether they remain undressed afterwards or grab their clothes again, is entirely up to them.

    You might think our weather isn’t reliable enough to spend a week or so in the sun and decide to book a Naturist holiday abroad.There are many tourist destinations that could include Naturism so get onto the BN website for information or chat on the forum to those who can suggest places to go. Some even consist of shops and accommodation that allows you to remain naked the whole of the holiday, whilst some offer poolside sunbathing or a private rooftop, balcony or beach area.

    It is often the route into Naturism as so many say they first tried it on holiday and wanted to continue with the fantastic feeling back home and who could blame them.

    So to recap:

    Ask yourself why you want to become a Naturist but don’t struggle to justify it.

    If you are unsure, but intrigued, you should try it to experience the reason so many of us enjoy the lifestyle.

    After gaining confidence alone, decide where to try out social nudity.

    Consider the options.

    All Naturists want others to understand them so please ask any of us any questions you would like answered rather than fret silently.

    I’m confident, under the right conditions, you will feel so relaxed that you will not want to put those clothes back on, especially on a hot day whether at your local club or somewhere a bit more exotic!

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