Chasing the sun (Part 1)

It’s glorious in the UK at the moment.  I have fond memories of one long hot summer akin to this one in my dim distant teenage years (a Freudian slip) when my Mum, having had an operation on her varicose veins, needed to walk daily during her rehab.

We always enjoyed walking as a family.  Pictured some of my naturist walking “family” and yes, we are talking naked hiking.  This was taken so we could share widely without repercussions.

 

I am trying to retain my facebook account, despite being booted off on a few occasions.  My children who are 27 and 25 now think it’s hilarious. They have a clean sheet and Mum gets the rap.  Not exactly something to boast about but their friends seem to hear about it when my account’s locked down again for, on occasions, the most spurious reasons!

Holidays were spent in rented coastal cottages, generally in Wales but on one occasion Cornwall.  Given that there were six children and not the same safety stipulations and restrictions, it was a very memorable journey down to Cornwall from Shropshire with five children in the back and the baby on Mum’s lap in the front.  Mandatory seat belts didn’t become law until 1983  (with the inevitable refinements and updates since).

I presume it was a Vauxhall Viva, my Dad’s routine choice of motor.  Not the easiest of journeys for any of us.

Arthur and Grandad

I wouldn’t have attempted that with my two children when they were younger without stopped endlessly and filling the car with toys and games.  Dad’s quest was to get to our final destination as quickly as the Viva would permit.  I don’t really remember stopping although we must have done.  We entertained ourselves by harassing Mum and Dad “Are we nearly there yet?” and playing I spy over and over again.

This year, it’s safe to say,  there appears to be little point in taking off when the UK has so much to offer anyway and we don’t have to chase the sun for once.  It was also St Swithin’s day on 15th July.  We Brits obsess about the weather, whether naturist or not; complaining if it’s raining incessantly, snowing periodically and during the summer, about the lack of sun.

Feast of St Peter, Andy & Emma

Typically though, the British complain if it’s sunny to this degree, then it’s too hot to handle.  Honestly, the weather can’t win!  Anyone would think every member of the British public are destined to be naturist one day with their propensity to moan 😉  One of the least redeeming features of our community and we’re all guilty of it, myself included.

Swithun or Swithin in Old English who died c 862, was an Anglo-Saxon bishop of Winchester and subsequently patron saint of Winchester Cathedral.  According to tradition, if it rains on Saint Swithin’s bridge (Winchester) on his feast day (15 July) it will continue for forty days.  Anyone know if it rained?  Assuming it didn’t, we can safely look to the UK for the next 40 days but for the sun chasers amongst you who want near-guaranteed sun, perhaps you want to look further afield or plan a break in Autumn/Winter?

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Cue lots of links.  I’m still not planning to blog that frequently until I’ve moved to Berkshire since it can be time-consuming to craft a well-thought-out blog.  But I will push out the occasional one which involves more words than pictures, without requiring much in the way of research.

The words are the easy bit in my estimation.  I always find inserting the media, selecting pictures, adding links and of course editing and amending takes the time.

UK

Naturist Accommodation: 

Website: http://naco.org.uk/front/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nacouk

Instagram:

Tumblr:

Facebook:

“is for people who are offering or looking for bed and breakfast, self-catering, lettings, flat or house shares or other accommodation in an environment that enables social nudity or is clothing-optional.

Using Naturist Accommodation is one of the best ways for a naturist to enjoy naturism, whether you are a long-time naturist or a newcomer to naturism.”

Business Directory: http://naco.org.uk/front/business-directory-2

“The directory of accommodation lists accommodation offered on a regular basis. A directory entry is free of charge to companies or individuals offering accommodation to naturists.”

Naturist B&B

Website: https://www.naturistbnb.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/naturistbnb

Instagram:

Tumblr:

Facebook:

“Welcome to Naturist friendly accommodation bookings. We cater private homestay, holiday homes and resorts – basically any type of accommodation. One thing common with all of them is their Naturist friendly host and clothing optional or nudist nature. Your naturist holiday starts here!”

 

Non Naturist Accommodation

National Trust

Website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/

Residential and Farm Lettings: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/residential-and-farm-lettings

Holiday Cottages: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/holidays

 

Landmark Trust

Website: https://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/

“Holidays in History.  Our charity restores castles, forts, towers and cottages for self-catering breaks.”

Explore and Book 

 

Youth Hostel Association, YHA

Website: http://bit.ly/2Le6if2

“With a varied landscape, inspiring views and something for everyone, England and Wales is a must for all. Discover the best areas of these two magnificent countries with YHA as you experience our excellent accommodation in the most beautiful and accessible locations.”

“Adventure for all”  Over 160 locations Available

’50 things summer fun” http://bit.ly/2unxSN8

“Enjoy a memorable family day out with us this summer. Join in with family-friendly events, plot your own adventures and see how many of our 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ challenges you can complete.”

Days out: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/days-out

Art and Collections: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/art-and-collections

Working Holidays: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/holidays/working-holidays

Charitable ethos, principles and environment: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/our-cause

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Unfinished blog.  I have to start work now.  Dreary business and personal admin so I’ll return to this later or tomorrow.  If someone could check my links please (Twitter SO) I’d be grateful and DM or tweet me accordingly.  I’ll check Twitter when I’ve done some work to salve my conscience.

I’ll go further afield during the course of the week with Part 2

 

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I’m back

after being bitten by the black dog again.

I’m not the only naturist in my friendship circle plagued by SAD (seasonal affected disorder). Whatever the reason, hormonal, stress, lack of Vitamin D etc? When I crash it can take a long time to pull back.

I’m putting measures in place to try and cut down the triggers which in itself is stressful; selling, relocating and buying. Consequently my online forays are pretty limited and having been actively involved with online networking, running clubs, overseeing forums, blogging, writing the occasional article and largely enjoying the interaction, there are occasions when individuals emboldened and disinhibited behind a keyboard let rip, despite their limited understanding of social media and twitter particularly as a social media tool.

It’s as frustrating as selling a house and I’ve seen it all before, many times, but exceedingly frustrating when a colleague you hold in high esteem plays that card, especially when a quick DM could have cleared up any misunderstandings rather than choosing publicly vented and inappropriate fireworks.

I’m unusual for a my demographic, having used social media (and networked) widely since 2004 so understand the short-term and long-term benefits. I know the positives outweighs the negatives overall but it’s still upsetting.

It’s simply not worth my while engaging when people are determined to paint the canvas as they see fit. My time is squeezed as it is, so disengaging from the firing line is prudent and reducing/negating contact with the antagonist and the overseeing body.

I’d already determined to reduce my time on the various platforms I use but since the inexcusable outburst, have decided to blog on a more regular basis, initially monthly rising to weekly. This is an introduction so doesn’t count.

The blogs won’t necessarily always be nude in nature, we’re a community of varying interests and age groups. Some may be of no interest to you, others may.

Once I’ve relocated to Berkshire and set up my business in the new locality, I should be able to turn the pledge into action

Naturism as it’s generally known in Great Britain, should be an enjoyable experience. Certainly I’ve made some of my closest friends via my nude lifestyle and the more involved you get, the more people want to take a pop at you which is the same as any office environment. There’s a reason I’m self employed!

Eyes are closing on me so that’s s a clue to sign out. Until next time 👋

A terrific tour & tea for two

Before I launch into this blog, a disclaimer. This is decidedly not about nudity, rather it’s about the British Parliament, the fantastic tours @VisitParliament oversee and tea overlooking the Thames so Socks on please.

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As a community we’re already very engaged with environmental issues.  The widely acclaimed World Naked Bike Ride and the more recent World Naked Gardening Day are a testimony to how collective action in combination with the reach of social media can further promote a cause and raise awareness.  However, politically we don’t tend to engage with our respective governing bodies as much as we perhaps might.

Certainly, as a relatively small but vocal community in the UK, we keep our eye on Government policy which might have an impact on the naturist community but only a percentage of us actively engage with local authorities, our MPs and government unless our liberty is threatened.  In Britain, we strive to have a democratic constitution which means Parliament welcome representation from all sectors of the community, at local and national level.

UK residents and overseas visitors can attend debates on current issues or proposed new laws in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords by visiting the public galleries during the week.  It’s also possible to attend Select Committees which take evidence in public, with very few exceptions.  Parliament provides a calendar so you can see the schedule for both houses.

With spring flowers now nudging their way out of the soil, I’m looking back to late November when I was fortunate to attend a tour of the Houses of Parliament followed by tea.  The second such time I’ve been on such a tour and both times I was entranced.  Whether you’re a UK resident or visiting from overseas, it’s worth blocking off time to Visit Parliament.

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Tours take place on Saturdays throughout the year and most weekdays when Parliament is not in session.  My friend and I were fortunate, it was a crisp, sunny day, perfect for capturing pictures of the famous London buses and taxis along the short walk from Westminster tube station to the Houses of Parliament and the stunning architecture of  Henry VII’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey opposite the imposing St Stephens Entrance

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Having cleared security, we had time to spend before our tour started from Westminster Hall.   Upon our arrival, a 45 foot high Sitka Spruce tree from the Kielder Forest in Northumberland was being erected in New Palace Yard next to Big Ben

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It looked very different when we left later in the day.

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Fortified by tea and cake, we entered Westminster hall where another large Christmas tree from the same source was on display and awaited our tour guide, Micki Von Stieglitz.

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A large group, incorporating a range of nationalities, Mrs Stiegliz shepherded us around the House of Commons and the House of Lords during a very informative and fascinating tour.

Photography is permitted in Westminster Hall and St Stephen’s Hall both of which I cover in greater detail in this blog about the family tour I participated in with BritMums.

Now visiting Parliament with my artist friend, it was another opportunity to see ‘New Dawn’ by the artist Mary Branson measuring over six feet high and the first piece of abstract art in the historic palace, commisioned to celebrate the campaign for women’s right to the vote.

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Between 5 February to 11 April 2018, you can also book tickets to see Cornelia Parker’s artworks exhibition “Left, Right and Centre’ in Westminster Hall.

Cornelia Parker speaks for many of us with her sentiment “The future is very uncertain for Britain . . . everything’s in a bit of a mess,” as quoted in this Financial Times article by James Pickford about her exhibition.   “Cornelia Parker – the fifth official election artist and the first woman to take the role – trailed campaign events across the UK in the run-up to the snap June poll, uploading her images of politicians, voters, protesters and onlookers to a public Instagram feed.”

We walked past New Dawn up the stairs and into St Stephen’s Hall.  I took copious notes when we were trailing around after Mrs Stiegliz but honestly, there’s no substitute for taking the tour yourself.  Only the eyes are privy to the wonderful artworks, statues, friezes, tapestries, ornate carvings and those areas of Parliament we know so well from seeing televised debates.

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Quite how she managed to remember so much detail I’ve no idea but it was superb and left me wanting to go back again and again.  My friend was equally impressed.

After the tour, we were booked in for tea overlooking the Thames.  If you want to really experience historic London from a superb vantage point, this is it.

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Tea was sumptuous and the location couldn’t be more perfect;  The Terrace Pavilion, a purpose-built heated marquee.

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Suffice to say, it was delightful and a fitting end to a memorable day.  If you enjoy art as my friend and I both do, you’ll also find artworks lining the corridors en route to the Terrace.  I particularly liked the line drawings of Westminster Hall.

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Before leaving, another visit to the Gift Shop.  Every year in recent history, I’ve purchased a new decoration for Christmas.  This visit to Parliament fittingly provided me with a suffragette who took pride of place on my tree in 2017.  Yesterday Parliament announced a free exhibition to celebrate women’s suffrage “Voice and Vote: Women’s Place in Parliament” which will open on 27 June 2018 and run through to 6 October 2018 with tickets available online from Tuesday 6 February 2018  I’m becoming a regular

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Naked Britain launches

Oh what a night!  I don’t get in to London that much. My friend and Designer Gavin Page (not fashion darlings) came along to join me for the preview of Naked Britain last night at the Herrick Gallery in Piccadilly, in advance of the exhibition taking place between 4th-8th November 2017.

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This documentary, photographic tribute to the naturist community has been two years in the making and the resultant glossy black and white images compiled in collaboration with photographer Amelia Allen, by her German publisher Kerer Verlag.

Amelia Allen, a well-known fashion and street photographer based in London, first became interested in naturism at the age of 16 after seeing a photograph of a naturist couple in Kent at an exhibition in New York by Magnum photographer Elliot Erwitt.

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Amelia’s research led her to Britain’s national organisation for naturism, British Naturism. In conjunction with them she began to visit naturist clubs, otherwise known (farcically in our climate) as Sun Clubs, taking in clothing-optional and naturist events around the UK and documenting her findings in a series of striking images.

The book Naked Britain contains 80 black and white photographs of naturists at rest and play, in their homes, within naturist clubs and at critical environmental protest events like the World Naked Bike Ride, which takes place annually.  Some of these images are on display at the Herrick Gallery to coincide with the launch of Naked Britain which was released for pre-order on 2 November 2017.

Gavin and I travelled into the bright lights from leafy Buckinghamshire.  Spurning the crammed upmarket Piccadilly wine bars, the doors encircled by smokers with noxious smoke plumes assailing our nostrils, we settled upon a lovely outdoor market, as it turned out adjacent to the gallery.  Infinitely preferable!

 

 

Arriving fashionably late, after meandering around the local streets a bit (I knew it was a mistake relying on memory) we approached the gallery which had a throng of people outside but thankfully less evidence of smoking.  This was a young hip crowd.  As I put on various social media posts last night, two worlds collided, the fashionistas and naturists.

I’m an active networker so can easily transpose myself into different situations and having dressed up for the occasion in designer frocks myself, felt quite at home.  It’s our secret that they were procured from local charity shops, discounting the bag; I splashed out.

Effervescent Amelia welcomed us.  She’s so warm and friendly and puts people at their ease readily which is why I believe the photographs are a true reflection of our community and the joy and companionship we revel in amongst like-minded individuals.  It’s worlds away from the carping, body judgemental society we all have to operate in daily.

 

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Upstairs, photographs lined the walls and images of the front cover festooned the skirting boards.  I have to admit since that’s my ass on the front cover, it was slightly disconcerting to see myself 1000 times over.

Frustratingly, I missed the shot too and it’s a moment in time which is captured for eternity

 

Gavin and I worked our way downstairs after I’d wandered around, snapping a few of the images

 

 

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On the lower level of the gallery, various naturist friends were assembled in the hubbub of people.  It’s always good to catch up, clothed or otherwise and certainly at the beginning of the evening, we naturally gravitated towards our nude camp

 

 

Later in the evening, I mingled with the fashionistas, bewitched by their designer rags, securing permission to take photographs of them too.

 

 

But enough about us, look at the photographs which give the world an accurate glimpse into the notoriously secretive naturist community in the UK.

 

The sparkling flowed.  Amelia herself sparkled.  Friends and family chatted, we mingled.  Canapes were handed round, photographs were pored over and a lot of fun was had.

 

 

I was trying to keep quiet the fact that it was my ass on the front cover but not being the reticent type, it wasn’t a secret for long and Amelia’s photographer charting the events of the evening took a few choice ones of me messing around with her friends, stylists and publicists.  I’ll probably wish I was more introverted when I see the results!

The preview billed as 7-9pm started to slow down and Amelia got to business signing books.

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I got in on the act of course and will have a good look over my copy later today.  I know a lot of my friends will be attending the clothing-optional viewing this afternoon but sadly I can’t be there.  Mind you, it’s November so I hope the Gallery cranks the heating up.  It’s pretty damn cold out there!

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Shortly after 9pm, Gavin and I started to make our way back to Buckinghamshire.  I tend to wake at dawn so my mission at that stage was to get back home to sleep.

Gavin was a complete star the entire evening.  Weighed down with glasses, phone, battery pack, champers, mingling, photographing, by the end of the evening I think Gavin felt his role had been to act as my PA for the night.  He kindly held my glass on innumerable occasions when I was keen to snap another photo.  It seemed appropriate therefore to take a closing picture of Gavin once we alighted at my local tube station, Chalfont and Latimer, in black and white as a tribute to Amelia’s Naked Britain with Gavin and his lovely wry smile before we parted ways.

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Try and take the exhibition in yourself if you can, it’s well worth the journey.

Manhood, the launch

Last Saturday I attended the launch of Laura Dodsworth’s latest book Manhood with friends, one of whom took part in the project.

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Held at Effraspace, a yoga, pregnancy, birthing and parenting centre owned by Pinter and Martin, Laura’s publishers, we convened in Brixton and made our way over to the venue.  Rows of books lined the bright reception area and owners Martin Wagner and Maria Pinter hosted the evening, juggling wine, nibbles and ultimately book sales and Laura’s signing.

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There were over 100 people in attendance, mostly participants, friends and family.  The atmosphere was joyous.  Martin Wagner introduced Laura and spoke about how Laura had approached them with a view to publishing her previous book Bare Reality. At that stage, they turned her down but the demand was obviously there with Laura raising her target through crowdfunding within 24 hours.  Manhood itself sold out before the launch!

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Bare Reality which I took part in, focused on breasts and how breasts are perceived in society.  Laura interviewed 100 women of varying ages, encompassing different demographics and sexual identification. In my opinion in contemporary society, the dialogue around manhood and masculinity is even more important than how breasts are perceived and often sanctioned, hypersexualised and derided.  Manhood embodies the personal stories of 100 men of varying ages and sexuality, focusing on the penis.

I’ve not dared pore over the stories which I’m so keen to work through because my daughter’s partner took part and Laura addressed my copy to Adam at my request so when I next see him we can trade for his unsigned copy.

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I’m precious about books. I hold them in reverence especially signed copies and first editions so I want to hand him a pristine copy, not one besmirched by my grubby fingers so it’s tantalisingly out of reach, inciting me to open it like the snake in the Garden of Eden but I’ve resisted – to date.

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At least I can show you some pictures from the evening itself which was very much a celebration of manhood and masculinity.

 

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Ant Smith

 

Laura spoke with great presence and tenderness.

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Three poets who’d taken part, gamely spoke infront of the captive audience after Laura’s introduction; Carl Chamberlain, Ernesto Sarezale and Ant Smith.

 

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Carl Chamberlain

 

Ernesto appropriately, who was hilarious and compelling in his rendition, bared his body along with his soul. As naturists we know from a textile perspective, the shock of seeing someone nude dissipates in a matter of seconds.  My friend alongside me was a bit startled initially but soon forgot the fact he was naked.

 

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Ernesto Sarezale

 

Laura and some of the Manhood participants have been on a whirlwind of PR since the launch.  Watch out for the reviews as they come in and prepare to be moved by the deeply personal accounts Manhood charts.  Well done Laura and thank you for inspiring the dialogue that will undoubtedly ensue.

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What photographing 100 naked men taught me, Laura Dodsworth The Telegraph  12/6/17

Me and my penis: 100 men reveal all, Laura Dodsworth The Guardian  27/5/17

 

 

Break out the Barbie arms with Nude-ercise

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My first experience of a naked workout today and it was absolutely brilliant!  Helen Smith, a British Naturism member who has featured in a lot of recent press articles about her nude venture, is now running classes in London as well as Southampton.

I help Naturist London with my colleague Karen so women have a female point of contact for the swim and aim to be at the swim monthly, hosting Ladies meet ups. Today we broke with tradition and took part in Helen’s first class between 11:00-12:00am before heading back to Energybase for a swim.

I’ve taken part in a lot of exercise sessions in the past and can say with absolute certainty that you need a reasonable level of fitness to take part.  A mixed group, six men, two women, we warmed up before the fun began and it really was – the time flew!

Nude-ercise has elements of rugby training without the pad work so don’t book in thinking you’re in for an easy ride.  However Helen makes the class light-hearted and she’s encouraging and attentive to the varying fitness levels in the group.

The venue we trained at was clean and functional, affording excellent privacy so there was no chance of lascivious voyeurs drooling over our attempts to emulate Helen’s seemingly effortless stretches.  We chopping and changed under Helen’s direction, working in twos, fours, individually. There was no time to get bored and lots of banter.

Towards the latter part of the class various timed planking challenges were thrown into the mix, culminating in a plank off.  I’d love to say I won with my competitive nature.  I absolutely didn’t but had great fun trying!

As for Barbie, she evidently doesn’t cheat.  To ensure we didn’t slip into to reducing the impact of an exercise we had to make like Barbie.  You’ll have to take part in one of Helen’s classes to break out the Barbie arms.  No clues in the picture below.

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Contact Information

Via Naturist London :          Nude-ercise (including links to recent press articles)

Facebook:                                Nude-ercise  

That’s Solent TV                   Interview with Helen Smith

Picture Credit:                       Solent News and Photo Agency   Twitter: @snapagency

The Great British Skinny Dip #Septembare

To be screened on Valentine’s Day, Channel 4, 10:00pm

Channel 4  Press Release  9 June 2016

Emma and Nerida in indoor pool

“The Great British Skinny Dip (w/t)

This year British Naturism, Britain’s largest group devoted to the lifestyle, is reaching out to encourage more people to give it a go, challenging British attitudes to nudity along the way. The initiative is the brainchild of the organisation’s Andrew Welch, who is spearheading an event he’s calling “Septembare” when, over a weekend in September, non-naturists (or textiles as they call them) will get the chance to join one of a number of skinny dips that are being planned across Britain.

The documentary will follow the organisation’s attempt to co-opt venues and drum up support, and explore what the appeal is – why a range of people from all walks of life enjoy spending their spare time in the buff and how they manage to do it in a country where the climate doesn’t naturally lend itself.

Naturism is increasingly being sought out online by young people seeking escapism, fun and freedom – choosing to lay themselves bare at a time of increased body consciousness and airbrushing. With access to nudist clubs across the country as well as the wilder activities off the beaten track, this film will lift the lid on the world of naturism, climaxing with the skinny-dip weekend which may or may not bring new converts to the faith.

Production Company: ZKK

Director: Victoria Silver

Executive producer: Kathy O’Neil

Trailer released 9 February 2017   https://youtu.be/PYffmNq-5GA

GBSD:  The Great British Skinny Dip  website & on twitter  @GBSD2017

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