The last time I saw the Lights, I was probably about eight. My nose pressed up against the glass peering out at the illuminations, transfixed through the raindrops. Debbie, my younger sister and I were happily ensconced in the back of our grandparents car where we’d been deposited for the week and this was the highlight of our holiday with them. Roll on a few years and action replay, Blackpool illuminations provided the warm up for our Saturday night entertainment during the bi-annual British Naturism National Convention & AGM and they still have the power.
I travelled up from Buckinghamshire the day before the Convention began. The main motorway infastructure in the UK is heaving and predictably it was a slow, painful process. Finding the Melville Hotel wasn’t that easy either, with a multitude of one way roads but the ever-helpful member of night staff Shaun talked me in and helped me unpack.
Shaun was acting as porter, receptionist, barman, cook, waiter. I settled down with a good home cooked meal and a large glass of red to take in the surroundings.
The Melville Hotel which owner Colin has had for six years, is in a prime location near to the seafront. It has a faded charm but it’s perfectly servicable. The staff were incredibly friendly, the food good home cooking and critically at the appointed time, we were able to revert to naturist mode for the weekend. At 6pm on Friday night 14th October until 4pm on Sunday 16th October, the Melville was a clothes-free zone.
The staff had some trepidation beforehand (public nudity is a new experience for many people) but wherever we go as a group, the management and staff enjoy hosting us. We’re a friendly community and the nudity takes no time at all to get used to, even for nude novices. By the end of weekend Carol who ran Reception popped her head into the room where the AGM was being held to say how much the staff had enjoyed having British Naturism to stay and we were welcome back anytime, although presumably not nude unless it were a special event such as this otherwise other guests might be slightly startled ;).
Guests started to arrive during the day on Friday and I hosted a coffee meetup in the lounge mid-afternoon which went well. I’d love to have such a good turn out for our Naturist London Ladies coffee meetups!
As ever, it’s nice to put faces to names which you see on the community forum and greet old friends. Whilst I enjoy the social events British Naturism put on, this bi-annual Convention is very satisfying because it gives committed naturists chance to discuss issues which are important to the community in person and specifically of concern or interest to naturists in the UK.
It’s not just national naturism which is discussed though, international naturism/nudism was on the agenda with presentations from Nick Caunt, British Naturism’s INF International Director. Nick spoke about the impending World Congress in New Zealand which is due to be hosted between 16th-20th November 2016.
There was a varied programme of presentations, workshops and discussions during the weekend. Excuse the ticks, they were my provisional choices. Sadly I wasn’t able to attend as many as I’d hoped due to a family health crisis but those that I did make were very good indeed.
I did manage to get to Andrew Welch British Naturism’s Marketing and PR Director‘s presentation on the very same subject which was interesting. I help the Andy, the PRO at Diogenes Sun Club with social media so am always keen to gain insights.
I also sat in on Malcolm Boura‘s discussion on Campaigns. Malcolm has provided his valuable expertise to British Naturism for over ten years and is now stepping down from his role as Campaigns Director. We talked through a number of issues facing naturism in the UK practically, politically and socially and discussed ways forward within British Naturism from a campaigning perspective. This was a lively and productive meeting as you might expect.
Finally on the Saturday, I was able to sit in on the presentation on Beaches Campaigning by George Booth, British Naturism’s NW Representative and Nick Caunt which was very interesting indeed. A lot of parallel issues from the earlier discussion with Malcolm were apparent. Malcolm sat in on the presentation too and it was helpful to have his legal insights and advice during the questions which arose.
After dinner that evening, we had some free time to explore Blackpool and see the lights. I’d already been out early Saturday morning on a failed quest to find a postbox but admittedly didn’t scour the area for too long, I was rather distracted by the sea and trams. Call me a bit niche but I love trams.
I’d struck up an accord with a lovely couple from Dundee, Derek and Arlene and a relatively new member of British Naturism and to naturism, Mick. The four of us traipsed off to see the lights together. Derek also shared my love of trams. We were like a couple of schoolkids trying to get pictures and footage of the trams as they trundled past.
After cutting a deal on four flashing light sabres (my history darlings) we wandered along drinking in the sights of Blackpool at night. I wasn’t prepared for it to be so busy. It’s like a mini Las Vegas.
Sabres aloft, we boarded a tram where Mick negotiated the tram fayre. The ride along the promenade parellel to the lights and hotels skirting the seafront was the optimum way to tour Blackpool. We were on a tram, how often do you get that chance?
Tim Peake‘s influence as part of an AV display on the frontage of Blackpool Tower‘s base to fire up the children’s imagination about space exploration was carried through along the route, with large spacemen coming in to view, climbing lamp posts and perching on illuminated displays.
Journey over we returned via another tram. Two trams in one day! This journey was hilarious. The tram conductor could easily have doubled up as a comedian and his repartee combined with a raucous hen party on board added to the hilarity.
We made our way back to the Melville Hotel for the final chapter of the day, a comedy show and burst into the bar, sabres flashing to the amusement of our nude counterparts. The first comedian ended up stuck in traffic so a substitute was pulled in after coming off stage from a nearby hotel. He accompanied popular backing tracks well, interpersing songs with a volley of eye boggling bawdy, sexist jokes. I fell about laughing. There’s no way he’d have got away with those jokes in another environment but this was Blackpool Baby!
Part 2 as soon as I get the chance to write it