My extended family has its own nudist contingent — something we always regarded as an oddity when I was growing up, until I actually grew up and realised it was perfectly normal.
So when we were looking around for things to do on our recent visit to Swanage, in Dorset, it seemed like an obvious choice. Naturists are campaigning for naked sunbathing rights in London parks. The entire beach is two and a half miles long, but the nudist bit takes up less than half of that.
You also have to walk to it — the car park is some distance from the naturist section, which is clearly marked by signs. When we eventually arrive, the place is quiet. A swift, hopefully unintrusive glance at the people in this area of the beach is enough to confirm that we are definitely, unambiguously in the right spot.
At first it simply feels weird — as if you forgot to do something, like get dressed. And you wonder if anyone is staring. Your first reaction after disrobing is inevitable.
Am I going to get into trouble? You keep imagining a police officer suddenly appearing out of nowhere, covering you up with his truncheon oo-erfollowed by a public indecency prosecution.
But soon you realise that no one is looking at you, just as you are not looking at them. The dog-walkers and strolling couples have eyes for the ocean, or each other.
Nobody, as far as I can make out, is sneakily angling the lens of an iPhone although why on earth would you want to take a photo of random naked strangers, unless that was what turned you on?
And those people who are already here are obviously seasoned veterans, as uninterested in you as they would be if you were sunbathing anywhere else.
Naturism does not seem to lead to any form of communal togetherness, at least not here. Meanwhile, I am discovering one of the advantages of beachwear: We head for a swim. This is possibly not a good idea.
The ocean is cold, whatever the time of year. This is not the North Sea in November: Depending on what websites you visit, the average age in nudist clubs and organisations looks to be between 50 and Is it about worrying what other people think? Or is it a millennial thing? Is this generation just more naturally inhibited?
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In any event, the age gap is probably not a bad thing as far as the people at Studland are concerned. You can practice it without being exhibitionist — my only reason for writing this piece in the first place was to show how utterly normal it is.