People do love to take off their clothes, with nudism and naturism definitely alive and well.

People attending Nudestock go for a walk.
People attending Nudestock go for a walk.

Another wonderful World Snooker Championships in Sheffield where the city centre takes on a buzz and excitement rarely felt at any other time. 

Some years ago you could barely, (no pun intended) watch a sporting event without seeing a streaker and the Crucible was no exception. Where have they all gone?

One of the most prolific streakers of all time Mark Roberts made two appearances at the World Snooker Finals at the Crucible, once at the Graham Dott and Ronnie O’Sullivan game in 2004, and again in 2008 when Ali Carter played Ronnie.

After a few good years of notoriety, during which he was banned from every football ground in the UK, he hung up his boots which were often the only things he wore!

Streakers apart, people do love to take off their clothes, with nudism and naturism definitely alive and well. And it can be closer than you think.

A farm in Doncaster is holding the annual ‘Nudestock’ event in May. The week-long event is well managed, doesn’t hurt anyone or cause any trouble with local people.  The theme this year is ‘space’ to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Lunar Landing, although I seem to remember the astronauts wearing quite a lot on the way of protective clothing, which would have been quite useful given that one of the sporting activities is darts! Ouch!

It is a chance for naturists to socialise with other like-minded people and is a real family affair. Other activities include yoga, body painting and Scottish dancing and there is live entertainment. How many naked people can you squeeze onto the Grand National Ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach? There will shortly be an attempt to find out and to get into the Guinness Book of Records.

The village of Bricket Wood in Hertfordshire is a beautiful place, popular with young families who want rural life, yet close enough to commute to London. Just outside Bricket Wood is Spielplatz, a sleepy, unique and unconventional place. Although in the heart of the London commuter belt, you will mostly only see people in the nude as it’s a complete nudist village.

Founded by Charles Macaskie in 1929 when it bought the land for £500 it has thirty four bungalows for permanent residence and another 24 for holiday lets.

Although strictly speaking you don’t have to be a naturist to live there, it is unlikely that you would buy a house there if you are not. The villagers refer to fully clothed residents living nearby as ‘textiles’

Its previous inhabitants have included Ross Nichols who was a founder member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, and Gerald Gardner who established a coven at Bricket Wood in development of the Wicca Religion. Having lived in relative anonymity for over 85 years, the villagers made a documentary a year or so ago for television as they were concerned that property developers were intending to disturb their peaceful way of life.

The first naturist club in the UK opened in Essex in 1924 and by 1942 there were a number of ‘sun clubs ‘and the inception of the British Sunbathers Association which, by 1964 became The Central Council for British Naturists after it was decided that the term naturist was more acceptable than nudist. There are still naturist beaches around the UK as there are in many other countries throughout the world, and I have seen a naturist cruise advertised round the islands of Croatia.

Brighton made seaside history in 1980 when the first public nudist beach was opened within easy walking distance of the town centre, although there has been nude bathing on Fraisthrope Sands near Bridlington for even longer after it became an official nudist beach.  But in 1998 the local Council erected notices stating that ‘Naturism is prohibited on East Riding of Yorkshire beaches’ and ‘Any person committing an act of indecency will be liable to prosecution’. The Fraisthorpe United Naturists complained that the signs were grossly insulting and insinuating that naturists were perverts. The signs were removed and naturists continued to use the sands, unofficially.

So, why are so many people embracing the naturist’s way of life? They say it is fun, is natural and you get an all over tan.  That could even have applied to Bridlington last summer. It’s good for you. Millions of people have discovered how good it feels to have the sun and the breeze on their bodies and are more relaxed, less self-conscious or depressed.

And as David Letterman the American television host said ‘You’ll never catch a nudist with his pants down!’

Nudity is a great leveller. It doesn’t matter what age, colour or creed you are. Everyone is treated with the same level of respect and as equals. As a ‘spin off’ from the present interest in cycling, there are even Naked Bike Rides. Protesting against the growing car culture, Sheffield took part in it a year or so ago, when they rode round the city, hopefully with padded seats. 

I also read that the UKIP leader Nigel Farage on his last election trail knocked at one door to be greeted by a young woman who was completely naked. Rumour has it that she was quite shocked!

Today it is World Naked Gardening Day. Advertised as ‘Giving body freedom and promotion of health and acceptance of our relationship to the natural environment’ it promotes the joys of trimming hedges in the buff. I can only say it would have to be a lot warmer before I’d be planting au natural!