The photo below, cropped to save upsetting people again, is of me coming out of the sea in 1984 on the Sheppey Nudist Beach. I was 37 at the time and almost as fit as I've ever been and as you can imagine, it is a far cry from the tired old man of 68 that looks back at me from the mirror today - old age is so full of "if only's".
So how did this naked chapter of my varied life come about?
Well I've been obsessed with sunbathing for most of my life, though perhaps not so much nowadays, and around 1980/81 the local council had made the beach, close to Shellness hamlet, just 15 mins drive from my house, available for naturalists. As you can imagine it caused quite a storm with all the usual old fuddy-duddies and religious types, with one vicar threatening to set dogs on people seen parading themselves unclothed on the beach there. Nothing came of that though, as is normally the case, and the beach began to attract a number of people anxious to get an all over tan and I suppose, the odd person anxious to see naked women.
The thought of totally being free of clothes and tanning the only white part of my body left, quite appealed to me but I was unsure about being a lone male up there. Fortunately, talking to a workmate about it, he and his wife and young children had already started going there and he suggested that I do the same with my wife at the time and young stepdaughter. I discussed it with them and they thought it a great idea and so the very next weekend we joined up with the other family on the beach there. The beach was and still is, one of the few sandy ones on Sheppey and backed up by sandy hollows at the top of the beach, ideal for sheltering from any wind.
Over the next few weeks we quickly established a small group of 4-5 families, one who travelled from Surrey each weekend, and would group our windbreaks in one continuous line behind which we would all pile in together, men, women and several young children, enjoying a laugh, a chat and serious sunbathing. We didn't have skin cancer and Factor 30 phobias in those days, just smothered ourselves in pure coconut oil and gently fried to a deep and amazing tan. Mind you, it was important the very first couple of visits there to only gradually tan white bits that had never seen the sun before, there was nothing more uncomfortable than starting the working week with a pair of sun-burnt bollocks and arse. Once they'd caught up with the rest of my body though they became as tanned and leathery as the rest of me - I swear by the end of the summer my bollocks were so leathery that you could of struck a Swan Vestas match on them.
Throughout the 4-5 years that we all regularly socialised and sunbathed there the beach was always a very much family orientated place, it was only many years later, after we'd all long stopped going there, that it gradually became a known meeting place for gays and the like. Many friends and workmates found it hard to understand or accept how we could sit stark naked, shoulder to shoulder with friends wives but in all honesty it was never much different to talking to them in Tescos with their clothes on. I firmly believe that the young children also grew up with a far less inhibited view of both theirs or adults' naked bodies as well. Talking these days to my now, 46 yr old stepdaughter, she feels that by exposing her to all the mysteries of adult bodies at an early age that she grew into teenage life far better equipped to deal with such things.
Did we have any wife-swapping, sex parties, or men walking about with erections that they couldn't control - no to all of it and we weren't weird or perverted either, just ordinary families enjoying sunbathing. There were the occasional "gawpers" that walked along the beach but they never caused any problems and were always easily identifiable. They were normally pure white, because they didn't really sunbathe, and often were of the pot-bellied older type with very small cocks that they rarely saw, hidden beneath their pot-bellies. They would appear at one of the beach and very self- consciously remove their clothes, fold them neatly and then walk the length of the beach, pretending that they weren't actually looking at anybody in particular. We would all stand up and wave to them, causing them to rush back to their clothes and disappear quickly.
They were great times and after the first year we had all enjoyed it so much that our group of several families also spent two weeks together of the next two summers at one of Britain's largest nudist camps near Ringwood in the New Forest. There we all had individual family cabins, a communal kitchen cabin where we took it in turns to cook breakfasts, an evening club house and numerous other like minded families from all round Europe. Regular days out were spent at the fantastic long nudist beach at Studland Bay, close to Poole Harbour.
All in all they were a fabulous 4-5 years but gradually other family needs/interests made inroads into our times at the beach, we gradually stopped going, we drifted apart, I found it just as easy to sun-bathe naked in my garden and it all ended.