Saturday 20 July 2019 and at 2.00pm, to a clap of thunder, 25 naked cyclists started the 7th Clacton WNBR from the west sea front near to the Martello Tower. Organised by Robert and a small local Four Seasons WNBR collective, the route took the naked riders from an assembly point in the Toby Carvery car park on a gentle 8-mile circular route around the streets of Clacton in sunshine and showers.
Without fanfare, other than the thunder, they could not match the Colchester send-off the Saturday before when 20 riders and watching crowds heard music from the Street Orchestra Live. Naturally, amongst the tunes played was the hit ‘Ride my Bicycle’ by Queen.
To aid traffic control a motorcycle escort, provided by Michael, helped to clear the way at road junctions. Riders came from far and wide; London, Brazilian friends Gabriella and Milton, Eastbourne, Gloucester, a WNBR ride organiser from Australia, Cambridge, Ipswich as well as the area around Clacton. They included Ken on a special trike which accommodated his oxygen cylinder. and to add to the carnival atmosphere Adam wore a colourful straw hat.
For Barry Greenope, definitely not to be confused with Barry Freeman, it was his 99th WNBR. Barry was disappointed that he will not attain 100 rides until the start of the 2020 WNBR season. Advance coverage by local paper Clacton Weekly Gazette meant that thousands of people lined the streets to cheer on the naked cyclists.
Robert gave a good interview on BBC Radio Suffolk, at their invitation, on the Monday after the Ipswich WNBR. Then on Wednesday Robert had a phone conversation with inspector Matt Breeze, a police officer from Ipswich, who said they had received no adverse comments from the public about the ride. Along with the public, police officers were looking forward to the carnival atmosphere created by the ride. Patrons of Marine Parade pubs and restaurants had a lucky opportunity to cheer on the ride twice.
After the ride ended some of the jubilant cyclists went to the new naturist beach nearby. A small stretch of beach is just past the Martello Tower and easily identified by the big rocks in the sand. After a spot of sun and sea we had a joint meal in the nearby Toby Carvery. Another special rider was Alan, who is autistic and collected £125 for the charity National Autistic Society.
Four baffled police motorcycle outriders arrived at 1.00pm at the Espace Naturiste in Paris on Sunday 8 September. Paris WNBR organisers then had to inform them that the Paris local government had cancelled the planned ride – just the day before on Saturday 7th. But the local government department officers had not informed this police unit. That meant the police escort to clear the WNBR route through Paris traffic was not needed.
Months of planning by APNEL’s Jacques Frimon, together with Gilles had gone into the ride. APNEL is the French equivalent of the UK’s Naturist Action Group. All the correct procedures were followed and permissions were granted. Then on the Saturday Didier Lallement, Prefect (head) of the Paris Police decided that the ride should not be classified as a protest – as all other WNBR rides are accepted to be internationally – but would instead be classed as an illegal sexual display.
On the Sunday morning hundreds of riders turned up at the Espace Naturiste in Bois de Vincennes. Also there in force were
BN have updated their listings, so we have now revised the list of Outdoor UK Naturist Activities in summer 2019. As these are wider than just London, in fact most of the activities are around the UK, we have revised its title as well as the Outdoor naturist opportunities list itself.
Posted on behalf of NAG London and John Paine.
We have been busy during the winter planning a range of activities and ongoing work for this summer. We welcome your involvement in all of these!
Sunday 25th March – Naturist Meal and pub day [corrected]
This will be at The Blue Lion Inn, 133 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8TU from 1.00pm. You will need to act fast to book your place by the 8 March deadline! For details See flyer or ring Michael Gill on 07712651005.
If you are unable to go yourself but know someone who is UK-based and able to travel to London, and might like to go, please pass this on. Considering the deadline, urgent action is needed.
Saturday 2nd June 2018 – Naturist Picnic
NAG supporters gather at 1.30pm at the outdoor café of Kenwood House, Hampstead Lane NW3 7JR. At the top of Hampstead Heath this café is a convenient place to meet up before holding a naturist picnic on the Heath. Everyone attending will bring food and drink to share.
Saturday 2nd June 2018 – NAG London meeting
NAG London Group will hold a meeting at 5.30pm in a venue near to Hampstead Heath. Planning the latest action on several London projects will be high on the agenda. Watch for details on this website in early summer.
Saturday 9th June 2018 – London WNBR
Many NAG supporters will take part in the London Naked Bike Ride. Two start points will be organised by NAG supporters, Harvey at Regents Park and Natasha at Tower Hill. Note that this year there will be no starting point at Kings Cross. Details of the ride are on Facebook.
As in previous years volunteer helpers for stewarding, etc. on the day, will be required.
Saturday 25 August – NAG visit to Paris
Parisian naturists have an official naturist section in the Bois de Vincennes. NAG is planning a ‘fact-finding mission” from London to Paris by Eurostar over the 25 to 28 August Bank Holiday weekend. We urgently need to know now how many naturists (and perhaps their families) may like to come. To express an interest and get further information contact me now by email me direct at john.paine AT talktalk DOT net or via, john.paine AT naturistactiongroup DOT org
NAG London co-ordinator
25th February 2018
Posted on behalf of John Paine.
Following a meeting of NAG’s supporters in, and around, London on 28th October and they discussed the potential sites for open space naturism other than Hampstead Heath. Talking about Hampstead Heath, they also discussed the brief media frenzy generated in May and the opinion poll of heath users conducted in June, with encouraging results.
Following the introduction of open space naturism in Paris, NAG London is discussing the possibility of making a visit; a fact-finding mission, bit like the one some of the Management Collective did to Munich, and to enjoy the day, of course.
Finally, they discuss the potential for a Christmas Dinner at The Oxford public house, Kentish Town Road.
More details can be found in the prepared leaflet and if you’d like more information then please email John.
The next meeting is scheduled for 10 February 2018 and if you’d like to attend or to be added to the email distribution list then again, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The collective noun for the Sumatran Tiger is a streak, I learned this from ‘Stark Truth About Stripping Off For Charity’; published in The Guardian (16/07/17) shortly after London Zoo held its Tiger Streak in aid of the endangered species, hence the reference. In her Comment is Free piece, Barbara Ellen argued that charity or protest nudity, usually female, is more-or-less automatic these days and perhaps, passé.
Naturists have long held the belief that our nudity is not sexual and, quite frankly, we can tell people this until we are blue in the face, they simply won’t believe us. So it is hardly surprising that Ellen doesn’t believe us either, stating protagonists in charity/protest events: ‘furiously insist that it’s completely asexual…’ yet she thinks it’s more about being the quickest and easiest way to grab attention in a world swamped with news. Very probably, taking just one example; does anyone beyond the actual riders know what WNBR is about? Their audience, seeing them whizz by are more caught up in the spectacle of mass nudity than reading the anti-car, anti-fossil fuel signs daubed on bodies, if there are any.
That does not take away from the value of the ride or the ethics of those who take part, but maybe our explanations about the non-sexual nature of nudism are not good enough to be believable to those not into the lifestyle, like Barbara Ellen and the reason why naturists need good answers when asked: why?
Is Glastonbury Now Tame?
When I was young, too young to attend Glastonbury (not that my parents’ would have let me go anyway) there were stories of festival goers dancing nude to the music on offer. I’m not sure if this was due to the time we are speaking of (the 60s, flower power and all that) or if it just saved on the washing, it being easier to clean bodies than clothes, but back then, it seemed to be a part of the right of passage for anyone in their teenage years. Then it trailed off, with few if any taking their clothes off, until this year. As noted by News Hub New Zealand (26/06/17), Rachel Rousham, protesting on behalf of The White Ribbon Alliance, joined the Avalonian Choir and festival founder, Michael Eavis for a pro-feminist protest on stage. She was naked except for patches of body paint and the words, ‘feminist,’ ‘resist’ and ‘persist’ covering her body. The White Ribbon Alliance, if you don’t know, demand the right for all women to give birth safely, everywhere. Rousham was not the only nude reveller this year, however. A naked man popped up on live TV earning a shoutout from The Foo Fighters frontman, David Grohl.
Talking of the WNBR, York held that city’s 12th ride this year and during an interview with Minster FM’s David Dunning, John Cossham admitted that the nudity was to draw media attention that fancy dress would not, apart from the usual protest against the car and reliance on fossil fuels, it symbolised the vulnerability of cyclists to highlight the deaths on British roads, and held a die-in in St Helen’s Square for added poignancy. A clip of the die-in was also published by Road CC (27/06/17), of when a woman of… let’s say mature years, enjoying tea in Betty’s Tearooms knocked on the window to get a better look at the naked riders!
Bears in the Air
Technology has affected naturism in some unexpected ways. We’ve already seen how the combination of the Internet, mobile technology and photography has seen the end pictures being taken. We have something new to worry about, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or drones armed with a camera or Go-Pro. An article on The Next Web tells of a group of ‘pervy’ men to sent up their drone in Majorca to spy on seven female naturists. Could this ruin naturism totally? Only if you let it. Fear of pictures turning up on the many unsavoury porn sites on the Internet led to many clubs (allegedly) banning mobile phones from the premises or it becoming against beach etiquette to take any pictures. While the fear is real, so many pictures are uploaded to the internet the likelihood that yours will be picked out is, quite frankly, minute. It is the same for drones. While it is certainly intrusive and undoubtedly annoying, naturists should not be afraid if a drone flies overhead for similar reasons. The media – them again – give a false impression just how frequent this will happen, and when the UK introduces registration for any Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) over 25 grammes, it will be even less. If, however, naturists insist on worrying about UAV then maybe we need to worry about police helicopters too?
What next for INF?
NAG has already published an account of the chaotic meeting of the General Assembly in Vienna, for the International Naturist Federation (INF) to elect a president. An ‘executive summary’ is that after a meeting of the Legal Council, which included past President Sieglinde Ivo, the only candidate left for re-election was Sieglinde Ivo. Even with one candidate to vote for, the way the chairman for the meeting organised it, no one could vote against Ivo’s re-election, delegates could only vote for her or abstain. Doubt has also been thrown up that the Legal Council was/is correctly
Known for her acerbic wit on The Weakest Link, last October Anne Robinson looked at Britain’s Secrets, including interviewing a naturist couple – Mike and Wendy – from Bedford.
As reported by the Daily Express (20/10/2016), the encounter left Robinson wondering if the great British public wouldn’t benefit from seeing more people nude in public. If they did, posited the journalist then perhaps our younger generations wouldn’t seek ‘perfection’ as depicted by manipulated photographs in magazines.
This came after Mike, Wendy and Robinson went to a park, and the article described how ‘passers by looked on in shock and horror’. Eventually the police were called. On arrival the officer threatens Mike and Wendy with arrest. It just goes to show that NAG needs to continue its efforts to get front line police officers trained in CPS’ guidance about naturism and public nudity.
One interesting aside, the newspaper asked its readers if they would try naturism in a self-selected poll. Of the 539 votes cast at the time of reading 77 per cent said they had already tried it, and only four per cent said they never would. The poll is not representative of the newspaper’s readership, let alone the UK population. Still extra questions did came to mind for the 415 readers of the article that said they had already tried naturism, like are they still naturists or did they try it once, years ago and never since? See what I mean about asking the right questions?
With over 200 visitors to Somerset last summer, Nudefest is to return to Thorney Lakes in 2017.
Details are still a little bare (groan) says Somerset Live (19/10/2016, but last year’s entertainment included nude visits to a local motor museum and cider brandy producer. Nudefest 2017 is scheduled for between 3 and 10 July 2017.
Book early seems to be advice, or be disappointed.
2017 – the year naturism takes off?
In his blog, Bare Thoughts, Harmen J Pordon wondered if 2017 will the year that naturism ‘takes off’. The evidence he uses to come to that conclusion is lots of tiny things, like: the pop-up restaurant Bunyadi in London, with its 40,000 waiting list, the greater frequency of social nudity on TV and programmes like Naked & Afraid, and the growing number of visitors to spas and saunas.
Pordon might well be right of course, but the evidence he cites is not hard evidence. It is just a feeling developed from a myriad of sources, not necessarily connected and we humans can be so fickle. What is in vogue one year can be passé the next, and suddenly the moment is gone. It is not guesswork – or gut feelings – that naturism needs, it is hard evidence derived from research trying to dig deeper than the observable events that give rise to feelings such as this. Yes, Bunyadi had a substantial waiting list, but did they all come from London or from a wider area? Just recently I mentioned in this column an article where the creator of Bunyadi said that a proportion of his guests were French. Did they make the trip to London especially? Pordon says the visitor numbers to spas and saunas are on the up, where did he get this from and for what country? What might be true for, Holland say, might be false for the UK or France.
Having said all that, Bare Thoughts is still a good read and should not be ignored just because of the faults in one post that I’ve highlighted here. I have no illusion that someone cannot pull apart one of my blogs just as effectively.
Nude Eating in Spain
It’s a bit like London buses, you wait ages for one then three or four come together.
Following in the wake of Bunyadi in London, and news that a similar restaurant had been opened in Tokyo, and another in Paris soon, we now learn from the Daily Express (28/10/2016), that another naked restaurant is to be opened this month, this time in Tenerife.
Entrepreneur Tony de Leonardis says that his new restaurant was inspired by Bunyadi in London, and is not so much about nudism, but looks beyond that concept, according to the article.
The San Isidro restaurant will offer meals cooked with organic food and local wines, and cost between €70 and €80, with reservations already being made in late October.
Prompted by an earlier article about the advantages of introducing young children to the natural world, Norman Bateman wrote to the editor of the Morpeth Herald (23/10/2016) imploring parents to become naturists. The article he cited said that children, who learnt to love nature at an early age, usually loved the outdoor life.
According to Bateman, letting children play in the safe environment of a naturist club has benefits beyond them taking to the flora and fauna around them. Bateman explained that he and his wife watched their grandchildren grow up to be fully rounded adults and more mature than their contemporaries, after enjoying a clothes free childhood.
Have you let children play naturally in a naturist club, either your own or grandchildren, and seen something similar?
WNBR & Naturism
The writer of another blog, this time The Naturist Page informed his readers that he was no longer a co-organiser of the Montreal leg of WNBR. He gave his reason thus: ‘I felt like I was no longer co-organizing a World Naked Bike Ride, but rather a voyeurism event where it was like: “Oh hey, come gather around and snap photos of the genitals!” which was not the idea behind the WNBR at all.’
Now I should admit that I’m a World Naked Bike Ride lightweight, having participated in just one (London) but observed others. In London at least, however, you could not fail to notice the horde of snappers with large telephoto lens attached to their cameras. The one exception was the ride in Southampton where it was hard to spot them. The obvious difference between them is the number of riders, London has roughly 1,000 riders every year, Southampton, that year, had roughly 50-something. It is therefore easier to be anonymous in London.
It does surprise me, however, just how many naturists treat this as an annual event for them. As many of the organising collectives are at pains to point out, the WNBR is a protest, not a naturist event. I think the confusion has arisen because of two things. First, many of the organisers are naturists, in the UK certainly and perhaps around the world. The second reason is that the collectives’ work so hard at organising the ride itself, they seem to have forgotten to tell people what the protest is about. The original ride was calling for less dependency on the motor industry and fossil fuels, with a little bit of body acceptance (positivity) thrown in. Only later did individual riders add their own pet peeves, including calls for greater acceptance of naturism. Also, naturally naturists took to the rides to be nude in a public place without any doubt that it was legal and now it seems the majority of the riders are naturists out to enjoy themselves.
As worthy as the WNBR is, in my opinion it is time that naturism stood on its own two feet. If we want an event to promote naturism generally then we should organise one. But I am also of the opinion that if WNBR is to continue as a protest then it needs to state its aims more clearly. Perhaps pick a single issue, like climate change, and promote it widely?
This post will be of interest to those naturists living in and around London, UK. Fellow reprobate John Paine has listed activities that are scheduled to happen this summer. By all means share with other naturists in London.
The Brighton leg for the WNBR caused a bit more of a stir than usual this year, as it was alleged that a girl – thought to be eight or nine years old – took part, naked.
Chris Holmes, who complained about it to The Argus, said: ‘The fact there was an eight or nine-year old girl on her bike completely naked shocked me beyond words.’ The quote continued: ‘I spoke to the organisers, who seemed to think this was fine.’
While on the other hand, Sarah Bush was quoted as saying the: ‘ones in the wrong aren’t the parents or organisers but anyone picturing [the child] for unhealthy reasons. Let the kids enjoy their innocence while they can.’
Co-organiser for the Brighton WNBR, Duncan Blinkhorn told The Argus that the ride was about being body-positive and that applies to children as much as adults, adding ‘Why can’t children be naked if adults are naked?’
And that’s the point; WNBR is a protest where nudity is used to show the vulnerability of bike riders and to gain publicity. The adult would be saying ‘do as I say, not as I do’, if they were naked but banned the child from doing the same.
As a society, we do seem to have this odd reaction to when it comes to children. We tend to over empathise with the child and by doing so we project our own feelings and fears on to them, for the child’s sake. In an article on a different topic for The Telegraph, Rowan Pelling wrote: ‘A few years ago, when my children were young enough to enjoy the local paddling pool, other parents would frown when I let them run around naked, obsessed as the world is with the notion paedophiles are tracking your offspring’s every move.’
That is so true. We are obsessed with the perceived dangers that lurk in our streets. Whatever happened to the advice ‘Don’t talk to strangers’? Whatever happened to the old maxim ‘A little bit of dirt in your diet does you good’? That should not be taken literally of course, but a child must be allowed to take controlled risks in order to learn from them.
What that child has learned by taking part in the WNBR is what it is like to be naked in a public setting. Next year, she may still choose to participate but not naked. Or she might not participate at all, that will be her choice and an informed one from the earlier experience. We demand all kinds of information about things we are not expert in to make an informed choice. Being a good parent, in my book, means giving children the tools to make better choices in later life.
Incidentally, just as a small digression. The Brighton WNBR is a marshalled event so police officers were in attendance and could have intervened at any point, if they thought the child was in any danger. A Sussex Police spokesperson told The Argus that they had not been approached about the naked child or received any complaints. So, was The Argus guilty of sensationalising an incident that would have otherwise gone unnoticed, or was Chris Holmes just grabbing his 15-minutes of fame? I leave you to decide.
This might come a little late for some, but between 23 May and 18 July different World Naked Bike Rides will be held around the UK. This is a protest primarily against oil dependency, and for the environment, cycling advocacy and, as its as bare as you dare, body acceptance. If you’re planning to participate, great but you could give the organisers a hand at the same time, they always welcome a little extra help. Or perhaps you would like to join a ride but not sure where one is being held? Either way, take a look at the national website for WNBR UK to find your nearest ride and/or organiser’s contact details.