For some time I have not written here but in trying to regain the habit of blogging I have started a new one at
This new blog is my attempt at a fairly common theme whereby a photo is posted each day for 365 days. My intention is that I should take 365 photos and not rely upon any old ones that I have lying around. That’s quite a task and much discipline will be needed. So far, since starting this on 1st January 2014, I have not missed a day and I’m having fun and a challenge along the way. Don’t expect a stunning landscape or sultry portrait each time as I’m not that good. Some shots will appear to be a bit mundane but, hey, give me a break!
Why not head over there now by hitting the link above.
Fine silvery needles of light stabbed through the small holes in the security blind and reached deep into the darkened room. One pierced my consciousness and brought me awake to the new morning. I was aware of how warm the room was and when it became too much I got up and went through the lounge and opened the door to the world.
A little after eight it was a fine day already with a clear, blue sky and just the gentlest movement of air that barely rustled the palm trees outside my apartment. It was quiet with few, if any, people yet about. This was not the day for the gardeners and no one was around to take an early morning dip in the swimming pool that lay still and unruffled like a mirror. I took a trip to the bathroom to freshen up and grabbed a drink of water to quench my thirst. Then, picking up my hat, placing it firmly on my head and ensuring I have the keys to the door and to the gate of this small urbanisation, I left quietly so as not to disturb my wife who was still sleeping.
The grounds around this apartment are kept beautifully with green, clipped lawns, palm trees and shrubs. A star-shaped flower bed here, a fountain there and a clean path still damp from last night’s sprinklers that cuts through it all leading me down to the gate which I opened and stepped out onto the pavement.
When I said that I had picked up my hat and keys I meant just that. No clothes, not even my flip flops. Just my hat to keep the sun out of my eyes and the keys to unlock the gate when I come back. Oh, and just one more thing – a euro coin.
Now, there will be people out there wondering just what I am doing standing naked on a public street. Surely this is the stuff of nightmares. But to a naturist like me this is life as it should be for I am at Vera Playa in Spain, one of Europe’s top destinations for nude living and holidays.
A long time ago someone had the good sense or grace to make this stretch of coastline a naturist beach. Maybe that someone was a naturist and maybe he wasn’t but whatever he was he clearly had the goodness to see that many people would like it to be so. Then, in years to come, as if to compound or reinforce that original decision, they extended the beach into a naturist zone from the shore right up to the road some half a kilometre away and two kilometres long. To make no mistakes over this it was then legally constituted. The roads soon followed, then the hotel, the apartments, shops, restaurants and bars. And then there were the people who came from far and wide to dress in nothing but their happiness and conviction that nudity is their natural state.
Doing my bit to ensure that the foresight of the zone’s creator was not lost I nakedly set off down the tree-lined road where the pavement is wide, clean and smooth enough even for my soft feet. The day was not yet old enough to have baked the ground and so being barefoot was very comfortable and allowed me to feel the ground beneath. There were a few other people going about their business – to the cafe, for a stroll, jogging and all of this is with or without clothes as desired. Turning the corner the road leads to the beach and I passed a man walking his dog. Both were naked. Yes, I did mean the dog too. All too often humans condemn humans for being nude whilst conveniently forgetting that it is only our species that wears clothes; the rest of the animal kingdom is naked all the time and we don’t notice. In fact we usually see it as ridiculous, if not abusive, to dress animals in clothes. The dog passed me by with barely a glance.
The beach is a vast expanse of sand, deep and wide that has large, flat swirls making patterns on its surface – the artistry of the tractor that grades the beach in the early morning. My feet left a wandering trail behind me as I strolled down to the shore to dip them in the cool sea. To the east the beach stretched away to the mountains in the distance and the town of Villaricos. To the west, Garrucha and the mountains behind that are misty today and indistinct. The hill town of Mojacar with its white walls was in shining, bright contrast like a beacon on this Mediterranean coast.
Turning east I walked into the early morning sun that had not long risen. A few other people were also out for this early paseo and formed a straggly line out into the distance. Some were clothed but most were not. There is a hotel on the coast road and this is their nearest beach and it happens to be in a naturist zone. I wonder if they know that before they arrive. And, oh, what sweet reversal of fortune, what a refreshing change it must be to hear that the resolutely clothed who don’t want to see nudity are being directed to the far end of the beach. That’s the bit that is difficult to get to, that is unkempt, has no facilities and no beach bar. In fact, the sort of treatment normally reserved for naturists in Britain.
Here and there some regular, early morning beach-goers have already claimed their favourite spot and marked it with an umbrella and towel. This hardly seems necessary on a beach of such expanse but perhaps they are German.
The chiringuitos are being unlocked with the staff arriving to prepare for the day. The boardwalks are swept, tables cleaned and chairs tidied. There is food to cook and bars to be checked for during the morning until early evening there will be a steady stream of people turning up to eat and drink. The Cota Zero is my regular haunt with good, cold San Miguel beer and the best patatas bravas that I have yet tasted. How civilised it will be later in the day to wander nude to this shack on the beach, to sit in the shade and eat a fine lunch with my feet in the sand.
After a while I reached the eastern end of the beach by the rocks and turned to see how far I had come. About a kilometre I reckoned. Now it’s time to go west so I set off along the wet sand where the waves lapped gently on the shore and slid up to wash my feet at every step. The day was warming up nicely and already I felt as though I needed a cooling swim. I put my hat upside down on the beach out of the way of the tractor and threw in my keys and coin and went back down to the sea. This was very easy to get into with no shock in the Mediterranean summer. The sand under the water was interrupted by a line of stones that was just a bit uncomfortable to hobble over but then the sand returned once more. My shoulders slid under the surface of the water and I was instantly refreshed.
Swimming in the quiet of the morning is as good as it gets. The day is young and fresh with the promise of so much to come unlike the lateness of the afternoon which has become care-worn, hot and tired with only the sunset to see off the day in a blaze of glory and a last hurrah before fading into night.
In a while I walked back out of the sea, collected my hat and headed back up the beach. The sand stuck to the wet on my feet and ankles and so I made for the shower. In Spain, unlike anything I’ve ever found in Britain, the beaches are well managed and have fresh water showers at regular intervals just so we can clean off the sand and salt and go away in comfort. Having rinsed off and dripping with water I made my way up the wooden boardwalk towards the road and became drier by the minute. By the time I reached the cafe I was quite dry so I went in and bought the bread with the euro coin. In Vera Playa this is all quite normal – if only it could be like this everywhere.
Home now and keenly ready for a breakfast that I shall eat in the shade of the patio and contemplate the day. Life eh!
On Saturday 9th June I went to London to take part in the World Naked Bike Ride. This was my 8th WNBR in London having missed only the very first one. The weather forecasts around this weekend were not looking particularly good for events like this and I had already wimped out of the Southampton ride as it was looking blustery and cold and that would not help me to enjoy it. London, on the other hand, was a pleasant temperature at about 19C with an acceptable amount of wind.
This year we returned to our former arrangement of meeting at Wellington Arch rather than Hyde Park. I’ll admit to thinking that there wouldn’t be enough space for us all but we did fit there comfortably. I’m not going to bother writing about the route, which varied a little this year, as that would probably be a bit boring. However, I was surprised at the slowness of the ride this year. In the past we have left the start point at 3:30 and been back by 5:00 – just about an hour and a half. This year it took three and a half hours to do about the same distance and we finally finished at 7:00pm. This seemed to be due to the numerous stops along the way for little or no reason that I could see. Ordinarily there are three or four stops to allow the 1000 or so riders to close up and prevent the group becoming fragmented and that is clearly necessary. This year I lost count of the number of stops we had, many of which were for periods of around ten minutes. Sometimes we had only ridden a couple of minutes before we all halted yet again. I noticed a few people clearly ran out of time or patience and got dressed and left the ride. There seemed to be no information as to why this routine was being followed.
Let me state that I wish to make no criticism of the stewards on the day. They have a big job to do which they do voluntarily – it’s not easy. If I could do the job better I’d probably apply for it but I don’t think that I can. So, it is merely an observation that what has formerly been a fairly short and continuous ride turned into a long-winded and halting affair. I hope that next year this will have been sorted out and we get back to that nice, flowing ride that we have known until now.
I still had a good time though.
Well, here we are once more for the World Naked Bike Ride in Portsmouth, England. This is the second year that WNBR has been in this city and it will be my first ride here. The protests that arose before the ride in 2011 do not appear to be repeating themselves this time. That is likely to be because the lot from the Portsmouth Family Church are the only ones to be really bothered about it. They tried hard to get enough people to sign up to the epetitions online to get “this sort of thing” banned by parliament but could only muster 200 signatures rather than the 100,000 required. The local police see no reason to stop it either.
So I’ll be leaving soon to put my bike on the train in time to enjoy a picnic lunch on the seafront before the ride sets off at 2:00pm. The sun is shining and there is not a cloud in the sky. This morning the temperature is 21C and it is expected to be about 26C this afternoon. A slight breeze is making it feel most comfortable.
A short train journey later and I find myself at Fratton station which is the nearest stop to the starting point of the ride. I am here a lot earlier than I expected and so a leisurely pedal through the streets of Portsmouth sees me arrive at the Rose Gardens on Southsea seafront with nearly two hours to spare. No matter, that will give me time to have lunch and a catch-up with old acquaintances from previous rides.
People are assembling and enjoying the sun. Some are having body painting done, others are just socialising with friends. We seem to have a lot of younger people who, perhaps, are mostly students from the university. Bicycles are also being treated to flags and bunting to help with the carnival atmosphere. There are a surprising number of unicycles here of varying sizes. One has a large wheel that must be nearly three feet in diameter and is being ridden quite expertly by a young man. There are others too but smaller and I wonder how easy it is going to be to complete the course on one of those.
There are a lot of familiar faces here with people who ride in the many WNBRs around the country being here today to lend their support. It is becoming quite a community!
And for the eagle-eyed amongst us we have now found out what naturists do with their house keys when they’ve got no clothes on. Yes, there was an enterprising chap who had a Prince Albert who found it convenient to attach his keyring to it. At first it looked as if he had a charm bracelet dangling there but no, just a couple of Yales. The crowd noticed it too and there was much laughter and pointing by the kids who saw it.
Two o’ clock has come round and Ian, the organiser, has blown his horn to signal the start of the ride whereupon we start to file out from behind the hedge and on to the esplanade. We have clearly attracted a lot of attention already as day-trippers and beach-goers are moving up from the shore to see us go by. Despite some of the negative publicity by the prudes people seem genuinely pleased and delighted with a great many cheers, laughter, and the snapping of photos.
As we approach South Parade Pier the crowds began to double. Many were congregated around a single stalwart objector. An elderly chap had prepared himself a prominent position with a banner bearing the legend “SHAME ON YOU”. The reverse side said, “NO PUBICS IN PUBLIC”. He was struggling to get his megaphone switched on so as to berate us but he was having a bit of trouble which wasn’t helped by the crowd who appeared to ridicule him. Whilst I clearly disagree with his stance as I’m a naked rider myself I concede that he has the courage of his convictions to go and protest in the face of much opposition.
On we ride westwards past the D-Day museum and the War Memorial until we reach Clarence Pier and the funfair. This has been planned as a scheduled stop to allow the riders to close up and to give us the opportunity to buy ice creams at a stall. Quite a few people queued up to be served naked. Well, business is business isn’t it. On we go down Gordon Road towards Old Portsmouth. There on the left, close to the Garrison Church, is a pub – The Pembroke. Today they seem to have a bit of a function. Is it a wedding party because everyone is dressed to the nines and have spilled out of the door to cheer us on most enthusiastically.
Into High Street now and on towards Gunwharf Quays, a regenerated area of the city’s waterfront busy with diners and shoppers, where we see our next protestor of the day. This one was not as placid as the first with him swearing loudly at us and accusing us all of being paedophiles and then throwing a drink at a cyclist and spitting at another. Fortunately, our police escort had seen the incident and moved in rapidly to deal with this idiot. I didn’t see him again and I hope that at the very least the police have warned him of his conduct.
Another scheduled stop now on The Hard just outside the gates of the Historic Dockyard. We have a backdrop of the harbour and the Victorian warship The Warrior and many people are having their pictures taken with this behind. Indeed, our mate, Ian, has settled in front of The Ship Anson pub in readiness with his camera to get us when we come round.
Up Queen Street now where it is somewhat quieter, past HMS Nelson, the Naval Barracks, and on to Edinburgh Road. Commercial Road, the main shopping thoroughfare, is its usual busy self for a Saturday afternoon and we ride through here to more cheers and merriment. This is the extent of our outward journey which now turns back to retrace our steps with just a couple of variations.
Four o’clock sees us arrive back at the starting point. I’ve had just about enough sun on my body now if I’m not going to burn and so I am quite ready to dress now with a bit of sun block on my arms for the ride home. A count of the riders had been taken throughout the ride and I hear that the final figure was 76. Compared to last year’s 28 that is a good turnout. Mind you, the weather was much better this year and the students were still in residence.
All in all this has been a very good WNBR and that is to the credit of all those who turned out to take part but also to Ian Henden who has painstakingly organised it once more. This is an event that is firmly on my calendar for next year. Just two weeks now until the next round of rides at Southampton, London and Brighton.
After quite some considerable time since I last posted anything here I am writing this to let you know that I have another blog. I’ll still be posting here, hopefully more frequently than of late, but I have started another one specifically because I am going to Nowhere this year and I thought it deserved a blog of its own.
So, go to this link to see what it is all about.
After all the hoohah the World Naked Bike Ride in Portsmouth went ahead.
2011 was to be its inaugural year and, with great persistence, the organisers eventually managed to get all the wheels turning in the right direction. In the early days the City Council said they needed a risk assessment, public liability insurance too. Complete rubbish. This is not an event in the ordinary sense of things but a peaceful and democratic protest. You don’t need permission for these things but good cooperation and liaison with the police and council are necessary to keep everyone happy.
Of course, this is where the religious zealots stepped in and decided that it was not appropriate for a naked protest to go ahead in Portsmouth. A 1500 signature petition was drawn up and handed to the City Council whose leader declined to accept it. Another copy was handed in to the police.
The police stated that there was no precedent to stop the ride as it was entirely legal – even if someone complained. Such was the threat of angry opposition against the ride they even supplied six uniformed bobbies on bikes to escort the ride through the city streets and smooth the way.
On the day the ride went ahead in cool and cloudy conditions with just 28 riders. There were no counter-protests visible on the streets and the riders met with the usual surprise, delight and laughter from by-standers that WNBRs all over the country meet with. So, here’s to next year and, with luck, a bigger turn-out.
The World Naked Bike Ride is coming to Portsmouth, England on 10th June 2011. This is the first time that WNBR will have taken place in this city although there are other rides in the south of England at London, Brighton and Southampton.
WNBR Southampton also takes place on the 10th but is timed to start at 6:30 pm which means that you can easily complete the Portsmouth ride before departing for Southampton to take part in their’s. Two rides in one day can’t be bad. There may also be a few hardy riders who will cycle between the two cities. Check here for more information.
Is it legal? Hampshire Police said the event was lawful – even if someone made a complaint. They said public nudity was not an offence as long as the intention was not to cause alarm or distress.
So, why not join in the inaugural event for Portsmouth where a good turn-out would be especially good. Remember that the event is ‘as bare as you dare’ so you can still support the ride in the way that you are most comfortable. But if you do go nude all you have to lose are your inhibitions!