Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Hans Braxmeier

Photo Hans Braxmeier

Naturising the south east!

HOT’s Zelly Restorick writes about her own experience of naturism – and asks Philip Baker, who also loves to walk around unhindered by clothes, about his own experiences and what is happening locally, should fellow naturists wish to make each other’s acquaintance at one of the naturist gatherings and events which he organises.

‘Twas love at first shedding of clothes for me. I was in Crete in the early 90s, following in the footsteps of a slender, golden Austrian woman who I’d met in the village where I was staying. She was heading for the beach where the fresh water ran into the salted. As we clambered between the rocks, waterfalls and the joyfully gushing water, she delicately and deftly, removed her clothes. Where the fresh water  mingled on the shore with the sea, we parted company; I headed for a place to lie on the sand and explore what it was like to be naked, while she headed off to the beach camp to reunite with her boyfriend, who she’d met earlier in the year.

For most of my adult life, I hadn’t experienced the best relationship with my body and I was therefore amazed at how quickly I felt at ease within my own skin once I removed my clothes.

How strong I felt. How at ease. Feeling the sun and the breeze on my body, not worrying about strap marks and any flesh oozing out of bikini bottoms. To not feel shame, to not feel the need to cover up the parts that you think others won’t like or that won’t fit the advertisers’ bill. Just free. To be me. To just be.

Since this first encounter, I have been a life-long fan and advocate of naturism. I am dismayed and saddened when people associate our naked bodies and naturism with sex, perversion and abnormality. Tis simply a beautiful experience.

In this summer’s heatwave, I have walked through the door of my home and removed my clothes – and oh, how hard it is to put them back on again. For me, the experience is health-giving. Life-enhancing. Joyous. Freeing. And I am not by any means alone.

Here Phil Baker, naturist and organiser of local naturist events and gatherings, explains what he loves about being naked – and how you can get more involved and meet fellow naturists. Or explore your first naturist experience.

Phil Baker, naked rambling

Phil Baker, naked rambling

Tell me why you like the lifestyle so much?

I spent 32 years commuting to London from various places. I had a heart condition all that time, which meant I sweated a great deal. The best part of the day was when I got home and took my clothes off and immediately stripped away the stress and frustration.

As a child I was always shy and it’s only in the last few years, after I joined the Eastbourne Naturist Swim Club that I was able to talk to people and relate to them. When everyone is naked you can be interested in the real person and not their outward appearance. You make a connection eye to eye as equals and humans, as you may not in the dressed world where appearances may be deceiving. I feel a more tolerant, better adjusted person.

I have been a naturist in practise since I was 18 and the novelty factor has finally worn off: I just feel myself when naked. However, I have a saying that you remember doing things for the first time and for many things this was when I was young. But now I can do the same things for the first time by being naked and doing them, making them a fresh experience.

Read here about the health benefits as reported in the press.

Why do you feel it’s important to spread the word about naturism?

Naturists are ordinary people who like to do ordinary things; they just feel it’s better to be naked doing them. Naturists are social people like anyone else. To be able to organise events we need more like-minded people to take part. As a minority we should no longer hide away and limit our potential, we should be fulfilled. Other minorities have sought and won acceptance and so should naturists. In finding ourselves we will find our humanity; a value that appears greatly lacking in the world.

How do people respond when you ask them if you can, for example access their restaurant or gallery for naturists only? (** There is a naturist event at The Jerwood Gallery coming up in September: see below.)

Businesses and individuals often try to find a way to accommodate us, although a few just simply do not reply. I generally like to make an approach in person. I had no problem organising an alternative swim when Motcombe closed for repairs at short notice. The Towner was immediately welcoming. In some cases a lack of reply is simply because the person is busy and following up with a visit in person is all that it takes.

In the past, people have often maintained two separate lives – one clothed and one naturist – and they kept those friends separately. The lunch we organised earlier in the year came about when a friend of mine was asked by her favourite restaurant owner of many years what she had been doing the previous weekend. So she told him that she had been to a sunclub in West Sussex all weekend and then said that I had been looking for a restaurant to hold a naked lunch!

The hard work is actually in getting enough people who can go on the same day and commit. Generally this is done by networking using email and Facebook. So far I have not had to cancel anything.

IMG_7231Have you been to our local ‘naked beach’ along the coast in Fairlight? ‘Tis beautiful there.

In 2009/10 I had operations in Eastbourne and Brighton hospitals to cure a long-term heart problem diagnosed in 1987. Before that I was unable to walk down to Fairlight beach, let alone walk back up. Due to British prudishness it is difficult for people with disabilities to enjoy the beach naked. I have preferred to go to Norman’s Bay near Bexhill as there is level access, although parking is difficult. Some people use the west end of Camber beach, which is a fantastic beach, but often clogged with people and cars and the litter left on the beach. For the quiet naturist, Winchelsea beach is good for skinny dipping around high tide. Here is a guide to beach naturism written by British Naturism.

Tell me what’s happening for local and passing through naturists in the East Sussex area?

After four events in a weekend around Eastbourne, there’s a couple of weeks lull, although we have a members’ only barbeque for the Eastbourne Naturist Swim Club.

The British Naturism calendar is available to anyone and our region is the London and South East. Activities can be found here.

For naturists locally, here are some key events:

We have been having monthly summer swims in Seaford for the first time and the last is on 2 September. We then revert to the very warm Motcombe Pool where we take part in the Great British Skinny Dip on 23 September (supported by Rude Health this year) and then swim weekly every Sunday.

SaunaKabine at The Jerwood

SaunaKabine at The Jerwood

We will be having a skinny dip and hot tub at a lovely pond in the countryside near Eastbourne on 9 September – and on 15 September, naturists can go naked at the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings and enjoy the the SaunaKabin installation (which is a working sauna) and the paintings currently exhibited there. Book here for The Jerwood event.

I am also the organiser for Normans Bay naturist beach.

There are naturist walks in East Sussex on the 11, 20 and 24 September. To find out more, email: On 16 September our club visits the Naturist Foundation, which has a superb swimming pool, woodland walks and a cafe. You can visit for £6 and book online.

We have also been doing naked yoga for about a year and plan to resume in late October. Yoga and exercise classes are available further afield in London and Hampshire, year-round swims in Ewell and winter swims in Dover.

There is a special women only day, run by British Naturism near Waterloo in London on 22 September with day-long activities and plenty of information for newcomers.

I am hoping to set up other activities in the Hastings and Rye area.

Alan and Phil at the river

Alan and Phil at the river

Anything else you’d like to tell us about?

At work these days, ‘personnel’ is now called human resources. We have a place in the workplace no better than the machines we use. We can be replaced, especially if we fail or don’t meet expectations. For naturist events, there is no certainty of getting started as you can be rejected immediately without reason. So failing is just one outcome that is always present and you get on with the next idea. I never felt any achievement so much as all the thanks I got from organising (with help from my good friends Alan and Keith and publicity from British Naturists) four events over the last weekend.

Here’s a link to the Eastbourne Naturist Swimming Club website and their page about naturism.

And a link to the BBC World Service programme: The Benefits of Nakedness.

Posted 09:43 Wednesday, Aug 22, 2018 In: Nature


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT
  1. Philip Baker

    If you had come to our wild swim in the sunshine yesterday you would have had a memorable experience and be feeling as good as I am today – sunny inside.

    Comment by Philip Baker — Monday, Sep 10, 2018 @ 11:56

  2. Zelly Restorick

    Dear Ms. Doubtfire,
    You surprise me with the vehemence of your tone. Having met each other, I know you are a hearty and determined advocate for nature, but clearly the human body is not part of this for you. Clearly this is a topic which disturbs you – and I politely and respectfully suggest that you simply choose not to read the articles on naturism, as I am going to continue to write them, advocating for acceptance of the human body in its natural state. With every good wish, as always. Zelly Restorick

    Comment by Zelly Restorick — Sunday, Aug 26, 2018 @ 08:12

  3. Ms.Doubtfire

    Here we go again! For heavens sake give it a rest – OK so you wish to strip off and go wherever you wish – but have some consideration for those who do not find this approach to naturism so welcome.
    Try walking into Tesco au naturel and I think you may find some objections.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Saturday, Aug 25, 2018 @ 09:35

  4. John Catto

    A lovely article, well worth reading. I am also a naturist and what they say is so true, I would say to anyone reading this, if you haven’t tried it then you really should.

    Comment by John Catto — Friday, Aug 24, 2018 @ 18:08

  5. Ms.Doubtfire

    If this is so acceptable why make such a song and dance about it? Skinny dipping in the Aegean is a different scenario to parading about in public places.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Thursday, Aug 23, 2018 @ 11:52

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