Its Thursday and the weather report for the weekend forecasts wall to wall sunshine, spring has sprung in all her glory, my daffs are out, primroses are littering the lawn like left over confetti, there are buds on all our trees and that wonderful feeling of the worst of winter being behind us. "The season" stretches ahead, it's time for a weekend away in the van.
I start to look up sites which might be open, I know roughly where I want to go and my requirements seem simple, somewhere peaceful with nice walks where we can chill out for a few days. Quickly before I head out for the day I log onto ukcampsites and start skimming down the list, finding sites which are open is tricky but I fire off an email to a place which sounds ideal, 23 acres of walks right on a tidal estuary full of nature. I explain in my brief message that we don't need any facilities (in case their shower blocks aren't yet open) just a place to park for a night or two.
I return home to the sound of the phone and a lovely friendly voice the other end is the site owner..
"Have you been before?" she asks
"No" says I but I explain we know the area well and their site looks lovely, I'm relieved to hear it's open and they may have availability, but I sense a hesitatation...
"Are you both Naturists?" She asks,
It's this question which causes me to pause and I realise my mistake, in my haste I'd misread naturalist for naturist, this is in fact a nudist site
Now fellow Funsters its at this point I should of owned up to my stupidity, thanked this lovely warm friendly lady for calling back and excused myself.
BUT instead I find myself waffling on about going topless in France (many moons ago) and a brief foray into skinny dipping. Followed with the immortal phrase "my husband is". We are swiftly booked in for Saturday night.
By Thursday night Ive told half my friends, the kitchen designer and the kids about the weekends plans...but not Mr Mousy.
He's been away with work all week and is so stressed out he's notsleeping. I imagine all sorts of ways of telling him, from thesubtle...(don't worry about packing any clothes this weekend) to thedirect...I've inadvertently booked us into a naturist site and your the nudist.
In my minds eye I keep getting the same response from him regardless of how I broach the subject...neatly summed up by him uttering the phase FFS whilst rolling his eyes heavenwards.
Luckily my daughter is so bemused by my ineptitude that she tells him as he starts the 5 hour drive home. So by the time he drags his weary face over the threshold, he is past caring.
I've been holding onto the fact that's its March and i just can't picture people walking about in the cold naked. So I blithely say lets just go and see. Mr Mousy has far more important things on his mind due to work and so takes the path of least resistance.
We set off with the hope and expectation of good weather. Vaguely knowing our way except for the last mile or 2 which we use the vans sat nav. Big mistake, we turn into a lane which rapidly gets so narrow the stone wall and banked hedges on each side are mere centimetres away. There is a thunk as my mirror hits a tree and I stop admiring the snowdrops which are inches from my nose and start paying attention to the hedge. In these situations it is the fear of the unknown that's proves most stressful, how long is this lane? Will it get narrower? What if a car comes in front of us? Etc.
we have opposing ways of dealing with this stress, I try and make light of the situation whilst Mr Mousy gets wound up. We are now at the marital situation of Defcon 1.
We finally make it onto the site with no damage to the van, but I get the feeling the last thing Mr Mousy wants to see now is a naked male site warden....
So I approach the site office attached to the house with a small measure of trepidation, now I'm no prude and I like to think I'm broad minded but I'm slightly nervous about meeting a naked man but to my relief Mark the site owner is dressed, I'm greeted by a beaming smile and a warm handshake.
He comes out and shows us all around the site, it was an old quarry with the stone being taken away in barges up the estuary. 40 years ago the owner started building dams and so there are now beautiful lagoons teaming with wildlife. There are natural swimming pools, jettys, bridges and 3 islands. With walks down to the water and around the site, it's a magical place, so peaceful and we start to feel ourselves relaxing.
Mark is so friendly and welcoming, he's obviously had newbies here before and luckily we don't feel pressured into immediately stripping off. . His motto is clothed or unclothed all are welcome.
After a spot of lunch we step out for a walk, the sun has sadly stayed at home and it's overcast and windy but we explore all around the 23 acres, we watch the heron come down to his post on the lagoon and languidly fly off again at our approach. We see the signs of the otters who live in one of the lakes, a path of grass on the bank rubbed smooth by their bellies as they slide into the water and there are half eaten crabs and clam shells littered around.
We walk further along the banks to the estuary, the tide is out and the wind carries that salty muddy air. We hear the plaintive cry of the curlew and although it's bleak it holds a wintery beauty. We notice the landing stage where kayaks can be hired and we know there is a lovely pub and restaurant within paddling distance. We are enchanted by this place.
Other than a few caravans the camping fields are empty. There are not many people about but we can imagine in summer it will be full. How blissful it would be with sunshine and warmth. To skinny dip in the lagoon and laze about on the grass.
Well fellow Funsters I'd like to tell you our next walk was sans clothes but sadly the weather let us down and rain set in so we retired to the warmth of the van and a lovely fish pie. We did try something new and adventurous I did the washing up naked whilst Mr Mousy helicoptered his way up and down the van....all I can say is it's lucky we have an eye level oven and grill.
So is naturism for us? Well maybe...in baking hot sunshine on some far slung shores I might be tempted but for a drizzly weekend in Wales? Perhaps not.
The welcome we received was outstanding and if this sounds like your bag send me a PM and I'll tell you where we went and who knows maybe one day we will meet beside that lagoon, I'll be the Funster wearing the sarong.
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