Abbey House Gardens at Malmesbury in Wiltshire, UK, is a beautiful and peaceful place. Two or three times each summer it has a "clothes-optional" day. These occasions are very encouraging: they are no closed event, the gardens remain open to the public, with just a small notice at the gate apologising to anyone who is unwilling to see nudity. There may be a couple of hundred there, of which two-thirds or three-quarters are nude.
And nobody is shocked, or even upset. There are a couple of middle-aged ladies, resolutely wrapped up against the worst of a hot July day, discussing the variety of plants while picking their way between the nudists stretched out sunbathing or picnicking on the lawn. There are couples with one nude and one clothed. There are all sorts. Clothed and unclothed queue together for tea or the loo.
Everyone has a camera and is recording the occasion, taking turns at the prettiest spots. Probably everyone is going to appear peripherally in someone else's photos. Yet there is a clothed couple having fun, pretending to take pictures of each other while actually holding the camera backwards and shooting over the shoulder.
One bit of etiquette is very evident. Naturists will look at each other in exactly the same way as people look at each other in the street, a quick glance, no staring. Most clothed look carefully in any direction but at a passing nudist.
© nib 2007-07-15 -> 2010-10-26