February 7, 2013

Naturist couple: "Life in our naked village is so relaxing"

Tucked away in Hertfordshire there’s a village with a difference. Its 60 residents range in age from six to over 90, but they have one thing in common – they prefer not to wear clothes.
Astonishingly, the hamlet of Spielplatz in Brickett Wood is especially for naturists, and residents are free to walk around their communal streets, gardens and swimming pool in the buff.
It’s a lifestyle that residents Tina Yates and her husband Mark find liberating.
Explaining they’ve now lived there for 10 years, Tina says: “It’s like any village. The postman delivers our letters (although one was too embarrassed and refused!) and Tesco bring round our online shopping – we just might be naked when they come knocking!” laughs the retired teacher. “They were shocked at first but now they’re used to us.”
Tina, 62, became a naturist 15 years ago, after meeting Mark, 55, a photographer. She says: “Mark’s always been a naturist, but in private or on nudist beaches. It didn’t bother me, but I was very self-conscious myself because of a scar on my stomach from an operation. However, after a few months, he managed to persuade me to brave a naturist swimming pool in the UK. I was nervous, but there were people of all sizes and I realised it wasn’t important what I looked like.”
The pair began visiting naturist groups regularly and when they heard about Spielplatz a few months later, decided to attend an open weekend. They loved it so much, after five years they moved there permanently.
“We fell in love with it,” says Tina. “We’d finally found the freedom to be ourselves.
To live here you have to have been a member first and visit regularly at the caravan site
“The village started life in 1929 when a family of naturists moved on to the land and built a house. Then other naturists decided to live nearby and it evolved to 30 houses – most owned by residents but some owned by the community’s committee, which rents them out.
“You have to be a naturist to live here if you’re over 18, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wear clothes at all. If it’s cold we keep our clothes on, although we’ve been known to have naked snowball fights! The only place where you absolutely can’t wear clothes is in the pool and sauna.
“And there are no dogs allowed in the village because they jump up and sniff you – which isn’t so great if you’re naked!”
She adds: “To live here you have to have been a member first and visit regularly at the caravan site. If someone moves out, a house will be offered to you, but a committee has to approve you’ll fit into the community.”
Spielplatz’s residents – including a young family with a six year old – go about most of their business clothes-free, including gardening, sunbathing and chatting to neighbours. They’ll sip drinks in the bar and eat in its café in the nude – but have to take a towel to sit on. Most people are retired, but others go to work elsewhere, which they dress for.
Explaining being naked in public isn’t illegal as long as you don’t intend harm or distress, Tina says: “It’s so nice not to have to worry about people spotting you naked through your window or in the garden. The village doesn’t have a road through it, we are up a private lane – although we’re not gated – so we don’t get strangers staring.”
And the pair, who don’t have kids together, reveal Tina’s daughters from her first marriage, Hannah, 35, and Alice, 33, happily stay – and strip off too.
Alice, who isn’t a naturist full-time, says: “It’s just not a big deal. I’m used to Mark and Mum wandering around naked.”
'If it’s cold we keep our clothes on, although we’ve been known to have naked snowball fights!'
And Tina adds: “Some people may find it odd that Mark plays naked pool with his stepdaughters – but they’re just bodies, there’s nothing sexual in it.”
Although she admits some find that hard to understand. She says: “Once I asked a male visitor to leave. They’d got the wrong idea and were wandering around clearly very pleased to see everyone!
“But usually we’re a very peaceful community – I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
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