Revealing the human body - and the human spirit

I don't talk much in this blog about naturism (aka the enjoyment of non-sexual social nudity) but anyone who knows me even reasonably well will appreciate that it plays a big part in my life. I have been a naturist for nearly 30 years, I edited British Naturism magazine for four years (not too many people can say that....) and I now write about naturism and disability for another naturist magazine, H&E.

I find naturism a good way of relaxing from the stress and pressure of life as a strokie. It gives me chance to forget all my concerns and just enjoy being human. I hear the same from other stroke-survivors who share my naturist tendencies. One, in particular, I find remarkable. She suffers from severe spasticity on her left side and has often told me how she feels like "I'm dragging my left side around like a sack of spuds."

Yet, she won't be beaten by it; Getting on to a fair number of naturist beaches, both in the UK and abroad, involves negotiating sand dunes. It could be a battle but she's determined to do it.

I saw similar acts of disabled determination when Mrs W and I attended the annual garden party at Clover Spa last weekend. If you've never heard of it, Clover Spa (cloverspa.co.uk) is a little piece of naturist heaven tucked away in suburban Birmingham. For those of us who live hundreds of miles from a beach and can't afford to travel abroad, it's a wonderful opportunity.

The annual garden party is one of their summer showcase events and this year's party was blessed with perfect naturist weather. We sunbathed in their idyllic gardens, we enjoyed chatting to other guests in the hot tub, we played silly water-soaked games - all in the nude, obviously.

And apart from me and my balance issues, which mean getting into a hot tub or bending over to pick a hoop off the floor can be a challenge,  there were a number of other disabled people present.

I stepped aside so that a wheelchair-bound man could make his way through a door, hopping off the chair, on to the ground and in through the door in a manner which suggested that he had this 'getting around without the help of my legs' thing sorted long ago.

I heard about the man who had travelled all the way from Luton to Birmingham by train, bringing his mobility scooter with him.

All examples, if I may steal a phrase which fellow 4Networker John Moody has used about me, of how the human spirit deals with adversity. And naturism, as I have said many times, is good for those of us who have to triumph over adversity. People in naturist environments don't stare, point or poke fun at people who are somehow perceived in the textile world as different. It's why I love it.

And, of course, it gives me the opportunity to show off my stroke-survivor tattoos.