May 2017: This blog was originally written in 2013. My daughter is now 9 and has been touring the country with me attending naturist events and clubs and generally having a bundle of fun. Abbey House gardens in September 2012 was our first clothes free 'daddy-daughter day out'. Two years on, it looked like the gardens had hosted their last clothes-optional day but they are now alive and well again although spoilt to a small degree by the fact that the lakeside walk is currently out of bounds due to stupid individuals acting inappropriately. This means the waterfall featured in this blog can not currently host the great fun my daughter and I had. One day I hope we can return, but we have no plans to whilst only the formal garden are available.
While it is true that I had always hoped to take my daughter to a naturist event, I never took it for granted. Wife has always been hesitant of social nudity, largely in part because of an understandable suspicion of the motives behind those involved. She has no wish presently to partake in this type of naturism, and for a long time held the opinion that I should pursue it solely for my own enjoyment.
But there was a problem...my daughter began to grow up!
“Mummy, I want to go tooooooo!” came the cry. No nudging or cajoling was needed. There was no secret conspiracy to win over my wife. This was simply my daughter wanting to have a day out with her dad. Secretly though, as you may have guessed, I was rather pleased by this!
The time was September 2012, roughly a year and half after my own first foray into social nudity and slowly but surely wife was beginning to come around to the idea. Just the idea mind, and the fact that social nudity may be just what it says on the tin. Abbey House Gardens were holding one of their clothes-optional days in Malmesbury in Wiltshire. My daughter and I went along.
My daughter at the time was four and a half (when you're four, the 'half' is very important!), and beginning to assert some independence. She has never made any comment about nudity other than the fact that she found it strange that her teachers and carers at school or nursery would keep telling her to keep her clothes on. At home, she was free to be as dressed or as undressed as she wanted to be. How a child of four can possibly be 'alarmed' or 'distressed' by simply nudity I have no idea, but I'll write about that another time.
The day was cloudy but dry and with hardly a breath of wind. The latter was certainly important and the temperature was close to 20C and so nice for a picnic and we took one along. In the car going I wanted to make sure she knew what it was she was going to. “This is a special day out where everyone can wear clothes or take them off”, I said. “OK” came the reply. She stayed silent for a while.... “Can I still wear shoes?” she said.
Parked up and at the top of the steps at the main gates and holding hands we came across a family group reading and remarking on the poster attached to the entrance to the gardens. “I can't believe they would do this!” said one, and they turned to go. They looked at me as I stood waiting to move past them. All ten eyes were watching for my reaction; all of them waiting for my unequivocal agreement. I looked at my daughter and smiled and we walked straight past. I suddenly felt a great feeling of satisfaction that I was doing the right thing. I think society and culture in Britain gets a lot of things right. The attitude to clothing however could do with some improvement!
Once paid and inside it was time to decide what to wear. At the end of the afternoon I observed a split of about 80/20 between those undressed and those dressed. This was my daughter's first naturist event. There was some bewilderment, but only at the fact that suddenly it was OK to get undressed in front of others. “Even my pants?!?” she said. I nodded. What a strange and complicated world she was discovering! We both stripped off without hesitation and started to wander.
At this point I want to wax lyrical about Abbey House Gardens a bit. It's a lovely place to walk and relax, and is exactly the right size in order to see everything in about four hours. This was handy because that's exactly how long we had. The maze-like pathways around both the formal gardens and around the lake were perfect for an excited four-year-old to explore. A few things grabbed her attention.
The first was the gazebo and lawn where we stopped quite swiftly after arriving to eat our picnic. It was certainly picnic weather although the sun stubbornly refused to come out for more than 30 seconds during our visit. My daughter was getting a lot of attention, not only because she was the only child older than two there, but also because of the loud delighted laughter coming from her! Lawn chess for example proved to be a puzzle. A bit beyond a four year old. No matter, she took all the pieces and spread them all over the lawn to make an obstacle course instead! Running up and down whilst getting her audience of twenty or so naturists to time her – priceless entertainment!
The other big hit was the waterfall. It's worth thinking at this point about what a faff it would have been to have dealt with a little girl desperately wanting to splash and shower in a natural waterfall at a regular clothed day at the gardens. “No sorry”, I would have felt compelled to say, “I can't afford to let you get your clothes wet”. I'm sure many a family have said just that. At a clothes-optional day and wearing nothing but 'crocs' however, “Go right ahead”, I said, “I'll join you!”
We probably spent almost an hour at that waterfall, playing races with leaves, splashing each other, getting covered in mud and then washing ourselves again. It was an amazingly happy time; one I will remember for ever. When we were done, the crocs went back on and we dried off as we walked. What could be simpler. Why don't more people do that? It just doesn't make sense.
The final tale to tell of our visit was our stop at the cafe. My daughter was fascinated by the formal rectangular fish pond and kept everyone there on the edge of their seat whilst she perched precariously on the edge of the pond! A young girl full of confidence but not yet alert to the perils of situations! Once safely sat down with ice-cream, it was time to take stock. I didn't need to ask if she had been enjoying it. She hadn't stopped laughing all afternoon. Staying still for five minutes obviously got her mind pondering on things though...
“Daddy....why do some boys have hairy willies?”
Every conversation stopped.
I was prepared for a question. It is in the nature of the daughter to embarrass the parent, however innocently. Remember that this was my daughter's first experience of being in a public place with a few dozen people not wearing anything. I guess it was inevitable!
“Well some people have long hair and some people have short hair. It's up to people to decide how they want to look” I said.
I think I got away with it. She seemed satisfied with the answer.
It was time to go home. I can honestly say that that it was one of the best days of my life. To share my love of naturism with my daughter was a great feeling; a satisfaction that nudity can be shared with others in a perfectly natural and innocent way. Not one problem was encountered. Everyone there was brilliant.
Back home my daughter's reaction to wife's questions was 100% positive, and now she attends events with me up and down the country.