Ella and Jim on the Dover-Calais cross channel ferry
I mention Jim, my husband, quite regularly on SLN but you’ve never really properly met him before, in that I don’t talk about him in any depth. Let me change that, a little. Jim and I were introduced by a mutual friend at university who ‘thought we’d get on like a house on fire’ (a British expression meaning we’d get along really well) because we were both so painfully shy people. Jim was (and is) drop dead gorgeous but was very reserved, very ‘stand to the side of the group and only speak when spoken to’. When he did speak, though, he spoke with a maturity beyond his years. Quiet, bookish, Scottish, a guy who only spoke when he had someone worth saying. He’s still much the same today. Despite that apparent shyness, though, he still managed to do a bit of DJ-ing in bars and clubs and presented a show on college radio. He had no problem ‘performing’ in front of a few hundred people at a club, or speaking to untold…dozens! 😉 …for the radio station. It was as if he bloomed in confidence whenever he was in a certain environment.
Love at first sight? Quite honestly, I probably didn’t even notice him much the first time we met, but for me yes, it was probably love at second or third time in each other’s company. Despite being two people with reputations as shrinking violets, we managed to connect with each other on some intellectual level and manage to nurture the other’s confidence over a few months. From nowhere, we were suddenly ‘a couple’.
Our final exams over, summer approached. I’d not yet broached the subject of naturism with Jim, but having spent some years cooped up with books and constant studying, I felt I needed and deserved a naturist holiday and that sense of ‘flying free’ it provides.
France was close, cheap to get to and cheap to stay in if one used it’s extensive (then, and more extensive now) naturist camping network. So I sat Jim down one evening and explained that I was a naturist. Not a hugely experienced one, but someone who loved the lifestyle.
He said nothing, just nodded and murmured ‘mmmmm’ every now and then. I was genuinely frightened that he would misconstrue the whole thing, regard me as some sort of loose-moralled exhibitionist and dump me. But better that, and know where I stood, than live a lie.
We’re both naturally cautious people, so even after a few months of stepping out socially, we were little more than a goodnight kiss physical at this stage (I told you we were old fashioned in that regard). So we wouldn’t have seen each other naked at this point in time.
Jim listened, then did his laser-like analysis of any given situation and asked a couple of questions. Somehow we agreed to go on a holiday together…a naturist holiday at that!
We drove to Le Mans (the place where they hold the 24 hour car races as immortalised in a film starring Steve McQueen) on the first day, and then the rest of the journey on the 2nd day. Jim says that he didn’t want to seem too presumptuous regarding sleeping arrangements, so the first night was in two separate single rooms in a small B&B on the outskirts of Le Mans. We arrived at Euronat, selected because it was far enough south to guarantee us some warm sunshine and little rain.
(Photos above the Euronat campsite)
Nowadays, tents come with all manner of ‘luxuries’ tacked on, but back then our tent was fairly basic and there were things we could easily have brought, and packed in the car, that we forgot. We’d just graduated, money was tight, and so we had to endure some minor hardships in the camping rather than blow our fairly meagre budget on buying up bits and pieces we’d left at home.
At Agde, I’d been able to merrily walk around nude by the end of my working holiday there with Sylvia. I could wander the dunes of Studland Bay similarly unclad with friends. A friend and I attended a naturist spa in London, and again I had no issues. However, now stuck in France with someone I was in a nascent relationship with, I was oddly consumed by shyness regarding getting naked in front of him. And he subsequently told me he felt the same way too!
In my mind, I feel that had Jim not been there I’d have merrily stripped off to assemble the tent, but because we did have a relationship of sorts shyness overtook me. I managed to wriggle out of clothes and into a bikini(!!!!!) to put up the tent, and the sun was going down when we’d sorted our pitch out. We’d stopped for enough provisions on the drive down so having set up our home for the next 10 days, we lit a disposable BBQ, opened a bottle of wine and sat beside the flames, not saying much because I think we both knew there was now going to be a moment, tonight, tomorrow, when we’d have to go naked in front of one another for the first time.
Jim and I diverge on our accounts of ‘what happened next’. My recollection is of us spending the night in swimwear, while Jim says he recalls me in a bikini top and daisy dukes all night while he’d managed to put on a pair of board shorts.
A typical camping ‘pitch’ at Euronat. Our set-up was similar, relatively close to the toilet/shower block.
Some typical mobile homes at Euronat.
A current plan map of Euronat
Euronat will have changed substantially over the years, but utilising a current plan of the site, ‘x’ roughly marks the spot where our tent was pitched. Reasonably close to showers and the main ‘shops’ servicing the site.
The following morning I decided I’d spent enough textile time in a naturist environment, stripped, and headed for the shower block while Jim slumbered. Quite how he’d react I wasn’t quite sure when I returned and he found me naked, but I didn’t need to worry too much as when I got back to the tent Jim was up and naked! ‘Just testing the air’, he’d shyly tell me, looking embarrassed a bit when I wandered up behind him unheard and whispered ‘boo!’ in his ear. But that was it! Our naturist life together was up and running.
We spent most of the day by Euronat’s pool, swimming, sunbathing, breaking for a light lunch. No uncontrolled erections on Jim’s part, something he’d fretted over (as most male naturist debutants do) he would eventually tell me, and finally dressing to explore the nearby area. He relaxed into the whole experience and was enjoying it. We were enjoying each other’s company, and it was all looking good for the next week! We took some bread, cheese and water, stopped by the side of the road and Jim took a couple of photos of me, wearing a bikini, in a hayfield. I know this because they’re pretty much the first photos he took of me and we still own the photographic evidence.
The rest of the week was just a totally relaxed time. Swimming, during bicycles to cycle around the extensive site, lazy lunches at the tent or on the beach, and I think we walked every road within the site during that week. It was idyllic and passed far too quickly.
I’ll pick up my ‘naturist memories’ in a subsequent post.