Another major win – If I can manage a win per week, I will be happy – was discovering the local naturist swim.

I’d intended to go back in November, where instead I broke my leg, and then had somehow been busy every time the session was on since.

Signing up was a bit like joining the Masons, or something – Not meant to say exactly when it is, or where, and specifically not meant to say who was there. Arriving, I said “One to swim, please!” and got the guilty-sounding reply of “The normal swim, or…”

I quickly confirmed that I did mean the naturist swim, and suddenly everyone was all smiles and welcome – I was led through to the poolside, introduced to everyone with a broad arm gesture, then generally got to swimming.

As ever, I was the fastest person in the water, and one of the youngest (Though there was a handful who were definitely younger than me, or about the same age), and it was generally lovely to feel warm water, and steam, and to be around other people for a short and defined period of time, having light-hearted, basically meaningless conversation. Everyone was slightly over-keen to engage in conversation, but they avoided the usual topics (Crippledom, tattoos) and instead I discovered that a huge number of the local naturists are also bikers (I knew that there was a big naturist-biker overlap, but it’d hadn’t occurred to me what that would mean in practise). Which was a delightful realisation. My complete inability to remember names means that all the bikers are now stored in my memory by their scoots, and all the non-bikers are stored by vaguely where they live. I’m sure I’ll get people’s names eventually, and they seem like generally the type of people that would forgive me for forgetting. I ended up nicknamed within about ten minutes of meeting him by an old gent who looked like a second world war flying ace, and was generally accepted by everyone there basically immediately.

It is basically true that, absent social clues like clothes, we all start being much nicer to each other. Or possibly just that the kind of people who go to naturist events are more prone to be nice to each other in the first place. I was (slightly awkwardly) hugged by a woman who was probably about my age, and who swapped numbers with me and who immediately wanted to be friends. I must admit, I was about as gleeful – We’d both admitted to not seeing people very often, being not-far-off-housebound, and generally finding it difficult to get into conversations. It was refreshing to have this just be “another fact” rather than a point of shame.

The bath itself is one of the late Victorian ones, with the massive skylight, wrought-iron galleries, and plumes of warm steam in the air, making the swim itself look a bit like an odd re-enactment of Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Harem Bath painting, complete with people showering in the background, small groups sitting chatting with their feet in the water, and (sadly) one person limping around in the foreground, being held up by one of their fellows, in this case with a dislocated hip. It took about ten minutes in the steam room to heat it up and put it back together, but other than that it was just a lovely evening out.

Definitely going back next time. It’s a short, pleasant ride away from home, at a convenient time, and with nice people. Plus, it’s exercise – After three months of no-swimming after three years of swimming at least three nights a week, I am feeling floppy and useless. Hopefully this will make me more mobile and fitter again, as well as giving me a designated time to go out, forcing me to interact with other humans, and getting me some very simple regular bike time.

All good. Hopefully, it’ll stay good.