Disrobed drinks dilemma
We chose the campsite for our second week on the island of Corsica because of its beach-front location. It is a naturist resort covering sixty hectares in and around a bay with two sandy beaches.
We like clothing-optional beaches because we can get an all-over tan while not having to sit around in wet swimwear after a dip in the sea. How different could a naturist campsite be to our usual days on the beach? At least we wouldn't have to walk or cycle miles out of the way to find a beach at which to spend our days.
Obviously it is quite different because, in the main, everyone is naked all the time. It's really strange, and to start with I kept suddenly becoming aware of my disrobed state and questioning whether I'd just disturbed a dream in which I'd forgotten to put my clothes on before leaving the house.
Corsica is hot right now with temperatures getting up to 33°C during the day and not dipping below 26°C at night. Not having to wear anything kind of helps deal with heat. It also means we'll have a week where there's no laundry to be dealt with.
Other benefits include the efficiency of having a shower (no need to get dry before leaving the cubicle), and that when I wake up in the morning and find Tony has left the campervan door open it doesn't matter that I'm climbing out of the pop-top bed with my bits on display.
There aren't any real disadvantages, except that I won't have any photos of this week to remember it by. Then again, I don't think I'll forget it...
All was going swimmingly. We'd spent the first day on the beach, tried the pool, showered and installed ourselves underneath the awning with beers and wine for the evening. It would be just like any other holiday evening. Except without clothes on.
Then, without warning, someone spoke English. They were speaking it to us.
"I love the colour of your van," said a naked lady as she approached. She continued approaching until she was all the way up to the modesty panel we had attached to the awning supports.
Being naked was OK until it came to having a conversation with someone. It's not normal to be naked and talk to someone else, at least not to me.
The nude lady explained that she'd spotted our British number plates and, since there are hardly ever other Brits in Corsica we ought to get together for drinks sometime. We nodded politely, not really thinking it was something likely to happen.
Her husband arrived and chatted briefly too. He was dressed. Milling about just to the side was a younger man who went off to dinner with them but whose presence was not explained.
After they'd left us Tony and I raised our eyebrows at each other as we discussed exactly how awkward it would be if we'd actually had to go through with drinks with naturists. The relationship of the younger guy also seemed questionable. Maybe we'd had a lucky escape.
That was Sunday. On Monday evening the naked lady returned. "How about drinks tomorrow at 6.30pm?" she asked.
Tony was standing up stirring the dinner and the lady seemed to be addressing him and he said, "Yes."
She explained that she was Sarah, her husband was Alan and "Anton is the son."
Sarah pointed out their caravan and the drinks date from hell was all confirmed.
OMG. We had to have naked drinks with strangers. WTF.
I spent the rest of Monday evening in a quandary. What is the etiquette in this situation? Do we really rock up to their caravan naked? Google certainly didn't help with my enquiry - I couldn't find an answer to how you should dress when invited for drinks on a naturist campsite. I turned to social media and explained my predicament to a hundred Facebook friends and 2,000 Instagram followers.
Everyone thought it was hilarious, though a few useful suggestions were put forward, including undertaking a reconnaissance mission a few minutes before to see whether our hosts were dressed or not.
By morning I'd made up my mind I was going to wear clothes. The few times I'd seen Anton he was wearing shorts and so I thought at least he'd be clothed.
After showering Tony and I began preparing for the evening's soiree. I picked out yellow shorts and a toucan print shirt. I'd keep the shirt unbuttoned as a compromise.
Tony decided his compromise would be a sarong wrapped around his waist, accessorised with a grey vest that didn't match at all.
Then we prepared a lentil stew that we'd leave simmering as our escape plan. We could excuse ourselves after a couple of hours because our dinner would be ready.
At 6.30pm, wearing clothes for the first time in 48 hours, we left the safety of Cleopatra's awning. Assuming that people only camp, like us, with enough equipment for themselves, we took chairs and drinking glasses, plus a litre of wine decanted into a flask from our 10-litre box.
As we approached their caravan Sarah, Alan and Anton were fussing over bowls of nibbles, their backs to us. Four naked butt cheeks - the parents were naked while Anton was fully dressed.
"Evening," I said, loudly announcing our presence. They turned around and, for a split second, just maybe, their faces appeared to show surprise at our choice to cover up.
Still, we were warmly greeted and told we need not have brought anything; there were plentiful chairs - two more than were needed in fact, and a row of drinking glasses and choice of alcoholic beverage.
We sat down and, as our wine was being poured (not our own wine - we'd take that back with us later), two more people arrived. Two more naked people who were introduced as Richard and Andrew.
After a couple of minutes everyone was seated. Richard and Andrew had brought towels to cover the chairs. Richard, Andrew, Sarah and Alan were stark bollock naked as though it were the most normal thing in the world. I tried hard not to look at anyone below chin height.
Uncomfortable as the situation was, conversation flowed, as did the wine that I gulped down furiously. The two other couples had seasonal pitches and had been coming to Corsica for up to 35 years. Only recently had they moved to this campsite after the previous one was closed following a mafia shooting, or something.
At around the time I'd planned on using the dinner as an excuse to leave, Richard and Andrew got in first - they were leaving for dinner. We left ten minutes or so later and our naked nightmare was over.
We poured ourselves another glass of wine each, back in the safe confines of Cleopatra and her privacy-screened awning, taking off our clothes.
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