Yesterday for the first time in my life I sat naked on a beach. It was one of the most liberating things I’ve ever done.
More liberating in fact than turning forty and realising that all the worry was for nothing. ‘Life is actually damn good,’ I remember thinking. ‘So many birthday cards. Life can only get better. All I’ve got to do is stay alive.’
Well alive I am and so yesterday I drove to Le Grand Crohort 50 km west of Bordeaux to lap up the fag end of the summer. Despite it being 26 degrees I knew the summer of 2014 was on its last legs.
After taking a swim I made tracks up the coast for my 10km Sunday run. And what a run! Just a man in a pair of shorts running up a deserted beach with the sun on his back and nothing in front of him except 40 km of pristine coastline. Diving into the sea at the end to refresh. Then undressing and sitting on the beach to dry off.
It wasn’t a nudist beach, but as most people had also stripped off I thought why not. ‘Throw away your shackles, Oggers.’ So I did. I tossed them into the sand dunes behind me and lay sunning myself like I’d never done before. Quite exhilarating.
I’ve always been uncomfortable seeing fully grown men wallowing on the sand baring all. ‘Keep the Speedos on!’ I’ve always said. ‘Save me the sight of seeing your meat and two veg dangling onto the hot sand like you’re preparing to fry them up to serve with a Mediterranean salad and a bowl of olives.
But there I was. Sitting stark naked on the golden sand gazing out into the beautiful sea like I’d been doing it all my life. And in late October as well.
People jet all over the world at this time of year to escape the darkening nights and creeping cold. To find a beautiful beach and a sparkling sea. There’s Halloween posters all over the city at the moment. A time of year I normally associate with wrapping up warm and drinking hot wine by a fire. And there I was four days from the beginning of November burning my knackers off on a baking beach in western France.
I didn’t expect this when I moved to Bordeaux. I really didn’t. I knew there were beaches. But I had visions of muddy shorelines and greasy cafés selling salted fish and mussels and lager served out of salt stained pots. I had no idea it would be like this. Life is always full of surprises.