“SORRY madam, we are all out of sausages,” the waiter tells me.
That’s funny, because I’ve seen plenty at the breakfast bar this morning.
Georgette Culley visited the UK’s only naturist B&B – the Clover Spa Hotel in the suburbs of BirminghamCredit: Olivia West – Commissioned by The Sun
There’s no need for anyone to wear cossies hereCredit: Olivia West – Commissioned by The Sun
Many younger women staying at the retreat find naturism ‘exhilarating’Credit: Olivia West – Commissioned by The Sun
It’s 9am on a Thursday and I’m enjoying a full English at Clover Spa Hotel in the suburbs of Birmingham.
Everything feels totally normal, then I look down and remember I am starkers at a naturist B&B.
In front of me is owner Tim Higgs, naked and holding a steaming hot cafetiere in one hand and a tea towel in the other.
Since arriving the previous evening I have never given people quite as much eye contact as I have here in the past 18 hours.
Demand for naturist B&B breaks across England and Scotland has boomed during the summer.
“We’ve been busier than ever,” explains Tim, 67, an ex-farmer and father of four who set up the retreat 12 years ago.
“And we are seeing a lot more younger women booking with us.”
That’s certainly true. I meet lots of women in their late twenties and thirties who tell me they find naturism “exhilarating”.
“I’d never done anything like this before I started working here as a masseuse,” says Evelyn, 32, as she joins me with her sister for breakfast. “I was shy. But now I find naturism liberating.”
Her sister Sirius, 27, a musician and mum of one, adds: “Being naked helps build confidence.
“Women have been told to cover up and abide by the rules. Here we can be free.
“I put on lots of weight during pregnancy and worked hard to lose it.
“We are only going to be young and beautiful once, so why should we hide away?”
After two kids, I have to admit the thought of shedding my clothes in public was terrifying.
But I soon begin to relax. After breakfast I make my way down a pretty, shady pathway to the enchanted garden.
The sun is finally out and it felt luscious on my naked body and . . . liberating.
Feeling a little delirious, I float to the bottom of the garden like Alice in Wonderland and find a giant chess board.
Hotel owner Tim says it’s not a place for swinging or casual sex – and that the staff can easily spot guests who are there for sexual reasonsCredit: Olivia West – Commissioned by The Sun
Guests can opt to wear robes, but there are more stares for those in clothes than withoutCredit: Olivia West – Commissioned by The Sun
The activities are a lot more normal than you may expectCredit: Olivia West – Commissioned by The Sun
There I meet Emma, 34, an NHS worker from the Midlands, and her five pals.
They are enjoying a bottle of prosecco and invite me to play a game of chess.
It is her first time here but Emma went to a nudist beach in Spain in May.
She explains: “I went with my vanilla friends and had a great time.
“They loved it and want to go back. It sounds really shallow but what I love most is sunbathing naked and not getting tan lines.
“I was raised in a nudist household and sometimes I couldn’t have my friends around because my nan and grandad would be walking around starkers!”
Nearby, Angela Russell, 66, a retired HR worker and her husband Jim, 49, an ex-postman, are relaxing on sun loungers.
While guests can wear robes around the seven-bedroom B&B, Angela tells me there would be more stares at those in clothes than without. “I became a nudist at 16,” she says.
“I used to go to Southend-on-Sea and sunbathe nude there with a good book.
“When I met my husband he wasn’t into it. It took me a while to get his T-shirt off.”
Angela used to be the president of British Naturism and is now head of the International Naturist Federation.
“We brought our kids up to understand nudism is natural,” she says, nursing a cup of tea.
“Our daughters do it on holiday but don’t want to do it in front of their parents.”
Much as I am enjoying my day in the all together — I have to admit I’m with Angela’s daughters on this point.
Later, I find a hotel information booklet with “house rules”.
It states the hotel will not stand for any “inappropriate behaviour” including staring, invasion of personal space, making inappropriate comments, exhibitionism, following people or taking photos without permission.
Tim, whose wife isn’t into nudism, explains: “Contrary to popular belief, being nude isn’t sexual. It has everything to do with wellness.
“It is clothes that sexualize the body and clever marketeers use this to sell stuff. But in the process they create unrealistic images and unattainable desires which all too often leads to unhappiness.
“We ask people to leave their clothes — and labels — at the door when they come in.”
Tim also tells me it is not a place for swinging or casual sex.
He says with a laugh: “People will be thoroughly disappointed if they come here for that.
“We can usually tell right away if someone is here for sexual reasons.
“It’s usually young men and they’ll ask questions like, ‘Are there lots of women here today?’
“This place is not that sort of establishment.”
Tim adds that exhibitionists are not welcome but some men are proud if well endowed.
He says: “Someone will come in with a seven-inch willy and then ten minutes later another guy will come in with a nine-inch hammer and suddenly he’s not so proud — but it’s not a competition.”
Tim explains how nudism is “totally normal” in Nordic and other European countries.
“Brits tend to be a bit more prudish,” he says.
“I got into nudism when I went to Finland when I was younger.
“When you swim naked you think ‘why the hell would you ever put swimwear on?’
“I can’t explain it, you have to try it to understand.”
Indeed. After 48 hours, I’m converted.
I’ve definitely enjoyed the fresh air and the soothing warmth of the sun on my skin. It feels quite therapeutic.
What’s more, I’ve quickly learned that nudists are very normal people, with very normal jobs.
I’ve met an NHS worker, a retired postie, a hot fireman — sorry, he wouldn’t be pictured — and a spy for MI5.
OK, he wasn’t quite 007 but Ian, 63, did work for the Government.
“This is the message I’m trying to get across,” explains Tim, happy I’ve finally got it.
“Nudists aren’t exhibitionsist or bonkers. We are totally normal. And it’s totally normal to be naked.”
But surely a naturist resort in the middle of a suburban street is going to raise eyebrows?
“Yes it did,” explains Tim. “Neighbours called the police when they first spotted naked sunbathers in the garden but now they are fine and even have keys to the property.”
With that, the warm sun disappears behind thick cloud and my time at Clover Spa comes to an end.
As I prepare to leave, I almost forget to put my clothes on.
But I’m sure the light rain falling from the grey Birmingham sky would have soon brought me back to my senses.
Clover Spa owner Tim is trying to get across that it’s completely normal to be nakedCredit: Olivia West – Commissioned by The Sun