Robert Hampton

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19th July 2015

The Incredible Huk
Posted by at 8.07pm | No responses | Out and About

At lunchtime on Monday I was back in Aker Brygge, having lunch with Mark at Espresso House, home of the most bizarre toilet graffiti I’ve ever seen. Obviously someone is a fan of The Critic, or early period Saturday Night Live.

Jon Lovitz graffiti

After Mark and I went our separate ways, I pondered how to spend my final few hours in Oslo. I had to catch a train to the airport just after 5pm, so time was short.

While researching Bygdøy, I’d found that there was a beach there. The weather was still warm and sunny, so I decided to head back there. I got on another Number 30 bus, this time staying aboard right to the last stop at Huk.

Alighting at the bus stop, I walked down a short path and soon came to the shoreline. Having a beach just thirty minutes away from the city centre would be good enough in any event, but Huk wins bonus points for being this pretty:-

Huk Beach

There were two ways I could have gone at this point. To the left, the standard park and beach. To the right, a footpath led off, and a sign warned that ahead was the “naturist” area.

I hesitated for a moment, but then took the right path. It’s something to tick off the bucket list, I reasoned.

The naturist section was split into two sections: a grassy area, and a sandy beach. There was also a small pier leading off into the water for the benefit of anyone who wanted to go swimming.

A naked man walked past in the opposite direction. He sauntered up to the kiosk to buy a drink. The man behind the counter nonchalantly served him. I wonder how long you would have to work in a place filled with naked people before the novelty wore off entirely?

There were people of all shapes and sizes on display. Single people, couples, a family with kids, all mingled au naturel on the sand. Some were paddling in the water, others were reading or chatting, most just lay down in the sunshine. Don’t stare, I told myself.

I’ve always wondered how I would react in such a situation. Would I actually join in, or would I find a way to be very English and awkward about it? Peer pressure did the trick. I quickly realised that, as the only person on a nudist beach wearing clothes, I was the weird one. And with that, I hooked a thumb into the waistband of my underpants, and off they came.

Did I go completely naked? Not quite. I kept my watch on.

I have a lot of hangups about my body. Too much food and not enough exercise over the years have left it a bit of a flabby mess. Beforehand, I had worried there may be a horrified reaction to my nakedness. My fears proved unfounded. Nobody stopped and pointed, no-one ran away screaming, no-one called the police or made mocking comments (unless it was in Norwegian).

I’d come unprepared. Everyone else was spread out on towels. I had to make do with a makeshift blanket made from my jacket. I rolled up my T-shirt into a pillow, and settled down. The sun beat down, shining onto parts of my body that had never before been exposed to ultraviolet radiation. A light breeze caressed my skin.

The water, glistening in the sunshine, looked pretty inviting, but I resisted the temptation to skinny-dip. I was paranoid about a casual thief running off with my things while I was in the water. Losing all my clothes, hours before I was due to fly home, was not a scenario I was keen on. I know Ryanair like their customers to travel light, but that’s too much. I contented myself with lying in the sun.

The sun disappeared behind clouds briefly, but then reappeared just as intense as ever. I thought of the factor 50 suncream which I had unwisely packed in my suitcase rather than bringing with me. I kept turning myself like a rotisserie chicken, to ensure I was evenly cooked on all sides.

I am not really a sunbather. After a few minutes my attention starts to wander, and I start to think that I could be doing something more useful instead. This time, however, I felt able to switch off and totally relax. I closed my eyes and allowed myself a moment of tranquility.

Later that day I would experience a stressful journey home. A crowded train where I had to sit in a tip-up seat by the doors. My fellow aeroplane passengers having to be told off by the cabin crew for talking during the safety briefing. A baby that cried for the entire duration of the flight. The couple next to me stinking out the plane with a Pepperami. Being locked in the baggage claim area of Liverpool Airport because someone had tried to go the wrong way through a one-way door.

To help me get through all that, I would cast my mind back to the relaxing hour or so spent lazing on the beach. Then, I would think back further, to new friends made, an amazing pride celebration, reindeer cakes and the sights and sounds of an exciting, vibrant city. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my adventures. 🙂

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