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Inside a nudist secret village; Hidden in woods just yards froquite ordinary lives... gardeninThe only difference is, they arom a motorway, a group of people go about their ng, washing the car, enjoying a pint at the pub. re as naked as the day they were born...

Byline: LEWIS PANTHER

AT first glance, this sleepy little village looks like any other to be found in the heart of a commuter belt.

But the manicured lawns and neatly trimmed bushes are hiding a multitude of skin.

For this outwardly respectable Hertfordshire village is the home of Britain's oldest naturist colony.

And while you don't have to be nude to visit here - they won't sell you a house if you're not.

Splashing in the swimming pool, mowing the lawn, even enjoying a pint in the local, its inhabitants are always stripped for action.

But after 85 years of quietly enforcing its undress code, the secret village of Spielplatz - the name means playground - is about to bare all to the rest of us for the first time.

Next month it opens its doors for the first time for a no-shorts-and-all TV documentary for More4.

The nudists next door will be exposing to the world what their neighbours, postmen and supermarket delivery drivers get to see every day of the week.

But veteran resident Iseult Richardson, 82, who has lived in the village nearly all her life, can't see what all the fuss is about.

"There is no difference between naturists and people who live up the street," she insisted. "We all live normal lives but are just lucky enough to live in this extraordinary place. It's like a small estate.

"We have all sorts of deliveries. The milkman comes and delivers and we used to have a paperboy though that's stopped now.

"The postmen and tradesmen know us and take us as they find us. They never seem perturbed.

"Sometimes they have to walk all the way into the middle of the site, if they are carrying something heavy like a cooker."

The village was founded by Iseult's father Charles Macaskie, who bought the leafy 12-acre site for [euro]600 in 1929. It's in Bricket Wood, a few miles outside St Alban's, and is a permanent home to the owners of 34 of its smart little bungalows.

There are another 24 houses available to rent to summer visitors. The mainly two-bed bungalows come with all mod cons, including mains electricity, water and sewage.

The heart of the village is its club house where the residents get together in the altogether for discos, karaoke sessions, quiz nights and pool tournaments.

A few hundred yards away, unsuspecting motorists crawl past on the busy M1 motorway. The idyllic, heavily-wooded village is not so much dingley dell as dangly dell.

But as TV viewers will see, there's trouble brewing in the nudist paradise, as property developers home in on the village as the perfect spot for a multi-million pound housing estate.

At the moment Spielplatz is run as a club and anyone who wants to buy one of the bungalows - a bargain at an average of [euro]105,000 - has to be vetted by the board. Usually, they will have been part- time members for at least a year, according to Iseult.

She said: "The places get bought and sold like anywhere else. People sometimes move on when they retire and go to somewhere sunnier.

"Recently one was bought by a couple who didn't quite like it, so they got planning permission to knock it down and build a new one. It's nearly finished and they'll move into their new home in a couple of months." As resident Tina Yates, 64, says: "It's just a small community where everybody gets to know everyone else."

But like any community, the nudists have their flash points. Property ownership is far from the only bone of contention.

Residents are struggling to agree about how to deal with family members who love dropping in, but won't drop anything else. Die-hards insist it should be a case of get your kit off or clear off.

But moderate members of the board want to admit people wearing clothes for taster sessions.

Financial director Vic Lightfoot, 68, a twice married father of three originally from High Wycombe, has had trouble persuading girlfriend Maggie Fitzgerald and daughter Joanne to enter into the spirit of Spielplatz.

Joanne was even asked to leave for failing to disrobe at an open day.

Vic admits: "You can't just have anyone there who isn't a naturist - it would turn into a housing estate for voyeurs.

"It was embarrassing for the people who told me of the objections. It might sound weird, people who are naked being uncomfortable with people with clothes on. Since then we have had discussion and I have come up with a couple of suggestions. Perhaps if we had sarongs for hire..."

His girlfriend Maggie, 66, thinks she should get a pass because she can't expose her body to the sun for health reasons. "No one has ever said, look Maggie you need to get you clothes off. I have helped put quiz nights on, prepare food, been one of the crowd.

"When you swim, you're not allowed to wear clothes and I have been swimming. I don't have a problem with it. People go there to escape the real world. And taking clothes off is the ultimate escape.

"I have to remind Vic when he's at my place to put his trousers on. To be fair, he keeps his underwear on if he's sitting on a plastic chair.

"There are some things you don't want stuck on a plastic chair."

lewis.panther@trinitymirror.com

The Naked Village, December 11 9pm More4

He does keep his underpants on sometimes. There are some things you don't want stuck on a plastic chair

CAPTION(S):

D'you want nuts with that?: Mark and Tina Yates behind the club house bar

Clothes call: Vic and Maggie agree to differ

Born this way: Iseult as baby and now

naked gardening

Top coat: but skip the undercoat

Strong signal: DIY in the buff

Mail shot: the Postman always looks twice

Careful with that wax: car gets a clean
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 30, 2014
Words:988
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