sumer is icumen in

Svmer is icumen in
Lhude sing cuccu
Groweþ sed
and bloweþ med
and springþ þe wde nu
Sing cuccu

Awe bleteþ after lomb
lhouþ after calue cu
Bulluc sterteþ
bucke uerteþ
murie sing cuccu

Cuccu cuccu
Wel singes þu cuccu
ne swik þu nauer nu

(a joyful Middle English song about the return of spring/summer)

Shortly after Eroticon last year, Molly and I met up to do a little outdoor shoot, and I stripped down in the April sunshine while Jaime and Cara guarded the entrance to this public but generally overlooked little historic site.

You wouldn’t necessarily know it from the view presented here, but this was a glorious (if nipply) spring day.

nude figure in front of a late medieval brick wall
Photo by Molly Moore

I shared a preview image from this shoot here.

Sinful Sunday: It’s all about the image.

badge Sinful Sunday

work in progress

Shortly after Eroticon last year, Molly and I met up to do a little outdoor shoot, and I stripped down in the April sunshine while Jaime and Cara guarded the entrance to this public but generally overlooked little historic site.

After about half an hour in the sun and chill (it was about 10°, which is only warm if you’ve got clothes on!), we piled back into the car and headed to Molly and Michael’s, where Molly then uploaded the photos from camera to computer.

I couldn’t resist the interplay between the lilies and the brick wall on the monitor.

And here’s one of Molly’s own photos from the shoot.

Sinful Sunday: It’s all about the image.

badge Sinful Sunday

at the turning of the year

looking back

I launched this blog at Christmastime 2014, so this isn’t just the turning of the year, it’s also my fourth blogging anniversary!

In January, Wolf successfully defended his doctoral thesis and shall henceforth be known as Dr. Wolf. It represented the end of a long slog, and while his getting accepted into the university in the first place was a very big deal, we had no idea how emotionally difficult it would be on both of us. We are each other’s primary support systems and without that support, we both ended up in depression (though that wasn’t the sole reason for either of us). Completion for him was thus bittersweet as it had come at a much higher cost than expected and it left him wondering whether it would ever feel like it had been worth it.

March saw me take two very different trips back to back without stopping off at home on the way, which made packing a challenge! I was at a business meeting on a Thursday morning, in a succession of airports and airplanes from afternoon to night (my sleep time completely disappearing while I was in the air), arrived at Heathrow on Friday morning, then put in an appearance at the Eroticon 2018 Friday Night Meet and Greet that evening. I was, of course, exhausted.

My time at Eroticon (my second) was excellent, as expected. Although I’m now aware of one sex blogger and one romance/erotica writer who reside in my neck of the woods, it’s such a treat to just be in a room with more sex writers than you can shake a stick (or cane, or flogger) at. And everyone I’ve met has been my kind of people – intelligent, sexy and kind. Just wonderful. But it’s still a big trip for me. Would I have gone just for Eroticon? It’s hard to say, but I didn’t have to make that decision because Jaime and I had planned to meet up there and then travel together for a few weeks.

I made arrangements with the same photographer as in 2017 to do another shoot while I was in London. I must admit, both the shoot and follow-up were a bit disappointing, and I’ve spent the subsequent months forgetting it rather than remembering it.

Just before I returned home in April, I did my first shoot with Molly, which was also my first outdoor shoot. At about 10°, it was chilly to be naked outside, though better than I’d expected – and vastly better than it would have been if I’d been doing the same project at home! (Molly has given me some edited photos but I haven’t posted any yet; I’m experiencing some kind of block that is making it difficult, for reasons I don’t understand. With any luck, I’ll publish them soon.)

Just before I returned home from Europe, I finished weaning myself off of the anti-depressant I’d been on. By early May, my brain suddenly began functioning better; my cognition, focus and motivation improved substantially, which was such a relief! Since then, I’ve been working harder at the day job than I have in a couple of years, leaving me brain-tired and eye-strained at the end of the workday.

In November, I had a solo adventure in Japan; once upon a time I taught English there fairly briefly and went back this year for a visit. It was fun and stressful and tiring and delightful. I had a strong sense of filling my eyes with wonderful things, which I need to remember so I make a point of doing more of that. I’ve already posted a couple of photos (just before my flight out, and just after I arrived on the other side) and you’ll be seeing more from that trip in future.

On Christmas Day I set a boundary with my dad, which provoked a bit of a confrontation, so that was fun. But it means that I’m prioritising my needs over his wants, and that’s good for me. Five bucks says the next time we talk, he’ll pretend it never happened.

Top 100 Sex Bloggers 2018

I’m delighted that Molly (and Michael) included me in her list of the Top 100 Sex Blogs of 2018, which was announced in early December. I’ve fallen in the ranking since last year, which comes as no surprise since blogging regularly continues to be difficult for me, but I’m very pleased to have made the list at all. (Trying to remind myself that it’s OK if I’m less productive, and that I don’t have to blog if I’m not enjoying it.) Warm congratulations to this year’s winner, Rebel’s Notes!

I did find inspiration now and then through the year and there are some posts that I’m proud of, such as:

I’m also very happy to be included in Exposing 40’s round up of 40 [sex bloggers] over 40.

After my first adventure with Jaime in November 2015, I developed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which may have been caused by the gastrointestinal issues I had while travelling in a country where you need to be careful about drinking the water. In three years, following basic IBS guidelines has failed to control it and the constant bloating – as well as the resultant dip in body image, slight weight gain, and poorly fitting clothes – have really been getting on my tits, so this month I’ve started on a program to test whether certain categories of fermentable carbohydrates (collectively, FODMAPs) might be to blame, and if so, which one(s).

After the elimination phase, my bloating mostly went away. Around the same time, I was suddenly sleeping less and feeling more alert after struggling with fatigue for a number of years. The increase in energy hasn’t been consistent but this unexpected result provides a new lead for an issue where I’d mostly given up hope of finding a specific cause. There are five categories of FODMAPs and I’m currently challenging the third, so I’m about halfway done this process and I think I’ve identified two triggers. I’ll complete this project sometime in January and then follow up with my doctor.

My libido, which was variable at best and was convincingly sent packing by the anti-depressants in early 2017, is still AWOL. I originally started this blog as a place to record my new sexy adventures, but… I’m not having any. Forgive me Daddy, for I have failed to sin: it’s been almost 9 months since my last partnered sex. I don’t see that changing any time soon. And after giving me 4 orgasms on Christmas morning, my beloved We-Vibe Touch has died *cries*

looking forward

After over a year of looking for work, Dr. Wolf has been hired (last minute) for a lecturer position that starts right away. The catch is that it’s in another city – not too far from here but far enough to be inconvenient, especially given the lack of public transit and the fact that we only have the one car. We drive there tomorrow, I’ll get him settled and stay the night, and then I go back to an empty house. It’s a term position running until the end of June so he’ll be there and I’ll be here for the duration, except for the odd time when he can escape. He’ll be staying in a spartan place so it’s not especially practical for me to go visit him there. After that, we have to wait and see.

I have business trips in January and March, and the latter one (as well as the work to be done before and after) makes it ridiculously impractical for me to go to Eroticon 2019, alas. So my plan is to be dutiful, and then fuck off to Jaime’s house for a couple of weeks in April.

That’s my year in a nutshell. I hope you’re having/have had a great New Year’s Eve, whatever that looks like for you, and best wishes for 2019!

heating up, cooling off, getting wet 2

Part 6: heating up, cooling off, getting wet 1

Nicolas and I hadn’t planned anything in particular for the shoot, for a few reasons. I wasn’t certain how well I’d take to it, and didn’t want to over-commit and thus inconvenience him. He had picked up on my hesitation and kept his goals modest (is “modest” really the right word when discussing a nude shoot?), which meant the location and poses weren’t set in advance. He wasn’t planning to use the shots himself so he had no agenda for production. It was very much a “go with the flow” sort of thing, and you have to hope the flow goes somewhere interesting.

We had started out low-key, and rather than leaping right into the deep end with nudity, he had me start with some clothing that he had brought. Sexy, revealing clothing, but still. I didn’t really know what to do for poses, and he gave what he later called “gentle directions”. I would almost go so far to call them “suggestions”, since I always felt free to agree, suggest changes (or progression), or even decline. There was never any pressure, and right from the beginning I found him respectful, supportive, encouraging and friendly. He created an emotional environment in which I could relax and flourish.

As we went on, he began to ask more of me and the poses became more complex than “stand here and tip your head” or “drip some water on your nipple”. The verbal directions started to become more cumbersome, certainly because of the increase in complexity, and perhaps also because the language in this context can be very fussy and technical.

Eventually he started moving me with his hands — my arm here, my leg there, angling my head. I don’t specifically recall, but he must have tried something simple at first, like gently moving my foot. He was relaxed about it so I was, and this created a virtuous cycle of comfort and ease with each other. We were in a space that was small and unavoidably intimate, and we were almost touching most of the time already; this hands-on contact felt like a natural progression.

Nicolas gave me feedback throughout. I never really knew if something didn’t work, because he never made a fuss about it, and it didn’t matter anyway. We just kept trying new things. When it did work, he was vocal about it, saying “yes”, “that’s hot”, “don’t move, don’t move!” or (my favorite) “fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck!” under his breath. Sometimes there were no words, just a very satisfied look on his face. Whenever he got a shot he particularly liked, he’d turn the camera around to show me.

Photo by Nicolas Laborie.

Sensing that I was still at ease, we moved on to more dynamic poses. I was still wearing the black dress. The top came down. The bottom came up. And up. I grasped, I tugged, I arched.

Photo by Nicolas Laborie. Oh look, my nipples are hard, no pinching required.

Then he wanted me to cover my crotch with my hand (we were back to verbal directions now), and then stroke a little to give the impression that I was pleasuring myself. By this point, I was nude again.

I hadn’t noticed feeling specifically aroused — I was still very interested in the shoot and wouldn’t have wanted to stop to play — but I did get very wet. Was it the camera? The company? The nudity? Being a little outside my comfort zone? When it happened with Lucas, the circumstances were very different so I haven’t narrowed down the cause yet.

Nicolas had told me before that the best photos happen when the model can make love to the camera. I suppose I was doing well, because during the shoot he announced that he was getting a little too wound up and needed to take a break. That is a compliment that can’t be feigned! We sat on the bed and talked for a while, he in his black T-shirt and black jeans, I still nude, sharing personal things with each other. When we got started again, we had lost some momentum. But then that was precisely the point.

* * *

Nicolas and I were acquaintances through DM and email before this shoot, and I felt that during the shoot we forged a real connection and the basis for a friendship, even before we stopped to talk.

I knew I wanted to do the shoot but I didn’t know for certain whether my old “script” (that nudity and sexuality are bad and/or dangerous) would hold me back until I actually tried it. There’s only so far you can get with thought and rationality regarding subjects that have the potential to be emotional, and sometimes explosively so. I was glad to discover that I’m making progress in this area, and that I was right about what I wanted — it gives me confidence that I’m coming to know myself better.

As I’ve said before, my body image has improved markedly since I started sharing photos of myself on Sinful Sunday, and this shoot was in some ways an extension of that project, but more in the realm of expressing my sexuality. In front of someone I’d just met in person the day before!

Nicolas was right, of course, that this was an entirely different experience from being my own photographer. There was an intensity, a frisson, some kind of chemistry. I was being unambiguously seen in that moment, and appreciated just as I am. And successfully challenging my limits.

Nicolas Laborie would like to work with other people too. If you’re interested, you can get in touch with him via the email address on his website, or via DM on Twitter, where he is @nicolas_laborie.

There are more photos from the shoot, which I’ll be sharing over the next while.

heating up, cooling off, getting wet 1

Part 5: the shoot begins

The room, though attractive, offered only a few backgrounds — white wall, green glass, walnut headboard, white sheets — while reflection shots in the bathroom mirror provided another option. The only usable furniture was the bed. The effect was minimalist and monochrome. And frankly, it was cramped, which limited the angles.

When discussing what to focus on, Nicolas remarked that he knew I liked my breasts. Well, yes, as it happens I do. But his impression would be based on the photos I post, and my regular participation in Boobday means that my breasts are somewhat overrepresented on the blog.

And this photo doesn’t do anything to redress that.

I was now fully nude. Nicolas had been attentive to my comfort, and the space heater had done its job, but this caused two minor problems. First, he was overheating; he took off his black sweater to reveal a black T-shirt and was still too warm. Second, I was comfortable and thus my nipples were rather boringly flat.

He wanted them perky. His first idea was to dribble some water on me. He started and then I took over. It wasn’t entirely effective, but the water droplets look great.

(You know, after stripping that first time, I don’t really remember the subsequent costume changes. I’m just going to assume that Nicolas watched me dress or undress each time. I didn’t find it a hardship, and neither did he, I trust.)

I then got into my black dress. The fabric is substantial, with good body and recovery, so it tended to smooth out details rather than reveal them. Details such as, oh, nipples.

We tried the water trick again, but it just wasn’t up to the task. It was time for more drastic measures. He wanted me to pinch my nipples to perk them up. I didn’t go for it right away. He mimed pinching. He was torn; it would be so easy for him to just do it and get the effect he was after, but it was rather personal! I laughed. He mimed again. I made a half-hearted attempt to pinch them into shape, but I felt awkward too and couldn’t get into it. More miming. More smiling and laughing, on both sides.

We conducted an entire wordless negotiation this way.

Him: I want those nipples hard so they’ll photograph better and pinching is the only way I can think of to do it.

Me: I know, I get it, but I can’t bring myself to do it.

Him: I’m warning you that if you don’t, I’m prepared to do it!

Me: Yes, I know! Go ahead!

And that’s how Nicolas came to be pinching my nipples in a workmanlike, results-based fashion while we both laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation.

But it worked, as you can see.

Part 7: heating up, cooling off, getting wet 2

the shoot begins

Part 4: setting up the shoot

Before we met up, Nicolas had said he was looking forward to seeing me, and I’d teased that he had already seen rather a lot of me. This — sharing this space together ­— was different, he’d said. He was right, of course.

I was standing by the foot of the bed while he reclined at the other end, waiting expectantly. Of course he’d be expectant.

I felt a bit awkward, but probably less so than I would have predicted, truth be told. I was about to take my clothes off in front of someone who I’d first clapped eyes on only the night before. But it was also a project months in the works, unilateral, and not romantic.

My problem was an unusual issue of etiquette: what is the most appropriate way to take off one’s clothes for a nude shoot in a small room containing the photographer and with virtually no privacy? For in this elegant shoebox of a hotel room, there was nowhere to retreat.

Stepping into the bathroom seemed pointless: distance had suddenly taken on symbolic relevance, but escaping to the bathroom would necessarily start with an advance towards Nicolas — a zero-sum game. And anyway, I’d roll the door closed and face the mirror while… what? While he watched me through the smoked glass. Of course he’d watch.

No, I’d stay put. This was not romance, and still less a seduction. There would be no eye contact, no slow, tantalizing reveal. Facing straight on felt too bold, but turning my back seemed silly: I was here to do a nude shoot — shall I now spend 60 seconds being modest? For what purpose?

I split the difference and turned to my right, then removed my clothes as if I were alone, and tidied items away on a shelf under the TV as I went: necklace, sweater, T-shirt, leggings, bra… When only the panties remained, I hesitated, then looked to Nicolas for guidance: OK, we’ll just go with this much for now.

Then we added clothing again, starting with a little black net bodysuit that he had brought. The fabric ran from under-bust to hips or thereabouts, with shoulder straps split above the bust to frame each breast, and garters (suspenders) hung from the bottom edge. He snapped some shots and then showed me one that he thought was particularly hot: my breasts framed by the black lace and straps. But ultimately that photo was deemed insufficiently striking to make the final cut.

Being nude when the other person is clothed is an odd dynamic. There is difference and thus power is invoked, but which way does the power flow? “Naked” is a synonym for “vulnerable”, and yet nudity compels the eye and thus has its own strength. This creates an interesting tension but there’s no paradox — vulnerability and strength aren’t mutually exclusive. Anyway, I felt satisfied with my appearance (perhaps even confident) and wasn’t worried that Nicolas would be critical. He had seen lots of photos of me, had approached me, and had only ever been complimentary. That provided me with a kind of emotional safety that I appreciated.

My usual photography process involves a lot of distance: I set up the camera, choose some promising poses, and take photos more or less blind with a remote shutter release; I look at the resulting raw material; I edit; I post; I promote. I see my blog stats change. Occasionally someone will comment. It’s all very removed and any feedback that I get is from a very safe distance in both space and time. I’m not used to being seen directly.

So now, instead of being a passive consumer of the curated images that I chose to share, Nicolas was a co-creator and director. Instead of communicating by means of text on a screen, he was close enough that I could just about feel his breath on my skin.

Part 6: heating up, cooling off, getting wet 1