Covid caused many ripple effects; for me, it meant that I built up a backlog of friends, people I had really missed and now needed to be seen. Friendships, for me, are nearly as vital as oxygen. I love my friends.
I am lucky as I work with Grace, a friend of over 40 years. I also have many local girlfriends, but there are some longstanding girlfriends, schoolfriends or ones from my time living in London that I have missed. Recently I have visited two of my oldest (long-standing, that is) friends, one in Canada (44-year friendship) and another in Norfolk (55-year friendship). My husband and I have made a conscious decision to just ‘go for it’ and say yes to invitations, even if it does need a bit of organisation to get there. I have two dogs, so a dog sitter needs to be booked, and that is a much sought-after service. Children can be very helpful here, especially now that they can #wfh.
As with all really good friends, it doesn’t take long to get back in sync for the conversation and laughter to roll. Luckily for me, these two friends have husbands/partners who my husband gets on with really well too. It’s funny, but if you have known each other for a long time, you hope the partner they pick will get on with your own partner. It is not always the case.
Age, geography and purse power are important factors in friendship. The older we get, the less mobile our friends become. Some are no longer keen to travel, maybe Covid has unsettled them, and they don’t feel confident. My grandmother always told me to nurture younger friends as well as ones your own age. This is because the younger ones visit you when you are old. She adopted this mantra as she was so popular in her nursing home. It was often very difficult for me to get time to visit her as her diary was full.
Geography also has an effect on friendship. When friends move away, one has to make more of an effort. It is easier with local friends. One makes friends at the school gates or through other local friends, and they become your ‘tribe’. Covid made me lazy as I relied entirely on my local friends. Even as we came out of lockdown, they formed my bubble. My parents used to take an annual road trip to visit their friends and relatives. They lived all over the UK. They used to do a couple of days at each place. As they said, it meant they didn’t overstay their welcome. Friends are like fish; they go off after three days.
Purse power is another issue. If friends ‘dump’ you because you can’t keep up with their lifestyle, then they aren’t true friends. My belief is that a true friend, i.e. the ones you can count on one hand, will survive moving country, a pandemic or a change in circumstances.
My Canadian friends, Heather and Ben, were meant to visit us in August. Sadly they couldn’t make it due to a health issue. So just before our wedding anniversary, my husband said let’s jump on a plane and visit them. This was his anniversary gift to me. He had always wanted to see Canada, and Fall is a great time to visit. We were blessed with beautiful weather and vibrant Autumn colours. We had a blast filling every second. I know you can keep in touch via email and social media, but meeting in person is much more special. It is interaction with other humans that shapes our personalities.
Heather is my guru in so many ways. She is stylish, well-read, and has a great sense of humour, and hopefully, much of this rubs off on me. We met in London in our early 20s, and whilst the ocean now separates us, we are still as close as ever.
I miss Heather and Ben so much, but we have planned another trip together in the Spring, and that all came about because we visited.
My husband and I went to Norfolk the following weekend to see my oldest school friend, Becky. Before Covid, we used to meet in London for the day. However, sometimes it is nice to have more time to chat properly with no time restrictions.
We have been friends since we were 9 years old. We went to boarding school together. Her parents lived in Africa so she spent many school holidays at my home. We owned and shared flats together in London. We know everything about each other’s chequered past love lives. We are godparents to each other’s children. Actually we each had one child born on the same day, two years apart. We have therefore known each other as a child, teenager, young adult, wife, and mother, so we know everything about each other. Becky was diagnosed with Lupus early on in her marriage, so we have been there for each other during all that life throws at us. It is an enduring friendship and long may it continue. Becky has the most incredible sense of humour, a wonderfully positive outlook on life and the most incredible family around her.
We agreed to meet at the Artichoke Ladies’ Day in Swaffham. There I met the wonderful, charismatic force of nature, Sarah Simmonds. She owns Artichoke Collection, which Grace and I have worked with for some time. Sarah had organised a fashion show and shopping day in aid of Swaffham and Litcham Home Hospice. I met many of the Artichoke ladies who follow us on A&G. Watch out for my review of the Artichoke collection next week.
A couple of years ago, I introduced Becky to The Skin Specialist, Jade. Her treatment room is in north Norfolk. As I was staying with Becky, we decided on a joint trip to visit Jade. Becky describes Jade’s facials as our ‘upgrade’. There lies another story of friendship. We chatted so much in the car that we missed a right turn three times. How we did laugh. Becky doesn’t like satnav, but I was trying to convert her. However, I failed as Becky is not one to follow instructions, so the satnav vocal commands are wasted on her. Poor Waze had to keep rerouting.
Becky tells me she has been going for one of Jade’s treatments every six weeks (Covid permitting). Jade is an absolute miracle worker. Becky’s face and hands look 20 years younger than mine, so it does work. In a later post, I will be writing about the treatment that Becky and I had at The Skin Specialist. Suffice it to say I will be visiting Becky more regularly to catch up with Becky….. and the Skin Specialist!
I am now planning trips to visit other friends who are scattered far and wide. So watch out if you are an old friend of mine.