When we first moved to Devon last summer, I remember being worried about losing touch with all the friends we’d made in Berkshire. Frog had plenty of little friends she’d regularly go on play dates with and I’d made new friends in our village too. The (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine had his own mates from teacher training days, work and the pub, so we were leaving quite a few people behind.
The truth is though, that since the age of eighteen, I’ve never lived in one place for very long. I went to university in Cardiff, then spent a year working and travelling, before doing my journalism training for a year in Falmouth in Cornwall and then heading over to Brighton and then up to Hull for respective jobs. I arrived in Reading a year later, before moving to the countryside a couple of years after that.
Because of this nomadic type of lifestyle, I now have friends scattered all over the UK. Some of those friends I rarely speak to any more, as life and distance gets in the way and people move on to new things. But some of those friends I’m as close to as ever, even if I don’t see or speak to them every week.
This last weekend my friend Caroline came to stay with her son. We used to live next door to them in our old village, with the kids regularly in and out of each others’ houses. They’d bicker like brother and sister but stick up for each other and play together too. Within 5 minutes of Caroline’s arrival, it was plain to see the relationship between Frog and her “brother” was exactly as it always had been.
We spent the day at the beach and by the harbour, eating fish and chips and ice cream. It was a pretty perfect day and just what I needed after an exhausting and emotional couple of weeks.
The weekend before, I rang my oldest friend to tell her my grandmother had died. We’ve been friends that long that she shares memories of Nana too and knows how good her Lancashire Lemon Fingers were. “Shall I put off my visit?” my friend asked me. But I wanted her to come, to distract us and to catch up on all the news since I last saw her in Bath.
There’s now twenty years of friendship between us, which seems impossible because if I close my eyes we are twelve years old again, making up dance routines to R Kelly and recording pretend radio shows. Frog has got in on the action, determined that “Ellen is my best friend now Mummy, not yours!”.
Since starting this blog I’ve made some new friends who’ve made the switch from “Internet mates” to ones of the “real life variety”. Jane of Northern Mum fame has been to visit with her brood too, on her way back from Cornwall. Frog and BB had a sleepover in the same bed, and it made me smile (through gritted teeth, admittedly) to hear Frog loudly whispering, “Don’t go to sleep yet! Don’t be boring!” as BB snored her way through Frog’s rambling.
We’ve only been in this house a couple of months but already it’s been lit up with laughter and music from friends visiting and sharing meals with us. Each time someone new arrives Frog proudly shows them her new bedroom, before going on to do the tour of the rest of the house.
It turns out I was wrong to worry about losing touch with old friends. Now we have the making new friends bit to look forward to too.
How do you manage to keep in touch with all your old friends? Have any of you moved REALLY far away and struggled to keep up the contact with your old friends?