New Friends and Old

Covid has not gone away by any means, but officially in England we are back to normal; yesterday was the second anniversary of the day we went into the first lockdown.  I have had my end of treatment visit to the oncologist so officially I am back to normal. For all of us the past two years have been strange. Perhaps because it is spring, or because Ukraine makes us appreciate our mundane lives, but everything seems more vivid, interesting, exciting even. I haven’t been further than a walk round Poole after my hospital visit but every walk, every coffee stop is ‘an experience.’

Poole Twin Sails Bridge

But we do have to face the fact that our town centre shops were already in decline and life is going to be hard and drab for many people with the economic disaster of Covid and Ukraine. Shopping therapy is going to be a thing of the past, though there is still coffee…

Looking on the positive side people have made new on line friends, got to know their neighbours better and become more empathic, helping those who have been isolated and those whose financial struggles were made worse by Covid.

For those of us who have lost partners and loved ones we see the proof that life always does go on, returning more and more to our previous lives doesn’t seem right, but unless we move to a different place or go sailing round the world, it is almost inevitable and a comfort.  Some parts of my life have been rejigged while others miraculously slot back into place. Our writing group has resumed in the library; our tutor and founder is now ninety, recovered from a broken hip and more on the ball than the rest of us!

Tea at Poole Museum.

A few weeks ago my friend was making coffee for the new monthly coffee morning at my local library – one of their activities to welcome real human beings back into the library. I went along for moral support, just as well as only two others turned up, both mature chaps who have just returned to England. We had a really interesting hour and it turned out one of the men, Mike, went to a writers’ group back in the USA.  I told him about our weekly group and he turned up the next week and has really enjoyed his two sessions. Our tutor was glad to have someone else who also remembered the war ( WW2 ) for our new chap was born in 1935 and spent fifty years in the USA after he and his wife emigrated. He is adamant that he is back in England for his ‘last years’ ( he is very spritely so there could be a good few last years), despite leaving all his family behind; a story that is his to tell not mine, but he is obviously making new friends as well, with the philosophy that every day he is going to engage in conversation with a stranger. This week another new bloke turned up at writers’ group, invited along by Mike.

It has been a strange few weeks. I received an email from my old high school friend in Australia who I have not seen or heard from since we were teenagers at college; fifty years of having no idea how both our lives panned out. She is helping with a research project on founder members of the college and with some difficulty ( as with all the girls who had married and changed their names ) managed to track down this website and found my email address on the contact page; I think that is the first time someone has used the contact page! It was really interesting catching up, though I have no idea what she looks like now!

If you walk dogs, walk or cycle everywhere and work in your front garden, you see familiar faces and smile or chat. Since Covid people seem even more likely to engage, with the silent sub text ‘Isn’t it nice not to be wearing masks and be out and about?’

A lady often passes by on her bicycle with a sweet poodly dog attached alongside, ears flying in the wind. I can’t help but smile and she gives a cheery nod. The other day she was on foot as I arrived back at my front gate and stopped to admire my front garden. It is hardly worthy of Gardeners’ World, but has burst into colour with bulbs out and the addition of the ubiquitous primula to fill in gaps in my tubs.

‘Are you a friend of Carolyn?’

I was pretty sure I didn’t know a Carolyn.

‘Carolyn and Amos round the corner?’

‘No, I definitely don’t know a Carolyn and Amos.’

‘Oh, you would certainly remember if you did know them. You look like one of Carolyn’s friends.’

I am still pondering if I have met Carolyn and Amos, perhaps anonymous faces I pass by often. And did she mean I am a twin of a particular friend or just look like the sort of person who would be a friend of Carolyn’s? Has the lady with the bouncy auburn curly coated dog only been greeting me for several years because she thought I was a friend of Carolyn’s?

Do you feel your life is back to normal, have you made new friends or found old ones during Covid?

39 thoughts on “New Friends and Old

  1. I loved this post, Janet, because it really does capture how things are at the moment (and I’m writing from the US, where there has been so much division between people over the past few years!). There is a change happening – perhaps more of a desire for people to connect or re-connect, and more deeply, than before Covid. I have found strangers to be happier and more open than I remember from before, businesses and customer services friendlier and more helpful, and many aspects and friends from my past are re-connecting in more significant ways. Even the world’s united reaction to the invasion of Ukraine feels different. There is definitely something different in the air!

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    1. Your comment mirrors my own thoughts Anita of life here in England nowadays. Equally Janet so does your post, neighbours have become closer, we help each other more, we do things together. Reminds me of my childhood in the 50s! But it seems to be a global thing to with most of the world’s reaction to Putin’s barbarism and it shows how unity can act against others without war or bloodshed.

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      1. It’s so good to hear that you are experiencing this same thing! I do believe that kindness and empathy and a desire for reconnection seems to be on the rise (even though it is sometimes drowned out by the actions of those seeking to move us all in the opposite direction). 😊.

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  2. Love this, Janet. It’s so nothing and yet everything. Random people pass the house and say ‘Good Afternoon’ which I thought was nice. Now I’m a little worried they are friends of Karen’s. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A lovely post that speaks of “normality” and connection…Here we are still reminded to mask up and I am not ready to stop wearing mine although it seems many countries are dropping all the restrictions, tests and quarantines but covid is still creeping into everyday life plus more people that I know are becoming infected happily not too serious but enough to stop them in their tracks for a few weeks…Necessity has reared its head and deemed that the economies and war now take priority…I agree to a point and hope that covid doesn’t think otherwise…it lingers…

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    1. Thanks Carol, yes I am still wearing my mask on the bus and in busy shops, some people are wearing their masks to set foot out of the house and some shops staff still are. Notices appreciating us for wearing masks are in most shops, but not many do; all very confusing. At least at the hospital or our little chemist you must still be masked. All the time people are getting Covid, my youngest grandson has now had it and he wasn’t well for a couple of days. Thankfully most people are staying out of hospital, but often they do feel very rough. It’s not over yet…

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  4. I wasn’t that much affected by Covid, but some things certainly seem different now. One can’t rely on anything being normal, including the weather. And the Ukraine war is a terrible new thing. But it’s certainly a time to be grateful for good things, however small.

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  5. My life is almost back to normal. One change I see in myself (this has been going on for several months) is I don’t take anything for granted. Gatherings with friends, travel, and eating out—I appreciate those things a little more. I like my new attitude, and I don’t want to lose that feeling.

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    1. Yes, so true. I will not forget what it’s like to be stuck at home, but I never felt isolated, with an end in sight and visitors and family. To be truly isolated is a terrible thing. Are you still doing phone calls to isolated people? Poole is lovely in the sunshine. I chose Poole hospital for my treatment because I can get there easily on the bus, but it has the added bonus of being near the town and the town is interesting if you get away from the shops.

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      1. Yes I still call. At least four of them are as isolated now as they ever were. One, they would not vaccinate, so while the rest of us think of covid as “a cold”, it presumably still holds fear for her, especially at about 75.

        I used to work at Barclays there. Awful building. Awful town centre. Loved the quay though and the rspb “bird boats” which used to take us out, summer evenings, along the Purbeck coast.

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      2. Poole shopping went up in my estimation compared with Bournemouth town centre’s dire shopping situation, then they closed the Poole Marks and Spencer! There is talk of totally rebuilding the town centre – there’s always talk. We had a lovely boat trip in 2019 from Poole to Swanage.

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  6. Other than the loss of a great friend, my life was mostly unaffected by Covid. Walking around with my dog is the only way I ever met new people when I moved to Beetley, but I regard only a few of those as ‘friends’.
    As for Covid still being widespread, my wife is a GP receptionist, and currently four of her colleagues are off sick after testing positive, one of them with severe symptoms.
    It certainly hasn’t gone away, and I fear this is the ‘new normal’.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  7. I am so pleased you are able to rejoin the world. I however am not there yet. They are relaxing conditions here but I’m still high risk and Covid is still active. I cannot take the risk. But people like you make me hopeful…

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    1. Thanks Q, yes we are getting more cases, the only thing that is different is vaccination is keeping most people out of hospital. I have had four jabs. Vaccination does not prevent people getting Covid and having had Covid does not stop you getting it again! I know lots of people who are still very wary.

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  8. I’m glad things are getting back to somewhat normal. (what is normal anyway?) It is nice to get out and about but we still stay close to home, just taking the dogs out and going for coffee. One thing gets better and something else comes up. I guess that is just the way it is. Take care. xo

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  9. haha, yes somewhere in this part of the world jJanet, life seemingly is getting back to normal. Even though i am struggling with my funds but yes friends are coming and even sustaining through old ones.

    Beautiful images of sky, makes me want to come for a swim. Thank you.

    Narayan x

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  10. HI Janet, I know the UK is returning to ‘normal’ in a big way. South Africa always follow your governments lead so we are moving towards dropping our regulations too. Having now had Covid, I will be masking up more than before when I venture out again. I have no wish for a repeat performance. PS we are travelling to the UK for Christmas, so exciting! We’ll be the family wearing masks and carrying hand sanitizer Hahaha!

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    1. That was hard getting Covid after you had been so careful with the family, but here also people who have gone through so much trying to stay clear have succumbed recently, fortunately all the vaccinations seem to have kept them from serious illness, but it’s still no fun having Covid! My sister has booked to come over from Australia for four weeks over Christmas.

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