I write this a million miles up in the sky, bound for Italy. Being up in the air is a good time for reflection regardless of where you’re going; Glasgow to Derry or Heathrow to Dubai. Especially after sneaking a coffee onto the plane and now feeling very caffeinated. So much so that I am now wiggling in my boots. The last few times I’ve flown, I’ve openly carried a Starbucks take away cup of coffee on with me and had no problem. This time, I was told I’d have to drink it or leave it. How terrible! I wasn’t impressed. I stood to the side and pretended to drink it and when the airport man’s eye was turned away, I scooted onto the plane without looking back, coffee à la main. It’s the little victories. You could smuggle anything on planes these days.
Anyway, after much deliberation and discussion, I thought I’d write about the quality times you can have in a big group of people otherwise known as your friends. I don’t know about you but it’s not very often that you can be in a big group of friends for an extended period of time these days. Is it just me or do you find yourself, for the most part, with one other person most of the time. 90% of my personal time is spent with no more than three people. I’d say that’s probably true for most people as maintaining a friendship circle of more than three people on a weekly basis sounds stressful and heralds back to the horror movie called our teenage years when everyone tried to seem as popular as possible (I never managed this level of popularity out of sheer laziness which can, evidently, still be seen in my number of Facebook friends today.) For the one or two times a year that I do see my extended friend group, it is a literal laugh a minute. Catch up on new news and old stories and just general piss taking.
Cut to: northern England, Yorkshire dales, the Lake District. No phone service. No talk of a Kardashian, what a Dream… Get it??? Fields and mountains as far as the eye can see. A view of the not so super moon from the hot tub in the back garden. A six bed wood cabin with double the amount of people staying. In case you’re wondering, it is possible to fit that many people into a relatively small 39 degree tub. Tight squeeze but possible. There was bodies strewn everywhere for a few hours shut eye. The mornings were filled with a couple dozen eggs poached or boiled or scrambled, avocados mashed, a constant flow of toast, numerous pots of steaming tea, cartons of milk on counters, elbows on tables, and the warmth of being around people you love.
Cut to: hike up a small mountain, on and off drizzly rain, muddy boots, woolly hats and smiles as wide as the sea. Each viewing point we thought: ‘This is it!’ And take some photos of beautiful lake windmere but ultimately repeat x 3 until finally reaching the actual summit and taking in the 360 degree views from above.
Cut to: our warm cabin, sodden shoes left at the door and the feeding of the five thousand. When so many people come together, it’s a team effort. Someone will be stirring the pot (Rach and Aoife), another at the sink cleaning cups (Tiffers), another checking the temperature of the hot tube (Phil and Dom) and another one filling up and refilling wine glasses (me). It’s funny how you can quickly adapt to new situations. Espresso martinis were simply a must but without a cocktail shaker or any knowledge of how to make espresso martinis, it was a challenge. Not for my friends. For future reference, all you need is alcohol, coffee, a cafetière and a strong arm to make the perfect foamy cocktail. They were the best espresso martini I’ve ever had and when it’s on tap beside the hot tub who wouldn’t have more than their fair share? Slàinte to that.
Cut to: an extremely lazy day on Sunday (understatement of the century, bed ridden would be a better term for my Sunday at the lakes). A Sunday roast among friends (Darren and co!) and an evening in front of a pretend fire watching Planet Earth 2. Everyone starts filtering their away back to their different realities. Saying goodbye and until the next time.
It is sometimes difficult to suit all personalities in these groups, especially between such a diverse group of doctors and IT people and drama teachers and pharmacy students and… well me. But somehow, everyone is pleased in the end in these situations. There’s something about having a short weekend long weekend together and realising that these are special people who you want to laugh with. It’s even more special to get together with people who come from the motherland. I’d say it would be the same if you were living in Denmark and had a together with all of your Australian friends from home. We had a big get together in England with our Irish friends from home. Being in a foreign landscape (OK, Yorkshire Dales aren’t that foreign. But you get my drift…wood.) Of course, it’s nice to go back to your old stomping ground and visit the pub you were sick in or the mountain you climbed most Sunday’s or the beach you went to at sunrise to see the sunset with a dear group of friends. But there is something to be said for a group of people getting a plane or a train or renting a car to the middle of nowhere, where no one knows the right direction and just getting on with it. No complaints. All the community feels were present.
Create communities wherever you go but don’t forget the community you left behind.