It’s 1st April 2021 and I’ve just arrived home after spending three hours in the company of my younger friend ‘D’. Our first outing since 23rd December and it was wonderful to actually be in her company again. We talked non-stop as we walked to what has become one of our favourite spots – Cock Robin Woods, Rugby – where we sat and enjoyed some snacks and she got excited about the coming Easter break as she looked through her Easter gifts. Nothing special on the face of it but I think this will continue to be a go-to destination long after the restrictions have lifted.

Our friendship started over video chat as we were matched just 10 days before the first lockdown started in March 2020. I remember the first call so well – I was nervous and talked incessantly for 45 minutes whilst a reserved 13 year old nodded, briefly answered any questions and occasionally smiled at this strange lady on the screen in front of her. Those little smiles were encouragement enough and in just a few weeks the calls became longer and my monologue got overtaken by conversation.

I love being creative, so dropping off crafts at her home for us to carry out over video chat was a perfect
starting place for us. Whilst I watched and chatted, ‘D’ created an array of bracelets, mosaic candle holders, jewellery boxes, wind-chimes and keyrings to name but a few. We had a lot of fun and there was much laughter during these calls as we learned about one another.

One of our favourite activities, which we’ve recently repeated, was planting seeds. This soon became a focus of our weekly calls as we discussed what needed to be done, when the seedlings were pricked out into small pots and then bigger pots before finally making their way out into the garden where they grew and grew. And with each week and each craft, the friendship also grew and I am glad to say she now matches me for chat – well almost!

Once we could meet face-to-face we soon discovered our mutual love of the natural world and walk for
hours seeking out trees, woods and ponds. ‘D’ is a wonderful photographer and is happy to stop for
long periods in one place to get the perfect shot (as demonstrated in this photo of a rain-splattered leaf)
– which suits me as I love to pause in nature and simply be. A testimony to the great work of the
Friendship Project’s Area Coordinators when it comes to matching! We also discovered Rainbows
Tearooms and a warming hot chocolate is always welcome before a visit to the park.

This latest lockdown brought new challenges so I was always there to listen and sitting in companionable silence brings its own rewards. ‘D’ also introduced me to Billie Eilish and we thoroughly enjoyed watching her new documentary together recently and chatting about this extraordinary young woman.

So, as I reflect upon this last year – the first of our friendship – on this April Fool’s Day, I feel anything
but a fool. I have enjoyed being part of the Friendship Project since 2016 as a Group Supporter but becoming an Older Friend is one of the wisest decisions I have ever made. Thank you to all who make this Project possible.