Tuesday, 15 November 2016

A Canadian Visitor

There are some bloggers whose blogs you like so much that you think you'd love to meet them in real life. If you’re lucky they like yours too and soon you find yourselves looking for any new posting, commenting, emailing and sharing snippets that have no place in a blogpost, stuff you don’t want to tell the whole world about, but you trust this blog friend enough to open up, in the comfortable knowledge that you won’t ever meet them, so intimate information isn’t going to come and bite you on the bum. Even skyping is safe. You have enough good sense, you hope, not to lay yourself open to ridicule, you only choose to respond to the kind of close questioning you can live with; - actually, somebody who asks too many close questions isn’t going to remain my friend for long.

It’s all lovely, there are oceans between you and your friendship is never going to be tested in the cold light of day.

So you think.

And then you find you’re wrong. Canadians and Americans think nothing of emailing: I’m going to be in your neighbourhood next week/month, can we meet?” It’s happened three times in the past and last month it happened again.  Three times in the past I agreed to meet individual bloggers, Pondside from Canada and City Views Country Dreams and Prufrock’s Dilemma from the US. All three ladies were delightful, as delightful as their blogs and very quickly initial slight wariness became genuine warmth.

Last month it was the turn of onegoodsentence, another Canadian who spends half the year in Canada and the other half in the South of France. It’s a tough life for some. Hiding behind onegoodsentence, a blog which has seen no input for exactly a year, is Deborah, an excellent writer who doesn’t write but has promised to apply herself again when the muse moves her.

Emails went to and fro. "Pierre and I are going to a pickleball tournament in Stratford in October. It doesn’t look all that far from Ludlow on the map, so let’s meet, shall we?" There was a time when we emailed and skyped regularly, but lately our contact had come to an end. I was a little surprised.

                  Why had we stopped our conversation?
                  How much had I told her about myself?
                  Did I want to start all over again?
                  What on earth is pickleball?

Answers:   Don’t know.
                  Can’t remember.
                  Hm, not sure.
                  No idea.

There is such a thing as over-thinking. After a few false starts regarding meeting-places we decided upon a restaurant close to Deborah and Pierre’s hotel and not too far from Valley’s End, The Clive, named after Clive of India, and part of the Earl of Plymouth’s estate.

Deborah and Pierre were seriously impressed with several items on the menu, which had been sourced from the Earl of Plymouth’s piggery and Lady Windsor’s garden. Deborah took menus home with her, with permission, naturally.

So there. Deal with it, Colonials. No aristos for you. Serve you right for breaking the sacred bond with the Mother Country. Mind you, you probably wouldn’t want to put up with very friendly, but also very slow service. We were there for hours, which suited us.

But, to start at the beginning:

We drove up on a rather chilly, slightly misty October evening. While shutting the car doors I looked over towards the hotel entrance and saw another couple just stepping towards it. Have you ever felt this bolt of instant recognition? It was dark enough not to be able to distinguish much but I knew that the tall woman about to enter the hotel was Deborah. She must have felt exactly as I did, because she stopped dead, peered at us in the gloom, marched over and said my name, adding a question mark to it. Feeling a little insecure I made a joke and asked: “Do I know you?” We grinned at each other and Deborah instantly folded me into a bear hug, real Canadian stuff, strong enough to crack my ribs.
I knew then that everything would be all right.

We were shown to our table and from the moment we sat down to the moment we got back into our cars four and a half hours later we never stopped talking. We ate and talked, ate and talked, doing full justice to the menu and each other. None of this: "Well, if it doesn’t work, if we don’t like each other or our husbands, we can always cut the evening short and make our excuses". I believe we were the first people to arrive and the last to leave the restaurant, asking the sweet young waiter to take our photos. Deborah, tall, slim, elegant Deborah was a wonderful dinner companion, as was her husband Pierre, Deb’s FB in blog parlance, her favourite Belgian. I hope and trust that the two of them liked us too, surely they would otherwise have said: “early start tomorrow, sorry, must be off.” We found that we had so much in common that we could have spent another four hours talking, except eventually, from sheer excitement and the rush to get everything in, fatigue sets in and you have to give up and hope that you will have the great good fortune to meet again.
Deborah and Pierre were off on a whistle-stop tour of several other touristy areas in England in the morning, I would have loved to enjoy their company in Valley's End the following day, seeing that we were both now certain that it was safe and there was absolutely no need to find excuses for a quick getaway.

I also found out what pickleball is: an indoor racquet sport, a thing between table tennis, tennis and badminton. I think.


  1. Oh how wonderful.
    I am so very happy for you.
    I have met a few people from the blogosphere. Anxious starts, wonderful meetings.

  2. I am so pleased for you that you all had a wonderful evening.
    I've only met two fellow bloggers - and husbands - so far, and both occasions were such fun...we were each what the other had thought we were, if that makes sense.

  3. I also have met two fellow bloggers and their husbands, and it was wonderful. The thing about the blogs is that we know quite a lot about each other before we lay eyes on each other. It's a lovely connection, I think. :-)

  4. I think most bloggers find meeting very satisfying and positive. I'm glad you had a great time.

  5. I've met about ten people through my blog, here and overseas and the only one I found a little difficult no longer blogs or reads mine. Otherwise, people were terrific and in some instances wonderfully hospitable and helpful. If it was just me, I may have met more but I have to make sure that such a meeting will work for my partner too. I ma pleased your latest meeting was so successful.

  6. ... good 4 U, friend Friko ... many happy returns of the day ... Love, cat.

  7. Replies
    1. It is always good to know, if only in passing, charming human beings. It refreshes one like flowers and woods and clear brooks.
      George Eliot

  8. I was going to remonstrate if you hadn't addressed the pickle ball.

  9. What a happy meet-up! You all look wonderful with your smiles!

  10. It is a wonderful time to be alive, to make connections, to join hands and explore the world.

  11. Never heard of pickleball before!
    Glad you had such a good time together, and got along "like a house on fire" (which is a strange saying, isn't it?).

    In my blogosphere, a few people I know in the offline world, too, but I knew them before I started following their blogs. Others, I have struck up a closer friendship with through commenting on their blogs and they on mine; there is the occasional email, Christmas cards and even surprise gifts have been exchanged. I'd love to meet them but so far have made no plans.

    Come to think of it, there is nobody whose blog I regularly read or who comments on my blog whom I would NOT like to meet. Maybe I am a bit more naive in that respect; I never worry about such encounters and have had no disappointments.

  12. Another good friend, Friko. I'm glad for sincerely you, dear. The ocean between you isn't a obstacle for your friendship.

  13. Hi Friko - that's wonderful .. and you were all still standing after the meal with its accoutrements. Such a pleasure to read .. instinct in the blogging world serves us well ... the four of you look as though friendship belongs together ... I'm so pleased you that chance to meet up ... perhaps again. Pickleball ... well that's a surprise .. I'd never heard of it ... and it has an American backstory to the 1960s ...

    Brilliant - and such a happy post ... and time that the four of you had - delightful ... cheers Hilary

  14. Well, look what you went and did—you made a wonderful story of it!! It's quite fun to read about something that also happened to me, and to have it from your point of view. (Not that I didn't already have a clue...) Laughed out loud at the 4 questions. It really was the most wonderful evening—far more than just a meet-up of acquaintances—and my regret at not coming to Valley's End lingers. There will be a next time, I hope, my dear, funny, lovely, eloquent friend. Thank you for this. Love, actually.

  15. Reading and commenting on someone's blog over a period of time does create intimacy and is a great way to connect with like minded people. I do think people come over very strongly in this environment and it would be hard to go wrong. So glad you had a wonderful evening and a real warmth developed between you!

    I'm meeting up with a blog friend on Saturday, for the third time, and we never stop chatting when we meet. Looking forward to meeting a few more before too long.

  16. What a wonderful, positive experience you and Deborah had. Taking chances can lead to wonderful results. I am so glad to read that this was even more than you could have hoped for. May your friendship continue and more meet-ups occur.

  17. I adore these photos -- the smiles say it all! I have had the privilege of meeting about a dozen blog friends over the nine years I've been writing. I have never once been disappointed. Each was the person I expected them to be from their blog and -- as you mentioned -- the off-blog correspondence. Completely authentic. But then, it makes sense -- we read and visit people and when we stick with them awhile it is because there is something that resonates. You may be totally different in your interests or passions and yet you know you would get on right off the bat. You're right about Canadians and Americans emailing a lot. And probably writers do it all the more -- we're just better with a keyboard!

    Your dinner sounds wonderful. I, for one, never mind the slow service if I have something to sip and a great companion to talk with! And it looked like a wonderful spot. I'm so glad it all worked out.

  18. I've not met as many blog friends as I'd like, but I've met a few, and in every instance it's been wonderful.

    Your meeting with Deborah and her husband interested me for a reason other than delight that you'd had the chance. I took one look at the photo, read her name, saw "Canada," and thought: can this be the Deborah that I know? Indeed, it is. We used to read each other's blogs regularly. I was so sorry when she faded away, and thought of her from time to time, wondering where she'd gone.

    Well, now I know. I left an inquiry on her blog, and received an email, pronto. How funny is it that we should "meet" again through your blog? This web-world truly is a fascinating place.

  19. Friko, you've brought back very pleasant memories of a certain rainy day in Ludlow that I will always treasure. It is grand to actually connect with long-time friends whom you've never met face to face!

    There have been so many times since we had the good luck to actually meet that I have wished we did live closer to each other. Particularly this year.

    Thank you for clearing up the pickleball mystery. xo

  20. Yes, I have met up with only two bloggers and was not disappointed. One did ask to stay overnight...of all things, but then she stopped blogging. Wonder if it was something I said/ I am glad you had this interruption in your routine. Challenges are good for us, even if they end up being not quite what we expected.

  21. Actually this brought tears to my eyes, Friko, so very happy for you that it all worked out. I've met a few bloggers in the flesh and honestly, it's been marvellous. And we don't shut up.

    Kindred spirits indeed.

    I just know I'd love you at first sight.


  22. Nice to see blog friends. I just met up with one in CA. We've visited before, crossing the continent both ways.

  23. A delightful post, Friko! I'm so happy all went so well with Deborah and Pierre!

  24. What a wonderful meet up! B and I just started playing pickleball this fall ... yes, a cross between tennis and table tennis -- played on half a tennis court with a slightly lower net, a different ball, and a paddle not a racquet -- and usually played as doubles. Try it sometime!

  25. I think as we read blogs, we tend to drift towards those who are kindred spirits. Personally I have never met with any of my blog friends, but certainly enjoy sharing little snippets of our lives. DH and I don't travel much, and those few I feel kinship with are not close. But be that as it may, I do treasure their friendship. And am oh so glad that you got together with your friends!

  26. it's so wonderful when that happens. I've had the opportunity to meet two of my blog friends, women who I felt were friends long before we ever met and when we did it was like spending the day with your good friend, which of course it was.

  27. What a great meeting. I think it is wonderful to meet in person. I have become friends with a blogger that lives nearby.

  28. How wonderful! And now I know what pickleball is! I've had the good fortune of meeting at least one blogger in person (Merisi) and it went very well -- we knew each other at once and spent a delightful several days traveling around the NC mountains and taking pictures. I fantasize about having the money to travel to meet other far flung blog friends but can't see it happening in this lifetime....

  29. Such a warm story - and you described so well the condition (including the trepidation) of such a meeting!

  30. What a wonderful story
    so pleased you shared.

  31. How much do I love this? Let me count the ways. Our visit with you is a treasured memory, and in a funny way, your recounting of this visit brings our own flooding back. Love seeing you and friends gathered in the photos, too!

  32. I like to meet blogfriends, and so far I have never been disappointed ! One Australian was in London for William and Kates wedding and she said that I live so close, that she took the Eurostar from London to Brussels in the morning and back in the evening and I showed her Brussels ! We had never met but she was exactly like on her blog and we had a great time. Same happened to another Australian, to Canadians, and Frenchs. Die einzigste aus der ich nicht schlau werde ist Hillary aus Eastbourne. Ich glaube Du hast sie auch getroffen. Da ich jedes Jahr 10 Tage in Eastbourne bei Freunden verbringe treffen wir uns auch.


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