Oh hell, I think I need to start with an apology!! I am sorry, but I have been a very, very bad blogger….or rather non-blogger! I’ve started to notice that more people are viewing and subscribing to my blog, which has made me realise just how long it has been!! This post, I started to write in December 2019! Since then there has been a whole veritable series of unfortunate events which brings us to now when the entire world has come to a standstill, and we collectively fight the COVID 19 virus.
Being in Lockdown hasn’t made much difference to my social or work life. Up until the evening we went to Level 4 I had pretty much been in isolation due to a severe back injury since mid-January. I say injury rather than an accident as it was more self-inflicted. The cumulative pain was as the result of a horse ride (1st time in 20 years!), Stand Up Paddle Boarding 1st time attempt and Manual labour on a fence getting ready for a new puppy. A couple of days after picking up the puppy and my back just gave up and ever since I haven’t been able to sit for any length of time nor drive. Hence I found myself to be housebound, lying flat on my back 70% of my day.
Ok, I’m going off on a tangent now as there are so many gaps to fill. However, let me get back to cucumber and marmite sandwiches. Before I disappeared off of here, I was trying to write about my trip to India in November 2019. What I realised though is that I can’t write about India without telling you about my biggest motivation for such a momentous, life-changing trip, my friend Debra.
Do you have a best friend? When I was a preschool teacher we always told kids that “you can have more than one best friend” or “everyone should be your best friend”!! However, if you are lucky to have experienced it, there is always that one extra special friend. Perhaps you’ve known them the longest, or you have this mysterious connection or you both have the same quirks and nutty sense of humour!! I have just such a friend, the delightful, creative, colourful, and crazy Debra Parkinson! We met when I was 3 when we lived across the road from each other in Goring on Thames. It was there in Holmlea road that we used to sit in her garden eating marmite and cucumber sandwiches, and from then on, our fate was sealed.
Debra is my “oldest” as in the longest time that I can remember friend. In addition we share a birthday on the 15th of August, and Debs is exactly one year older than me. Debs is the most gorgeous, marmite sandwich eating, birthday sharing and ultimately best friend ever. Our friendship has spanned over (not counting) years and several continents. To this end, my family travelled around the world for the best part of my childhood. We somehow, probably also due to our parent’s friendship, managed to stay in touch. It was over these years as a child that we would correspond and as it was before Social Media, became Pen Pals. We traded scented paper, “smelly” pens and aromatic rubbers (erasers) and anytime when our travel schedule led us back to the UK, we would always meet up. These times we just picked up where we had left off as if we had only seen each other the day before.
The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.Elizabeth Foley
Fast forward and 49 years and I find myself sitting opposite Debra, in a little cafe in Udaipur, Rajasthan overlooking Lake Pichola. After a morning dodging tuk-tuks, donkeys, motorbikes, cows, dogs and hordes of people, we hungrily devour a 2nd chocolate brownie. Chortling we discover that our Frida Kahlo obsession is not the only thing we share other than our birthday! Debra, just like me, loves bright coloured clothing and likes to wear flowers in her hair. We also play a game of “how many things can we find that we both don’t like”! I won’t repeat it as the list is endless, but I do remember raw onions was one of them!
I live in New Zealand now and Debra lives in London. The trip to India was part of The Pigment Trail, SketchBook Tour created by Debra and her partner Louisa. This was to be an art adventure like I had never done before, and the plan was 14 days of travel around Rajasthan (to be discussed in my next Blog Post). During this time, we were to sketch temples, eat food and stay in traditional Havelis. The flight that almost amounted to 24 hours was the first time I had travelled since I flew to New Zealand 18 years prior.
After Debs met me at the airport, we headed to our hotel. I was to share the room with Debs for a few days before the other guests arrived. We knew that there was no way we were going to miss the opportunity of catching up on the last 15 years since we saw each other. The last time I had seen Debs was when she came over to New Zealand when my daughter was just three years old. Sitting there in the hotel room we chattered and laughed and Debs even managed to find a letter that I wrote to Debra when I must have been about 18. Jeez, I was prim and proper, it made us laugh so hard!
There was no awkwardness despite the 15 years since we had seen each other in person. I spent the first few hours coveting her gorgeous scarves and clothing and marvelling at how she was just the same as I always remembered her. One of my fondest memories will be watching her as she sat down at the window where all her art materials strewn about, and as we chatted, she sketched. For me, that is the image of Debs that I will always go to when I try to remember her when my memory starts to fail me. I want to be able to describe that feeling, it’s that kind of familiarity, that you would have only with a sister.
I’m not the most fluid of writers, but if I were to write about my best bud Debs’s there would need to be a whole heap of adjectives.
To me, you are and always will be affectionate and attentive to what’s going on around you. Consequently, you always make yourself available to me even when you are miles away. Your bravery inspires me and I love watching how you are the most, caring, cheerful, considerate mum and friend. I love how we are so easygoing together and you make me laugh so much with your funny, little mannerisms. You have always been a good listener overtly optimistic with the best sense of adventure. In short my friend you are just bloody beautiful.
Update : Debs and I are now planning our next reunion for 2 years time in Mexico 🙂