Based on a true story
This is a true story of random connections, opportunities and above all else, friendship.
Never let a chance go by
Once upon a time, many years ago, an intrepid (read slightly mad) Australian family met a Scottish family in a slightly out of the way, somewhat obscure French camping ground.
Each family, coincidentally, had three daughters, exactly the same age.
This was a chance meeting made possible by the typical playground antics of children. You know how it goes: playground + children = make friends
The Australian family were on the first night of their European ‘camping on a tight budget’ holiday, with only a rough idea of where they were headed over the coming weeks. They’d borrowed all their very basic equipment and set out confidently with only rustic schoolgirl French and a sense of adventure, to see as much of Europe as they could over the summer holidays.
Yes they were naive, but brave nonetheless.
The Scottish family had opted for the popular Eurocamp setup and were settled in the camping ground, with a luxurious tent, complete with proper beds, a refrigerator and space to swing a cat – by the Australians’ standards this was a top notch affair and something from their wildest dreams.
As children are want to do, the differences in camping equipment and accents made no impression on them, they were happy just to make some new friends and play until forced to have dinner, a shower and put to bed while the sun still shone outside, ready to get up the next day and continue the fun.
The parents of the girls met each other and chatted away into the night, not knowing that this was the start of a friendship that would span decades.
On the morning of the Australian family’s departure, the Scottish family invited them to a farewell breakfast, and despite initially politely refusing the kind gesture, were talked into accepting the invitation by the children. So with their trusty tube of Vegemite they joined the Scottish family for a delicious breakfast and swapped addresses. The Scottish family generously offered their home as a place to stay if ever the Australians found themselves in Scotland.
Never let a chance go by….as it so happened the Australians had plans to drive to Scotland after their European sojourn and so tucked the address away in a safe place.
After their summer adventures of camping around France, Germany and Switzerland were over and they’d returned to their temporary home in the Southwest of England, the Australians set about planning their next adventure – driving and camping in Scotland.
They remembered the Scottish family’s offer and after much sightseeing along the way found themselves in the Inverness and Spey valley area of northern Scotland. It was a great reunion of the six girls who quickly picked up where they’d left off.
A fun time was had by all with friendships renewed and deepened.
Years go by
The Australians returned to their home in Australia with many memories of their great year living in the UK, travelling and making friends wherever they went. Years passed with not so frequent contact via mail and later email and Facebook.
Once again the Australians were on the move and visiting the UK. As their favourite saying was ‘never let a chance go by’, they decided to try and reconnect with their Scottish friends after 16 years since their first meeting. An invitation to spend Hogmanay (New Years) in Scotland was offered and the parents found themselves on a flight, wondering if they’d recognise each other. Let alone have anything to talk about after all those years.
Recognition was swift and the friendship instantly clicked back into place. The Australians were often heard to say that the Hogmanay in Scotland was the best New Year’s party they’d ever been to – ever!!
The parents found their experiences of bringing up three daughters of the same age were eerily similar despite living on opposite sides of the world and they laughed and talked their way through the whole visit. Offers were made of reciprocal visits to Australia and seeds of thought were sown.
Ten years later another visit ensued and the friendships were picked up as if it were just yesterday with wedding invitations and swapping of grandparenting and retirement advice. The similarities of life were again commented upon and much laughter and talk enjoyed, as well as a mutual love of gin!
The seeds sown about a visit to Australia in previous visits were watered again with both families hoping it would happen sooner rather than later.
A chance meeting made in a French camping ground, over 26 years ago, has resulted in a close longstanding friendship between the families, particularly the parents. Contact over the years has been sporadic but with tools like email and Facebook, the world seems to have become smaller in some ways.
With the help of a willingness to reconnect and the attitude of ‘never let a chance go by’, an easy friendship has developed over the many years. This has incorporated other members of the family and friends of the family too, with many good times enjoyed and memories made.
The moral to this story is to take a chance, seize opportunities, be intrepid, and treat life as a big adventure.
In other words ‘never let a chance go by’…..you never know where it will lead you!
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