Today, for only the second time I think, I am allowing myself to go ‘off topic’. That is because last Thursday we had rather a special day that I’d like to tell you about.  But first we have to go back a few years.

I am 56 years old now and when I was at senior school in the late 60’s I got 3 penfriends. I can’t remember the details, but I presume we were asked to submit our names if we were interested, and the luck of the draw took care of the fine detail.

As a result I ended up with 3 penfriends, one each from America, Germany and Canada.  The American one was very short lived as my mum didn’t like the tone of her letters so put a stop to further correspondence.

The German one lasted a bit longer, but as  the whole idea of writing was to improve our foreign language skills, and I wasn’t even taking German because I was hopeless at languages (I even dropped French in the end) it soon fizzled out, which just left me with my Canadian friend, Lori.

We wrote to each other for quite a few years using air mail letters, which sounds a bit antiquated now, but eventually we too stopped writing. Perhaps it was because we were both growing up and finding our way in the world, boys, jobs etc, who knows, the upshot was we lost touch.

Years passed. I got married and left my parents home, they moved to a flat, life went on.

On the other side of the world my penfriend was also moving on, but happily, one day whilst clearing out some cupboards she  found a pile of old papers, which included my air mail letters.

She decided to try and find me again and wrote a speculative letter to my parents old address, my childhood home. As luck would have it the people there still had my parents new address and forwarded  her letter on to them.

This was probably about 15 years or so ago and we’ve been in regular contact ever since. This time we’re using e mail which is so much better than air mail.

She has 2 grown up daughters  and the family have always lived in Ontario, but now they have sold up and are in the process of building a house in the wilderness of  Shanty Bay. The views are superb as you can see.

Lori's Place

In the summer of 2007 her youngest daughter, Kerrie, came to study in England for a year at the University of York. Peter and I went to meet her there in the autumn and then the following summer, before she flew home, she came to visit us here in Lincolnshire.

Then last year Kerrie returned to the UK for another years study, this time at the University of Edinburgh, not quite as convenient as York, but we did manage to see her last autumn in Scunthorpe, along with her boyfriend, Julian, who had come to the UK with her.

During all of this time she has talked fondly of the day that me and her mum would meet for the first time in over 40 years. Well it finally happened last Thursday.

Lori was over here visiting Kerrie and Julian in Edinburgh and the 3 of them were on their way to the south coast to visit friends. They had rented a flat in York for one night so that Kerrie could show her mum the historic city where she had studied a couple of years previously. So York is where we met them.

Outside the Jorvik centre at 1pm. It was very busy, much busier than the last time, probably due to Easter. We were a bit early, they were a bit late.

After introductions we went for lunch. Lori has a nut allergy and is a strict vegetarian, so we were a bit limited in safe places for her to eat.

After lunch we went sightseeing around the city. York Minster, The Shambles etc. There was even street entertainment in the form of an escapologist. Then we went back to their flat for tea,  biscuits and a chat.

It was much better than trying to chat in a public place. It was quit and peaceful a contrast from the busy streets outside.

We started to leave around 6.30pm and decided to walk  back to the park and ride bus stop along the top of the ancient city walls. The sun was still shining and the birds were singing. A perfect end to a perfect day.

Who would have thought that a penfriend chosen at random over 40 years ago would have led to a life-long friendship.