I met my tribe at university. I arrived at York on a cold October day, with a lava lamp, yellow dinner plates… and an enormous desire to do something different, exciting, adventurous. To make the most of my uni life. So I joined the canoe club. Over the next -amazing- three years, those black-and-yellow clad kayakers opened up my world and became my world. Every weekend, we would drive around the northern hills, gown ourselves in ripped lycra, and attempt to paddle down a white water river upright. It was wet and smelly and cold and at times bloomin’ petrifying… but it was also fantastic. The adrenaline, the excitement, the adventure. The views, the achievement, the camaraderie. There’s nothing so bonding as screaming together, and shivering together, and laughing and celebrating and huddling in a frozen tent together. Or being encouraged ahead of scary rapids, or rescued when you capsize, or cheered when you eventually manage a roll. Tight bonds are formed when you must trust each other with your life. And the friendship continued away from the rivers. House parties and pub golf and cheesy clubs and fancy dress nights. Beach parties and Alps expeditions and ceilidhs and fancy balls. Camping and bunkhouses and canoe polo and kayak rodeos. We drank and laughed and paddled our way through uni. 🙂 At my graduation, I was a different Sarah to the one on that first day in York. Happier, more confident and with a real love of adventure and the great outdoors. And I’d found a tribe of friends that enjoyed the same loves and had the same outlook on life. I met my best-friends-to-this-day in that canoe club, and my husband too. 🙂 I’m forever thankful that I signed up at their noisy stand at the Freshers’ fair. They all made my university experience. 🙂
Unbelievably, it is now twenty one years since I met those fabulous Yorkies. And thankfully, many of them are still a big part of my life. For the first six or seven years after graduation, we would meet every New Year’s Eve for a few days of celebration and outdoor adventure. But then the treadmill of life started to get in the way. House moves and grown up jobs and babies and responsibility. Thankfully wedding season allowed us to drink and dance and catch up en masse, at least once a year, for the next decade. However, with rings now on everyone’s fingers and families growing in size, there has been no big Yorkies reunion for about five years. Yes, Facebook is brilliant for keeping in touch. Yes, we regularly see lots of them -weekends away, dinner parties, cuppas when in their neck of the woods. Howbeit not all, and not all together. And maybe we would have carried on in this way. Waiting for life to be simpler. But then the pandemic happened.
Within days of lockdown being announced, we reached out to each other. On our first Zoom meet, we spent the evening competing over our knowledge of York and memories of our old uni life. But although those points and results were important 😉 , more importantly it was a reminder to us all, that we were there for each other. We would weather the pandemic together. And we have continued to do so. For the past eighteen months, once a fortnight, a big group of us log on and chat and quiz. Picture rounds, guess the music, logic puzzles, multiple choice. ‘Fastest finger first’, scavenger hunts, trivia quizzes and even whisky tasting! There’s been rounds on everything. Everything. Though Harry Potter, poo and bats (a Pipistrelle bat weighs the same as a 20p) have featured rather regularly 😉 . And it has been wonderful. Really wonderful. As well as honing our general knowledge, we have shared each other’s pandemic lives. The woes and the joys. Losing jobs, catching the virus, the latest Gavin Williamson fiasco. Holidays and new houses and lockdown puppies! We’ve consoled each other, supported each other. Chatted and debated and ‘asked Wiggy a nature question’. Even after the worst day, I leave our quiz nights with a heart full of love, and a face tired from laughing. This renewal of friendship has been the best silver lining of the pandemic, by far.
And last month, most of us finally got together en masse again. A family camping weekend in our village. And it was brilliant. Really brilliant. The children all played together in one big gang. Badminton and bike rides and Top Trumps and Lego. Blackberry picking and marshmallow toasting and cricket and a late night bat hunt. They even concocted their own ‘Children’s Olympic games’ (yes they’re as competitive as their parents! 😉 ) with an opening ceremony and a super impressive video of the event! The puppies jumped and chased and all fell in love with a squeaky pig toy; whilst the older dogs sunbathed away from the noise! There were a couple of quizzes -‘Guess the crisp’ (good at that) and ‘Guess the nature object’ (less good at that!)- in tribute to the activity that rekindled our friendship, eighteen months ago. But best of all, me and my fellow Yorkies spent the whole weekend chatting and catching up and laughing and trying to get through two big kegs of local brew (turns out we’re not as hardcore as our uni days! 😛 ). The sign of true friendship is when it feels like you’ve never been apart. Amazingly, wonderfully, thankfully, my Pulmonary Hypertension played ball, and I was able to be there, enjoying all of it. The euphoria gave me extra energy coins! 😛 As we waved goodbye on the last day, I was beaming inside. My heart was full, and my happiness tank boosted. Twenty-one years later, we might all be a little older, a little wrinklier, and a little more lightweight, but they’re still my tribe. It was the best weekend. Roll on take two, next year.
And our quiz nights are still continuing. There’s plenty more to learn about bats!
So, how heavy is a Pipistrelle bat?! 😉