About fifteen years ago in the early days of the internet and my early days of parenting I joined a couple of online parenting forums. The internet has moved on to an almost unrecognisable incarnation and life has moved on too. However from both of those forums came ‘imaginary’ internet friends who existed first on the other side of the screen but over the years many of them have become real life friends. My online friends, much like Davies and Scarlett’s are scattered across the globe – it’s a world wide web after all. Many of the friends who have visited us here on Rum over the last five years and many of the friends we have adventured off to visit were friendships first forged online.
One of the forums was a feminist parenting forum, mostly populated by women, mostly at similar stages of motherhood to my own – babies and toddlers. Women from all walks of life, all professions, all corners of the planet. Our paths came from different directions, crossed with each other and carried off along tangents but that group of women remain some of my very best friends to this day. Women I still talk to online daily, sharing the ups and downs, ifs and whys of life. We’ve supported each other through bereavements, marital breakups, new relationships, parenthood from birth and beyond, career ups and downs and more. They truly are my sisters. One of the great joys of these relationships is how in many cases the friendships have included partners and children with our offspring considering themselves extended family to each other too.
At the end of last year when Scarlett was trying to come up with ideas for birthday and Christmas gifts she declared that she would rather have experiences and memories than stuff (that’s my girl!) and so her gifts included a trip to the local wildlife park when we were on the mainland and ‘going somewhere on a plane’. Despite ecological guilt having never flown Scarlett wanted to tick that off her list of experiences. So budget and time constraints in mind the obvious destination was Northern Ireland. Nearby, somewhere neither of us had been (she chose to have her adventure with me) but better yet somewhere where we’d been invited by one of those ‘sisters’ of mine, one who’s daughter has become a ‘sister’ of Scarlett’s.
So, to round off our mad month Scarlett and I left Rum last week on the ferry, drove to Glasgow, flew to Belfast and had a three night stay in Northern Ireland. I think it would be fair to say we squeezed every last drop out of our time there, including a completely epic first day when we were both awake for a full 24 hours from walking across to Glasgow airport at 5am, boarding a tour coach in Belfast city centre at 9am, travelling up to the north coast to a spot where you can stand in Northern Ireland and spot both Eire and Scotland, leaping from rock to rock at the Giants Causeway (somewhere that had been on my list of places I wanted to visit for a very long time), popping into a whiskey distillery, walking across a rope bridge metres above the rocks and ocean, eating ice cream, fast food dinner, the opera and then bottles of champagne and singing. We also fitted in pints of Guinness in a pub, a meal out, an open topped bus tour of Belfast taking in the various sights and sounds including the Titanic quarters, the peace wall, various locations that I had seen on the news as a child during the troubles and the murals. I cried.
It was an utterly fabulous few days. So lovely to spend time with friends at their gorgeous home, catch a glimpse of Belfast – enough to make us sure we want to return, rack up some stories to tell (the abandoned wine, the taxi mix up of there being two airports in Belfast…) and despite us both really missing Ady and Davies (safely back on Rum looking after the croft and staying up late watching movies that Scarlett and I wouldn’t want to watch and eating chips with everything by all accounts) it was lovely to have a wee adventure just me and my girl.