I sort of wish I could write a post about ‘5 easy ways to find friendship as an adult’ or ‘How to make friends as a grown up’, but in my experience it’s just not always that simple. Finding your tribe as you get older is challenging I think. I don’t regret any of our moves, or the itinerant lives we have led, but I do sometimes envy those who have spent their adult lives amongst an established community. The comfort and familiarity of friends who have been constant throughout the ups and downs of life, whose minds you pop into as soon as a gathering is planned and whom you can call on for help and support when the chips are down.

my greatest friend overlooking the seine

Don’t get me wrong, I have lots of lovely friends, it’s just that so many of them are sprinkled around the world and too far away to see often. Social media for all its negatives has been a wonderful way for me to keep in touch with those whose kindness, generosity and warmth have been instrumental in our being able to adapt to new lives in unfamiliar environments. Being able to keep tabs on what they are up to, share our family news and even meet up again after 20 years brings me great pleasure. I fantasise about one day being able to get them all together in the same place – what a party that would be!

While establishing The Simpson Sisters I have thought long and hard about who it is that I’m speaking to as I write blogs and social media posts. I don’t have a product to sell as such, a service perhaps, but business doesn’t really come easily to me and it occurs to me as I write this that maybe what I’m really trying to create is a community for myself. Ultimately I think that I’m trying to reach the people I’d like to spend time with, people who are motivated by having a purpose (whether they’ve already identified it or not) and who also appreciate the value in finding time to seek pleasure in what they do too. I haven’t yet welcomed anyone to the barn that I wouldn’t be happy to consider a friend and hope that as time goes on this feeling will endure.

I suppose really we all spend much of life trying to surround ourselves with potential friends, and one of the most challenging aspects of parenting for me has been watching my children navigate this course. The pain of seeing your child feel rejected and relegated from the people or groups that they long to be part of is agonising, the sheer impotence of being unable to help or influence once they are past playdate age is almost unbearable. Perhaps I have found this all the more difficult since it brings up my own feelings of inadequacy, but I suspect it is just as traumatic for parents with long established and happy friendship circles of their own. If I could magic up just one thing for my daughters it would be that they cultivate a circle of warm, kind and supportive friends in the next few years who will be with them for the rest of their lives, whether physically or digitally depending upon their geographic location!

I write this post having recently returned from a four night trip from Bristol to Arcachon in South West France with my greatest friend. She is currently leading a somewhat complicated life between three countries and the purpose of the expedition was to get her dog to the right place in which to spend the summer. I feel extremely lucky to have enjoyed thirty years of this friendship and that it has endured the numerous international moves we have both made. We spent four days driving, talking, eating and drinking. I am grateful for this time we’ve had together; the ease of passing time with someone whose company you feel entirely secure in is refreshing and energising. There is also nothing like the honesty of a true friend who is prepared to share advice and opinions on subjects that others may avoid.

thoughts on friendship

Following such honesty I have been reflecting a bit on how I present myself and why exactly I waste so much time and energy worrying about what other people think of me. The personal development retreat I hosted at Oak Tree Barn last week couldn’t have been better timed and I’m enormously grateful to have had the opportunity to participate. Having considered this type of retreat and process as being something for ‘other people’ until recently I am now very much more open to the prospect of figuring out what makes me tick, and in doing so becoming the best version of me that I can be.

So, here’s to making a business out of the things I enjoy: creating beautiful spaces inside and out, making people feel comfortable and welcome, writing, photography and generally exploring the things that pique my curiosity… But above all, here’s to friendship – near or far, new or old, digital or real life.

I’d love to think that one day in the future I’ll be able to write about friendships that began here at the barn, both for myself and for those who come and spend time here.

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steps to pretty garden gate in french garden