Saturday, July 30, 2011

An Absence of Loneliness

It was great and unusual this half term to have time to read and surf the net. I came across this article about how loneliness is reaching epidemic proportions in the UK. It is rarely talked about and people are often unwilling to admit that they feel that way. Apparently it is particularly common amongst women with children and it brought back many memories for me.

When my youngest was born we had just moved in to a new estate in Wiltshire. We were one of the last houses to be occupied and the estate was full of young families like ours. I went to all the local play groups and library groups in an attempt to make friends. I met a few people I could chat to whilst the children played but the friendships never went beyond that. It never extended to a suggestion of coffee or a play date for the kids. I feel I must point out at this point that I am (honestly!) not weird or smelly and I don't have any noticeable bad personal habits that would prevent people from wanting to be near me.

I am however reasonably shy and so would be unlikely to make the first suggestion or invitation for coffee. However I was friendly when approached and was a bit disappointed when not one of my neighbours commented or congratulated us when we arrived home from hospital after the birth of our second child!

Since moving to the other side of the world I have strangely, not felt lonely once. Even though I am about as far away as it is possible to get from all my family and friends. In this country, or possibly in this particular area, it is impossible to feel lonely. I think expats can often feel isolated, homesick and alone in a country with a different culture and sometimes a different language. New Zealand has a very similar culture to the UK and apart from getting frustrated and continually being corrected when trying to pronounce Paraparamou and Paekakrikie, I have not felt any sense of isolation.

People in this country are very friendly. We cannot make a visit to the local shops without meeting someone we know and having a conversation. It is lovely to be invited to meet friends for coffee and have a conversation with neighbours. I can't help thinking that the UK has lost some of the community spirit and openness, that thankfully, New Zealand seems to have held onto.

We visited the beautiful Queen Elizabeth Park this weekend. So I was testing out my new camera again.

It was a bit windy!

But very sunny.

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