Well, I'm back from The Netherlands and back at work. Where did it all go? The Christmas and New Year holiday just seemed to whizz by. Actually, that probably just means that I had a really good time. As someone who doesn't generally go for the traditional and the things that are expected, getting away for Christmas is a great option.
I always enjoy being with my Dutch friends and Christmas is usually a convenient time for everyone to get together. I feel very honoured that they are prepared to put up with me and it is always interesting, even when the weather isn't that great. For most of the time it was misty, damp and not particularly warm.
On the way home last Saturday we did something that was brilliant for me. Although my flight back to Bristol was late in the evening, we set off from Meeden at lunchtime and drove down to Amsterdam. I had made arrangements to do something that would cap my year off delightfully. I met up with Barbara.
I met Babs for the first time back in January 2005 in Wanaka in New Zealand. You may recall from an earlier entry that I met up with Mariella in Konstanz while I was staying in Switzerland in October. Barbara and Mariella spent six months travelling around New Zealand together. They both impressed me so much with their spirit, intelligence and determination, their sheer enjoyment of what they were doing and their incredible smiles. We hit it off straight away and stayed in close touch when our respective journey went in different directions.
It was so good to see Babs again. She was great company and the few hours we spent together in Amsterdam just flew by. She is studying physiotherapy in Amsterdam. We talked about so many things, not just New Zealand, shared plans we have for more journeys and the serious possibility of a visit to the UK this coming year. I hope that comes off, it will be a real pleasure and a great privilege to show either Barbara or Mariella, or ideally both together, around my part of Britain. Like her friend, Babs is a warm, thoughtful, caring and very aware person who adds sparkle and light to the world she inhabits. I am very proud to consider her my friend.
I went through Schiphol Airport and my flight back to Bristol with a warm glow in me as I thought about our brief reunion and the promises of more in the future. It pleases me so much when I think about the great friendships I made with people from all over the world while I was travelling in Aotearoa. To have got back together with several people on this side of the world, when we first met as travellers and backpackers so very far from home, has been ones of the greatest pleasures and most important things to have come out of my travels. There is no question, friends are good for you and good friends are wonderful; these friendships are something that is really worth treasuring.
Thanks Babs, for being able to meet again and for the great job you did of playing host in the city you have adopted as home, at least for the time being. As I say, the afternoon spent with you completed my year in the best possible way.