By Jamie Day | Published on 14 June 2019
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you will have seen that I’ve used my role as a Line Resident for Southern Rail to explore my local network and to connect with friends I’d consider relatively new on three occasions now. There was Connor in Shepherd’s Bush, a dads’ night away in Brighton with guys I’ve met through Instagram, and more recently I hooked up with Billy in Croydon. And whilst it’s been incredible to use my role to further these new friendships, it seems only right to end my Southern Rail line residency with friends of old and remind myself that it’s hugely important to ensure long-term relationships continue to thrive despite the rise of connections formed online. It’s easy to forget about keeping up with older friends with the demands of kids, work, social media and Netflix seemingly taking up all our time.
With that in mind, we recently took a Southern Rail train to Clapham and then caught a quick lift with our friends, Jessica and Dom down to their home in Wimbledon. They’re friends of my wife, Georgia; she’s actually known Jessica for 20+ years and they came into my life soon after Georgia and I met. Before children, we’d meet near where we lived at the time in Islington or down in Wimbledon and could easily while away an afternoon with a pub lunch or a disposable BBQ in one of London’s parks. Without any real responsibilities, it didn’t matter what time we got home, how much we drunk or where we went afterwards.
Fast forward ten years, and the transformation of our lifestyles has been immense, as I guess it is with so many people of our age. With kids, dogs, cats and mortgages keeping us on our responsible-adult toes, afternoons whiled away in the pub don’t happen as often, and if they do, they’ll involve picking up crayons from the floor 2314 times. So nowadays, it’s good to catch up on a lovely dog walk surrounded by the smells of nature rather than the fumes of throwaway BBQs.
Upon arriving into Clapham station, we were met by Jessica, Dom and their dog Bowie, where we then headed for a short drive to Wimbledon Common – a vast open green space occupied thinly by dog walkers, joggers and even horse riders. I assumed this was the location of our planned dog walk, after all, it was a perfect space for Bowie and our dogs, Blue and Bella to stretch their legs, but we continued over the common and ended up in Cannizaro Park. I’d never heard of Cannizaro Park but will definitely be heading back – it was beautiful. The well-kept grounds were full of colourful flowers, blooming bushes, water features and walled gardens, but the surrounding woods and meadows felt wild enough to instantly forget we were actually in a suburb of London. As we walked, like any long-term relationship, conversation was easy; catching up, reminiscing and looking to the future.
We then headed into Wimbledon Village (via their house to drop off the dogs) for a late brunch in the Ivy, and I sat back with my coffee in hand, scanning our table of kids’ paraphernalia and considered the transformation of our journey as friends. Ten-plus years of friendship (twenty-plus for Georgia and Jessica) and despite the increase in responsibilities and the busyness of life sometimes distracting us, the bond was as strong as ever thanks to us all taking the time to keep it that way.
Perhaps we could all remember, that in a time when life can get intensely busy and stressful, it’s important to ensure our long-term friendships continue to grow and adapt as we do. I wanted to end by thanking Southern Rail for the opportunity to explore the network as I have for the last few months. It’s been a great opportunity to build friendships, raise awareness about mental health and enjoy days out as a family.