Sue started it.
George Friends’ is a WhatsApp group made up of my special women friends in George.
Mums once remarked to me: “Gosh, you have a lot of friends in George!”
“No,” I corrected her, “I know a lot of people in George but I have about seven special friends.” I laughed, “You are one of them!”
“That’s good to know,” Mums remarked dryly.
I am so grateful for the inspiration that drove Sue to form this group about a year ago. We are all so different and yet we all move along the same wavelength.

And speaking of wavelengths, I give so much thanks for the wavelengths provided by technology. During this lockdown, we have all been able to stay in contact with family, friends and business associates through FaceTime, Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Instagram, Zoom etc, etc and etc!

During this lockdown period, I have been staying with B and John. I wanted to move in with Mums but was unable to because of her burglar alarm system.
B is an avid cyclist. I really feel for her during lockdown because cycling has always been a necessity for her. The other morning, I received a WhatsApp message from B: ‘Come out into the front garden NOW!’
I rushed out and began to laugh. B was lying flat on her back, seated on her bicycle. Her legs were pedalling at this joyous rate.
“I’m fly-cycling!” she laughed.
B proved to me that where there’s a will, there is always a way!

B’s next door neighbour, Di, is on our WhatsApp group. Life seems to bubble out of her. She offers up smiles to the world. I laughed at B’s husband, John, when he said:
“She has a low voice. Very low and…sexy!” and then continued reading his book.
I wish I had a low voice. The actors, Dorothy-Ann Gould and Janet Suzman have beautiful, low voices. And that lowness is marvellously sexy!
Di’s effervescence often has her giving off a humorous side to life. Before South Africa went into lockdown, Di placed a hilarious picture on George Friends. It was a picture of her and Mike, her husband, dressed up in dark glasses, masks, green rubber gloves and slanting Panama hats. They look as if they were dressed to rob a bank. We all thought it was hysterical. Little did we realise that three weeks later, that appearance would be the norm for anyone outside their home. You look askance at anyone not wearing a mask!Di reminds me of Kilroy. We will be out in the garden when her joyful smile appears above the wall. A quick chat always brightens our uneventful days!

Jans is a member of the group. You can never mention Jans without taking into account her dogs. They are an intrinsic part of her. Kayla, the Collie, Finn and Dazzle, two rough haired/broken Jack Russell’s, and Bayz who is an utterly endearing ‘Brak’! I feel for Jans during this lockdown. She is used to taking her dogs for two hour hikes in the forest. Now she is confined to her home. She has put a hilarious video on George Friends of an obstacle course that she has devised for them in her garden. I am dying to see the antics of the dogs and the obstacle course after lockdown. Knowing Jans and her dogs, they will probably perform each antic to perfection! She also set about redecorating her home and posted the results on the group. I marvelled that we were all able to share in Jans’ beautiful new look in her lounge through technology.

My bedroom looks out on this gorgeous common, more houses and then my eyes are caught up by the beautiful Outeniqua Mountains. The other day I got a WhatsApp message from Sue saying: “Dave and I are passing the common. Look out for us.”
Sure enough, a few moments later their car approached. B, John and I waved madly. As it drew opposite us, suddenly we saw the English flag of   St. George flapping at us from the driver’s window. We laughed out loud. A half hour later, the car reappeared with a South African flag waving frenziedly as Sue and Dave returned home.
“They kept the best for last,” I remarked to my two English friends!

It was Sue’s birthday a few days ago. We bought her a lovely pot plant and messaged to say we were coming round to drop it off. It felt utterly ridiculous driving the fifty metres to Sue’s house, but those are the rules in South Africa. Rules I completely agree with and respect! It was gorgeous seeing her happy face and enlightening smile. From six meters away. I long for her gorgeously served tea, scones and cake all placed on her beautiful china. Sue has promised us wonderful delectable delights once this lockdown is over.
Most of all though, I missed hugging her.

During this lockdown, I have become so aware of the value people have for me. The preciousness of hugging people is inestimable.      

Ingrid is our botanist and athletic Park Runner!
I will come back from a Park Run or in my case a Park Walk and on George Friends say to Ingrid in great excitement: “I saw such a wonderful plant on the Park Run today. It was this mustardy/orange colour and it was clinging onto this tree. Mmmm, maybe it was the fruit of the tree. Yes, it could quite easily have been that.”
Ingrid, who had done the same Park Run asked me whereabouts I had seen this odd looking fruit. I was able to describe the exact spot because it’s quite near the end of my run-walk.

“Ah, Gaye, that’s a fungus. It’s a…..” and she gave some dreadful Latin name. That took away the excitement of finding my mustard fruit. Then she added: “Wasn’t it otherworldly beautiful?” and my excited discovery was restored!
I love Ingrid for the wide, openness of her heart. She gives so freely and I find that I am often on the receiving end of her free spirited giving!

I have known Christine for years. She is a reliant, dependable person, someone who I feel I can call on in an emergency. Just before the lockdown, my friend had lost her Collie one morning in the forest. He had been hit by a cyclist and had run off in a panic. At ten o’clock that night they called off the search. It began once more the next morning. B stopped searching in the forest, picked me up and we then drove around the neighbourhood looking. On the way, we encountered Christine and told her the story.
“Right, you go that way and I will go this.”
Three quarters of an hour later, she pulled up alongside us.
“No success but I will spread the word.”
And she did.
And just to finish this story, the Collie was found!
Christine is from Manchester and has a wicked sense of humour to go with her Mancunian drawl. She keeps us entertained on George’Friends with snippets of BBC comedies like The Vicar of Dibley and The Two Ronnies much to my delight! – (Press links to watch!)

The last person to make up our group is Mums.
It was not my idea to have Mums join George Friends. No, the others insisted!
‘She is so much fun. Combined with her practical wisdom, she is a definite MUST!’
It thrills me to have Mums liked and admired by my friends. She is one of us!

Our group has just celebrated it first anniversary. George Friends has shown hilarity, concern, advice, recipe making, and recently, during lockdown, it’s shown people, infected by one another, pouring gorgeous glasses of gin! It has and still is filling us with joy and laughter. That is something often needed in this lockdown period. Thank goodness for George Friends!

Picture a stunning stained glass window. It is made up of intricate pieces of glass that are startling in themselves. These fragments shimmer and shine in a crystalline manner. However, it is when they are put together, with each little piece containing a magic of it’s own, that the stained glass window begins to make sense. It begins to glisten, gleam and beam with a radiance all it’s own.
Each of my friends possess an inner and outer radiance. Put them together and they begin to shine, shimmer and reflect, glistening off each other.
This is the magic of George Friends!