It began in 1997, just after I’d been made redundant from the library and was officially early-retired. Enjoying my new-found leisure, I treated myself to a day trip to the annual Christian Resources Exhibition at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. There I came across a stand run by a new organisation, Christians On The Internet (always known as COIN) through which I was introduced to the concept of mailing lists and began to discover how people I’d never met could become friends.
The next step came three years later, when I first started to suggest to DH that we might look at buying a little cottage in France. As part of my research I joined a couple of French-interest online forums, where helpful strangers offered me a lot of useful advice and where in turn I could eventually share the fruits of my own experience. A recurrence of breast cancer in 2005 brought me on to a couple of support forums where I received a huge amount of help and kindness and it was here first that forum members really began to become friends. Later I had the same experience on other small and friendly forums.
It was on a French-interest forum that I stumbled across my first blog, French Leave (now sadly defunct) and I was hooked. I rapidly discovered more and more blogs, by no means all writing about France, and eventually began to be nagged by the thought that perhaps this was something I too could attempt.
Finally, four years ago today, I took the plunge and launched my first baby post into the ether, helped by an understanding blogger who had kindly offered to add my blog to her blog roll, if I ever summoned up the courage to start one. To my surprise a tiny trickle of comments came in, including one from the writer of the marvellous blog that had first whetted my appetite. She has encouraged me every step of the way since and pointed me in the direction of many other wonderful blogs. Thanks, Helen.
The four years since that first tentative post have been deeply enjoyable and satisfying and my web of online friends has become truly worldwide. Day by day I’m offered fascinating glimpses of life throughout Europe, north and central America, Australia and New Zealand and I never cease to marvel that my own blog has visitors from all over the world.
When I at last gave in and joined Facebook last year, I found many of my virtual (but nonetheless very real) friends from every medium already there to greet me – another strand in a beautiful and rewarding web of friendship that has enriched my life immeasurably. I’ve even managed to meet a few of them in person and would love to meet more. Just imagine the world tour I could make…
Image via Google
P.S. This post will be published while I’m away on a weekend family visit, so there will be no replies until I’m home again.