The year was 2010, and I had been having my worst summer yet. I was unwell for seemingly no reason and just not getting better. My friends all had better things to do and so I decided to look for new ones.

I had always been interested in France. The language is beautiful – and since getting sick I hadn’t been to any French classes and was missing it. I found a pen pal website and posted my ad.

“Looking for French pen pal for language swap”

and then I waited.. and waited.. and filtered out a whole bunch of creepy messages until I found one. A genuine person! Eléonore. We talked almost daily for the whole summer and eventually it turned into MSN video chats and playing Mario Kart online together.

We met up for the first time that following Easter. Just over seven years ago. It went great and she came back during the summer. We took it in turns visiting until life just got away from us and all of a sudden it had been way too many years since we last met up.

Since finishing school Eléonore had been travelling the world and I.. had been existing.

Until three weeks ago when we decided enough is enough and that we were going to plan to meet again! Tom helped a bunch with the organising and it was set. London. 12-15th May. It was happening. Scary.

We are going to be doing a full overview post on our trip in London so I won’t go into too much detail, but it was really nice – We had the whole city to ourselves. We had both changed, that much was certain, but the bond that was created back when we were just two fourteen year olds looking to find new friends (and escape our country) was still there.

I’ll admit I spent most of the four days listening in awe to Eléonores travels around the world.. Two years ago she got her mobile phone and the default image on it was a photo of Thailand, not too long after that she decided she wanted to go to Thailand – and she went! She wanted to do something and she found a way to do that. Since then she’s been following her heart. Case en pointe- she wanted this London trip to happen so she got a little job making pizzas to fund it!

Can you even imagine!?

It set off a lot of doubt in my mind.. what am I doing. where is my life heading. Even now I’m not sure that I know fully.. Its been interesting to think about though.

We hope to meet up at-least once more this year, perhaps while she’s in the mountains working at the ski lodge or in Paris so we could go full force vintage shopping. All I know is that she’s currently on a beautiful little island called Île-aux-Moines, sending me photos of the bright blue sea and tempting me to look for my passport.

Eléonore is on the top of my list of people I am thankful I got to meet. She was a friend to me when I needed one most, my own personal cheerleader to any hobby I picked up – always there for me – and for the past few years, constantly inspiring me. I feel lucky to know such a determined person, Uni just wasn’t satisfying her so after finishing her first year she left.. found something new to do.

Thank you Eléonore. Thank you for always being a friends to me, a confidant, a source of admiration and inspiration and completely #travelenvy and most importantly – for picking me out of the hundreds of people to be your pen-pal all those years ago.

– han