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Kindred spirits are some of life’s many surprises

By Nina Steele 

Couple walking in the countrysideMy husband and I came across a couple who appeared to be in their 60s on our Sunday walk recently. We said hello as we walked past them. On seeing that we were both wearing gaiters, the woman commented that they only wore theirs when hiking in the Alps. Our ears pricked since hiking in the Alps is what we generally do for our summer holidays. Before we knew it, we were chatting as if we had always known them.

As it turned out, we had a lot in common. Just like us, walking is their main outdoor activity. Even more striking is how evangelical the woman was about their love of walking. She mentioned the health benefits and how cheap it is compared to what is on offer in the wellness industry. Well she didn’t mention the wellness industry by name, but she didn’t have to.

I have written about our love of walking on many occasions. And yes we too are evangelical about its benefits. The feeling you get when you are out there with nature is second to none. And even better, it doesn’t cost you much to take part, unlike going to the gym for example. I cannot think of a better way to not only keep fit but look after one’s mental health too.

The woman was the one doing most of the talking. And then the husband came alive when we mentioned our experience of hiking in the dolomites. He laughed when I described how terrified I was the first time I did Via Ferrata.

We were enjoying each other’s company so much so that the woman carried on walking with us, even after they reached the end of their walk. She was so engrossed in the conversation that she hadn’t noticed. We all laughed when her husband pointed it out to her. At that point, I really thought we were going to exchange phone numbers. It just felt right. But we didn’t.

As we drove back, I kept thinking of those stories you hear about, when people go on social media to look for people they wanted to reconnect with. I can now understand why. It is not often that one connects to total strangers at such a deep level. We meet people on our walks all the time and often stop to talk, however, this encounter has no precedent. Who knows, we might meet them again. If we do and feel at ease with them as we did the first time around, then some kind of friendship may be the natural next step.

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