Lifelong pen pals to meet
Diane Seymour still remembers penning her first letter to an English stranger named Julia as an eager 10 year old.
Now, 61 years and hundreds of letters later, the Walton resident is gearing up to fly to Europe to spend quality time with her penpal.
The pair have spent less than one full day together in the six decades they have been writing to each other, Seymour said.
‘‘When Albert [my husband] passed away she [Julia] emailed me to say your room’s waiting whenever you’re ready.
‘‘So I booked my flights the other day!’’
Seymour, who started her own chocolate factory three years ago, said she had no idea that requesting a penpal in an Enid Blyton novel 60 odd years ago would be the reason she would travel to other side of the world.
‘‘She rang me back in the 60s. She said ‘Julia here, I’m supposed to be landing in Australia but we’ve detoured to Auckland and I’m only going to be at the airport for a couple of hours’.
‘‘She didn’t realise how far away we lived with those old roads but I said ‘I’ll be there’.’’ It was friendship at first sight. ‘‘We looked at each other and cuddled as if we’d known each other forever and a day.’’
The thought of spending six weeks with Julia is not daunting at all.
‘‘I said put me on a lead and take me wherever you want to go ... For six weeks I’m just going to do what I’ve been told.’’
Forming a relationship through letters came naturally to the born and raised farm girl from up North.
‘‘I only went to primary school and then I did correspondence so you never saw other people.
‘‘It was quite natural for people to have a pen friend.’’
The 71-year-old, who only managed to retire for three weeks before purchasing a sweets shop in Tirau six years ago, has a knack for maintaining friendships, having just returned from Australia where she went with a friend she’d known since she was 4 to visit a 75 year old they had worked with in Motueka picking apples at the age of 18. ‘‘It’s all so crazy,’’ she said. ‘‘I’m really looking forward to my new adventure in life.
‘‘Remember it’s never too late to fulfil that bucket list.’’
Diane Seymour is packed and ready to meet up with her pen pal of 61 years.