camaraderie | ˌkaməˈrɑːd(ə)ri | noun [mass noun] mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together: the enforced camaraderie of office life. ORIGIN mid 19th century: from French, from camarade ‘comrade’.

Our first visit to The Lake District of 2023 and an opportunity for me to wheel out my trusty old Fujica, the stills film camera which I first used over 40 years ago. It’s fairly battered now but still works beautifully. It feels like an old friend. 

7 more old friends are with me this weekend. It’s the usual chaos. A heady jumble of belly laughs and beer amongst beautifully dramatic landscape. This time the skies are pale grey and threaten rain, which does arrive but only in occasional mercifully short showers.

Good cheer prevails. Stories are traded. We were last together at Christmas and there is catching up to do. Our trail circumnavigates the vast loveliness of Esthwaite Water, today serene. Toes, and heads, are dipped into its benign depths.

Beer is drunk and lunch is eaten in the tranquil garden of the Tower Bank Arms. Absent friends are remembered. We continue our comradely trek with frequent pit-stops. Rest and photographs are taken. General silliness abounds. There is singing and dancing. 6 miles are walked before we descend, weary but happy, to the Saturday night delights of Hawkshead. We dine heartily and consume fine local ales. 

Later, we laugh about the absurdity of 8 middle-aged men sharing a room in a youth hostel. We go back decades. We are close, like brothers. 

Most of us were at school together in the 1970s. We’ve shared many life experiences. Good times and bad. Downed our first legal pints together in the pubs of suburban Liverpool. Births, deaths and marriages. Watched each other meet partners, raise children and deal with the stresses of ageing parents. Life goes on.

It is a rare thing, this enduring friendship. Long may it continue.