Strangers Are Some Of The Nicest People You’ll Ever Meet

During the first covid lockdown, with its strict travel restrictions, our family discovered a local treasure: a little spot known as Brown Island. Our neighbour told us about it. It’s not an easy place to find. When we went the first time I had to ring him because we couldn’t find the entrance hidden away down a country lane through a small gap in the hedge you’d never notice unless someone like my neighbour told you exactly where to look.

Brown Island isn’t brown, and it isn’t actually even an island, but it’s a great little spot to walk with the family. There are always some good stones for skipping there, and interesting things like driftwood and mussel shells and dead crabs. My children used to collect pieces of those crabs in an attempt to build the ultimate Frankencrab, but he never came to life, thankfully. There are usually a few other folks walking at Brown Island, but mostly they keep to themselves and we keep to ourselves except for the smiles and greetings as we pass each other. Sometimes we end up walking past the same people more than once, which happened the last time we were there. 

He was an older man, and by that I only mean older than us. The definitions of “old” and “young” are changing for me every year. When we walked past him the first time, he didn’t really acknowledge us at all. Later, he passed again and gave us no more than a quick nod. Clearly, this man didn’t come to talk. But then we saw him a third time, and this time we were all walking back towards the car park at roughly the same speed and it just wouldn’t have been right to say nothing at all so my wife made a friendly remark about the weather. He responded, and before we knew it we were having a grand old chat about all sorts of things like the history of Brown Island and the best kinds of seaweed to use as a fertiliser for flowers. His phone came out to show us a picture of his prize dahlias. We lingered by the cars talking about the way things used to be when people had more time for each other. He said, “people say not to talk to strangers, but strangers are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.” I might be imagining it, but I really think the day was a little warmer and brighter when we drove away.

He was right, of course. Sometimes strangers really are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

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