|Tea with Lucy|
When I was growing up I spent a lot of time in dance studios, either taking classes or waiting for my parents (who were photographers) or my dance teacher (Mom's best friend).
I spent quite a bit of time at friends' houses playing in their rooms or in the back yard. As a child, my entire street was populated by young families with children and we all rode bikes up and down our street, with cars having to give way.
When I got slightly older my friends from dance class, and somehow the same aged kids of my dance teacher's other close friends too, took turns holding parties that involved a lot of dancing. Mom let me paint anything I wanted on my bedroom walls and so my friends would come over for a 'slumber and painting' party, sort of an 'at home graffiti' thing.
Before school some of us hung out at a donut shop near our bus stop. In the summer, my girlfriends and I walked our dogs a lot, stopping at the regular haunts, usually convenience stores, for cold drinks - Slurpees, I think they were.
When I was older, my best friend and I practically lived at a pool hall where her big brother worked. My mother was right to worry about this place, I'm grateful to have been left unscathed. Most of my spare cash went into the juke box, but I learned a lot from my people watching there. I left them all behind when I started university.
In the summers, we spent every day we could cooking ourselves at the local pool. For a couple of years my best friend's father managed the local YMCA and I found myself there a lot. Our local shopping mall, a square with the library, the dry cleaners, a donut shop, the supermarket, a shoe repair shop, a coffee shop, a Mexican restaurant, a few dress boutiques and a convenience store was a gathering place for kids.
Here in Britain kids seem to hang out in parks after dark or at local football (soccer) club houses, sometimes at Metro stations or a skateboard park. Most are glued to their electronic gadgets, so I'm not sure it matters much where they congregate, since they largely seem to ignore one another, but I'm sure this is not actually the case. I read about a shop owner who was tired of the kids hanging out around his place and he played a high frequency sound that older folks can't hear to drive off the kids; another just used classical music.
When I joined the running club, a bunch of us gathered at the pub afterwards one or two nights a week. I couldn't keep up with their rounds any more than I could keep up with the running; fortunately I didn't need to. When retirement gave me my precious gift of spare time, it became one of those challenges again to figure out where to hang out.
The local community centres in the villages up and down the coast all have groups that meet for all sorts of reasons: dance, exercise, crafts of a wide variety. I hang out with sewers and knitters and crafters. Mind, I quite like hanging out at home with Bill, just pottering around, cooking or gardening or going for beach walks.
I know other ladies do coffee mornings at their church or visit stately homes, take bus tours around the region. When I meet up with friends for lunch or a day out, we tend to hang out by visiting charity shops, museums, galleries, coffee and gift shops and lately sewing and craft shops.
|Simply Fabrics, Wallsend High Street|
As Womens' Institute members we can visit WI meetings most nights of the week throughout the month and we've enjoyed visiting a couple of other groups to see what they do.
As much as we like the posh places, I find loads of history and interesting things in the not-so-posh places as well. You know, where you're happy during the day with lots of people around but wouldn't like to be alone after dark. I do feel that only staying in one's comfort zone leads to a very one dimensional life. One day Lucy and I visited Wallsend, a mixed bag of a place (birthplace of Sting). We went to the coffee shop at Wallsend Hall. It is the former home of Sir G B (George Burton) Hunter, a Tyneside shipbuilder. It's now an NHS hospital, but I've no idea what goes on there. We just went for tea and teacakes. We liked the mismatched tea cups; the vintage vibe is quite popular these days.
|Lunch with Vivien|
Then we went to find a small fabric shop that has moved around a lot; I loved their window display. Another day I took Vivien there to show her a possible source for remnants. She and I also went to North Shields for lunch to a very quiet restaurant with a fun lounge area by the bar.
Where did / do you like to hang out?