Hi friends! Meg from Marmalade Trust here. July didn't get the memo about warmth and sunshine... it's been raining pretty much non-stop in Bristol for the past few weeks. So let's hope August dazzles us with its summertime weather!?
Making friends and new connections can be hard work, especially when we're feeling lonely. As part of our new monthly series, we've put our heads together and found four opportunities or ways to feel less lonely and build meaningful connections in August - one for each week. As always, comment below, or drop us a line on social media to share your connection ideas.
There are people in my life who I think could become good friends, but I don't know how to take our relationship from 'lovely chat by the coffee machine, to someone I would ring if I was having a rough time...'. I find that local events are good opportunity to invite someone who you'd like to get to know better, because it's less intense than meeting up for a coffee, and you can chat about what's happening around you.
Look out for summer fairs, outdoor markets, music festivals, and art exhibitions in your area. I've put some ideas for events which bring people together, fostering a sense of belonging and providing a chance to meet new friends who share similar interests. See more ideas here.
📍 Brighton Pride
4 – 6 August
Brighton’s Pride festival kicks off with the annual Pride Community Parade, a dazzling visual spectacle that sees Brighton and Hove’s diverse community take to the streets in a show of unity and equality.
📍 Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
10 – 13 August
The city’s largest outdoor event, held annually at the city’s Ashton Court Estate, is the largest fiesta of its kind in Europe. The mass ascents at dawn and teatime are a sight to behold, with more than 100 balloons taking off, and after-dark firework shows to follow. The fiesta offers a packed four days of fun for the whole family.
📍 Edinburgh international Book Festival
12 – 28 August
The Edinburgh International Book Festival programme offers more than 800 events featuring everyone from the rising stars of fiction to Nobel Prize-winners, plus events for children and young adults showcasing the finest writers and illustrators for young people. From author events and interactive workshops to lively debates and book signings, the Book Festival allows visitors to meet favourite authors.
📍 World Bog Snorkelling Championships, Llanwrtyd Wells, mid Wales
This unusual sport consists of contestants swimming two consecutive lengths of a water-filled trench in the shortest time possible. Held annually in Llanwrtyd Wells in Mid Wales, the championships attract visitors from all over the world. There are food and drink stalls, crafts, live music and a real ale and cider bar on the site, so it’s a great day out even if you don’t fancy taking the plunge.
Go on a solo adventure
I know you're probably thinking: "If I feel lonely, why on earth would I want to go on a solo adventure?". But hear me out... travelling by yourself can be the best way to form new connections while exploring new places. When I'm travelling with friends or my family, I tend to just stick to the group I came with – whereas when I'm travelling by myself, I find myself branching out and talking to people I probably otherwise wouldn’t.
The prospect of travelling solo can be daunting though. So if you like the idea of meeting new people while travelling, but don’t want to go completely alone, why not consider going on a group holiday for solo travellers, like those offered by Just You?
Join a dog walking group
If you're lucky enough to be a dog owner (can you tell I am desperate to get a dog..?!), summertime offers fantastic opportunities to have a blast with your doggo. IMO there are few things in life more pleasant than going for a walk in the sunshine in the British countryside. Not only does it allow you both to enjoy fresh air and exercise, but it also strengthens your bond.
So here's my idea: join a dog meet-up group! These gatherings are a fantastic chance to socialise, not just for your dog, but for you too! Picture this – you and your pup surrounded by fellow dog lovers in parks or other charming locations, chatting, walking, and watching the adorable puppers play together.
You'll find dog meet-up groups all across the UK. Most are open to everyone, creating a warm and inclusive atmosphere. Some groups cater to specific interests, like singles or particular dog breeds. For instance, in my local park, there's a dachshund group that meets every Saturday morning – it's a sight to behold as a bunch of adorable sausages joyfully frolic together! I wanted to say it was 'paw-some', but that would be lame so I'm not going to say that.
Instagram and Facebook are a good place to find a group too. If you live in Bristol, you could try: Bristol And Somerset Dog Walks
Get involved with a community garden
And last but not least, inspired by the fact that it's National Allotments Week from August 7 to 13, our idea is to get yourself an allotment or join a community garden.
Managed and maintained by teams of volunteers, community gardens are shared plots of land where green-fingered people can come together to grow all sorts of things – from fruits and flowers to vegetables and herbs.
Not only will joining a community garden help you to get out in the summer sun, connect with nature, and reap some of the well-documented health benefits of gardening, but it’ll also give you the chance to meet all kinds of people.
Plus, because community gardening often involves creating and fostering green spaces in urban areas, you’ll experience the added satisfaction of knowing that you’re benefiting your local area.
To find a community gardening group near you, you can visit the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) website.
Loneliness doesn't define us; it's a feeling we experience from time to time. So, instead of trying to "cure" ourselves or others of loneliness, let's focus on building bridges and forging connections. Let's explore new hobbies, share our passions, and celebrate our unique selves. After all, we're more than just one feeling; we're individuals with diverse interests, talents, and qualities that make us shine.
In the month of August, we have the opportunity to cultivate meaningful connections and ease feelings of loneliness. Embrace the power of connection, and remember, even the smallest moments of interaction can make a significant difference. Let me know how you get on!
Meg at Marmalade Trust