OPINION

Try taking friends on a video tour of your favourite spots

IMAGE: SHUTTERSTOCK
IMAGE: SHUTTERSTOCK

Ever thought of doing a guided video tour of your home town with a friend overseas?

I've been doing a few recently.

It came out of a chat with a friend in England who was gloomy about heading back into lockdown.

He lives in Hertford, just north of London, and was looking at a repeat of what we had in Victoria - only heading into winter. It's hard to get motivated in that situation.

He's been a regular travel buddy over the years.

We've hiked through the Alps, wandered through Turkey, been awestruck by the majesty of the Lofoten.

There were wasps stings to fix (him) and sprained ankles (me) but through it all we've kept in touch - both through time and across half the globe.

It's going to be a while before we'll be able to head off together on a trip (although we've already spoken about bike riding a la Tour De France when the world opens up again).

And we have, more than once in our regular chats, lamented how cabin fever had been an issue.

So one night while we were on a WhatsApp video call I just said - let's do a walk now.

I pulled on my shoes, grabbed a bottle of water and my phone (forgot the mask and had to go back for it) and took a walk on the nearly wild-side. Namely the bushland reserve about five minutes from my house.

My friend has never been to Australia. He had big plans (and expensive bookings) which fell to the double-domino of bushfires and then COVID-19 at the start of the year. The road trip we had planned for February stalled. Who knows when, or if, it will ever be restarted.

So I thought, why not bring my little patch of Australia to him.

In return, he recently took me on a walking tour of Hertford - a wonderful market town with old, old buildings and what looks like great apple strudel (oh to be able to pass a slice through the iPhone). It's on my shopping list the next time I visit in person.

He'd dug out a walking map of the area, so I could follow along as we went and, for about half an hour, I was transported out of lockdown - just as he had been.

I'm rolling out the experience to other friends in Europe and Canada. Not to mention friends at the other end of the country who I might not get to see for a while.

It's a great way to connect in ways other than just standing in front of a screen on a conference call. Zoom's great, but it can be a bit static (You can, however, have a birthday party over it, as a friend who sent samosas to everybody as a gift so they could dine together did.)

You also get to experience a little bit of life and the seasons elsewhere. And really connect with your friends and family.

With Christmas just around the corner I'm looking forward to lights and carols in a snowy wonderland. They'll get prawns on the barbie and some zinced-up faces.

It will be a blast.