As an expat of 9 years, I've also felt isolated and lonely on a daily basis.
I had my first penpal aged 10, I wrote to my best friend in York after we moved near South Wales, I've still got every letter she sent me up until our early 20's when family life got in the way and our letter writing fizzled out, we reconnected via facebook a few years ago.
I had a few occasional penpals and wrote regularly to older family members, always sending post cards to family and friends from holidays. I write to people around the world I've met online and have even travelled as far as Canada to meet one of my penpals.
In 2011 I started writing letters about our lives abroad, I also keep a copy of all my replies, to form a record for future generations to enjoy.
For me the writing of letters, strange as it may sound is about communication, it amazes me how many letters, cards I send that people don't even bother letting you know they've arrived. I don't expect everyone to write back, or even get an automatic response, but if I get post, I'll message the person on FB, we chat online for a little bit, I write back a week later with fresh news, they respond and we keep in touch.
Many people don't know what to write back, will say their life is boring and they've nothing to tell me, that's fine, they've messaged me with that and hey, we're now communicating.
The purpose of my letter writing to the care homes especially now during Covid-19 and restrictions on visiting, is to provide contact with the outside world and to let others know we're thinking of them. it also provides a great opportunity to open up discussions, share life stories and in some cases the activity of writing a reply. We also have a daughter in care, she's 25 miles from where I am, she can't read, doesn't verbally communicate, but I still write to her regularly, it gives the staff something to talk about, show her the picture on the card and pin on her wall as a reminder that she does have family that care, even if they can't visit or are abroad for most of the year.
These are 2 responses from homes I write to on a regular basis.
So what do I write?
I hope everyone is well and keeping themselves busy during these strange times.
This week I've been making the most of the weather, doing some gardening and walking my dog up the Malvern Hills.
I've also got a cat, did you have pets? Do you prefer cats or dogs or have another favourite animal?
Do you have a garden where you live? Is gardening an activity you enjoy?
Have you ever visited Malvern? Where's your favourite place in the UK and why?
Sometimes I'll write about living abroad and ask if they've visited the countries or lived abroad themselves, I'll ask about their travels, favourite foods, tv shows. I'll share my favourites and ask what theirs are.
I've also started writing letters to our grandchild who is 9 months old. I have very few written words from my grandmother and realised after my fathers death a few years ago the only stuff he had written down were 'to do' lists that I cherish as they are in his hand writing, my mother signed cards and letters on his behalf. I no longer sign cards on behalf of my husband, I ask him to do it himself and will be encouraging him to make notes in a book we have called 'My Grandparents' for future generations to read.