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By ROBYN BRISTOW

A can of condensed milk forged a friendship between penpals on opposite sides of the world that has endured for 70 years.

Julie McCaw, of Amberley, and Juliet Guest, of Walsall, near Birmingham, now both aged 84, began writing to each other in 1949.

They have since paid visits to each other, and have explored many parts of the world together.

Their friendship arose after pupils at Christchurch Girls’ High School, where Julie was a pupil, took a food item to school to send to Wallasey Girls’ High School, near Liverpool, where Juliet went to school.

“It was when England had food rationing and Girls’ High had some sort of connection with Wallasey High.

“We wrote our name on our food item and my tin of condensed milk was given to Juliet because of the similarities in our names,” Julie says.

Juliet wrote to Julie and, from that day on, “we just kept on writing”.

Today, pen and paper have been scrapped for emails, with both proficient on iPads and cellphones.

Julie travelled to England in the 1960s, staying about four years in London and travelling to Italy, and meeting with Juliet many times.

For the past four weeks Juliet has been visiting Julie in Amberley, taking day trips to various Canterbury attractions, even venturing out in the high winds last Friday to enjoy a day at the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa.

‘‘This is Juliet’s second trip out here.

‘‘We have got to know each other well through trials and tribulations, as you do in life,’’
Julie says.

They both married, had children, and just kept on corresponding, sharing their ups and downs, and planning their next adventure.
Juliet says it is amazing how much they have in common.

They are both interested in history, read the same sort of books, and are now both
‘‘merry widows’’.

Their friendship has been rewarding and, at 84, ‘‘we are still gallivanting all over the
world’’, Julie says.

Julie taught for four years at Amberley School in the 1970s before heading overseas. She
and her husband, Hugh, returned to Christchurch so their children could attend
Christchurch Girls’ and Boys’ High Schools.

But when they left school and Hugh retired, he didn’t want to stay in the city. He gave Julie the option of going to Hari Hari or building at Amberley Beach.

The beach won, with the couple later moving into Amberley township when Hugh’s health failed.

Julie says it might be time to settle down, put the brakes on adventures with Juliet, and
save for a retirement unit.