Even if they interrupt your planned time away, chance meetings with old friends are happy moments to be relished, says Jonty Pearce

Jonty Pearce: Sometimes things happen by chance – coincidences, meetings, timings; all sorts. One can pull up in a crowded hospital car park just as someone reverses out, and slip swiftly into the space. Or, more maddeningly, end up driving round and round for hours without success. Sometimes things are just meant to happen – as if the forces of nature and fortune have combined to make a remote possibility inevitable. The late great Terry Pratchett was aware of this and in his Discworld books suggested, ‘If it’s a million to one odds against, it can’t fail to happen’.

We recently enjoyed the benefits of this law of chance. Having so relished our recent charter cruise from Skye to Mull and back (seemingly by every narrow channel or rocky anchorage possible) we returned to revisit the area by campervan. I know Ardnamurchan well; all our family holidays were spent here and my parents moved here on retirement. My father became fairly well known locally having worked as a GP locum in the area to fund his salmon fishing. Thus my return to these hills of my youth was anticipated with excitement and promised to be full of reminiscence.

After a few days touring some of our favourite places we pulled into the slipway at Salen for ice creams and camping gas. And there at the counter were our friends Pippa and Allistair who had just snaffled the last of the Ironbru ice cream (this is Scotland, remember). Newly retired like us, they had bought a lovely Hallberg-Rassy and had decided to continue to keep her on the previous owner’s mooring in Salen. We immediately arranged a day sail with dinner on board a few days hence, then followed them out towards Ardnamurcham lighthouse where they intended to watch the sun sink at the end of a beautiful day and we to find a campsite in Kilchoan. Both ventures were successful.

This was not the first chance meeting with them; last year Carol and I had wandered in to the Ocean Explorer Centre at Dunstaffnage only to find the same pair at the counter. They were on their way back from viewing the HR and were full of the delicious indecision about a decision that they both knew had already been made. We were on an unexpected visit due to bad weather changes of itinerary during a Hebridean Princess luxury cruise of the area.

We find wherever we go we end up enjoying unexpected pleasurable encounters; there are few places in the world where you will be a stranger to everybody. I’ve bumped into patients and friends in Florida, Greece, Singapore, France, Spain, South Africa, and anywhere you like in the UK. It seems that when afloat you only have to drop your hook and you start to recognise old acquaintances. Is there truly anywhere you can go for total solitude? Well, yes, I’m sure there is, but never be surprised to see your neighbour turning up. And who really wants such solitude? We find that our enjoyment of remote and unlikely places can be enhanced by chance meetings. An special moment shared can be a special moment made more memorable. OK, we all need our moments of peace and quiet; whether in a camper or anchored in a remote cove we experience a frisson of irritation if others pitch up too close to us. But the times that we remain peacefully alone easily exceed those where we are bothered by unlooked-for chance company.

So, never be surprised by the unexpected, and rise to each new coincidence with joy. You never know what you may learn or what opportunities might arise!