When your best friend moves house….


… and you want to give them a house warming gift.  What do you give them?  When they are your best friends and you want to get them something that will last for years and that might remind them of your friendship whenever they see it.

I have known the Cookes for over 15 years.  Moving in to the house next door to them when I got divorced, it was three months before I actually met them.  I was too shy to go and say hello but then one day whilst watering their front garden their hose sprayed water all over my mum’s Porsche, and well, we met them and our friendship was cemented.  Possibly because they were just relieved I wasn’t going to kill them.   My mum on the other hand…. I jest.

Their children were tiny, and their eldest is now at university.  I was a single mum with three children and they were there with support when I needed it, and a glass of red wine on a Friday night to toast the weekend when my children were away at their dad’s and I didn’t know what to do with myself (turns out it was drink wine until 4am).

We spent so much time walking between each other’s houses that we had a step installed between the two gardens rather than having to walk down the drive, along the road and up the next drive.   We even contemplated taking out a fence panel at one point but then decided it was possibly a step too far.

Sunday mornings were open house and they would regularly appear at my back door to the waft of bacon (the joy of two bungalows were my kitchen faced their bedroom) asking if they could come in for a cuppa.    It was a joyous time and one that I will always look back on with affection.

So cemented was our friendship that I could think of nobody I would rather have to be my matron of honour when I married Mr B than Mrs Cooke (they are both teachers and so they are known as Mr and Mrs Cooke, never by their first names.  I am weird like that), nor a better reader for for the piece from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin we included than Mr Cooke.   They truly are our best friends.   On a level where they know the things that nobody else knows.

But as they are teachers we don’t get to spend enough time with them because term times are manic for them and that makes us sad but it does mean that when we can get together we make the most of it.   There is always wine, and there is always laughter, late into the night.     Generally there is also a hangover the next morning and a cooked breakfast too before fond farewells.

When they moved recently I wanted to give them a housewarming gift to remind them of those times when we were neighbours, lazing in the garden with a glass of wine.   A garden bench seemed like the perfect gift.

We have one from my parent’s place in France.  It sat under the kitchen window in the perfect spot for a glass of wine as the sun set each night and now sits in our garden and reminds me of those lazy days in the Bordeaux countryside.

As their new bench does.   The Cookes were having a new deck built in the garden of their new home and had a little corner that needed something to brighten it up.   A place where they could retreat at the end of a stressful day to catch their breath.  Or where they could have a coffee on a Saturday morning and enjoy the paper.  The perfect spot for a bench so I bought one for that little spot.

Seems like the perfect gift, even if I do say so myself!

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