Friendship

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Last week, amidst the current upheaval of countries and people, and sandwiched in between the world’s political circus, melting icebergs and the demands of my media-savvy clutch of children, I paused for thought. In my somewhat chaotic lifestyle two things happened to make me stop and wonder at the meaning of friendship. First, as can often happen, two people we had not seen for nearly a year came to dinner with their infectious smiles – it was as if we had seen each other every week and as is the way with best friends, the intervening months melted away within moments.

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And then, days later, as I was still inwardly feeling the warmth of the immense pleasure that re-acquaintance offers, I met a couple who –  over a three day visit –  took a good few steps down that same path of friendship; it was as if they had always been in our lives, intertwined with our past, present and future. They were generous, sympathetic, interesting beyond belief and simply understanding of their world and ours; it did not take long to realise we were moving through life on the same plane of existence. They came to stay, and now have left, but already they have earmarked a date to return – I think and very much hope they will be part of our lives from now on.

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We enjoyed dinners together, not lavish, stand on ceremony affairs but simple kitchen suppers shared with our children and as is so often the case, when the numbers swell it’s easier to serve buffet style, because there simply isn’t enough room on the table!

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Friendship is a many-faceted precious stone, I think. From the mini-schoolday joy of shared candy, to the soulful attachment we can have with long-term partners.

I wonder, do men and women have very different types of friendships ?

There is something about the male psyche, where on the one hand they will tell no one that they are nearly dying of some delicate matter, yet exchange the intimacies of their life across a train carriage with a complete stranger. Women, on the other hand, seem to tend to take longer to develop trust but I believe a woman’s close circle of friends may be larger than a man’s. It’s an understanding that fascinates me and I know there is a lot more to it.

Friendships can have so many different foundations. Roddy reminds me of this, where in a previous life aboard fishing boats day to day challenges meant everyone on board would save their fellow crewmen from injury or death on a regular basis, a happenstance rewarded by a casual pint of beer perhaps, at the end of the day, and an “I owe you one, thanks, mate”. Such a gesture of manly gratitude for an indication that one has one’s foot in a coil of rope that is going overboard fast is the sort of ingredient that perhaps a very male friendship may include.  It is a different sort of relationship, but no less important, and as a result, Roddy has a handful of friends who he does not speak to for months, sometimes, years, and yet – when he does – a strand of conversation or thought is taken up as if nothing has happened during the interval.

The friendships in my life are manifold and varied, I must admit. I have people who I used to ride with, school friends I have known since we were six and people who I used to work with. There are many from my life alongside Roddy and friends I have made at the school gate, mothers together with our children in common.

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Friends shop together; some buy clothes and shoes

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and others go to a brocante in all weathers, braving the wind and rain searching for their joint interest of vintage treasures.

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I have made friends at our local market and I love nothing more than to watch as people take the time to stand and talk always starting with the French traditional greeting, la bise, of course.

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A friend is someone who tells you the truth; a friend is someone you can be laughing with one minute and debating something of life changing importance the next. Friendships can be made over a shared glass of wine and a long lazy lunch.

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Some friends we see ever day or every week. Others might move abroad or to another part of the country. Long ago, the only way of staying in touch with someone like this was via long, lovingly written letters, that might take weeks to reach their destination but that were always cherished and reread several times. Perhaps they brought with them words of great happiness which gave joy to the reader, and so too I am sure there were pages delivering grief and sadness and much anguish for the recipient as they read each sentence.

Nowadays, of course, the written letter has to a large extent been over taken by emails and social media platforms. Whether you love these mediums of exchange or hate them, I say we should embrace them for what they offer – a wonderful way to stay in touch with friends and family, instantly around the world, in real time. And with video thrown in, it’s as if we were in the next door room! But every now and then I like to send a card or a postcard, because there is still noting quite like the thrill of receiving a letter from a friend in the post.

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Not every friendship has to be human on human. Many animals have very special relationships with one another, usually within the same species.

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Although dogs and cats can often become best buddies, and I once had a horse who was almost inseparable from his best mate, a goat.

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Dogs have proven themselves time and time again to be man’s best friend; they can understand our moods, they can make us happy when we feel sad, and they will stick by us through thick and thin; they are more than just a companion and they are incredibly loyal. Some are purely pets, while others like sheepdogs have a place on the farm. Then there are the police dogs and sniffer dogs, and the guide dogs for the blind. Anyone who has ever loved a dog and lost a dog will feel a lump in their throats when they read my favourite poem, Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Four Feet’.

I have done mostly what most men do,
And pushed it out of my mind;
But I can’t forget, if I wanted to,
Four-Feet trotting behind.

Day after day, the whole day through —
Wherever my road inclined —
Four-feet said, “I am coming with you!”
And trotted along behind.

Now I must go by some other round, —
Which I shall never find —
Somewhere that does not carry the sound
Of Four-Feet trotting behind.

For me it always brings a tear to my eye, wherever I go I nearly always have Evie by my side, I open the car door and she is in, joining me on the journey to school.

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And I have another friend who is neither animal nor human, she is a country. France is my friend, she has welcomed me and my family with open arms. She has not criticised or judged my foreign accent. She is educating our children. She has made me feel as if I belong. It is a different sort of friendship, but just as important – for me, and for my family – for without it, we would not be here.

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152 thoughts on “Friendship

    • Thank you, I shall go over and read this later, there is nothing quite like receiving a hand written note or letter. Stay warm, we are in for another cold snap and maybe you will get more snow! xx

  • As always wonderful photographs and an excellent post. I have just returned from France having seen and enjoyed the company of some very good friends….what a joyful thing it is to share with people we feel so comfortable with. Spring is definitely in the air….Portugal for me in April and then east coast of the States for May and so it goes…although might have found the perfect cottage to rent in Brittany. I can rent it by the month which at this point would be perfect. I will keep you posted. Janet xx

    • I hope you had a fabulous trip to France. Wow it sounds as if you have a super busy few months all lined up. Portugal in April sounds just perfect, the weather should be divine, an artist’s paradise I would imagine. Now the cottage sounds ideal, especially as you can rent it monthly. Whereabouts in Brittany, it is a big department? Hopefully then you can head this way for a weekend? xx

      • The cottage is located in Larmor-Plage, close to Lorient. It would be perfect for me because I can walk to shops, cafes and the beach….all very close by, plus I have many friends in the area. Wonderful land/seascape painting opportunities and the cottage is very well appointed with a lovely courtyard garden and two bedrooms. . This means that my daughter and other friends could visit. I worked with a lovely group of artists in Ploemeur on this visit….and so as I say a good base. Over the years, I have worked and painted in Pont Aven, Quimper and other parts of Brittany and it is relatively easy to get to. As much as Caramany (an ancient hill village in wine country) was lovely to visit and paint, it wouldn’t work for me in terms of long stays. No shops, cafes, etc…and a 40 minute drive from Perpignan! I don’t like to drive and so being able to walk is essential for me. Having said that, I did paint some of the people in Caramany and will be doing lots of paintings from sketches made there. I go to Portugal every April/September to give a one week workshop in a superb art school. People come from all around the world….I will keep you appraised…and meanwhile enjoy a lovely weekend. Janet xx

        • It sounds absolutely perfect, almost too good to be true, so I really hope for your sake that you are able to rent it and make it a base. What fun! Portugal sounds amazing, where is the art school. I will be in Portugal the week after next with one of the children, what a shame it’s not in April, but then most likely it is not the same area, we will be in Braga about an hour north of Porto. xx

          • The school http://www.artinthealgarve.com is in Olhao – a working fishing town on the Algarve. The School itself is possibly one of the most conducive places to explore the creative process that I have ever worked in. Given that it is located right in the middle of the old town and a minutes walk from the water, etc. it is fantastic. This is year six for me to teach there….I choose April/September because for me the weather is ideal. I don’t know Braga but have been to beautiful Porto. One of these days I will explore much more of Portugal. I enjoy the people enormously. This morning London is white with snow and very cold….but spring is on the way 🙂 Enjoy the weekend. Janet xx

          • It sounds like the most perfect time and as you have been going back for a number of years now I would imagine it is like going back to see old friends. I love the Portuguese, Roddy and I met in Portugal! I too have been to Porto but never to Braga so am looking forward to seeing a little more of northern Portugal. We were forecast to have a bitterly cold weekend and rainy, instead we had brilliant sunshine and warm spring weather today, it was absolutely gorgeous and I spent all afternoon gardening without the need for a coat! Spring is most definitely on the way here, soon it will be in London too! xx

  • So many interesting thoughts and what about the friendship between men and women on a purely platonic level. One of my dearest is a man I have known all my life, he is my rock and a treasure but there has never been any physical attraction. I believe this is the best friendship of all as there is no competition.

    • You might have a point there. I have quite a few friends who are men whom I have known for a long time. Personally to me a good friend is just that a good friend, whether male or female. xx

  • Friends are pearls given to us to help us along the road of life. To have one true friend is a blessings like none other. I have lots of friends but only one true friend that would do anything for me and me her. When we are together we can finish each other’s sentence. In trouble? Will be there (1300 miles away) shortly. Need a loan or a helping hand? No questions asked. We found each other when we both needed someone in our life that wouldn’t judge us. She lost her husband to suicide. How awful it was and still is. However her first love as a teenager found her many years later and so she is well married to the man that promised her that many years ago to come back and marry her. Beautiful isn’t it?

  • And I consider you my friend as you do much to enrich my life through your blog. France,cooking, family, friendship, optimism, enjoying the simple things.

    • Thank you so much Rebecca, this is another wonderful thing about the internet, I think we have all made many friends here, I know I have, just from this one little blog, I have chatted to people, met new people, discussed things and shared things and I am loving every minute of it. Thank you again xx

  • What a beautiful post, the lovely photos, the poem, the ideas, the narrative. I too shed a tear at the poem but mostly I felt the warmth of the sunshine of the stories and the thoughts, Many thanks.

  • What a heart warming post particularly in a world where things are very uncertain….
    good friends are hard to find
    harder to leave and
    impossible to forget

  • I have been thinking a lot about friendship. I have been enjoying the support of friendship and community following a very ugly fall and resulting shoulder injury. My neighbor tracked down not one but two recliners for me to try out (and borrow) to sleep in each night. Everywhere I turn, I have helping hands. And company whenever I’m feeling cabin fever.
    And more flowers than an English spring.

    I’ve been feeling very loved.

    • How fantastic, I am so sorry about the shoulder injury but it is wonderful that friends have rallied round and helped, that is true friendship and all those flowers, I can imagine they are a very very cheerful sight. Hopefully you will be up and out and about by the time spring is out in full force. xx

  • I can’t believe I’m trying to write this with tears on your poem. I have a German Shepherd assistance dog for PTSD. I try not to think what it will be like. I don’t wish to sound dramatic but I don’t think I could have woken up every day without her. She is my lifeline, puts her head under my neck to get me up in the mornings, and does it when she feels I’m down. She dances around in circles to make me laugh, goes and gets my dressing gown when she feels I’m cold.
    What a joy she is!!

    How lucky you are with your friends… enjoy! love your pics. 🙂

    • Hi Susan, and your comment brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful friend your German Shepherd is. The way a dog can do all of this leaves me speechless and I am so glad that she is there for you. I hope she is making you feel comfortable day and making you smile and feel loved. Big kisses from France xx

      • Thank you so much Susan. I wake up and wonder what I did to be so lucky to have her in my life. 🙂
        I spent a lot of time in my youth in France and drove to the South of France from the UK.. It was a wonderful time, and I have some wonderful memories.
        Thank you so much for replying to my post. Hugs and Kisses xx from Malta and please keep writing your blog. Its something I really enjoy reading, and the pictures are wonderful.

        • Hi Susan, I know that drive quite well, I too went from the UK to Paris and then down to the south, to Montpelier several times! Now Malta, a country I passed through several times en route to Gozo. When I worked in London, pre marriage and pre children my boss had a house on Gozo and I went there every summer for about five years. Absolutely fabulous holidays that I remember so well. Enjoy the start to spring, I think your weather is somewhat warmer than ours at the moment, we had snow again yesterday, so rare and so unusual here! Give your German Shepherd a big hug from me, she really does sound so wonderful. xx

          • What a small world. Yes, the first time I drove it I ended up going around in circles in Paris, until a friendly truck driver helped and he had me follow him. Amazing, I love Gozo, it’s a different place. Yes, spring is here and you can wear just a jumper, and I’m lucky to live in the countryside not much of it left. No cars and beautiful walks, but I can still see the med from my garden. You can tell the tourists though, as they are walking around in shorts and tee-shirts. Its a strange winter everywhere, and I really hope your flowers survive. I too have chickens who live opposite my front gate in a cave, others will find that strange.
            I will give Amber (GS) a big hug from you, she loves to be hugged. Thank you! She is truly my friend! xx

          • I ended up driving around the Arc de Triomphe several times in my little 2CV, quite lost, cars hooting at me! So glad you have chickens, so long as they are happy I don’t think it matters where they live! You are so lucky to be able to see the sea and live in the country and how I long to be wearing shorts again, it has seemed like a long winter here and we are all more than a little fed up with it. Still, can’t complain, the sun is shining today despite yet another frost last night! xx

  • Lovely post and,as always, so well written. I’ve moved to France and just recently had my first visitor – a friend I hadn’t seen or communicated with for 20 years! We reconnected via the magic of Facebook… I said come
    visit and she did. We had a wonderful time touring and visiting and you are
    so right about friends just picking up as if it were yesterday!

    • How fantastic that she came and you had such a fabulous time. We all knock facebook and social media, but used wisely it really does connect people, I have found old school friends that otherwise I would never have heard from again and likewise I am able to stay in touch with friends around the world. I am sure you have told me but where are you in France? I have a feeling you are going to a wonderful adventure living here. xx

  • I’m like you Susan, I love to send & receive cards & letters, rather than a greeting on social media, sadly, it seems to be a dying art.
    There is a saying that as you get older it’s the quality of friends that matters, not the quantity, & that is so true for me. A lot of my friends live overseas, & computers are a godsend for keeping in touch quickly & easily.
    I had a penpal for 20 years, we met on holiday in Wales, met only once again a few years later, but then life got in the way & we lost touch. After 25 years, she found me on Facebook last year, & she had also moved to Scotland from the N.W. of England. We met up & it was like we had been in touch every day over those 25 years! It is lovely to continue our friendship, & we have such a lot in common still.
    I loved the little poem too, pets are such good companions aren’t they? xxx

    • Isn’t it wonderful how we can meet old friends after so many years and just take off seemingly where we left off a decade or decades before. Incredible that she now lives in Scotland too. There is nothing like a handwritten note or letter, but the internet is also fabulous, especially with family overseas, it really means we can be together. xx

  • Wonderfully written Susan. Friends are the icing on the cake of life. I think it’s a chemical reaction. You just know that spending time together is special and not to be missed. It’s true that conversation just picks up as if it were yesterday, not mattering how long ago the last conversation was.
    I’m going to contact a friend that I’ve not spoken to for a while today. Thanks for the nudge.

    Ali xxx

    • I hope you made contact with your friend today. After I wrote this I too was prompted to get in touch with an old friend, we exchanged a couple of emails and now are planning a long weekend here this summer. If we had had to do that by letter and post it would have taken weeks to make some plans. xx

  • I have loved everyone’s comments. I too have a friend I had not seen since high school, so more than 40 years ago. We found each other by pure chance on Facebook. 41 years later we met up again, we still found the same things funny, in essence we havenet changed much at all, just more mature and few more wrinkles. True friends last forever.

  • Lovely post, Susan – and so true, even down to Roddy and his fishing memories – how true it is that men can be so blasé about things like that. I’ve been on several boats when death was but a lurch away. I’ve grabbed many a bloke’s jacket as he was going overboard and I had mine grabbed a few times too! It’s all in a day’s work….you think nothing of it. I assume it is the same with a band of soldiers, cowboys, oil-pipe workers and any other team that faces a hazardous existence. I am sure the same burden of responsibility is shared amongst women too in the same circumstances. Thank you for reminding me of the importance of this….. it had slipped out of my mind…..

    • I am sure it is exactly the same for both men and women in these circumstances and nowadays so many girls are doing exactly the same jobs as men. True friends really are to be cherished for life. xx

  • A warm and thoughtful post; complete with an apt and stirring Kipling quote – how British.

    I would posit that you make more friends, nurture those friendships and keep friends closer and longer as a result of your personality – not theirs. You are an uncommonly warm and nurturing person drawing the best from those around you. Even curmudgeons.

    Is it not possible that you make and keep more and better friends in large part because you work harder at it? You may not view the process as work because it is just one part your naturally welcoming personality, but from an outsiders perspective it seems to be clearly a labor of love.

    Besides – how could anyone resist that dinner with that family?

    • Well you know me, British through and through really! Thank you so much for your lovely words, dinner with this family is always loud, crazy and a little hectic, but absolutely never boring!!! xx

  • How well put❤️
    From your blog and writing your heart thoughts, I feel the friendship even though we haven’t met face to face. We have so much in common. Your pictures say so much more than words.
    Thank you for sharing…..
    Carolyn, a southerner girl from the US

  • I am not into the soppy stuff but I do value my mates enormously. We may not say it to one another, it’s just not the way we do things, but My life would be very much poorer without my friends.

  • The types of friends with whom you can always pick up are invaluable, as you so beautifully point out. One of the reasons I enjoy blogging so much is making friends whom I sometimes get to meet, but can enjoy time with even if we never meet face-to-face. I also share your joy for actual letter or cards or even packages. They can make all the difference! I recently sent a package the arrived at the very time the recipient was in the depths of despair and it was a huge help. I like to sent our daughters postcard often, even if I don’t have much to say other than I love them. Just getting real mail changes the day as does reading blogs I enjoy. 🙂

    janet

    • I so agree with you. Just a little note or a surprise package, yours sounds as if it was very timely. I surprised our eldest with a small gift in the mail a couple of weeks ago, she was so so happy. I also agree with you about blogging, I hope one day we will meet Janet, but until then I feel we have become friends online through blogs and emails and chatting, and for that I consider myself very lucky. xx

  • Two or seven…. of my best friends of late are on-line friends…. Actually, several I’ve met for real and it was just as if we’d met the day before, we were totally on the same line of thoughts and feelings. There is ONE I still will want to meet for sure, sadly, she lives in California and chances are slim that she would come to F to meet up with me (and I’m not going to set foot to ‘there’ as long as….). Some of them have become strong pillars in my life, some drift in and out of my sight and that’s alright too. I had one very best girlfriend for a long long time; she ‘quit’ on me and it hurt like hell for the longest time. In the end, after many years of taking up contact again but never having a satisfactory relationship as before I counted my losses and took myself off her ‘champ de vision’ – and I do feel better about it. But my best friend is still my aged mother and although she still behaves as a ‘mother’, admonishing me, giving me plentyful advice, making unasked for ‘suggestions’ but we rub along nicely and she very much misses me (which is nice isn’t it?). I’ll get back to you tomorrow or Saturday, Hero Husband has returned and wants a midnightmeal…. sleep well !

    • That is the most lovely thing I have heard all day, that your Mother is your best friend and I am sure she would love to hear that too, how wonderful. Best friends are to be cherished and the internet has many good points too. Hope HH had a fabulous meal and a very very good day! xxx

    • KiKi,
      FYI I can feel your “pain” with the loss of your best friend. And I am glad you had the “guts” to take yourself off her “champ de vision.”
      My friendship lasted 25 years and one day I just decided that it was time for me to regain “myself.” I had many wonderful friends who didn’t “drain” every emotional “Thread” from body. It took a long time for me to “heal” from the breakup because when you talk multiple times a day it just takes time.
      Fast forward 10 years. In April out of the blue she calls and is crying. Her husband is in Hospice and there was no one to call. I looked at my husband and said I have to go. He said I will drive you. He sat for two hours outside her house while I sat and talked to her. Hero Husband, right? I helped her plan his funeral, made chocolate cookies (her husband’s favorite) for the luncheon after and helped her “get her affairs” in order. I made sure she had someone by her side for her Birthday. But, then I began to feel within a few months my life with her was beginning to see the “rabbit hole” again.
      I still have fond memories of what we once had but I just couldn’t “stay” this time.
      I have no regrets. I am a stronger person for having gone through this ten years ago and again this past spring.
      KiKi from what I can tell from your “musings” you would be a wonderful friend to have! ❤️

      • Stephanie; you just have become my latest ‘unbeknown but caring’ friend 🙂 🙂 🙂
        I’m easy if you don’t mind my saying so myself, ha ha! It looks to me as if we had made exactly the same experiences, in my case I phoned this ‘ex’friend twice on a hunch I had in my heart and in both cases she said to me: You are contacting me exactly at the right minute. Both times she had serious problems, luckily not in her relationship (she has a wonderful family) but with her business and I felt kind of great, you know – Being there with a wide open heart and ready to be the Samaritan – So, I listened, gave my input and we told each other to stay in contact ‘again after all this time’. And both times there was NOTHING whatsoever…. It took me some 10 years to ‘write off’ this deep relationship but I’m glad to spread my love and time, attention and occasional help on people who not only take. It was a good thing too in so many ways. We had a very long time together and helped each other in difficult situations and had great fun too. The hard bit is, I think, to realise that sometimes everything changes, just like that, and you can never ever go back to how it was. So I keep the fond memories and shall be forever grateful for the wonderful times we had, draw my line there and look forward to better times.

        • KiKi, no you can never go back. I truly believe every moment every memory molds us into our “better self.” Keep finding the “Good in Life..” You are one of life’s great advocator’s.
          I love that I have become an ‘unbeknown caring friend.’ Right back at you.
          Stephanie😘

  • Have a tear in my eye about your comment re being friends with France: I so, so agree about my adopted Australia. We get along thru’ thick and thin and always forgive each other . . . Remember the old saying ‘One can pick one’s friends but not one’s family’ . . . . again true, especially in my own case . . . Circumstances count: after six years in the then very male-oriented Medical School and a quarter-century in again male-oriented business I am far more comfortable with ‘the guys’ circle’ !! Both hetero and gay . . . . not sexual at all . . . . and largely it has so developed again on social media: both sides delighting !! And I too relish meeting childhood companions being able to take up the word and the laugh from the last time we had together . . .

    • Eha, there is so much in your comment I can underline…. the thing about ‘mixed’ friendships – some of my best friends are male and our deep and wonderful friendships are totally ‘asexual’ (is that even an English word?). With those ppl I can be totally myself, joking, being loud or quiet, telling ‘deeply hidden’ secrets or uproaring stupid happenings – knowing that ‘all is well, always’.
      It’s funnily also with those same ppl I am staying in written contact too…. Never thought about this, it just jumps to my mind now.
      Oh Susan, WHAT are you doing to my brain? Now I have to think even more…. 🙂 Thank you for that.

      • Thinking keeps us young!!! asexual is most certainly an English word! It was a thought provoking post about friendship, even the children have all been talking about it now, it seems to have struck a chord with them too! Certainly they all have best friends of the opposite sex which I think is fabulous, having been to an all girls school myself I envy them being able to grow up with boys and girls! xx

    • I think you feel the same about Australia that I do about France, sure there are things that annoy us but we choose to live here and we rub along just fine! I too have some wonderful male friends, having grown up in the world of horses and race horses, again quite male dominated. Meeting old friends from one’s childhood again is one of the pure delights of facebook. xx

  • What a beautiful post! Friendships old, new, potential, human, animal and geographic! I recently had a friend from college stay with me for a week of touring about and we fell into such lovely honest companionship immediately. It is good to have friends old and new! And beautiful photos, too!

  • As always, there are so many facets to ponder, consider, replying to…. may I post my thoughts in several ‘diary’ entries, Susan?
    I’d like to start with the dog-human friendship, or pet-human in general. And the first burning question I need to have an answer to is: Is Evie preggers or not???? 🙂
    Having been in company of both, dogs and cats, I have to admit that I am truly a dog person. I ‘suffer’ cats, I freely admit them in my life, but I’m happiest with dogs. Why? Because they are w/o attitudes, they break your heart with their kindness, their ‘being there for you and with you’ in ways no cat worthy of his/her name ever would. When I was deeply unhappy in my life, my dog always, without exception, felt my feelings and came, into my arms, on my lap, showing me love, unconditional fidelity, warming not only my body but giving warmth to my heart. You can cuddle a cat, WHEN and IF it allows you, but a cat always is its own master. When a dog dies, it’s just as bad as when a human friend dies;
    I like how the English language is not about master (in German it’s truly ridiculous, it’s Herrchen and Frauchen, diminutives for ‘little Mr/Mrs… In ‘high’ German it’s Meister, even more rigid.) but about mummy and daddy. I like it a lot more!!! Or, even better, just your ‘Christian name’.
    More later!

    • I love these thoughts, several diary entries is just fine! Dogs are there for us no matter what, they really are and you have hit the nail on the head with cats, they can be so friendly one minute and then scratch you and turn away the next! Still don’t know with Evie, we will have to wait at least another week if not two to know for sure, but her temperament suggests she might be, she is different, we all agree on that, but maybe we are all imagining it! xx

  • Such a lovely post and with a subject that i penned a title too in my list of blogs to be written soon. How lovely to make the association with France and friendship, that was a nice touch. I have written quite a few letters to people over the last few months, having realized that i really dont get the same feeling from a text message as i do from taking the time to write a real letter, and receiving one back is definitely the best feeling. My boyfriend sent my Valentines card through the post as he knew it would make me happier than if he just gave it too me and it worked.. big smiles and excitement when the postman came!! Friendships are so important and lovely when they last the test of time.

    • I can imagine your excitement when you valentine’s day card came in the post, it would have made me super happy too, a rare treat nowadays, what a thoughtful guy he is. Writing a letter I think takes time and one has to think, a text is done in an instant, auto correct does half the work and then it’s gone and almost forgotten. Like many things they have their very useful points, but I think combining emails and texts with written letters is the best way to go. xx

      • Yes it was lovely. He has his moments and that was a thoughtful one and certainly worked for me. We have to keep the old traditions going a bit before we all forget how to communicate properly. I wrote christmas letters last year instead of sending cards. It made a welcome change. X

        • I agree, I still make my children sit down and right thank you letters, the good old fashioned kind that I then put in the post, just because I think it is vital they learn how to do it, maybe they will then one day make their own children do the same thing, maybe we won’t even have a postal service by then, who knows, but whilst we do I am all for keeping the old traditions. Your Christmas letters sound like a lovely idea. xx

  • I never had an active friendship with a country. I did have love affairs with some; none with others! Your mention ….. And I have another friend who is neither animal nor human, she is a country. France is my friend, she has welcomed me and my family with open arms. She has not criticised or judged my foreign accent. She is educating our children. She has made me feel as if I belong. It is a different sort of friendship …. made me sit up and ponder this question. I do believe that you are one of those rare people who are of such a positive disposition about ‘everything’ that it’s not really surprising that you also are thankful for this special country-friendship. I shall, I think, change to see my ‘love affairs’ with countries/places rather as ‘friendships’. Forever I shall, however, associate ‘friendships’ always with the people I met in those places, in those countries – for, if those places weren’t ‘populated’ with said people, they wouldn’t have become so loved, even for all their beauty and generosity.
    Falling in love is so easily done; keeping that love alive, is another matter. Maybe friendships are better…. easier. I do treasure them much and would hate losing the acquired trust, the knowledge that exchanged opinions might no longer be safe…. And both, love and friendship, hurt when no longer active, when they’re gone.
    Let’s CELEBRATE friendships, let’s nourish them. They keep us alive!

    • They really do keep us alive, where would we be in life without our friends, they are to be cherished. Millie received a belated birthday gift from a friend in the post today, a small gift but thought of with the utmost of care, something that most people might put to one side but Millie, she knew, would treasure forever, she was so shocked and so happy, I saw the surprise and the happiness on her face and her obvious love of her friends. Said friend is coming to stay in the summer all the way from the States, it will be wonderful to welcome her here. I think France is my friend, we rub along just fine most of the time, she drives me crazy at others, but for the most part, she’s pretty good to us!! xx

  • Tomorrow will be a Saturday of writing REAL cards. Have several birthdays coming up, a sis with an operation, our own wedding anniversary, a son’s 40th, I shall be busy all day finding the exactly ‘right’ card, putting the thoughts to paper, maybe even writing a letter IN VERY LARGE WRITING to my mother, certainly not forgetting to send a thought to my Californian friend who so spoils me with her artwork, all the time!!!! As HH will be absent from early in the morning, I shall enjoy my special day of treasuring friendships and love 🙂
    Bonne nuit, mes chéri(e)s…

    • Sounds like the most wonderful day and the weather is meant to be cold once more so what better way to spend it than indoors writing to friends. I on the other hand will be in chateau country in the Loire. You can quite guess what I will be doing, but I am hoping that maybe just maybe I will find some time to do a little driving around and a little discovering of the area!! xx

      • We invited my mum-in-law for her 85th birthday to two nights in a Loire-château . It broke us (nearly) but she loved it dearly. And yes, you ‘must’ find some time for yourself!!!!

        • What a lucky lady she was, it must have been fantastic. Back home and not a chateau was visited or scarcely seen from the autoroute! But a good time was had by all and lots of fun and better still the sun was shining and not a drop of rain, at home most of today and gardened like mad, five hours non stop in beautiful weather, can’t complain, life is good! xx

          • Holy MOley…. where do you live woman? We had rain/snow, it is bitter cold, I grabbed my already put-away winter coat with the warm capuchon! am glad that you’re happy though

          • I can’t believe that, it was so so lovely here, honestly, I ate lunch outside for the first time since November! But today it is rainy and 3C and there was even a bit of sleet. Oh well, I can take this as yesterday was just a pure gift! xx

          • I can only report that we had some snow (again!) last night and that it feels VERY unSPRINGTIMEy…. can’t believe that in 2 days we should be taking our apéro outside (well in the veranda, not really outside – but still…)

  • I count men as some of my best friends . In fact the support from males friends when I moved to France, was more than from the females. In fact some have been silent on the subject. My husband has a wonderful friend. They talk rarely but when they do, the time between is dismissed. I have had pets that were great emotional crutches. The French neighbours here have shown friendship beyond what I have ever received from my English counterparts and I am grateful. For my new life here they have by their friendship healed some parts of me that had felt at times humanity can be selfish. If Facebook has a place, for me it’s been a link to old friends when being on opposite sides of the globe otherwise would have been a lost friendship. But my best friend is my husband, my soul mate. Love and friendship….makes life magic.

    • We are on exactly the same wavelength for sure, my husband is my best friend also, if I were to go on holiday I would only ever want to go with him and our children of course, but he is number one choice as opposed to a girls weekend type thing. I am so happy your French neighbours have been so wonderful, it makes all the difference doesn’t it. We too have a wonderful neighbour, we eat there every other week and they come here, we share things, help one another and treat each other I think as neighbours did more in our parents time. xx

  • Such a great post. I love how you describe France as your friend – this is spot on. My husband was in Rochefort last month with his mom and it was so hard for him to leave. For many reasons – our wonderful friends and family and as you say – France. There is a nice Chinese restaurant in Rochefort called Restaurant Le Royal – we are friends with the owners – do you know this place? It’s on Rue Grimaux. When we visit we always stop in – over the years, it’s always easy – even though we don’t see each other often. Great post 👍

    Suz

    • Ooh thank you Suz, no I don’t know it, but it is now firmly on my list of places to visit, there is nothing like personal recommendation to make me want to go somewhere. thank you. xx

      • They would love this-they speak English and you can tell them Colette’s daughter in law Suzanne recommended it to you. They make everything in-house and fresh. Please let me know if you stop in. Have a great week.

        • Oooh how interesting, I will certainly take the family there, we all love Chinese food. I will mention you to them, not sure when it will be, probably during spring break in April. As I said I love anywhere that has a good recommendation and that fact that everything is fresh and made in house, and that someone has told us that is another big bonus! Thank you again and you too have a lovely week xx

          • That’s a great one! I could give you now also the addresses of our friends who invited us twice – fantastic cooks too! And you could tell them that it was Kiki & HH who sent you….! ;
            No kidding, I love recommendations too – and the link to the 2 places in Bergerac will duly be sent too. Just if EVER you should get lost there (and no, our invites were private ones, just to be clear!)
            Wishing you a happy week, we got another 2-3cm of snow overnight, it’s miserably grey, and the heating is up – mustn’t think of the gas-bill. Bills is mostly what I get in the mailbox too these days….

          • We had snow here too, so much of it that the two lane fast road to La Rochelle was reduced to a single lane crawl. I managed a fairly spectacular 90 degree slip and slide skid in the village and everywhere was without power for hours. It was a blizzard! All gone now, the same came back to play today! What a start to spring! xx

  • Thank you! Many of the thoughts you have expressed are close to my own but I was particularly taken and moved by the idea of France as a friend something I had not previouslyconsidered but I now hope to explore this with you further…… and soon! Xx

  • Susan,
    This is such a wonderful post. So many facets to touch upon…so many thoughts to ponder.
    It would take a small book to write about the Blessings my Friends have been to me these past years.
    Looking back (besides my Mom) my most cherished friend was one of my closest friend’s Mom. Bettie B was a this wonderful woman who throughout the years became a confident and my most trusted friend. When she died last year at 94 I was asked to give her Eulogy. Family was the most important thing to her and “Along the Way” I became to her “Family.”
    My Friends from grade school, high school, college, working, children’s friends, travels and now the world of Social Media mean “the world go me.”
    But, my “Everything” in friendship is my family! I have to give kudos to my husband because it will be 40 years in July. I am a strong believer that marriage can’t survive on love alone.
    My daughters, are my BFF’s and they will tell you the same. Quite honestly, this is one of God’s wonderful Blessings to me.
    I believe you are one of the kindest and “sweetest” bloggers I read. And I believe people can be friends without having ever met. I think you are this to so many people, Susan. You are such a lovely and compassionate soul that I think all of your readers consider you a friend and a Blessing to them.
    So thank you, Susan once again for such a lovely Post. Most importantly, thank you for being such a wonderful role model friendship or otherwise.
    And yes I, Too love that you consider France your friend. I mean could She have a lovelier Friend than you? 💝

    • oh thank you so much Stephanie, but you see I think of so many people who read me here as friends, obviously yourself included. But all the people who take the time to comment, that is why I love replying, because each one is like a personal note, a place where we can all chat to one another about this and that. This blog is something of a wonder to me, that it is so popular and that people like what I write, is a big surprise to me and the friendships I have made are the icing on the cake, it is nothing but wonderful and it makes me happy every single time I open it up and read another comment. Like you my children, my son and four daughters are also my best friends, from the youngest to the eldest, and like you, they will tell you the same, we are rally good friends and I love that, I would never want it to be any other way. Roddy and I are also best friends, because I believe that is the first and foremost thing in a long and happy marriage. Every friendship I have is a blessing, every friendship is something to be treasured in my opinion. xx

      • Susan,
        There is no wonder on my end why people enjoy your blog so much. Everything you write one can see that it is done sincerely and with a loving heart.
        In today’s world you are a role model for what is truly important: Family and friendship!
        Happy Monday! 😘

        • Thanks so much Stephanie, family and friends really do have to come first in my book. It is a crazy world where people seem to go around with their heads in their phones. Our family suppers are always such good evenings, not always fun and laughter they can be serious, they can have arguments, but they do mean we can all talk together which is so important and when friends join us it is even better! xx

  • As always great writing my friend, and looking forward for the more great writing and photography and reading what you and your family are up to.
    You are my posted friend who is so talented that I enjoy following.

    • Thank you so much Carolyn, you know I consider everyone here a friend, whether we have met or not, it is a lovely place to chat and comment and just talk about this and that. xx

  • Friends are so important in our life. Whenever we need any help, it is always the friends who would come up any time and help you. I feel it is very important to have a very strong bond with our friends. Sharing, caring and enjoying with friends is so special feeling. These friends are ones who make our life complete.

  • A lovely post Susan. Yes, friends come in different shapes and sizes – friends for a day, for a week or two, for life, it doesn’t matter, they all bring something into our lives to enrich it when we need it most. I have an old friend I’ve known since we started school together aged 5. We went to different secondary schools, she went to training college, I went out to work, I went to live in South Africa and she moved to Kent. I came back and we met again when we had our first babies. We’ve been through all the sad and happy times in each others lives even though we live a 2 hour drive apart now. Recently I went to stay for a few days with her and it was so good to spend some chill time together. Precious time in these years as we get a bit older. I have also met some new friends in our village and that is something you think won’t happen when you get older, but there’s always room in our lives for new friends. It has also struck me, moving away to a completely new place at this stage in life, how women are so good at communicating and getting out there to make things happen. There are a few new ladies in our village and they are all eager to be friendly and helpful and to build a ‘new’ life here. One has discovered a novel idea to get people together – a Soup and Pud group! I’d never heard of it, but we have got 8 ladies together and our first meeting is next month. The hostess makes a soup and a pud and we spend a couple of hours at lunchtime getting to know each other. The next time it’s at someone else’s house. It sounds fun so I’m looking forward to it! Incidentally, my ‘old’ friend is very good at sending cards. She always sends a lovely card with something written from her, after she has been to stay, or after a birthday gift etc. I’m trying to remember to do that as well, because I know how much I love seeing a hand-written envelope sitting on the mat!! And there are some beautiful cards around these days. However, I do still agree that the internet and social media have their place and talking to our little grandsons, or receiving a video on my birthday from them, is magic!! Right, I’m off to research soup recipes!!! Have a lovely week and I hope you haven’t had more snow like us!!

    • Old friends and new friends are all to be cherished, I totally agree and I don’t think we are ever too old to make new friends. I love the soup and pud idea, I have never heard of it either, but it sounds so sensible and such a great way for new people to get to know one another in the village. A good homemade soup and a little piece of baguette is still my favourite lunch! We have not had any snow at all. It was forecast to be bitterly cold and then it seems to have done quite the opposite, instead of the rain and horrid day forecast we had non stop sunshine and really warm weather, I spent all afternoon gardening without the need for a coat! Hope you have a great week and some spring weather! xx

    • Marian, this also warmed MY heart…. great words and the S&P group thingie sounds just really up my road! You will have such fun. I’m actually a bit jealous now! 😉
      One of my great handicaps is that I should write everything in three languages. Of course it’s a huge blessing to be in contact with great people of all those different tongues but I find it impossible to keep all the exchange of news/fun/info/ going in all of these languages. And YES, of course I appreciate and am grateful for knowing and speaking those too but it often throws a spanner in the wheels of my overflowing heart and soul!

  • I consider you a friend even through we have never met. Receiving your posts each week, even though I rarely comment, is always one of the highlights of my week. It’s like a letter from a friend that I cannot wait to read. It is always interesting and you are always so optimistic and you always leave me feeling so positive.

    • Thank you so much Erin, I try to always be very upbeat, sure life is never perfect and we all have good days and bad days and problems, but I like to focus on the positive always, as I think it makes us all feel a little bit better and we all need that! xx

  • A lovely post…and lovely photo’s as always 💙 Having just had the pleasure of a dear friend visiting me from the country (or as we say in Australia…’the Bush’), your post struck a familiar cord…

  • What a beautiful post. I am reminded of the fact that I often remark to people that the FRench have a different approach to friendship than the English and certainly the Americans. Here, we go through quite a long courtship before we become absolutely firm and life-long friends, in the UK we are somewhere in the middle and in the US it is ‘hi, I’m your new best friend’ but you must make the next move if you want to move along. The French are less prying and actually not comfortable with tidbits of ones personal life until they feel you have reached the status of good friend, whereas it is normal for British and American women to swap intimacies quite early on. Now this idea may be formed through lack of having school aged children, I guess but it has certainly been my experience and I thank France for its Frenchness in this regard because despite all signs to the contrary, I am actually a very shy person. Thank you Susan, for making me think about friendship afresh and for reminding me to make sure I keep in touch with those that I owe correspondence to. Overdue will not do!! Love to you all and thank you for being one that I count as a friend xxx

    • Thanks so much and likewise you as a friend, hopefully we can delete the virtual part at some stage! I think you are spot on with your observations about friendship forming in the UK/USA and France. Having school aged children, I do think that it is still the same, mothers are friendly, but it takes quite a while to move past the acquaintance stage into the true friendship stage. French women are definitely far more reserved which is not a bad thing in my opinion, I don’t like sharing personal details with strangers either, I always used to think it was a very British thing, but now I think that the French are even more reserved than we are! But one thing I have learnt here is that when one does move onto the true friendship stage it then lasts and is a very solid friendship and a very special one. xx

    • Totally agree – now we will have to ‘sort out’ the Swiss friendship item….. You made me laugh at your underlining your ‘shy person’ality. I do the same, I am the same – but once I give my heart away, shyness just hurls away!

  • Have to quickly share the latest friendship sign (which made me squeeze a tear or two). On Saturday we received a very large handmade card with a photo of those cacti with the heart-shaped ears, taken on a recent visit of the Botanical Garden nearby my sister’s place…. Inside she placed a folded A4 sheet with a frame of red hearts and her text was something along the lines of ‘congratulations to your 20yrs of mariage. Even with your ‘only’ 20 years you are to be counted in nowadays top-charts of staying together. She congratulates us to our mutual trust, perseverance and exercising patience, giving out so much love and leaving things aside which don’t get us any closer to the goal. In German we have the expression: Fünf gerade sein lassen – not easy to translate but basically: Able to let it be….
    She continued that they too are busy everyday to work to keep up the ‘good work’, a work hardest when one doesn’t feel generous and knowing that this is when the other needs the love most, wishing us God’s blessings, happiness, patience and love, forgiveness and the grace to even sometimes ‘close both eyes’ when needed in order to stay happy…. Signed xox (in their 43rd year ….)
    THAT is friendship/love and all the good things thrown in – in just one card – and I wouldn’t bet that the cactus-photo was entirely put there just because of the heart-shaped ears!?! 😉

    • How utterly fabulous, nowadays 20 years is something certainly to be proud of and you are both happy, what more can one ask for. We are 22 years and equally happy, life is good xxx

  • LOVE LOVE LOVE The photo of the CHICKS on the MOSSED COVERED ROCKS!
    FRIENDS come and GO…………….
    The ones you have known longest tend to always make me smile!

  • Hi,

    Loved your post. I have started blogging about what I am grateful for in life and friends are the one thing I am grateful for.
    Anyways, wish you all the best.

    Cheers from Solomon Islands
    Mary

    • Hi Mary Enya, I think you are probably the first person who has ever commented from the Soloman Islands, wonderful to hear from you, thank you. I agree, friends are something we should be so grateful for, they are to be cherished and treasured. Have a great week xx

  • Friendship takes so many forms and is always beautiful. I love seeing friends that I haven’t seen in forever and you just pick up as if you just spoke a day before. The friendship of a pup, a special one. A companion on a good and bad day. Someone who lifts your spirits and always makes you smile, even when they have been mischevious.

    Thank you for sharing your friendships and for the reminder that they are all special and we are blessed ot have them.

    • Thanks Elizabeth, I think friends whether they are two or four legged are to be cherished and treasured at all times. I know I love my friends, they are very special to me whether I see them once a week or once a year. xx

  • I love that you mention your friendship with France. Alongside human and animal friendships, I have found some of my greatest companions in the landscapes I have explored. May you and France continue to develop a beautiful relationship.

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