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Yesterday I took Sara to Montpellier on the first stage of her trip back to Edinburgh (eventful as her train was cancelled, the connection to the flight from Nice missed, so a tortuous alternative trip via Lyon).

I do realise that Sara has a life back in Fife and a queue of other friends wanting to visit or be visited by her, but I wish I could grab a larger chunk of her time each year.

Sara, Bob and their children, Lucie and James, became our next door neighbours in 1972 when we moved into India Street in Edinburgh. The temporary hole in our party wall, made so we could wheelbarrow out the contents of the hole which became our extension, turned into a permanent gate.  The children moved back and forth between the two houses, invariably choosing to eat where the menu was more promising. Kate in particular was also drawn by  their extensive basket of dressing up clothes.

Sara went on to become a talented primary school teacher, working later with incredibly handicapped children.  My picture of her at this time is of someone sitting happily at the kitchen table, surrounded by children, deep into making interesting things with lavatory rolls and bits of wool.

Nearly 50 years on she is still my pal.

We talk and talk, invariably at the same time and interrupting each other.  (She would claim that this is my forté but I would claim that we are equally gifted.) And we laugh and laugh – and eat and eat.

Apart from mending some clothes (Sara is very gifted at all arts and crafts including sewing) she once again found time to stock up my freezer with boxes of delicious soups.

This was a particular pleasure this year as we were using the new induction hob and oven and even newer set of kitchen pots (bought with advice from my son in law, Ed, and arriving the same day as Sara).  I say ‘we’ because for once I pulled my weight – a little – in the kitchen. But it was Sara who christened the big pots with her soups. I’m pleased that my old pots are winging their way to Sara’s son, James, another talented cook.

Maybe next year I might make it to Sara’s new(ish) home, which has stunning views over the estuary of the River Tay in Scotland.



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