“You will be fine the world does not end at Mike I assure you!”
Wise words from Amber when I’d split up from my ex-boyfriend here in New Zealand last year and wondering what to do next. I knew I’d get good sensible practical advice. We’d chatted many a time about relationships, being single and not needing to be with someone else, rather wanting to be.
For some reason I’d lost part of myself in that relationship. I don’t know whether it was the relationship, or the move to New Zealand, or perhaps it was a bit of both.
Amber reminded me of who I was, and that it most definitely wasn’t defined by a man. If anything, quite the opposite. “Go make the most of a great opportunity!”.
I first met her when I’d just moved into Eton Lodge and knocked on the door to introduce myself to whoever lived at Number 8. Niamh opened the door, and her and her friend Amber were having a glass of wine. They invited me to join them, but I’d just put my dinner in the oven so I declined. They looked like uber chic city girls and I was slobbing in pyjama bottoms with a kids tea of fish fingers cooking.
One Sunday afternoon, a few weeks later, Niamh invited me over for a coffee when Amber was round again. She put the kettle on but then said, what about a G&T instead?
“Ohh, I’m not that keen on gin. I haven’t drank it since my ex mother-in-law made a horrifically strong one for me and I couldn’t drink it.” I replied.
“Go on. Shall I make you a really weak one?” said Niamh.
That was the start of my love affair with gin. It was delicious.
Amber was – is – hilarious. She stands no bullshit, says things how she finds them, does her own thing, loves food, jazz and wine, is the life of the party and often makes ambitious plans on a Saturday or Sunday morning forgetting she has a penchant for evening drinking.
She and Niamh introduced me to a load of people in Cheltenham, and welcomed me into the fold. From Stav, the most loveable Greek-Cheltonian I have ever met, to Cally, who is just bonkers wonderful to Aiden who is a professional opera singer (in my world people who have those kind of jobs only exist in books and big cities) and so many others in between.
As I write this, I can actually picture us all like characters in a chick lit book, ploughing through Cheltenham single life with wine, jazz, food and fun. Eurovision parties, hanging out at the park, drinking too much red wine on birthdays, dancing on chairs at German Peter’s proper Oktoberfest party, and drinking bubbles while watching the sun set on Amber’s roof terrace.
When I was in my twenties, I’d read these books and feel a pang of longing to live this kind of life. The single, carefree life filled with friends and fun. Hurrah to have had it in my thirties, and what bloody good fun it was.