The month in the UK is going well - not too much stress, wardrobe functioning properly, etc. - and this weekend I managed to get out of family obligations and had time to catch up with some old friends.
On Friday I went out with a really old friend - we went to infant and junior school together, then we were split up, going to boys and girls schools respectively, and then we finally found ourselves on the same college course aged 16.
We spent some time travelling together during our late teens and shared a fondness for strange times in strange cities, a drink, a pill and a smoke, and the music of the Smiths. It was an odd old time in both of our lives.
Anyway, we last saw each other last year, which was the first time in 18 years. Eek. This time we met up in a cool pub, and made a big dent in the pub's gin stocks. We chatted about old times, recent times and times ahead of us and slotted in to each others lives as if there had never been a time delay. Towards the end of the night we caught up with her boyfriend (who I last saw 20 years ago) and headed into the city centre.
We drank late into the night and it was like we were back in 1987, in the days when we all used to work behind the bar of the same pub - serving drinks to our friends and largely ignoring all the other customers.
The great thing about good friends is the way you can not see each other for a while (or for 18 years) and then pick up as if no time had ever passed. Beautiful, and to be valued highly, in my books.
Saturday night had me driving to the wilds of Derbyshire where I caught up with my Male Model friend. Truly, he's a male model. Hilarious. He does a lot of adverts for third world airlines and the like. He moves in weird circles - circles that even I find strange. You can imagine, I'm sure.
Anyway, we sat at his kitchen table and drank our way through five and a half bottles of Cloudy Bay pinot noir. Fabulous wine, fabulous company and a fabulous hangover this morning. Again, it had been a couple of years since we last saw each other and, even though we exchanged emails pretty regularly, there was a whole load to catch up on.
I went to bed feeling blessed to have such great friends. Perhaps the alcohol was also contributing to my mood - it certainly contributed to me falling down his staircase on my way back from the bathroom....
I woke up this morning with a tongue in my ear and thought my luck had changed. Although, whoever it was had the breath of the devil. Alas, it was only the dog. The very same dog who had spent much of the previous evening humping my leg under the table. Far from ideal, but I guess there was something about my leg that put him in mind of a labrador bitch. Maybe it was my shoes?
Anyway, the point of all this meandering is to say that I love my friends. I feel lucky to have them, and grateful that there are still people in this world willing to talk to me and buy me a beer.
Truly, my friends are what hold my life together. They inspire me and humour me. They give me encouragement and a shoulder to cry on. They tell me I'm cool and don't laugh at my yellow trainers. And they are always up for a beer or two.
Does it get any better? Not for me it doesn't.