My oldest friend arrived in this world when I was nearly two. Her parents had a farm around the road from my parent's flower and sheep farm. One of Daphne's brothers is my brother's best mate. Living in the back of beyond, or so it seemed back then, we spent virtually every weekend at each other's place or on the road in between and looking for eels in the creek. We walked the miles to the school bus together.
My brother and I shared the Crocombe's grandparents as we didn't have any left. Whenever they all went to the beach so did we. There'd be seven kids squashed into the car, the windows done and the dust from the road pouring in and clogging our throats. To this day I dislike tinned peas which were always present at those beach picnics.
When I was ten I went to boarding school where one of the best times of day was when the mail arrived. Daphne and I wrote to each other throughout the years I was away, she keeping me uptodate with her family and friends, while I wrote about a very different world to where we lived. I cherished those letters. And this year for my birthday she sent me a letter - the old fashioned way, written with a pen on paper and posted in an envelope.
Most of our lives we've lived a fair way apart, many of those years in different islands of New Zealand, but we know the other one is there at the end of a phone, email or plane trip. This is true friendship and oh, so important.
When I wrote The Dangers of Dating Your boss I needed for my heroine an old lady neighbour who always had big bloomers hanging on the washing line. Naming this lady came out of left field, 'call her Mrs Crocombe'. So I did and when the book arrived in hard copy I sent Daphne a copy with a covering note, 'Please apologise to your mum for the bloomers. I know she never wore them in her life.'
Last week I received a thick but soft envelope in the post. Opening it I found the biggest pair of bright pink knickers signed by Mrs Crocombe - the now well-known-in-Meremere Mrs C. These knickers are now fixed in pride of place on my office wall making me laugh every time I look up.
This truly is a life long friendship that includes all the members of our families. We only have a handful of close friends but they are worth their weight in gold.
Do you have a special lifelong friend? Tell me about them and go into the draw for a copy of Every Boy's Dream Dad.