When I was of an age to collect autographs in a book with pages of assorted pastel colours, an elderly neighbour contributed a phrase about friendship that I've quoted here previously: Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver the other gold.   Well, forty years on and all of that, we spent the weekend in Yorkshire with some of our oldest friends, much of it sitting around their table enjoying all the good things that such long lasting friendships provide: great conversation, memories of people and places, a bottle or two (or three or...) and of course, counting our blessings.  Christopher and Michael had met on more or less the same weekend as my hero and I in 1978, so between us, we could spend quite some time doing that.


When we did stir from our comfortable chairs and venture out into the stunning Yorkshire landscape, we found beautiful little distractions here and there.


Our friends know all the best places to visit and a shared interest in the good things might have involved a little tasting here and there...  Well, it was time to replenish our supplies of Masons Gin and we felt it important to compare my favourite Yorkshire Tea variety with the newer flavours.  (A bottle of Peppered Pear might have been purchased by one of us....not to mention the more recent favourite of someone who has a birthday coming up) 


Having stashed the purchases safely in the car, it was time to move on a bit further up the dale, because our next destination had recently moved from the Courtyard to another location on the other side of Settle.


The minute we stepped inside The Courtyard Dairy we were plied with samples of this and that: delicious tastes of cheeses from here and there, each one accompanied by a bit of information about the producer: how many sheep on this farm; a bit of background about the family that produced another...  Of course we couldn't resist bringing some home with us!  


So, with tweed, gin and cheese already in the boot of the car, perhaps it was time to stop shopping and go in search of some culture?


Clapham is a lovely village to wander around on a sunny bank holiday afternoon, speculating who might live in a cottage like this...


It looked as though there had been a wedding in the church the previous day, but picking up a small card at the back of the church suggested another possibility.  The Farrer family are long established in Clapham and a dedication of a sculpture memorial for John and Joan Farrer had taken place at the weekend.


We went outside to take a look at it: "local limestone - curves of my mother's handwriting - curlews - up to the hills"   It was indeed an interesting work and clearly, very personal.


That wasn't our reason for coming to Clapham, however - we had art to peruse!


and tea to drink...and cake to the company of you know who....


What better way to spend a bank holiday weekend, than in the company of such cherished friends?  Thank you Christopher and Michael, then, for a great weekend - and here's to the next forty years!

Oh, and my curiosity regarding the origin of that little autograph book saying led me to the usual fount of all knowledge and a "best guess" to the source as Joseph Parry, who wrote:

Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.
New-made friendships, like new wine,
Age will mellow and refine.
Friendships that have stood the test -
Time and change - are surely best;
Brow may wrinkle, hair grow grey,
Friendship never knows decay.
For 'mid old friends, tried and true,
Once more we our youth renew.
But old friends, alas! may die,
New friends must their place supply.
Cherish friendship in your breast-
New is good, but old is best;
Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.

Bustin' out

Bustin' out

Making a start

Making a start