The year I lived amongst Regensburg’s medieval structures, in a house hunched on the Danube, I saw P most every day. Sometimes not until late at night: when daily tasks and chores were done, we would meet on the oldest stone bridge in Europe and walk through the darkness, spotting beavers feasting on riverside logs and fish leaping out of blackened waters. Every Friday we would spend our mornings visiting a museum or spot of cultural interest, quickly tire of their stuffy interiors and retire to a darkened cafe for a (we thought) well-earned mouthful of Kaffee and Kuchen. When frosts melted and spring came, we played badminton by the river, ate dinner on P’s Altstadt balcony and spent our weekends riding side by side as far as we could manage along the Danube bike trail. 

Though I adore my life in England, and the copious cups of excellent breakfast tea Germany denied, one of the more permanent sorrows of daily life is no longer living five minutes away from my dear Regensburg friend, P. Besides being a constant companion that year, P is the most loyal, funny and encouraging friend I could ever have wished for – and I do often miss his inimitable sense of humour and penchant for a good slice of cake. 

So the delight was immeasurable when, last week, a spontaneous hurry of text messages back and forth (until Piers left his telephone

zu Hause!

) culminated in this late afternoon reunion in St. James’ Park. Along with Ellie and my two best pals (who love P as much as I), we danced and jumped and ice-creamed and smiled; and stood indecisively outside Charing Cross station, paralysed with joy at being so unexpectedly reunited. I laughed so hard that my stomach began to ache and we certainly frightened a few innocuous tourists with our giggles. I cannot explain my joy at spending an afternoon with these four – four of my favourite individuals in England. They are truly

the best.