It's not how long they've been in my life, it's what they bring to it.
Over supper one night we were discussing friends and friendship. The girls asked me if I had a best friend, to which I said that I didn't have a best ever best best friend from the first day at school but I was lucky to have 10 years with Mme Cholet and the best of friends which is a group equivalent of BFFs!
Growing up in a small village with an older brother, horses, rabbits, ferrets, dogs and friends there was always something to do and somewhere to go. We're talking about the 70s when our flared dungarees got stuck in our chains, the sun always shone and London was about as far removed from village life as you could get. As time marched on and we all went our different ways the one thing that remained was friendship, those of us who went to boarding school would write endless letters about things that had happened at school and ask loads of questions about what was happening at home, whilst the friends still at home would regale us with stories of what was happening in the village and ask us all about what was happening at school, at exeats and holidays our worlds would merge again and we would pick up where we left off.
Nowadays with friends all over the place and children scattered far and wide the easy catch ups aren't as easy to sort out but when we get together we savour every minute and need a week to recover. Heartwarmingly the one thing that remains is the comfortable friendship and the little things that make me love my group of friends.
They're all special in their own ways and whilst we don't sit and chat about how we first met or silly things that have happened over the years there's some things about my friends that make them the best of friends ....
The friend from college who chained her bike to mine one night so that I had to wait for her to emerge bleary eyed in the morning to release my bike.
The neighbour who offered to make a cup of tea when I was in labour, then made one for herself.
The colleague who suggested I changed shifts to be on her shift pattern and then dragged me out for a very long walk when I was in need of space and a friendly face.
The loon who sent me a text and I could read the laughter when she mentioned my Spoken English O Level.
The one who turns up empty handed when I am cooking and leaves with a dish of deliciousness.
On meeting little knowing that life would change in one conversation.
The one who we tease about the late night phone slots but love her all the same!
There's the ones who enlarge photos of the house when I have moved everything around and ask where I have put all my nik naks.
The amazingly intuitive one who knows, sometimes when I don't, that I need support and sends me something daft through the post.
Not forgetting the friend who without realising has made a difference to my day with a completey out of the blue text or phone call.
The one who took a photo of my ironing pile for her to look at when her ironing pile was nothing more than a pimple but it was stressing her out.
The Godmothers who love my girls and they love them.
The childhood friend who refers to me as his youngest oldest when he is my oldest oldest.
The group who sit around and talk rubbish until the early hours and then pick up where we have left off.
The one who laughs at jokes despite not getting them first time.
Those who by just saying a few words can start off laughter.
The neighbour who warmed us up and offered us baths when our boiler died, only to find that their water had been cut off following a leak in the road.
The friends who we met on holiday and have laughed with ever since.
The equally enebriated one who congratulated me on holding my glass so still whilst sleeping and proceeded to tell everyone the next day.
Those who turn up and know where everything is in my kitchen.
The one that walks in and gives me marks out of 10 for the hall way tidiness.
The playground mum who when Big Welsh had been really poorly held me tight in the playground and let me cry.
The colleagues who popped in for visits and walked the dog when I was too ill to do anything.
The ones who share the same taste in music and get in touch when they hear a tune.
The school friends who all made journeys to be with a friend who had a terminal brain tumour and those who were there for me.
The flower farmer who makes the best risotto.
The radio presenter who stares at me open mouthed at my accident prone episodes.
The hospital visitor who washed my back when I was slow and in pain following my third caesarian.
The nice woman at the end of my radio asking me very nicely to attend an incident who then became a good and very trusted friend.
The email from a friend who asked to borrow one of the girls' name and then said in her book Love Potions "thank you for everything but especially for lending me your gorgeous Milla".
Those who influence and shape the look of the day.
Those who I've lost contact with and then they come back into my life and it's like they've never been away.
Those who are no longer in my life but who I think of and hope they are safe, well and happy.
The one who said "thank you for never giving up on me" when her new partner exerted his bullying authority and cut her off from all her friends.
There's the ones who have their favourite chair in my kitchen.
The one that the girls all adore who we don't see enough and when she's with us it's full on laughter and when she's gone she leaves us chortling long after.
Those on a different time zone whose emails brighten up the morning when they're fast asleep and we're wide awake.
The friend from Ross on Wye whose recipes always make me hungry and wish she was closer.
The wise friend who wrote Practically Perfect and told me I was perfectly perfect even if I didn't think so at the time.
The step sister who is a year older than me for 6 days only.
The neighbours in our 20s who we would have a quick drink with, forgetting we had said "just a quick drink".
The friend who said don't do it but I did it anyway, who then didn't say I told you so.
Everyone who lives along the the M4, A303, A40, A470 or within a 100 mile radius of wherever I am going and says pop in when you're passing.
Not forgetting the newly acquainted friend who turned up and asked if there was anything she could do to help who was then shown the baby that needed cereal and the hoover.
Or the one with OCD who copes admirably in my organised chaos.
The loyal ones who were always there and continue to be.
And above all, those friends who make me laugh, smile and get hayfever moments!
That's what makes my friends the best of friends.