This is a humdinger (an underused word) of a Friends post from the lovely Vivienne. You may remember Vivienne from her incredible AOP ( with her Gran throwing confetti, the one that had us all in bits). She’s written a tale of friendship that began with horse riding and has remained through death, marriage and the very biggest rocks life can throw at you. This kind of friendship is what women are made for.
Over to you, Vivienne:
Lisa came in to my life at 13, joining her sister Sarah as a stable girl at our local riding school, where we spent long summers galloping through woodlands, and cold winters huddled round tiny fan heaters thawing out frozen fingers and toes.
(L-R) myself, Lucy, and Lisa setting off on our practice Duke of Edinburgh Expedition for our Bronze award (we were 14-15 here)…
At school, with Lisa, came Lucy. Bonded over our mutual love of horses, the two of them became a three. We were soon inseparable, our mothers each acquiring 2 more daughters, weekends and holidays being long term sleepovers, fuelled by cups of tea, battenburg cake and cheese and biscuits.
Much to our teachers disdain, we shared a lot of classes, and even if they managed to silence our talking, our written communication went unnoticed. Despite more house moves than I can count on two hands, the notebooks – shared diaries filled with our observations on horses, boys, classmates and parents, some written in a code that I’m sure made sense at the time – still sit in my wardrobe, waiting one day to be read again. If nothing else, the diagrams are self explanatory…
Our affection for our horses was soon rivalled by the attention of boys, although we easily mixed the two for a while. First crushes, first kisses and first heartbreaks were all laughed and cried over on horseback, tears soon absorbed by thick manes. As we approached leaving school, cups of tea starting to be replaced with a penchant for port, we hit the local pubs – full of young, hot-blooded farmers, booze at 50p a nip, and police who turned a blind eye to the 16 year olds in the corner. It was here I met my first boyfriend – the one who would pull me out of our closely bonded triangle for three years and return me a broken version of myself.
But I was lucky. Despite time passing, and us finding ourselves dotted round the country, when I needed them, they were there. They put me back together with copious amounts of caffeine and alcohol, and we became three again. We pulled each other through failed university attempts, dodgy boyfriends and those so dodgy they never got as far as being a boyfriend, numerous career changes, and really scary grown up stuff like buying a house.
No friendship is without its ups and downs. We’ve annoyed the hell out of each other, but other than a small misdemeanour involving a boy at 16 (aren’t all fights boy related at that age?), we rarely have a cross word. Falling out with either Lisa or Lucy would be like falling out with a part of myself.
4 years ago, along came my future husband. With their seal of approval on the man I proposed spending the rest of my days with, I didn’t even need to ask them to be my bridesmaids. Never too old for a ‘sleepover’, my hen do ended with me snoring contentedly in Lucy’s ear, her clinging on desperately as my ample backside threatened to push her out of the single bed. And they stood proudly next to me on my wedding day, our triangle becoming a square, 15 years of shared history bringing us to this point.
Me, Lucy (blonde) and Lisa (brunette) and Ellie my flowergirl while I was still in not-too-nervous, not-going-to-cry mode pre-ceremony. This photograph and the one below by the very very talented Scott Hogg.
Sadly, this year has seen us lose Sarah, Lisa’s beloved sister, and our dear friend, to cancer. The baby of our triangle has shown immeasurable strength, wisdom and courage, and the way she has dealt with Sarah’s death, with a maturity beyond any of our years, is a testament to how good a sister, daughter and friend she is. Her pain has been our pain, and it hurts my heart to see her go through this.
A few weeks after Sarah’s funeral, I discovered I was pregnant. A gift from heaven sent, the girls are gearing up to be super Aunties, with plans of riding lessons and days out. As with every big life change, I know they will be right behind me with their own special brand of encouragement. I just hope that one day my children are lucky enough to find friends like them.
Lisa giving my tearful Gran a hug which is one of my favourite photos from the wedding even though we aren’t in it!