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Getting together with our old tennis team from Sherborne days is always a huge pleasure. It wasn’t until we were reminiscing that we all realised that this was, in fact, our tenth anniversary. Although we meet up separately between reunions, the 2-3 day reunion has gained very special significance.

This year it was Pip and Mike’s turn to host. They live in Emsworth in Hampshire, very close to the grave of Sir Peter Blake whose English home used to be nearby.

Gill drove me down via Sainsbury’s so that I could pick up my contribution to the ‘party’ – the wine. The others had all prepared various delicacies to bring along, but with no kitchen at my disposal and only arriving the night before I was lucky to be able to bring along what I could bring really easily – and of course it was New Zealand wine!

We actually diverted to Alresford to pick Bubby up because Martin was going to follow a couple of days later to play a game of golf with Mike and take her back. So, of course, we arrived with Pip at about 2.00 for lunch by which time everyone was starving.

Mike and Pip live at the end of a very quiet cul-de-sac.

Their garden is always a picture and this year they had the most beautiful rose just outside the back door which I had to snap. Its petals were all frilly and it’s colour was so pure.

We were very fortunate to be together to see the matches where Nadal and Sharapova were both beaten, not because we hoped they’d lose but because their opponents were so young and so fearless and the standard of the tennis was breathtaking.

The weather was stunning and we were able to have all our meals in the garden. The rest of the team are superb cooks, either having studied at the Cordon Bleu Cooking establishment in Woking many years ago, or having done things like managing kitchens for weekend house parties in the depths of Scotland! It was no wonder that we lingered after each meal because we were just too full to move!

Ginia, my partner all those years ago could, in fact, only come for lunch on Tuesday but it was wonderful that she drove all the way from Bristol, two hours each way, just to be with us all. It was sad to say goodbye again but great that we’d caught up.

Martin (on the left behind Gill) duly arrived on Wednesday morning and he and Mike (hiding in the shade) disappeared off to the golf course. Bub (right) stayed on to spend more time with Pip (next to Mike) while Gill and I made our way back to London. She was leaving the following day for a wedding in Northumberland so I was to be trusted with looking after her beautiful home in London.

Hampshire, England - 30 June to 2 July 2014

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