25 years later

I fell in love with a Boy Scout when I was 16.

While the Boy Scout and I fell out of love again about six years later, many wonderful, lasting things have resulted from our relationship.

I remain on friendly terms with my first love, I have stayed close to many of his former Boy Scout friends and I even introduced two of them to fabulous women I know.

Those introductions resulted in relationships that have stood the test of time: Lindy married John and Kirsten married Darren.

Lindy and I were bridesmaids at Kirsten and Darren’s wedding, which was held at a beautiful mansion in Newcastle called the Bella Vista in 1997.

And on Saturday night, the bride and groom invited us to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.

Darren and Kirsten have been very kind to me over the years, especially during the difficult period of my marriage breakdown. They invited me away for the weekend during one of my toughest times and their hospitality and laughter got me through when I was hanging by a thread.

They’ve also been incredibly welcoming to DD, who was my handsome plus one for dinner on Saturday night. (I look a bit odd in the photo because I had a mouthful of banana pudding that I was attempting to swallow as Ian snapped us with his camera …)

We have shared some wonderful moments together over the years, including weekends in the Hunter Valley, red wine appreciation dinner parties and pre-Christmas celebrations.

Many of the gatherings have been totally unforgettable, including a private dinner together at Darren’s favourite vineyard, Brokenwood, while Fleetwood Mac played live at an adjacent winery.

Saturday night’s dinner was another wow moment – it was held at The Newcastle Club, with drinks in the bar overlooking the bright lights of the city, then a three-course meal in a private room.

I’d never been to The Newcastle Club before, it is in a stately heritage building in the heart of the city. But photographing its interior is frowned upon – even looking at your phone isn’t kosher – so I can’t share its magic with you. I’ve just added a few photos I found online.

One of the reasons Darren likes The Newcastle Club is because he’s a major wine fan and it has an excellent cellar. It recently won 2022 Best NSW Wine List in a club venue at the 2022 NSW Sommelier’s Wine List Awards and we sampled some very special drops over dinner.

We had a lot of fun at Darren and Kirsten’s wedding and it has continued in the decades since. That’s Lindy and I with groomsman Ian above. He is a bit like Dorian Gray and actually looks more handsome and dapper 25 years later than he did back then.

As for the bride and her bridesmaids, here’s what we looked like then …

And now …

Darren and Kirsten also brought along their wedding photo album and, in between courses, we attempted to recreate our poses. (And also got some butter stains on the cover, eek, sorry about that Darren, I swear it wasn’t me!

Lindy has even kept her bridesmaid’s dress for all these years, and brought it along for old time’s sake on Saturday night.

Sadly I was still feeling fairly under the weather during the gathering, so we were the first to leave. But it was a very special night and I wish I had raised another glass to the happy couple before I wobbled out into the rainy night.

Thank you Darren and Kirsten for your many decades of friendship and generosity. May we all gather again in 25 years time to celebrate your 50th wedding anniversary – I promise to give you a proper toast then.

In the circular way my world works, the next time we see Darren and Kirsten will be at another Bella Vista, this one in Sydney’s west, where we are looking forward to sitting on folding chairs and enjoying Red Hot Summer together.

Song of the day: Simply Red “Holding back the years”

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