How to give a friend a birthday present, and overdose on coffee, in the nicest way.
Drive to very lovely hotel just at the end of the walk through Jesmond Dene that I often make with the dogs. (But driving means no mud-encrusted shoes.)
Feel guilty about not taking the dogs with me. (But leaving them at home means no mud encrustation anywhere at all.)
Meet very lovely friends, who have just ordered coffee for three.
Hand over presents, except for the one I bought before Christmas and put away in a safe place. Forget the hours of turning the house upside down trying to find it, and how I had to order something else instead, as a matter of some urgency.
Sit back, sip coffee, and watch as friend and husband browse.
Success! Happy 54th Birthday, A!
Drive home, change clothes and shoes, and go out to get very muddy with dogs in the Dene.
(And if you really want to know, they're looking at Molly Wizenberg's 'A Homemade Life' and Ros Byam Shaw's 'Perfect English Cottage'.)