Yesterday I was given a friendship cake by my next door neighbour. I didn’t know what a friendship cake was but she had a set of instructions and basically it is a yeast factory for producing more yeast and sharing it, so that the yeast keeps growing and a cake is baked from it every 10 days – a German tradition it seems. How wonderfully practical and what a nice gift! I shall of course offer some yeast back in 10 days time.

But it’s not about the yeast or the cake – it’s the friendship. Between our houses there was a fence. We have lived beside each other for 8 years but this year when the fence was taken down (to replace it) we got to know each other better. I have baked bread for her, she has given me this cake,

Freddie on the prowl

next door’s cat thinks our woodmice are fair game and I accept that – cats will be cats. The barriers have come down. I could easily live without that fence now.

Today went to the graveyard of St Mary’s to place a candle and cross on the grave of Andrej Jacobson, a Polish soldier who died on this day in 1946. To our absolute delight there was a Polish service  of remembrance in progress so we just joined them. Couldn’t understand but that doesn’t matter. I knew when they were saying the Hail Mary and the Lord’s Prayer and we’re not Catholics but that doesn’t matter either.  Andrej didn’t ask as he lay dying in a Morpeth infirmary whether an Ulster Baptist should be allowed to put a cross on his grave… I do it for friendship – because I met his brother once. It was remarkable. It was moving to stand there with those people in the name of friendship.

And today because of that friendship, I met Father Janusz Szura, a very affable man with a lovely voice and now I can put him in contact with the Jacobson family.

And so friendship grows – but it’s a bit like that yeast mixture, you have to first accept and then nurture it.

So why not give some friendship today? Help a stranger. Give to a neighbour. Cross that barrier. Make a new friend.

First stage:

Like most things it starts as a bubbling bowl of goo

Second Stage:

It grows and grows and each addition makes it richer

Third Stage:

Like all good friendships, it's worth the effort.

This cake is truly delicious hot with cream or cold on its own and it cuts and freezes well.