I think I can safely say Stuart Irving was a very close friend as well as being a long time neighbour. When a neighbour of more than 40 years dies it is a bit like losing a family member.
The Irving family and the Swan family had a friendly rivalry over the wall as our gardens were connected by a stile. We visited each other on a regular basis, our children grew up and went to school together.
The most interesting bit about our relationship was garden design rivalry (tongue in cheek).
There was a spell of wet weather many years ago and a puddle formed in my garden, Stuart thought I was building a fish pond. So he did, with waterfall, fish and bendy bridge.
Susan and I decided to have a simple wooden porch built on the rear of our cottage, nothing flash. Stuart watched the building taking shape, obviously planning his next move. What a move that was, an all singing all dancing double glazed conservatory with knobs and whistles.
Each others lawns were always a source of competition. I spent so much time tending my area of moss where Stuart spent hours and lots of cash producing something that resembled a bowling green, weeds were faird to grow in his gairden.
One thing he didn’t bother with was a flag pole, my flag certainly flew at half mast for some time.