I really thought that this was a letter I would never have to write. I honestly believed that you would be part of our lives for ever, growing ever more crotchety - but still just about going - for many years to come, and yet hear we are, a mere 7 years after first meeting, saying our goodbyes.
I remember when we first met. I was 3 weeks off my due date with Boy #1, and Husband had finally bowed to Realism and accepted that our days of being young cosmopolitan Londoners who used public transport to get everywhere, only hiring a car when we needed to leave the capital, were over. Since I had always been the one to deal with transport issues up until then (having mostly been the one gifted with company cars), I decided that this time he could do the legwork, and let him get on with sourcing a suitable vehicle whilst I concentrated on finishing up at the office before going on maternity leave, and waddling around like a very hot duck at the end of the 2003 summer heatwave.
So when, the day after I shut down my laptop for the last time in 6 months and left work weighed down by good wishes and goodluck cards, I did so in the certain knowledge that when we went to the second hand car dealer the next day (getting there by tube, obviously), he would not have let me down.
Well, he didn't. Exactly. But he did wait until we were almost there, me sweating and sailing along like a ship in full sail, before announcing that he had already spied a suitable car on the website. "I'm not sure you're going to like it" he said nervously. Safe in my pregnancy bubble, I remained as serene as it was possible to be for a nearly nine month pregnant woman walking along in 30degC temperatures, and in need of the loo and vast quantities of cold water at the same time. A Ford Focus? A Clio, perhaps? How bad could it get? My husband, after all, is something of a petrol head. Of course he would pick us a good car!
What I had forgotten, however, was that as well as being a petrol head, my husband was also Dutch; a nation famed on mainland Europe for being 'careful' with money.
"It's a skoda" he mumbled.
I stopped, and looked at him. "You're kidding, right?"
"And it's purple".
"You're not kidding."
Not, perhaps, the most auspicious start to a relationship. But , dear skoda, you have done us proud over the last 7 years. You might not be the coolest car on the block, or even an acceptable colour, but your big boot enabled us to transport 2 children and their various accessories, over more trips to Holland and the West Country than I care to think about. Sure, there were rare incidents where you decided to throw a hissy fit; that time in a torrential rainstorm at midnight in Belgium, for example. When Husband decided to wash down your engine. Or when you decided we should splash out on a new exhaust. Or two.
But overall, you've been a good friend, ignoring the leaf-litter of papers, sweet wrappers and coke cans that rattled around on the floor, and proving good-humoured about always being the dirtiest car on the block (Husband still swears that our neighbours thought you belonged to the cleaners and that they probably all thought we weren't paying them enough...).
It was only when we pushed you too far, ignoring your pleas for more coolant, that you finally gave out on Husband on the M25 in rush hour one evening and threw in the towel for good. (And no, I won't remind you of how I repeatedly asked him if we should pay attention to the little light on the dashboard and of how he laughed at me and told me not to be so silly, there would never be anything wrong with you...).
So now it's goodbye, dear skoda. I have no doubt that your replacement - when we finally return to live in Blighty, whenever that may be - will probably be just as uncool and just as good value for money as you ever were. But I must admit that I do rather hope that in one respect, it will be different.
Please, not purple.