Meredith and I are lunching in the spring sunshine before she catches her train back to London. A great tit and a robin are twittering their hearts out, possibly in protest about my never filling the bird feeder, while a couple of moorhens squawk in the stream that curves around our pocket-handkerchief garden.
'So have you thought about your goals, Eliza?' asks Meredith, cutting herself another wedge of goat's cheese and sundried tomato tart, even though she's left all the pastry from her first slice.
'Can I get you something different?' I blurt. Meredith pathologically has to leave food on her plate. I pathologically have to eat every scrap. Whatever pathologically may mean.
'No, no, this is fine. I'll just leave what I don't want.' She waves her fork at me. 'Come on, let's focus. You've only got me for another half-hour. Use me. Goals.'
'OK. 1. Find rich husband, not closet gay this time, 2. Get rich, through amazing invention or get-rich-quick scheme. Or windfall.'
'Sweetie,' she says, 'these are wishes, not goals. Goals are realistic, specific targets towards your long-term vision. What's the bigger picture?'
Oh God. Life purpose? Bigger picture? 'Umm,' I say, trying to think of something that won't make me sound like a Miss World contestant.
She sucks on her teeth. 'After I've gone, I want you to spend some time working out what you want to achieve in your lifetime. It would help you to write a Personal Mission Statement. Meanwhile, you need money and you'd like a partner. These two things are not interdependent. So let's reframe your goals. No 1. I choose to be in a mutually loving relationship with a partner - and let's make this time-specific. By when?'
Yikes, am I on? 'Um... As soon as practicably possible.'
'Time-specific, Eliza. Three months? Six months?'
'OK, let's give it six months to actually be in the relationship, which means I need to meet him by the summer. That's realistic. I always look better in the summer.'
She rolls her eyes skywards. 'OK. I choose to be in a mutually loving relationship with a partner by the 17th of September.'
'Yay!' I feel a little shiver of excitement. I'm going to be in a relationship in September!
'No 2. I allow myself to be worth - let's be conservative, one million pounds by ... shall we give this one a year?'
'Yup, sure,' I say. Honestly, who is she kidding?
'So now, action steps towards your goals. You can work on these after I've gone, but I'll start you off.
1. Join a dating agency. Today.
2. Apply for three jobs. Today.
'Except,' I butt in, 'I've got to take you to the station, take Dusty for a walk and pick up Lily. Today.'
'OK, by the end of Monday.
3. Keep writing the blog. At least two posts a week. And look into monetisation.
4. Put an ad in your local paper for the things we talked about - dogsitting, etc.
5. Work on your goals and your Mission Statement.
6. Skype me. One week from today. 6.30pm, your time, is good for me.'