Why on earth am I starting a new post at well-past 2am, early on a Wednesday morning? It’s not even like anything much exciting ever happens on a Wednesday, although I am today receiving my FOUR new scented shower gels! Coconut, mango, lemon and lime scents will soon be gracing my skin – ah, pure bliss!
My family and I spent all of Monday afternoon at my not-so-new neighbours’ house. In reality, they’ve been there since mid November – a relief to us, after our last neighbour [psycho!] packed his bags and moved late last year. Despite the brief introductions to one another, and the fairly regular ‘good morning!’s, my family and our not-so-new neighbours have never actually sat down and had a nice meal together, or just a cup of coffee.
Many people, especially living in cities like London, no longer take the time to get to know the people they live near. I truly think that people should make an effort to get to know the people living next door to them, or rather, the people living in their local community. If nothing else, they’re the people who may come to your aid should their be any issues at home [the flooding we experienced back in June is a perfect example of when knowing your neighbours is so useful]. In many cases, however, it’s likely that you’ll find that you and your neighbours have a thing or two in common, and may even become friends over regular cups of tea and slices of cake.
… Yes, I’m a pensioner before I’ve hit my 15th birthday, I know …
Maybe they’ll have kids your age who you can hang out with, or little kids who are cute to play with, and may even come with some babysitting-type job in the near future. They could have a cute pet that you’re unaware of, like a house rabbit, or maybe they just have amazing teabags [like our neighbours].
On Monday, we decided to make plans to go to our neighbours’ house [upon their suggestion – we don’t just invite ourselves round to people’s houses] for lunch. I think it’s fair to say that the whole family were a little nervous; we couldn’t quite decide what time to leave our house to arrive at 1:30ish next door, just 3 or 4 paces from our own front step. I mean, it was the ‘ish’ that did it, to be honest. ‘1:30’ we could have dealt with: 1:30 on the dot, we’d ring their doorbell. But ‘1:30. … Ish’? That’s a whole different story.
Are you expected to be there at 1:30 latest, or from 1:30, or at 1:30 but if later it’s ok? Gosh, all the options!
Once we’d finally plucked up the courage to go next door, we realised our fears were unnecessary; it was immediately obvious that the couple next door we’re delighted to see us, and they were so friendly! They showed us through to their back garden [we make the most of the little sunshine we get here in Britain], and offered us all drinks. Although the food and drinks that they provided were lovely [bbq chicken wings, potatoes, salad, mini steaks…], that is not what I want to talk about here.
Our new neighbours are originally from Kenya, in Africa, and moved to England 9 years ago [if memory serves me correctly]. I was really curious to hear about their time living in Kenya, and they were more than happy to tell us all about it; it was so interesting, hearing their first-hand accounts of life in a culture completely different to our own here in the UK. Over lunch, they spoke of the electricity instability, the lack of reliable water, and [of course], the lack of WiFi. Yes, that last one was a deal breaker for me too!
What was most interesting to me, though, was the crime in Kenya. I was in absolute disbelief as the couple went ahead and described how it wasn’t all that uncommon to be held at gunpoint; to have all of your possessions taken from you in one swoop; to be forced to drive your car away to some gang’s HQ, so they could kick you out and do the unimaginable to you, for the sake of getting your car. Over here, that kind of behaviour is just unheard of; you’d never live your life on the edge of your seat in the UK, wondering if there was someone in your house right now, taking everything you owned and holding your family members at gunpoint. IN Kenya, that’s life as normal.
Stop, for a moment, and imagine just how that must feel. No one’s safe, and when you fall asleep, who knows if you’ll wake up at gunpoint, your life flashing before your eyes.
In an effort to make a good impression on our new neighbours, we decided to bake them a cake, which was received well both by the couple, and by their two sons, aged 16 and 24. Like their parents, they were lovely, and we’re really friendly and welcoming. The younger one showed me to their ‘shed’, which had been converted into a small gym for his use. He invited me to use the equipment down there whenever I wanted to do so, which I thought was just so super kind of him.
It was a bit of a shock the first time the cat appeared in the garden, but in reality, it shouldn’t have been all that surprising; our cats go over the fences on either side of our garden all the time. Still, when we were in the midst of conversation and suddenly, your cat walks round your chair to glare at you… It’s creepy, OK? Our neighbours, however, found it really cute: they said that they’d seen our cats in their garden before, and assured us that they didn’t mind at all. In fact, they wanted a cat of their own, after seeing how sweet ours were. Laughing, I smiled and said, ‘try living with them’.
It’s weird just how little you know about the people who live as close to you as your fellow family members. If you don’t know your neighbours that well, maybe you could consider getting to know them; I doubt you’d regret it! I can see a good friendship developing between our two families after Monday’s afternoon gathering, and I’m really looking forward to strengthening the bond between our two households.