Good neighbours, those little gems that we so often take for granted. I remember growing up in an era when your neighbours, more often than not, became valued friends. These were people you’d trust with that extra set of your house keys (just in case), who you could be sure would feed your pets whilst you were away on holidays or who would mind your kids when you popped up to the shops to buy bread or milk. Neighbourhoods were more like small communities where everyone looked out for one another.
As kids we never felt threatened playing around at other people’s houses and simply knew that we needed to be home before the streetlights came on! Mum never worried about where we were, knowing that we’d be safely occupied at one of the neighbour’s homes. Wherever we ended up at lunchtime we were given a good feed and I recall many days when Mum would whip up lunch, morning tea or afternoon tea for my friends and I. Mum was a great cook and her homemade bickies never lasted as long as the shop bought varieties!
Now there’s another thing: whenever a new neighbour arrived in our street, Mum would bake some delicious morsels and pay a visit, offering her homemade treats as a welcome. This was a common thing back then but, does it happen any more? Not in my neighbourhood!
We have recently lost great neighbours due to their need for a bigger house and it was a very sad day when they moved to the next suburb. They were our neighbours for just over 10 years and during that time we shared the trials and tribulations of daily life: family, children growing up, dogs, guinea pigs, cats, carpet snakes! Over our fence passed many things: good news, bad news, confidences, ladders, tools, laminators, DVDs, trampolines, eggs, spuds, sugar, milk, drugs (of the prescribed variety) and alcohol! Yep, if only that fence could talk!
We now have new neighbours, a young family with very small children. I do remember how busy you are when your kids are little but one day I popped my head over the fence to say “hello, welcome to the neighbourhood” and the young Mum really wasn’t very interested in conversation of any kind. We see them drive up the street in their car and not even a wave of acknowledgement is forthcoming!
Luckily for us, our old neighbours are only nine sets of traffic lights away so we still see each other regularly. They have recently acquired chickens and when they laid their first eggs I was privileged to share them with my old neighbour for breakfast one morning. We caught up on the latest news over dippy eggs, toast soldiers and a cup of tea – just like old times!
One of the most relaxing things I used to enjoy was making a cup of tea and then taking it out into the backyard and hosing the gardens and lawn. Before long, I’d be joined by a neighbour on the other side of the fence and we’d catch up on all the news from the street – the grass near our fence-lines was always the greenest! That was, of course, before droughts and water restrictions!
Yes, there’s no doubt that a good neighbour is a true treasure. We need to get back to the days when we knew our neighbours. So, if you’re lucky enough to have a wonderful neighbour, don’t take them for granted, share a cup of tea or a cool drink, and say g’day when you see them. Because as the song says: “That’s when good neighbours become good friends”.
Do you have a great friendship with your neighbours like the good old days?