Friday, 8 November 2013


It is November and I still picked a small handful of raspberries from the garden this morning, though it really does look like the last! I have also harvested Honey Bear squash for the first time, thanks to some free seeds from my mum. They are too hard to peel so I just roasted them whole Jamie Oliver style. Yum!

I have also been picking all the green tomatoes and ripening them in a bowl on the windowsill with a few ripe tomatoes amongst them. Many people suggest laying newspaper on them, but we no longer get a free advertising paper, so this would mean buying one especially. The tomatoes seem to have ripened well without it though. These ones were totally green when I picked them.

I trimmed my bay tree last week, and as always had a huge pile of beautifully fragrant green bay leaves. It always seems such a waste. Last year I dried as many as I could and gave them to friends and Transitioners, but still there were loads left.

I had a lot of success giving away green beans to my neighbours and unexpectedly received an abundance of gifts in return, so I took to my street with the bay leaves. It was actually quite intrepidating knocking on my neighbours doors. Most of them I only ever speak to if I see them walking by or in their front garden, I had never knocked on their doors before! Some I had never even spoken to, just waved a greeting. At this point I should point out that I have lived here for 13 years, but we are mainly very reserved people down this cul-de-sac. An Englishman's home is his castle...and all that. Ok, that is not a worthy excuse for not getting to know my neighbours.

It is strange because before living here, we lived in a 1950's ex-council house for 5 years, and in that time I knew all of my near neighbours and even their parents or children, that didn't even live on the street. I was regularly round neighbours houses for a cup of tea, or their kids would be round playing in my garden. In fact I had been inside at least 5 of my neighbours homes for a long chat and a cuppa in my old neighbourhood, whereas I have only been inside 2 neighbours homes here, and only once long enough for tea!

It's not that my neighbours aren't friendly, it's just that I don't 'see' them much. I did invite some into my ago, but generally being the large and scruffy family that we are, I'm a little embarrased. Hmmm.... maybe everyone else is the same, thinking that they have to live up to a higher standard of immaculate homes in this neighbourhood. Or maybe it is because there are less families and more couples with grown-up children?

I started with the neighbours I knew the most, and knocked on the door, looking rather an idiot with a big box of clippings in my hands. Luckily several of my neighbours did use bay leaves, and yes could they take some for others in the family too? Hurray! So I had some lovely conversations and continued further along the street. The further I went the fewer people even answered the door, which seemed like a good time to quit with the whole love thy neighbour thing. I'll just stick to the nearest neighbours, who recognise me as not being a 'stranger' next time.

It is amazing how different the view looks from my neighbours' doorsteps. As StreetBank, a community sharing online group, pointed out recently, you choose your friends, who tend to be like you and share your values. Whereas your neighbours can bring different perspectives from a whole range of cultures and backgrounds, so there is so much more opportunity for learning different perspectives or something new. This has certainly given me food for thought.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, good for you - it is scary knocking on strange doors! I love the idea of a street community. I know quite a few of our neighbours, mostly because our kids all go to the school up the street, but I would like to get to know the others. I am thinking of maybe taking Christmas cookies around...