Good Parking Makes Good Neighbours

March 17, 2014

So we have new neighbours again (I don’t know what we’re doing to frighten people away – maybe it’s the blog?) and it’s a sign of how long I’ve been out of London that I didn’t bother hanging around the garden in order to bump into them when they were moving in, but just boldly knocked on their door and introduced myself on my way back from getting the paper.

There’s a slightly ticklish issue with getting new neighbours, which is that we have a shared yard for parking and although there’s masses of space (I know, I have to weed the gravel), there’s one particular spot where if someone parks their car, it makes it very awkward for others to turn around, and that seems to be the very spot where people choose to park their cars if not directed to otherwise. Now the last thing we want to be is the sort of neighbours who introduce ourselves by telling people where they should park, not least because that’s exactly what our original neighbour did when we moved in (and the next thing we knew, he was kneeling in the yard in full camo gear, zeroing the sight of his air rifle on the garage door, but that may be unrelated). On the other hand, neither do we want to be the sort of neighbours who burn with hidden resentment at the fact that people are parking in the wrong spot, a resentment made worse by the fact that we haven’t actually told them that they’re parking in the wrong spot, so we can’t actually blame them and yet, somehow, we do – a situation that can only end in broken wing mirrors, or indeed, air rifles.

So fortunately our new neighbours who appear very nice, pretty much opened the conversation by asking where they should park and so all is so far sweetness and light.

Now all we need is for them to get a cat.

staring cat


August 2, 2013

Our new neighbour will be moving in tomorrow, apparently – he’s not only passed the credit check but he’s also been thoroughly vetted via the local grapevine. In fact, I’m not 100% sure why the landlords bother with a credit check, given that they have been able to discover the poor chap’s life story, work record, personal habits and – I have no doubt – taste in underwear in just a couple of phone calls. (They say Salman Rushdie went into hiding not far from here during the Satanic Verses fatwa fuss, and I have to say that he can’t have chosen a worse place to be anonymous)

Sadly, among all the other things we know about him is the fact that he doesn’t have a cat, so the cat-shaped hole will go unfilled. And obviously, I definitely won’t be spending most of tomorrow just happening to be gardening out the front as he moves in

Mental Note to Self

August 8, 2012

… check that the Range Rover driver hovering on my shoulder as I cycle in to town and then hooting loudly in my ear is, in fact, a road raging idiot and not, say, a neighbour saying hello, before responding.

Fortunately it’s quite easy to transform one’s initial instinctive response into a friendly wave with a little presence of mind…

And for those asking: this is what a huge bronze fennel plant looks like. Front door shown actual size. And this despite being planted right next to the snail army HQ.

Good Fences…

March 31, 2011

I have been known, in the winter months, to take advantage of the Rayburn & get dressed in the kitchen. There’s something very comforting about putting on pre-warmed clothes, although you do have to be a bit careful about how you fold your jeans before stacking them if you don’t want to end up with ‘Levis’ (or whatever) permanently branded somewhere sensitive.

Anyway, it happens that I needed to have a word with one of our more distant neighbours – nothing urgent, nothing worth going out of my way for or ringing up about, just an if-I-bump-into-them kind of thing. Yesterday morning I happened to be passing their place on my bike on the way into Bigtown and I looked over to see if anyone was about so I could stop for a chat. There was nobody around outside but I could see movement through the window and I slowed down thinking ‘you know, I could just stop and knock on their door if they’re not too… ah, you know what? I think I probably won’t bother just right this moment.’

Turns out I’m not the only one to get dressed in the kitchen around here.

One Good Turn

October 6, 2010

Coming back from Notso Bigtown yesterday, stocking up after our Irish trip, we found the neighbour’s kitten was sitting outside his front door unable to get back in. I don’t know how it got out or even if it was meant to be out but it was looking fairly miserable, especially when it started bucketing down with rain. Besides, its got the sort of road sense that had it crouching behind the back wheel of our car when the other half got in to drive off, so I thought it would be a good idea if we temporarily catnapped it until the neighbour got home, purely as a neighbourly act and absolutely nothing to do with the fact that it’s rather desperately cute and playful although somewhat too prone to sitting on my computer keyboard when I’m trying to work.

Anyway it came in and had a good nose round, the way any neighbour would the minute they get the chance to have a look next door, and I gave it a saucer of water, and the other half – who doesn’t approve of cats on principle – unbent sufficiently to fashion a rather creepy disembodied hand cat toy out of a glove on a piece of string. And we were just beginning to wonder when exactly the neighbour was planning on coming home when there was an abrupt scuffling sound and we went into the kitchen to find the kitty briskly dispatching a mouse.

You know, the Londoner in me is always a little reticent about getting too cosy with the neighbours. Friendly chats in passing, the loan of a cup of sugar or a pint of milk, or the occasional invitation to pop round for a drink or a meal are all very well, but you don’t want to be stuck with the sort of neighbour who’s always watching your every move, inviting themselves in, never leaving, always there. Unless, of course, that neighbour is a cat who catches mice. That neighbour is definitely welcome to drop round any time.

I might have to revisit the name of my blog though.

Neighbours, everybody needs new Neighbours…

April 6, 2009

My excitement knows no bounds – we have a new neighbour.

And yes, I did just happen to spend all of yesterday gardening out the front so I could casually bump into her, why do you ask? Apart from anything else, the internet was down for most of the day and I had to have something to keep me amused.

And besides, the garden needed doing. Honest.