Dot writes: I should post something, shouldn’t I? I was planning a post about the neighbours and how I like living in a gossipy little development where you constantly meet people out on the front lawn. That communal grassy area really is an asset; I was thinking the other day that, while I’d definitely like a bigger house, I can hardly imagine a nicer place to have it than exactly here. Even though our immediate neighbours did have some rather loud, late barbecues over the summer months.

Yesterday we did some pleasant busy-bodying. Hugh and I were out playing at the front when we saw a woman pull up in a large, unfamiliar car and deliver a big balloon and some flowers to the old lady opposite. Gossip with another neighbour and with the old lady’s carer, who was walking the dog, revealed that it was the old lady’s 92nd birthday. So I rang Ken and he bought some chocolates on his way home; and in the evening we popped over and delivered them. I hope the old lady was pleased. For us it was immensely satisfying, and we had a most enjoyable brief visit, at which the old lady’s daughter (visiting from the Caribbean, and herself a most handsome and vigorous retiree) kept Hugh in fits of giggles.

Apparently this little group of houses was built as a loss-leader about fifteen years ago. So I suppose nobody was thinking very hard about it; and yet it does seem to be one of those well-planned places that make for friendliness. In the apartment block we used to live in we were physically even closer to our neighbours, and yet we hardly saw them. One factor is the different demographic: apartment-dwellers are often childless professionals who are out most of the time, whereas our neighbours here are mostly old people and young families, and they tend to be around. But the way the houses face each other across the communal lawn is also tremendously important. In the apartment complex the lawn areas were tucked around the sides and back (and tended to be shaded and muddy): the centre of the development was the road in and out of the car-park, not a particularly inviting or safe space to hang about in.

We do like it here.


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