Sunday Mail column for Sunday 28 March 2010

The first time was because of forks.  Then Chewie. Next was a platter of the best Indian food you’ve ever tasted followed by a fire alarm. And this last time? Neighbourhood Watch.

I’m talking about all the different ways I’ve met my neighbours over the past five years.

When we moved to the Gold Coast, we met Mandy, Kayne and their toddler Savannah on our first night in our new unit. We knocked on their door begging to borrow some cutlery. That introduction resulted in a fabulous friendship involving many pizza nights and one trip to the hospital when Kayne was away and Mandy knocked on our door with a gravely ill toddler in her arms.  Our next move was to Townsville and into the house next door to Matt and Deb and their two kids Jordan and Demi.  It was Jordan who called out to me from the branches of a tree one afternoon asking (as only a seven-year-old can) if he could come over and play with our dog because he could tell Chewie really wanted him to.  And so began a Dennis the Menace style relationship with Jordan and a friendship with Matt and Deb that will last a lifetime. Deb was the type of neighbour who left plates of freshly cooked scones on our verandah. The next move was back to Brisbane and into an inner-city apartment.  There were the fabulous Indian students next door who appeared one evening with a platter of home cooked Rogan Josh and samosas (you’ve gotta love neighbours who can cook). And Mel, the doctor, who I only got to know during a fire drill a few months before we left but who I immediately knew was from my tribe.  And this last week, in our new home, our neighbour Clive came over on our first day with a Neighbourhood Watch newsletter and an offer to mow our front lawn at the same time he does his own.

Today is Neighbour Day. Today you have the best excuse to go next door and meet your neighbours.

The day’s slogan is, “The community you want starts at your front door” and it’s so true. So many of us long for a sense of community and yet we live our lives online – we’ll chat to strangers on Facebook but we can’t be bothered to meet the person who lives just next door. Yet great neighbours can enrich our lives.

Neighbour Day was founded by Andrew’ Heslop. Here are Andrew’s top three tips for meeting your neighbours.

1. Simply knock on the door, introduce yourself and leave your mobile number.

2. Bake a cake – or some other delicious food, jam or preserves – that always opens doors and take it over.

3. Ask your neighbour’s kids to your children’s party or to your next BBQ.

As for me, I’m going to introduce myself to the older lady who lives to our right. Step one?  I’m off to whip up some brownies!


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About Bec

Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.

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