Only a gourmet neighbour beats a good one
It's true that you can find good neighbours in both city and country. But that leaves me no less thankful for the ones that I've had the good fortune to find in this country town.
For it can make all the difference to your daily life to have neither nosy neighbours nor nasty ones, let alone those who just plain get on your nerves living nearby.
Because while it may be enjoyable escapism to watch a soap opera named after them, in reality you've hit a home-run if you have neighbours that are nice enough to not turn your life into one.
No one lives on either side of this town cottage, so I have none of the downsides of next-door neighbours when it comes to playing loud music. An advantage that is amplified, not to put too fine a pun on it, by the fact that the nearest houses are public ones, both of which are fond of blasting out the beats themselves, especially with the liveliest of live bands, at any given opportunity.
Though technically I do have neighbours of sorts; a batty bunch lives in the old barn that is attached to this house on one side. Fortunately, they tend to keep to themselves much of the time. For you won't hear sight nor sound of them for months on end, as these Darlington bats like to hang out, as it were, by hibernating.
The barn is where my favourite carer, Noel, occasionally chops up wood into kindling when he isn't cheering up patients in hospital. Otherwise, it's just these flighty fellows. They only show up when the heat does in summer, flitting around the river behind our respective homes once dusk falls. One did drop by unexpectedly some years ago. But we all learned our lesson, and now keep a neighbourly distance.
But happily, there are also humans close at hand to help, and indeed we are blessed to have the bold Barry as our nearest neighbour. For not only does Barry own the best bar in town, where he also lives upstairs, but he is a soft-hearted touch when needy neighbours come knocking at his door, looking to borrow anything from bread to that iconic symbol of inconveniences, a cup of sugar.
But things are even better for my other half. Because every time I depart for Dublin, Barry beetles across the road and issues him an invite to join a few other neighbours for a slap-up dinner. What's more, this companionable clique does not confine itself to the kitchen on quite evenings, instead making merry in the glow of the super-sized and well-stacked stove in Barry's bar. Where they all tuck in together around an old wooden table, roasting themselves while devouring a roast, in a cosy scene almost from an old painting.
Though one that most definitely doesn't depict The Last Supper - but just another in a superlative line of neighbourly ones.