Are you close to your nieghbours? The question could be answered in two completely different ways, socially or geographically? Do you live in an inner city apartment where the walls are so thin you can hear everything your neighbours say and do? Are you in the suburbs where the houses are so close the neighbour's gutters almost touch your own?
In relation to distance my neighbours are not exactly a hop, skip and jump over the side fence. I can't yell through an open window and hope they might hear me, in fact to even see if my neighbours are home I need either a pair of binoculars or a telescope.
But would I say we are close? Yes, definitely. :) We might all live some distance apart, (in fact to visit each other we become inventive and use any manor of transport, horse, bush buggy, quad bike or ride on lawn mower), but somehow that brings our community all the closer together. We not only get together for social events like major milestones of birthdays, (any excuse for a bonfire and a party), neighbours drop by to simply say hello, share vegies and plants from their gardens and generally keep an eye out for one another. We share life's joys and successes and support each other whenever someone is in need.
Many city people don't understand the lifestyle choice that comes with living in the country, they believe you isolate yourself. In our neighbourhood nothing could be further from the truth. I have felt far more isolated living with neighbours right next door who you never saw or would never speak to you. People who would come and go and keep totally to themselves.
I've also lived in a quiet little street where all the kids came out to play of an afternoon while the mums watched on over a cuppa and a chat. The neighbourhood was a safe and friendly place for the kids to grow and learn.
Throughout all the places I have lived I have made some wonderful lifelong friends. From my time in the gated community compound in Thailand, to the quiet cul-de-sac on the Central Coast NSW, to our rural community that I love so much now.
Since writing "Gingerbread Aliens" I have had many kids and parents ask if my character Mrs Witherbottom, stems from any of my past or present neighbours? My initial reaction is usually no, not really, however if I dig deep into my sub conscience I find her hidden there as an amalgamation of quite a few neighbours I have known over the years.
Mrs Witherbottom reflects the kindly neighbour next door we all know and love. The neighbour we all go to for all the gossip as we know she will know it all! If there is something happening in the neighbourhood Mrs Witherbottom represents the neighbour to snoop and find out all the juicy details. It is with great delight that Mrs Witherbottom returns once again in "Alien Shenanigans" to meddle and generally find herself in circumstances she has no control over.
So how close are you to your neighbours? Have you taken the time to get to know them? Leave a reply below and tell me about your neighbours. I hope you get along with them as much as we do with ours.
Alien Shenanigans should be released March 2015.