'tis a sad day. After only a year next door to our lovely neighbours, they are packing up to move to a new house in the next town.
We've always been very lucky with neighbours and this time was no exception. I already knew Anna when we moved in last June - she had been head of the school PA when I was on the committee (joint Catering Officer, responsible for e-numbers and caffeine) - but you never quite know a person until you've seen them in their pyjamas putting the rubbish out. Our youngest daughters became friends, walking to school together and in each others' houses and gardens most days.
Once, during the snow in winter, I came home from work and nearly slipped A over T on the compacted icy pavement outside my house. Feeling really grumpy, I grabbed my shovel and started to clear it. It was going to be a long job. Anna returned shortly after, offered words of encouragement and disappeared indoors. 10 minutes later she re-appeared with two hot cups of tea, and started sweeping my broken up chunks of ice into the gutter. We then swapped tools and cleared her pathway, chatting as we worked. It turned a horrible job into a nice memory.
Similarly, we had great fun in the summer with my neglected and overgrown bush (ahem) which borders our properties. I'm not a fan of ladders so when Anna found me standing on tip-toes brandishing a borrowed chainsaw at the hedge top (much to the horror of the elderly gent the other side, who almost had a heart attack at a woman loose with a power tool), she got up the ladder to finish off, then we shovelled and swept again.
As for the new neighbours, well the DDs had their usual list of requirements for any new people entering their lives, number one being they should have kids their ages. Oh, and a tortoise, a house rabbit and a dog. I was hoping for either a hot single dad or another woman my age to share shovelling duties. Well, we are awaiting the arrival of 'a middle-aged couple, no kids, moving from London to be near the sea'. The jury is still out on whether they will bring livestock, but I'm sure they will be lovely. I believe that you get what you expect in life.
I also firmly believe the adage that we come into each others' lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Sadly, as the children will be at different schools I'm not sure our paths will cross again, other than by chance. I think Anna and her family were there for a reason: to provide familiarity and help ease us into our new home when we were all reeling from newness and change. I'm not sure what our purpose was to them. Maybe my loud, bad singing made them finally make that move they'd talked about for years. Either way, we'll miss them a lot. And yet our former elderly neighbour is definitely in the lifetime category: We still see her all the time, and she has an uncanny knack of calling me out of the blue and saying things like "How's your headache, dear?" and "What's wrong?" at exactly the right moment.
So I have a card and welcome gift ready for the new people, and I'm looking forward to finding out whether they are reason, season or lifetime people. And whether I manage to scare them off with my singing too.