At Christmas they eat lychees on the island of Réunion !
Our neighbours spent many years living on Réunion, and now their younger son has returned there. They received a parcel of lychees this week and Nellie called me over the fence to come and partake of the bounty.
I’ve never had fresh lychees before, and they are great. I had to take a photo quickly… there’s no way they’ll last until Christmas here!
We’ve had some wonderful neighbours over the years. A kind reader might suggest that this is because we deserve them, but actually I wonder if playing the piano at midnight, having the odd scream at or between children and running a farm-style front garden truly make us good neighbours… but over the years, we’ve known real friendship and kindness from those who’ve lived next door to us.
In Cumbria, we had Dave and Maggie, a young middle-aged couple who sorted us out in all our ‘first house’ disasters – Dave found us an old bath when we did up our bathroom, and Maggie taught us about the folk music of the fells. In North Tyneside we had a succession of young women living in the flat below us, who put up with Ben practicing his trumpet at night and invited us round for curious food and sociable parties. In Harrogate our neighbours honoured us by chopping down the high hedge that they’d planted because they didn’t like the previous owners of our house! We shared the cherries from our tree with them on the only year it actually produced – they couldn’t believe they’d been living next to a cherry tree all these years.
On moving to France, we met with real kindness. The neighbours of our rental house spoke some English, and had real fun initiating us into cassoulet and all the wonders of living in this part of France. Serge and Nellie, our Réunionaise/French neighbours here, are sweet and generous. It took both families a while to work out how to be cross-cultural neighbours – in France people don’t talk to their neighbours much, I’m constantly assured, and when we did weird things like inviting all the locals to a bonfire party we were accepted but considered rather odd! So sometimes Serge and Nellie don’t talk to me for weeks or months, and I have to remember that they aren’t shunning me, but just behaving normally for France. But at other times they give us food (and indeed, we give them food too) and they have taken to giving us leftovers for the hens, which is just fantastic! They’ve set up a little table by their fence and I sometimes find a bowl of rice or a pot of shredded lettuce on it in the morning. What a very nice way to live with your neighbours.
PS The internet connection is back! What a relief...