A little kindness goes a long way - a post of gratitude
“Love thy neighbour as thyself”- I’m not often one for a biblical quote but this is a moral lesson instilled in us as children, in some form or another, regardless of religious background. It is this definition of ‘Neighbour’ offered by Oxford Dictionary that resonated with me opposed to “A person living next door to or very near to the speaker or person referred to,” when reflecting on my own experience with my neighbours this past month.
I catered a wedding of 140 people last weekend and when I agreed to take the job last year, I could never have foreseen my parents moving out of our family home of the last 15 years, exactly three days before show time. I tried to trust that it would all work itself out, I have learnt that the universe has a remarkable way of allowing things to fall into place just as they should. Having said that, as the weeks went on and storage boxes begun to arrive, my lack of a plan for a kitchen was really beginning to niggle the back of my mind and my patience with the universe was being tested. Just as the weight of the dilemma was beginning to take its toll, my wonderful friend and neighbour Tor Knott, (who is a ‘fashion stylist’, turned stylish ‘farmer’ and soon to be returning as ‘event stylist’, with a farm), called and asked me to come round to catch up and discuss the lamb she was supplying for the wedding.
We never actually got around to talking business as moments after I arrived, her husband Kim needed our help to catch a strayed calf…after almost two hours of chasing, almost catching, then completely losing the terrified calf, I had to get home. Before I left we passed a young man driving around the lanes for the second time and he asked if we had had any luck with our cow hunt; when Tor explained we were beginning to despair that it would not survive the night, he replied most genuinely that he was happy to help. I was totally taken aback that he was prepared to give up his evening helping people he'd only just met, and he did. It was one of those moments where faith in mankind is momentarily fully restored.
By the end of the evening, not only had we met Matt, (guy in the car) who now works at the local pub after Tor’s reference, but when I had shared my worries with Tor she immediately insisted I use her conservatory and kitchen for the wedding preparations, “Consider it sorted, you will cook here.”
I went home beaming and slept so well that night, even better when I received a text that the calf was safely back with his mother. Thank you Tor, thank you Universe!
When I went back to Tor’s ‘Blackberry Farm’, to begin prepping, she had transformed the conservatory into the most beautiful work space. I felt as though I’d just stepped on set for my very own Bake off show. Baskets and vintage tea cups, faded union jack flags and a dresser bursting with well loved books, the eclectic collection from her career in styling adorned the edges of the room. Such an energizing, bright and airy space thanks to the large windows looking out to the rolling fields where Clover the cow and her calf grazed. Utter heaven. In the days leading up to the wedding I was truly looked after, not only did Tor and Kim open up their home for me to cook, we sat and had the best chats over a bottle of rose and tapas platters before I went up to the gorgeous, cabbages and roses eat your heart out, guest room each night.
When I finally had the task of packing up an outrageous amount of equipment, ingredients and prepped food, I also had a beautiful wicker basket filled with all of the season’s wonderful produce that I had foraged. The cow parsley and wheat came from the nearby fields but the rest was all from neighbours’ gardens and not even my neighbours but Tor’s. Jane down the lane invited me to pick her elderflower and wished me luck despite having just met and Ty let me help myself to her beautiful chive flowers. My mum (who was also my grocery collector, driver and general superwoman) and I had spent the previous day back and forth between two of our neighbours’ gardens barbecuing 40 aubergines in the rain, it really felt like the whole Culmhead community had played some part in my preparations, the homeless chef of the Blackdowns.
I found myself wondering what I had done to deserve the kindness and generosity of Tor and all my neighbours, old and new. I settled with the answer that it is simply in our nature to be kind to one another. There is an infectious happiness that we attain from helping others and from being helped in turn. I am unbelievably grateful to everyone who helped me in their own way, I hope karma is kind to you all. Good deeds and good intent contribute to good karma and future happiness, so the future is looking bright in the Blackdown hills (for once!)
Gratitude is defined as ‘the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness'. Taking a moment each day to reflect on what we are grateful for is proven to improve happiness but it doesn’t end there…
So I encourage you to think, maybe as you sit on the sweaty tube each morning, who and what are you grateful for. x