Thinking Aloud on A Sunday

Neighbours.

When I lived in London, neighbours could ruin your life, even though they may or may not have intended to. Selfish people might play loud music, and refuse to answer the door when you went to complain. The authorities were so inundated with such complaints, they just didn’t have enough staff to deal with them. Likewise the Police, overwhelmed by incidents, and no time for what they saw as a petty squabble. Live in a block of flats, as I did for twelve years before coming here, and you can magnify the problems greatly. I had people living above, either side, and below. Working shifts, and trying to sleep at ‘unusual times’ made it all worse, as very few people are considerate enough to turn down televisions, stop home improvement projects, or not have radios blaring at all hours. One next-door neighbour went away for a weekend leaving her smoke alarm blaring, until the battery ran out. I was on the verge of smashing down her door and ripping it off the ceiling, when it suddenly stopped.

City living is hard. And living in a five-storey block of sixty flats housing almost two hundred people makes it even harder.

So I retired to a quiet village in Norfolk. Peace at last. For a while.

Then someone opposite started to run a side business of cutting firewood, stacking it in the area in front of his house, and presumably selling it on. Chainsaws. On cutting days, the petrol-driven chainsaws start around 08:30, and continue relentlessly, often until dark. It is not illegal to make such noise of course, but it is completely inconsiderate. When we moved here six years ago, there were a lot of small children around, and a few houses owned dogs. We didn’t mind that. It was nice to see the children having fun, and we had a dog too. Now those children have noisy motor cycles, noisy souped-up cars, and friends who visit with even more noisy vehicles. And not only does every house but one now own a dog, the house next door has become a ‘dog-sitting’ business, with as many as eight dogs yapping and barking, just over the fence.

Then the boyfriend of the dog-sitter started working on cars, in the driveway close to the side window of our living room. Installing more powerful exhaust sytems, running engines, and constantly hammering parts too. Then he expanded, and friends and customers arrived, so he could make their cars run faster and sound louder too. Once again, it’s not illegal. It’s his hobby, and maybe he makes some spare cash from it, or helps his friends for nothing. But we now have at least four cars outside most days, sometimes six. And being young, just working on the cars in silence is not an option. They also have to have the car music system blaring, usually some sort of Rap, or Hip-Hop. They are not unpleasant people. They are a friendly young couple who will happily take in a parcel for you, and give you a happy greeting as you walk by.

But they are not considerate, and pursue their business and hobbies with scant regard for those of us who live close by. Yesterday, I had to go out and talk to some young men working on cars next door. After almost thirty minutes of revving engines accompanied by deafening pop music, enough was enough. I calmly explained to them that it was very hot, so we had all our windows open. I suggested that they turn the volume down, and remember that people are living a few feet away from their antics. The neighbour wasn’t even around, just letting his pals use his facilities in the garage. They did apologise, and turned off the music. Luckily, this is Beetley, and not London, where I could have risked being beaten up by asking the same thing. But they carried on fixing up the cars, making the most of the fine weather and good light, no doubt.

I was left regretting the move to what we thought was such a peaceful place. As new people move in, the area is bound to change for the worse. I mused over my ‘ideal’ residence, and made a mental check-list.

I would like to live where the nearest neighbour was not visible, even using binoculars.
A moat would be nice, with a drawbridge that can be raised.
Perhaps thicker walls, with the living accommodation higher up.
There would have to be surrounding land which I owned, so that nobody could build nearby.
I realised that I had the perfect solution.

A castle.

88 thoughts on “Thinking Aloud on A Sunday

  1. I used to know most of the people in our block and a good few in neighbouring blocks. There was very little crime, the place was clean and reasonably quiet. That has changed significantly for all sorts of reasons. Just now its Ramadan and that means many of my neighbours keep very different hours to us. I’m sure they probably don’t realise how disturbing they are but it certainly feels like there is little consideration during the night.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m pleased to say that they moved away, and we now have foreign neighours who are very quiet. East European, I believe.
      My neighbours in Camden were a complete nightmare. Totally selfish and inconsiderate.
      Cheers mate, Pete.

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  2. And maybe a dragon to stand atop the castle and scare away intruders… unless maybe you can train Ollie to breathe fire?

    We live in a terraced house. We never hear a sound from our right hand neighbours. Our left hand neighbours are a different kettle of fish. They entertain constantly, play music and watch telly at full volume and their children NEVER seem to go to bed. I often hear the four year old up at 10pm, long after Little O is snoring away. They also all seem to communicate with each other through shouting, no one remembers to take a key when they go out and they are potentially single handedly keeping Chelmsford’s weed economy alive based on what I can smell. They are super friendly though… and somewhat less annoying than our neighbours in one of the London flats we lived in who liked to come home drunk at 2am and do karaoke.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those London neighbours sound familiar…
      If it ever gets too bad for you, at least you can move reasonably easily, as you are renting. But when it is your ‘last home’, and you expect to never move again, a sudden change in the local environment can feel really annoying. (It doesn’t help when you are a natural ‘grump’ either. πŸ™‚ )
      Best wishes, Pete.

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      1. Within a year… yes… but very expensive and we really don’t want till we can buy… if that ever happens. I don’t think you’re being a grump though… I get annoyed by them a lot and Mr O regularly talks me out of going next door to complain.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I am with you about the castle. In South Africa we have homes that are like castles but that is to keep the criminals out not the noise and other irritations. We do have large properties so it does help with the noise factor. Pros and cons like everything else in life. Smile.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m so sorry to hear this, Pete. That you have seemingly kept your sanity intact thus far is a credit to you. I was spooked on Saturday night by a nasty street argument in the early hours. The sound of revellers I can deal with as long as it’s not every night but a frightening argument is quite another thing. My sympathy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sarah. It seems my ‘reasonable request’ has hit home. Sunday was remarkably peaceful. No doubt your home town is busier during the tourist season. Hopefully peace will reign, once the schools go back.
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve just gone back to live in a big city, from a comparatively quiet place, and yes, it is not easy (to make it even more entertaining there is a bar/restaurant downstairs and in the summer they have a terrace with tables outside, so even when people are not intentionally being noisy, the conversation carries, and as my mother’s apartment is the first… well, you get it. So… There are advantages and disadvantages to everything (due to my mother’s health issues it is handy to be close to the hospitals and doctors) but in an ideal world I’d prefer a much quieter place, but within reasonable access to all the facilities. Enjoy a peaceful week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Olga. I can well imagine the noise of living above a bar in Barcelona, especially in the main tourist season. But the convenience is undoubtedly worth it, given the situation. (It would never do for me to live above a bar. I would be its best customer!)
      I hope that you are both not suffering too much from the excessive heat over there.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  6. Great post πŸ™‚ I hope you can find some relaxation. I live in a suburb and it is mostly tranquil, though during fourth of July celebrations, they tend to set off one harmless (for lack of better word) firecracker (they are not the dangerous kind, though you still need to be careful regardless) after another. Neighbors do not mean any harm though intentionally. Anyway, keep up the great work as always πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It sounds like you moved to the suburbs in America. I just don’t understand basic consideration. Hubby would never mow the lawn before 9:00 AM on a weekend. Thinking of others first is (or should be) a given.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not all the time, Jennie, but consideration is beginning to disappear all over this country. We do have laws about noise, but they only apply between 11 pm and 8 am. At one second to 8, you can hear mowers starting up, and builders starting work on projects. In the summer, that often goes on until it is dark, around 9 pm.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I feel your pain, though I don’t think I want to live in a castle with a moat. πŸ˜‰ When we lived in Seattle we had a neighbor move in to the rental next door with 2 big dogs (scary types) and who also decided to practice playing the drums at 1:00 in the morning!! True story! We love the peace and quiet we’ve had at our new home in Renton that past few years. Except that the woods we used to enjoy behind us are being turned into a housing development… sigh… I’ll be happy when that’s done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope that the new neighbours on that housing development don’t give you any problems, Susanne.
      You can always drive away with your small caravan and escape them though. πŸ™‚
      I still want that castle with a moat…
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You know what? I am now glad I just have the cattle to put up with, the occasional dog barking and the young people next door very occasionally being inconsiderate by talking outside late into the night. Oh and the farm equipment. All things considered I am happy I live where I am, but as you say, you never know just who those neighbours are or will be. We lived in a flat in Surrey and never again! Upstairs had the washing machine going day and night it seemed and it jumped around above our bedroom. The chap below was a fisherman and sometimes it used to smell as though he was cooking socks. Not sure what that was all about, but the stench was dreadful. And yes, I know what you mean about moving to a more ‘elderly’ residential estate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not too bad at all here. The people are all very nice, and we have no adjoining walls. But it was so quiet at first, and I think that spoiled me by reducing my tolerance to the ‘normal life’ that has suddenly arrived around us.
      Best wishes, Pete. x

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        1. ‘Chainsaw days’ are rare, but incredibly annoying when they happen. The music was outside most weekends, but since I have spoken about it, it has stopped. I should have said something earlier, but I was trying not to be a ‘grumpy old neighbour’, like those of my own youth. πŸ™‚

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  10. I am chuckling and confess I am β€œsubject” to similar irritations with people. However, in my case the term curmudgeon comes to mind to describe how I react to others living around me. I trust this is not your β€œdiagnosis.” I can, however, take my haring aids out. πŸ™‚
    Warmest regards, Theo

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Reading through these comments I see mine is suggested and answered already. Not knowing how property ownership goes over there I thought perhaps you might find one of those ancient hulking abandoned castles we always hear stories about. But I noted your comment regarding the Β£5 million price tag. Oh well. The nicer people are the more I worry. My dad used to quote a β€˜Peanuts’ cartoon (Charlie Brown I think) β€” β€œI like mankind, it’s people I can’t stand!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I could probably get a small castle in Scotland for Β£1.75 million.
      It’s academic really, as anything over Β£250,000 ($325,000 US) is out of my price range.
      But I want a big one! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Great posts. We live in the heart of woods. Quiet for many years until a young guy bought them with an inheritance. He cut lots of beautiful trees down and is starting a Xmas tree farm. Luckily he works and as my husband says them pounds a few beers and drives his big rig around at night sometimes. The good thing is he didnt touch the land in front of our house deeply wooded and promised he wouldn’t four years later he hasn’t and has built huge cut tree barriers around us. I am grateful and we have a congenial relationship. Happy he works a lot though and we do smile ruefully when we hear the big rig. My husband says he’s finding as many ways as he can to burn fossil fuel. Thank goodness for his humor. I would be so upset if I was you hope it gets better. Sometimes nice young men listen and you could perhaps put some times out there when there would be quiet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Felicity. Happy to hear about your log boundaries.
      It’s not that bad here really. It has just been a change from how it was up to two years ago. It was the change that caused my moans. If it had been like that from the start, coming from London, we would have still thought it quiet. But it was so completely peaceful, the difference, however small, is harder to tolerate.
      Best wishes, Pete. x

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  13. The trouble is you may move somewhere with quiet neighbours and find after a few years the house next door is sold to some very different characters. We read of neighbours fighting over boundaries and noise and I really think there is less consideration for others than there used to be. Hubby was on shift work but we lived in a street where all the workers were in the same job so we all went quiet in the mornings. Now we are semi detached and watch as bungalows built for pensioners are bought by young families and built on. It’s too late for us to move and, so far, everything is OK. If it got too bad I’d try to afford a static caravan somewhere to escape to but once one is over 75 moving house seems too much hassle.Those residential apartments for older folk are tempting but it wouldn’t leave us with anything for the children to inherit. I think you are taking it very well and I hope moaning about it on here helps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am in a similar position, Julie, although the house is detached, so we are spared any noise on adjoining walls. No point moving, as you say. Neighbours can change, and it could be from the frying pan into the fire. I’m not ready for a retirement flat just yet, as I don’t get on that well with people of my own age! πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Ha! OH you and I agree wholeheartedly on this post today. I bought a townhouse 2 years ago and feel claustrophobic constantly. It’s a beautiful home which makes me feel like an ingrate, but like you, I need space and peace and quiet. We used to rent a house on a mound with the quiet surrounding us and it was sublime. Now, nothing compares. I hope to get back up on the hill soon. Alas, space means money so I doubt it will happen.
    I would never choose to live in a city.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We live in a village of just a few roads, and a population under 1,400. Generally, it is very peaceful. The hot summer has made things noisier of course, and the otherwise friendly neighbours extending their hobbies into small businesses has upset my quiet domestic routine.
      But I could happily join you on that hill, Cindy. πŸ™‚
      Or maybe I should start learning to play drums?
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  15. Delightful post, Pete. I remember when my husband and I were newly married some thirty years ago. He’s an audiophile and, so, we had a humongous, wonderful (we thought) stereo system that we blasted when ever we got the urge, which could be anytime. During the summer, kids would congregate in front of our house and pop wheelies on their bikes to our “concerts”. I’m glad we don’t have neighbors like we were–sorry that you do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not all the time, Pam, to be fair. Just that the change from complete peace to not so complete peace came as a shock. πŸ™‚ I forgot that kids grow up, and neighbours move…
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Our neighborhood is deathly quiet. But there was a short period of time, years ago, when I had Hispanic neighbors. They had a car washing business in their driveway (against the CC&Rs), and tried very hard to bust the speakers of their boom box (set on a Spanish-language music station).

    During another period of time, we had Asian neighbors who owned a big dog that barked day and night. Sometimes, in an effort to quieten the dog and get some sleep, I’d go outside and use two frying pans as cymbals… But that wasn’t the only problem. At that time, their small back yard was just dirt, and the dog, who they never walked, always did its business there. It never occurred to these neighbors to clean up after the dog, and the stench was so bad in summertime that I couldn’t use my own back yard. Adding insult to injury, these people scraped their plates into a trash bin which never budged from its permanent location between our elbow-rubbing houses. More than once, I came home to find my sidewalk strewn with food scraps… The dog, who was sometimes tied to a nearby tree, had knocked it over yet again.

    These days, we have unfriendly neighbors on one side (from Eastern Europe), and friendly neighbors on the other side (from Western Europe). The only problem is that the Western European(s) smoke marijuana virtually nonstop, and so we have to put up with the smell of weed…

    Neighbors. You can’t live with them. And you can’t live with them. Unfortunately, there are no castles in Nevada…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like you have had a rough time with neighours. I always thought that life in a gated community would avoid that. At least you can escape out into the desert, and get away from them.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You are 100% right there, John. At least ‘chainsaw man’ is not every day, and the mechanic has to go to work all week. (By coincidence, in the dealership that my car is currently stuck in, awaiting parts)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. You have no idea how much I can identify with your noise plight, Pete. I think a lot has to do with age; older we get the less tolerant of people in general much less the noise they make. This has led to my preferred location for living is remotely as possible.. hence my current location in a rural town in the damn middle of a desert. The heat, to me, is a small compromise to “no people”.
    Unfortunately……… I have to consider my girlfriend/companion relationship.. to have it her way we’d be living where she grew up.. smack in the middle of people somewhere in or around Los Angeles. I was living nicely in the Arizona desert just nicely until she came along and we fell in love (which, since those days I am again experiencing the relationship effects of female menopause. But I digress.). So as a compromise to her I said we could move to California.. but I drew the line in the desert sand with not going west of Palm Springs.

    We typically rent where we live… but I will never do the apartment thing anymore. We typically rent single family homes… and I hate moving. I need a garage for my tools and tinkering space. We are currently in a very quiet neighborhood… desert fauna.. Joshua Trees that seem to attract artists-on-canvas and musicians (McCartney likes to come here to set the community a buzz). I am so happy there are no damn barking dogs around here.Interesting the small things one appreciates the older they get.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When we were house-hunting, I sought isolation further afield. But Julie was concerned about ending up on her own with nobody nearby, and feeling afraid. So we compromised on a small detached house in a street of more or less identical other ones. For four years, you could hear a pin drop, and the sound of a passing car after 9 pm was a surprise. But people moved away, others grew up, and suddenly it is just ‘normal’ again. It is still nothing compared to living in the large town three miles to the south, and even that would seem rural, compared to life in London.
      But it changed, and I didn’t like that change.
      You’re right of course, I am getting older, and it’s harder to adapt.
      Save me a plot next to a big cactus, with nobody in sight. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

      1. Actually..cactus were over in the Arizona desert.. big Saguaro suckers, too. Here it’s just sand and Joshua trees.. a beauty all it’s own. In fact.. I need to get my Douglite blog in gear again and post some pics.
        But.. yes.. hitch a ride with Paul next time he’s headed this way and we can go out and buy a few acres for $1,500 bucks to retire on.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. I almost thought Ron had ghost written this post since it sounds so like his trailer park in Alabama. We lived across the street from hoodlums for years. They had a very limited vocabulary consisting entirely of two words used as every part of speechβ€”f and s. I started laughing at one point since one was really angry and ran out of ways to combine the two,words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fortunately, it is nothing at all like Ron’s Trailer Park life, Elizabeth. In fact, it would seem like a peaceful paradise to most people, I’m sure. But after five years of total peace, the sudden small changes seem all the worse to bear. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I smiled about the moat and the drawbridge. I thought you want to live in a castle. Joking aside though, those are indeed annoying Pete. Here in our place, noises of tricycles could no longer be heard because they are now banned plying the subdivision streets but if we want to go out without the car, you have to pay riding on an e-bike then another ride at the gate of the subdivision. Our problems sometimes are those passing motorcycle riders who are too noisy and too fast for our liking.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. In The United States we move to other residences whenever our neighborhoods become intolerable. You are lucky. So far you don’t have a close-knit community of Somali refugees living next door — At least the people in your neighborhood are probably still using the bathrooms rather than the streets. I would say it might be time to count blessings — or learn to behave the same way the neighbors do. We do have to consider adapting sometimes. Maybe this is one of those times. In the meanwhile let me say that my heart is with you as you put up with these annoyances from day to day. I wish things were more peaceful for you.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I have neighbours to the right, left, above and below me, and it’s all very noisy. Dogs, screaming children, running children…it’s incredibly annoying at times. So yeah, that castle sounds pretty neat, maybe I will help you build it πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 2 people

  22. This sounds like a true nightmare, Pete. But it’s not a bad dream, is it??
    I’d look for another place to live. Immediately. That chainsaw sounds grotesque. You might not have to go far. Just find the “right” and quiet corner of a village. People buying a home on the coast road in Cley mostly sell again after two years, it’s unbearable with the traffic jam and all the holidaymakers. Friends of ours moved only some 250 metres to have peace. We live only 750 metres away on a very quiet church lane and it’s heaven. So peaceful and quiet, it’s like being on another planet compared to the high street.
    Last week we had to collect something between Sidestrand and Northrepps and the GPS took us inland on country lanes we never knew existed, through tiny little villages with pretty bungalows in a price range much more civilised than on the coast.
    We will keep our fingers crossed for you and Julie and Ollie.
    Best regards,
    The Fab Four of Cley

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Dina. It is a summer thing mainly, and made worse by having such a good summer this year, unfortunately. I doubt we could cope with the upheaval of moving again now, or the expense. We will just have to hope that the young couple grow up to be more considerate, or move on. πŸ™‚
      But you never know what you might get next!
      Love from Beetley, Pete and Ollie. X

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I now live in the very peaceful country side-but will hopefully, be moving to a quaint village soon. I have been looking at houses, trying to figure out if the neighbors look crazy! hahah! true story. I have thought about this exact thing a lot lately. It sounds like you do have a lot of noise there of about the worse kind. I especially detest loud cars. Chainsaws aren’t much better! Sorry to say it, but rain might solve some of that! best wishes always Michele

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The sad fact is that rain does help a little, but the car-mad neighbour just retreats into his garage when it rains. The trouble with neighbours is that they change. The house in question is rented, so when we first came here we had a relatively quiet couple in there. But they moved on, and we got a ‘biker’ and his wife. We were pleased to lose the noise of the motorcycle when they moved, but then got a dog-sitter and car mechanic instead. πŸ™‚
      The only solution is to have no neighbours…
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Noise, ruthlessness and rough manners are increasing frightening. Especially on weekends the noise from a nearby pub here near the midtown of Munich is very disturbing. Calling the police – what I’ve already done several times – is useless, the cops chat a little with the staff, make some jokes, then drive away. Then there is silence for about ten minutes or so – and then the noise starts all over again. To get some sleep I have to close all windows of my flat, despite the torturing summer heat, and to use ear plugs…

    Liked by 3 people

  25. I watched documentary recently. Ed Balls adventures in trumpland, or similar. The first episode was in Texas at a redneck festival. It’s the first thing that popped into my mind when I read your post. Your description of the kids hammering away at cars was very evocative of rednecks hammering away at their huge vehicles. Just the music is different, I guess.

    I’ve been lucky with neighbours. They didn’t complain when I was an annoying teen, kicking a ball against their wall all day.

    We live in a terraced house now, and when we moved in, the next door neighbours had teenage children, so it could get noisy, but they were nice kids (although one did end up in Feltham for a short while).

    Now our noise come from some squealing child about a hundred yards away egged on by its parents squirting water at it all summer. I’m willing it to rain as much as the farmers are!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That hysterical squealing of children is only ever a delight for their parents, that’s for sure. Compared to London, it is laughably quiet here, Ian. But after four years of tranquility, the recent increase in noise disturbance seems much more annoying.
      Cheers, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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