Bus stops, ANZAC biscuits and a new friend

When we arrived six months ago our neighbours showered us with gifts.  Giant chocolate chip cookies, homemade brownies, sidewalk chalk, colouring in books and pencils and a book about South Africa that was 20 years old (that gift from a neighbour who was cleaning out her basement and had misheard the part about us being Australian but having moved from South Africa).

This is the actual giant chocolate chip cookie we received

This is the actual giant chocolate chip cookie we received

You name it, they bought it to our door with their best wishes and curiosity about who exactly it was that was now in the house that had lain empty for so long.  In our special new ‘hood there is also an official welcoming committee chairperson; they bought a big hamper overflowing with supermarket items and vouchers for local restaurants.

I had my children write the thank you notes and return the door knocks as I was busy unpacking and arranging and being overwhelmed by a country move that was knocking the polish off my expat princess ways by actually having to do it all myself.

Even so, I was excited by the house for sale a few doors down; when it sold I was determined to be a first responder in the welcome cookie stakes. I didn’t know the current residents, they had not been door knockers at our house, but I didn’t wish them ill – just a speedy sale so I could bake for the new guys.

The house lay empty over the summer and the autumn/fall and some of the winter and then a couple of weeks ago there was moving trucks. Within a week one family had moved out another in.  I was excited, I must make those biscuits I thought. What kind? Should I do brownies? What might they like? Did they have kids? Are they going to be Paleo or GF people? That could be a problem. Then I kind of forgot, filed the thoughts in that place in my brain called ‘do that later’.

One morning last week after we had walked a full five houses to the school bus stop in 2 degrees and icy rain at 7.24am I was trudging home only to see the bus stop outside the new house, RIGHT AT THEIR DRIVEWAY. This did not make me happy. I was cold and wet and wondering why did they get a new bus stop and not us? I tossed the options; perhaps my cookie making would be better served to bring around Miss M the bus driver. Could I get my own bus stop I wondered?

It didn’t look good for their chances to experience my amateur and limited baking skills. First impressions count, forget the part where I hadn’t even met them yet.

The next morning I did meet them at the bus stop. Paula and her two lovely children, one in Kindergarten just like WASYO and one three year old. Turns out they had missed the bus and Miss M was doing them a solid and stopping to pick them up on the way.

We chatted all the way back to our house and then stood at the mail box for forty five minutes exchanging life histories; me in my pj’s (remembering its dark and cold at 7.20am when we leave the house so pj’s with some kind of cover up work well then, not so much at 8.30). They moved from New Jersey, she gave up her job to move with her husband’s work, she was not loving it so far, there had been tears. Relate, relate, relate. The cookies were definitely back on. I could have another friend in the street, a drop in, keep my kids kind of friend.

I was eager to help my new friend Paula immediately, so I shot off an email to our class mother at school to ask about the class parent for her son’s class; she didn’t have any email or phone contacts for other parents and her son wanted to set up play dates.  I copied her on the email to show my speedy action and thoughtfulness. I soon received two replies, our class mom was right on it and included contacts. Paula replied to say her name wasn’t Paula – it was Donna.

Tricky.

It made perfect sense of course because her email address did start with a d.

It was a set back but I wasn’t totally deterred, who doesn’t make a mistake with a name every once in a while? Right? I pushed on to the next project – the biscuits. I thought I could recover if we scored points there. I made ANZAC biscuits for the first time in my life, they weren’t terrible and so were deemed acceptable to pass onto Paula/Donna and family that afternoon after school.

Thank you, lovely, no allergies, no special dietary requirements – all looking good.

Had an email later to say that they were so good the three year old had been found in her closet after being AWOL, finishing a few extra above and beyond the ‘one before dinner’ she had been allowed. This perhaps should have produced a sense of foreboding but somehow did not.

The next morning at the bus stop Donna appeared – exhausted, she hadn’t slept all night because someone who had eaten all the cookies had been up all night vomiting and was now at home sleeping it off.

I am still hopeful, what do you think of my chances? Any tips for what not to do next?

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14 responses to “Bus stops, ANZAC biscuits and a new friend

  1. LOL I’m sure she’ll forgive you. At least the cookies tasted good 🙂

  2. In all seriousness, I think you’re in – you did hit it off straight away and she won’t have any other friends yet. 😉
    Perhaps a bottle of wine next, just in case she’s a recovering alcoholic?

  3. Haha, you always crack me up. and I can SO relate to the bus stop debate. Nothing quite so gets me up in arms in this country as the perceived preference to another house on the route. Although I shouldn’t complain because our kids being the last on the route, our bus driver drops them off right in front of the house too. I hope no one else is jealous. I am jealous, by the way, of your welcoming committee. I’ve had one neighbor do that for us, but for the rest, we had to go out and meet them. Maybe they can be forgiven as some of them are celebrities. We are in Nashville, lots of music stars there. Except I am so not with the times that I don’t know anyone. So probably didn’t make a good impression on our next door neighbor when I had to repeat his name three times to get it right. By the way, I have to ask: What are ANZAC cookies/biscuits, and what does WASYO stand for – somehow I’ve missed that. Oh, and don’t worry, you’ll be forgiven. That all could have so happened to me. I am going through all those same things and faux pas right now. Maybe you can give me some pointers:-)

    • You must live in a flash part of town – celebrity neighbours! No such luck here, or not that I’ve found yet anyway.
      WASYO is the world’s angriest six year old. She lives in our house, formerly WAFYO world’s angriest four/five year old…. I think we’re good for six through seven, am hoping not to have to announce WAEYO in two years time.
      ANZAC biscuits are an oat and coconut biscuit (although that’s selling them way short). ANZAC stands for Australia New Zealand Army Corps and these biscuits were given as part of the rations to the troops at Gallipoli & in France during WWI. Part of every Australian’s upbringing – or part of mine anyway.

  4. Very funny Nikki, I actually had a real lol when her name changed from Paula to Donna. Perhaps side-by-side photos of your welcome cookie & your anzacs?

    • I don’t want to compare too much – mine didn’t have flowers or icing writing on them. I will put a photo up though to show my home baking skills…

  5. I have the answer….and yep it’s sure to become the way to go… next gift..and it’s “a black & white” issue – nothing to do with colour – is “jar of vegemite!”
    You have made my morning…thanks Nikki. I would HATE to get up and walk to busstops in wet/icy/snowy conditions.
    I guess you know we had record hot days last week or so?
    Ok..enough now
    Cheers Denyse xx

    • Denyse I did hear about the heat wave, the floods and the bush fires. It’s looking a bit like an extreme weather reality show over there at the moment. I recently made a tray of Vegemite sandwiches for International night at school and they were actually a hit. I made them with the correct technique – fresh white bread, butter and just a dash of Vegemite. One man told me I was cheating – I should be handing out teaspoons with plain Vege on them. I am all about education too Denyse, just a different kind over here 😉

  6. Absolutely brilliant as always……

  7. way better than my neighbour introducing himself to the other newbies as The Neighbour from Hell … lamingtons next, might give pavs a skip, eh? xt

  8. I used to make biscuits for my family which we called bus stop biscuits.a friend gave me the recipe and she got it from another friend who got it from a lady at the bus stop.my grankids would like some but i don t have the recipe!! however i had wondered if tey were anzac cookies…………………so here goes…….and thanks a lot !!!

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