My tale this week actually comes courtesy of a friend. A heartwarming example of how food can bring neighbours some fun in this time of ‘bland crackers instead of rich caviar’.

It all started with a tin of beans. Bog standard, 415g tin of staple food. And a cul-de-sac of six houses consisting of a mixture of families, couples and single owners.

House No1 had bought the wrong tin of beans – none of them liked that particular brand. So they gifted said tin of beans to House No2 along with some freshly made home baking and a note to say hello.

House No2 decided to ‘pay it forward’ and gave a tin of beans to House No3 along with some homemade scones (freshly made as well, I presume).

House No3 thought that the tin of beans had become a symbol of paying forward the neighbourly love and decided to gift the tin to House No4 along with some more marmalade that they’d made in January. House No3 apparently makes to-die-for marmalade every year and it’s greatly anticipated by all the residents in the cul-de-sac. House No4 was clearly delighted with the extra jar.

Now, House No4 and House No5 are keen gardeners, so it was no surprise that House No4 gifted House No5 a tin of beans and some seedling potatoes, along with detailed instructions to ensure successful growing.

The gift to House No6 was a bit different because this house has a single owner who sadly had been widowed 18 months before so all the neighbours tended to look out for her. As well as a tin of beans in a hamper left at her door, there was some more home baking, some vegetables and a few meals already prepared and cooked for her to put in the fridge or freezer, contributed to by all the neighbours.

After my friend had relayed this story to me I said it sounded like a really great cul-de-sac, she was lucky to live there. Then she said she hadn’t finished the story yet. What was left to tell?

The 8pm clap on Thursday night. She said they were out for an hour. I asked if anyone’s hands were left intact if they were clapping for that long? She said their hands were fine, but their sides were splitting. Splitting?! Splitting with laughter, it seems, because when House No3 unwittingly said they were glad that the tin became a symbol of paying it forward because they don’t like beans, House No2 errupted into laughter. They don’t like beans either, so they had just passed it on.

Curiousity killed the can, so to speak. After further conversations with everyone, it turns out that House No4 and No5 didn’t like beans either! The big question was, did House No6 like beans? It was difficult to ask House No6 as the lady, having mobility issues, only waves from her window instead of coming outside her door for the 8pm clap.

One of the children went to get a piece of paper to write the question on. ‘Do you like beans?’ it said. The lady at the window frowned, obviously a bit puzzled by the question. She disappeared and came back a few minutes later. She held up the tin of beans and a sheet of paper which read, ‘Thank you for food. Don’t like beans so will pass them on for the kids next door.’ These kids live in House No1.

Not long after, the tin of beans that had had a whirlwind visit to each of the six houses in the cul-de-sac was amongst food donated by House No1 to the local foodbank. It’s now out of its pass the parcel loop and on a new quest to find a home where it will be eaten!