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Big Lunch......Big Success
With the street closed to traffic and the weather forecast looking decidedly iffy, the residents of Goldstone Road came out of their houses yesterday lunchtime, with enough food to feed a small army, to spend their Sunday afternoons together.
It was a scene not often witnessed along British streets, unless there is a Jubilee or some other similar occasion to celebrate, but as part of “The Big Lunch”, people across the nation decided they did not need a reason to share some good food in great company. Just wanting to do it was enough.
Bunting was hung between streetlights, balloons appeared tied to railings and children used chalk to draw hop-scotch onto the tarmac, something that would not have been possible along Goldstone Road on any normal day.
Neighbours swapped stories of how long they had lived in the road, what they did for a living, their thoughts about life in general and even their hopes for the future. It’s amazing the conversations that can be had when a group of individuals, some having only just met, get chatting over some homemade, hot from the oven fruit crumble. Having the same postcode in common certainly got the conversation going pretty quickly and there was never a lack of something to talk about. There was even a live band, the Prestonville Pirates, that had formed especially for the day. It was definitely a first to see a drum kit being brought out onto the street!
Goldstone Road’s Anna Walsh decided to start organising the day after she saw a television advert for “The Big Lunch” which was to be a national event.
“I saw the Big Lunch promotional stuff and was completely taken in by their pictures of people doing what we’re doing today and it was just something I really wanted to happen. I’ve enjoyed myself and not having the cars going by is such an amazing thing. My favourite bit was listening to the band, sitting on my beanbag. I was in street party heaven!”
In the beginning Anna knocked on some doors to gauge support and get some much needed assistance, which included Sharon Willard who said: “I think it has gone absolutely brilliantly, it would have been wonderful if the weather had been beautiful from the start. We’re definitely going to have one next year!”
Although the weather was something of a challenge, it did little to dampen spirits and with some true British determination, people just got on with the business of having a good time. It was just a case of being quick to make a grab for your food as the wind occasionally attempted to send it, and everything not tied down, flying down the road.
One thing that really stood out was the amount of children, some only tiny tots, that live along Goldstone Road and Anna Copley said how much she enjoyed meeting the street’s youngest residents: “It’s really great to see so many kids. We didn’t realise we had so many children in this street. It’s like a maternity ward with so many little babies. I hope we do it again next year it was great!” Julie Farrell added: “I knew a few of the neighbours, but have met lots of nice new neighbours and even found someone to give me cello lessons!”
When asked why some people were not naturally more sociable with their neighbours, Chris Walsh put it down to the lack of front gardens and that “it’s a bit of a challenge to spend time outside your house and also the road is very full of cars, therefore it is quite a busy place and you don’t want the kids to hang around long, so you don’t dwell outside your house.”
Chris also said how he feels he now knows twice as many people and that “now I’ll know people to say hello to I didn’t know before and stop and chat to pass the time of day.”
So there you have it, an afternoon that was so much more than sociable chat in a convivial atmosphere. As fantastic as that was, it has also helped lay the foundation for a greater sense of community which can now be built upon.