Retiring to a quaint English village is a hard-wired objective for many folk. However, for city-dwellers, returning expats and military fellows the reality is often very different from the expected leather-on-willow, pints in the pub and wisteria clad cottages. It may well end up being like this - but for new blow-ins, incomers or just plain people "not from these parts" here is some advice (hard-earned!) worth considering:
1) Find out contact details for your immediate neighbours and then call or visit to advise them of your arrival time and number of removal vans. You’ll obviously find out more about them but also avert any potential parking or access problems.
2) Do not invite the neighbours in for drinks, cocktails (should you know how to make any) nibbles, supper, or barbecues. Wait for at least several months but do go to them if you’re invited.
3) Do not hoist the Irish tricolour up a newly installed flagpole in your garden.
4) Dress conservatively, be polite and if you have a dog make sure you pick up the poo; especially in the High Street.
5) Go to the pub as soon as possible but do not proffer too much information about your background or personal circumstances. Drink English ale; not Mexican lager.
6) Do not, immediately, seek planning permission for a large extension or triple garage.
7) Do not, immediately, cut down trees in your garden. You may well need planning permission.
8) Do not volunteer for anything. The WI committee, Parish Council, village green committee, Traffic Speed Gun team and the Neighbourhood Watch will seek you out as fervently as a heat-seeking anti-aircraft missile.
9) Do not join clubs, or societies, as they are known in the posher villages. Wait a while, and in the meantime go to every village event: fête, quiz night, harvest supper, carol service, cricket matches and skittles competitions.
10) Observe and persevere.
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