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How to survive village life.

(97 Posts)
LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 14-Nov-13 10:25:54

This week, courtesy of Villem Saks, we take a look at the pitfalls of settling into life in the quaint English village you always wanted to retire to...

Do let us have your thoughts below.

Mishap Thu 14-Nov-13 10:43:16

Living in a country village is truly truly wonderful! Just join in! I have never never ever found the local families who go back donkeys years to be anything but welcoming. Just get stuck in - offer what you can to the community. Join the church flower rota, help at local clubs etc. - small villages are fishing in a teeny pool when it comes to finding people to do things and they will hoover you in to be on committees and heaven knows what.

I live in the tiniest of villages in the middle of nowhere and this is what I do........

- run a singing group
- sing with a quartet
- run the village library once a month
- join in with a monthly pub quiz
- go to a women's group
- book group - we meet in the pub
- school governor
- run local arts festival
- poetry group
- craft group when I can find time!

These are just the village activities - I do lots of other things as well.

We have been her nearly 20 years now, have always felt welcomed and it is just a complete joy.

We both have health problems and the offers of help and the kindness we have been shown is beyond description. If you give to the community then they will give back to you 100-fold. All this and the natural beauty around us.

The article sounds as though it is written by a real city dweller who is going in with pre-conceptions.

merlotgran Thu 14-Nov-13 10:48:45

Oh, is it serious? I thought it was a p**s take.


Gally Thu 14-Nov-13 11:09:06

Very strange ideas if you ask me! I live in a Scottish village - perhaps that makes a difference?grin

Galen Thu 14-Nov-13 11:26:49

Looks like the Cotswolds. They can be a bit 'reserved'

FlicketyB Thu 14-Nov-13 11:29:54

I live in a village, but a large village in occupied north Berkshire (now called Oxfordshire). We are surrounded by fields, but also by a huge industrial park, 2 science parks and about to get a Tesco. com warehouse. A major dual carriage way runs over the road to the next village and our local town - yet, I live in an old house that before the turnpike road was built in the 1700s, was the main road in the village. At the back I look out onto greenery and the hill that is a precursor of the downs, to the front is the Victorian village school and an avenue of trees.

It is a busy active village and we have always got on well with everybody. I think any community you live in is what you make it, some are less easy to get into than others, I do admit, but we previously lived in a town where the small area we lived in were an enclave where once you moved there you stayed a long time, we had a busy parade of shops across the road and we had the same sense of community there.

Riverwalk Thu 14-Nov-13 11:31:11

I think it's Castle Combe, Wiltshire, where War Horse was filmed.

Very chocolate box.

Elegran Thu 14-Nov-13 11:50:38

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.
Obvious good manners and a chance to make contact and show that you are not an arrogant city slicker.

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.
If you meet someone and like them, invite them in - doesn't have to be hard liquor. Coffee and a biscuit is enough to chat over. If you are invited in anywhere, ask them back.

3) Do not hoist the Irish tricolour up a newly installed flagpole in your garden.
Or even the Union flag, unless everyone else does.

4) Dress conservatively, be polite and if you have a dog make sure you pick up the poo; especially in the High Street.
Don't you always? No need to buy the Barbour and shotgun yet, though. Most of your neighbours probably wear M & S or Ebay, and just swear at the foxes and badgers which rake over their rubbish bags. Wait until you find out whether you really need the shooting gear and the five retrieving dogs before you splash out on them.

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.
Ask what local ale the barman would recommend. He might say Mexican lager. Don't be too mysterious and standoffish, though. First impressions can stay as your personal label for life. Tell them a bit about your lovely family, but miss out details of your salary, bank balance, latest bonus, socialising with Madonna and regular trips to Mustique until you have established yourself as a Good Guy.

6) Do not, immediately, seek planning permission for a large extension or triple garage.
Get your feet under the table before kicking away the supports of your acceptance. They will ask one another (quite legitimately) why you bought that lovely house with the beautiful garden that Mr & Mrs Smith spent their lives maintaining and improving, just to make such sweeping changes as soon as you were in. They will think you plan to enlarge it, sell up to a Middle Eastern oil potentate, and vanish with the money. Why should they bother making you welcome?

7) Do not, immediately, cut down trees in your garden. You may well need planning permission.
Ditto as above. Plus, you will find yourself in trouble with t'law, and besides, without the trees, your newly installed ensuite with the loo beside the full-length window overlooking the marvellous view will also be overlooked itself by everyone on their way from the sports pitch to the pub. This will get most trying at the weekend, when your house guests from the smoke will find themselves eyeballed by a fascinated crowd.

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.
Join an organisation first and test the water. You may think that you could run it better than the old fogies who seem to be in charge, but a bit of people-watching will show that they are very shrewd at knowing their members and assessing just what combination of cajolery, flattery, guilt-inducement and bullying will get the most out of each of them. Without their years of experience, you will have to resort to naked bullying and a demonstration of your superior, and much-resented, efficiency. It will not endear you to anyone.

9) Do join clubs, or societies, as they are known in the posher villages. Gardening, Rowing, Beer Tasting and Archery are useful activities to while away the halcyon days. You will be surprised to find just how many other interests are catered for in the depths of the sticks.
Ask around, and taste everything that tickles your fancy. You might enjoy things that you would not have considered in the feverish whirl of city life.

10) Persevere.
It is worth it.

janerowena Thu 14-Nov-13 12:45:16

The author missed out the church and staying on the good side of the formidable ladies who run every village worth moving to. I have had to move many times due to my husband changing jobs, hopefully we are now settled, but for most villagers the church, if they have one, is the centre of village life and many events are held because of its upkeep. It brings people together even if they only attend the carol service. When we bought this house we were renting while we did it up (no trees were taken down and no extensions built), and our car was quietly observed each weekend. After a few weeks we arrived at the village one Sunday for a day of painting and the vicar stepped into the road in front of us and kidnapped us to join the Harvest Festival lunch. Within a week our son had been introduced to new friends, my poor husband had committed to playing the organ in church and I was on the flower and cleaning rota. Before we had even moved in. Now, well - virtually a duplicate of Mishap's life and this has happened in every village we have lived in. It doesn't work in what I call corridor villages, that are separated by large roads. In one village we moved to, there were even invitations already sitting on our mantlepiece waiting for us, to a barbecue and to the village fete and a supper afterwards.

I would add - if you haven't got a child, then get a well-behaved dog and take it for a walk around the village every day. A wonderful ice-breaker.

Aka Thu 14-Nov-13 12:48:02

Excellent advice Elegran as someone who lived in a village for 20 years I endorse it and would add

11) Do some of your shopping at the village shops cum PO if such a facility still exists.
Be prepared for a lengthy queue and whilst doing so you will hear all the local gossip and may avoid many pitfalls

janerowena Thu 14-Nov-13 13:04:32

Oh yes Aka - I used to love queuing up at the old village shops and POs. - we moved here when they were shutting them all down. I was very confused, I knew I had seen one in the village but couldn't find it. In the short space between buying the house and moving in, it had been turned into a house and the mail box removed. I was starting to think we had bought a house in the wrong village. For a whole month we had no letterbox in our village, just before Christmas.

Tegan Thu 14-Nov-13 13:45:34

jane; ditto dog advice, but for all walks of life. I've lost track of the wonderful conversations I've had with fellow dog owners over the years. As for villages, the people working at our main surgery could never understand why our rural branch took such care of each patient in an individual way; it's 'what we do' for each other. Mind you, I have to admit to knowing of 'cliquey' villages, so I suppose they do exist sad.

Aka Thu 14-Nov-13 14:05:31

Tegan do you find that, like me, you know all the dogs' names but the owners are 'Buddy's mum' or 'Tyler's owner'?

Tegan Thu 14-Nov-13 14:25:21

Not so much these days cause the S.O. has done most of the village dog walking while I've been at work but, looking back over the years I can think of Elsa the beautiful German Shepherd and [my favourite] Graham the Greyhound [no idea of the names of either of their owners]. The S.O. has his dog walking mates; they don't seem to arrange to meet up but it's funny that they always seem to 'bump into' each other when out walking. My cousin, who's in her mid 80's keeps getting elderly rescue dogs because she can't cope with being stuck in the house with her husband all day. Oh and I bumped into the local farmers wife this morning at the hairdressers and asked her 'how Joe was' [black labrador; now 13, got arthritis and selective deafness; no idea how she is..didn't ask blush].

Brendawymms Thu 14-Nov-13 21:41:34

Don't immediately complain to the local Parish council to get the church bells stopped.
Don't complain bitterly about the cock crowing.
Don't complain about country smells.
Don't wear green willies, expensive wax jackets or drive four wheel drives without doing a course first.
Don't hold noisy parties or make a single sound after dark however early that falls.
Don't expect anyone to accept you for at least one generation.

Just joking smile

Mishap Thu 14-Nov-13 21:50:29

Green willies eh? - they don't have those in my village!

merlotgran Thu 14-Nov-13 21:52:18

I'd like to know how you're so sure about that, Mishap shock

janeainsworth Thu 14-Nov-13 21:53:55

We lived in a village in Cumbria for 3 years, after living in Hongkong.
One day soon after we arrived, I was walking to the village shop with the DDs in tow, pushing the dollies' pram and making very slow progress.
One of the old village women accosted me.
"'Ave yer just moved in?"
I replied that we had.
"Yer'll not be stopping long then. You lot never do."
It turned out that she was right, and in 1987 we escaped the village and came to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where we lived happily ever aftergrin

Brendawymms Fri 15-Nov-13 07:20:53

Willies folks not williessmile
More dont's
Don't expect a good mobile phone signal
Don't expect fast broadband
Don't expect a police response. They are too far away and the police station closes at night.
Don't have a medical emergency the hospital is even further away.
Don't expect to reach a motorway in less than an hour.
Don't expect a bus.
Don't expect to reach a train station easily.

Brendawymms Fri 15-Nov-13 07:21:47

Bl***y predictive text. Wellies not willies.

Aka Fri 15-Nov-13 07:28:40

grin Freudian slip?

LizG Fri 15-Nov-13 07:31:59

grin Brenda

LizG Fri 15-Nov-13 07:37:29

Mind you a lot of that (with the exception of motorways and possibly the green willies) can be said about small to medium sized towns too wink

Ariadne Fri 15-Nov-13 09:35:44

Sums up everything we thought about village life before deciding never to move to one.

feetlebaum Fri 15-Nov-13 09:41:40

Having escaped London forty years ago, to a village on the Thames, I would not want to live anywhere else. Village life suits me down to the ground.
You can keep your cities and towns...