thats when good neighbours become good friends........
Everybody needs good neighbours?
However, I'm glad to be leaving my lovely Middle England neighbours to it very soon. I also think I have my answer to the 'big town or country' question! It's country for me all the way, frankly.
We've kept ourselves to ourselves since arriving here, other than a friendly 'hello' here and there. A lot of the issue ha been the way the main 3 houses are situated, next to each other, no front doors, very walled in, side entrances only, we never really see anyone, but conveniently private. Also, We really got used to being on our own during lockdowns and haven't really recovered.
Still, we were quick to do our duty by welcoming the newest incumbents next door, but they weren't in, have hardly been in since, so we left a plant and a card with our phone number on, eager to assist if need be? The rest I leave to figure itself out in due course.
Honestly, it takes our family a little while to warm up to new folks, possibly because we are very well travelled, used to starting over and over again and in no rush, but we aren't rude. That said, we do like our little bubble and only let people in occasionally, once we really get to know them better. We've never been the 'pop in on spec for a cuppa' kind people and anyway, we have a house full and have been pretty busy. People have their lives to lead in peace, right?
It was when my other neighbour caught me for a quick chat the other week, that I realised I'm probably NOT the sort of neighbour she expected or wanted. She told me quite brutally that we had 'changed the dynamics' of the tiny village, after inviting me for a coffee sometime 'IF we were staying'. Yes we moved in as short term renters in-between long standing owners and its clear they had high expectations of us joining in with the village, we didn't, oops!
Theres no doubt that renters moving in and out of small villages, affects the dynamic of said villages and I wish them all longer term renters after we move out.
In some ways I believe she has a point, as we weren't ever intending to stay, we therefore had nothing to gain by making more friends, only never to see them again. I hadn't really given it any thought, but maybe all the moving around the globe has changed how we behave when arriving somewhere new, yet again. I guess, I actually stopped trying to make real friends a long time ago, having learnt that many friendships don't last after I move on. Not making friends also makes it easier to pack up and go without all that emotional baggage!
I have also realised lately, that all this constant temporary living has badly affected my mental health and It has to come to an end within the next year or so. It's high time we put down real roots and started enjoying all that community life has to offer. As long as we have a real home to return to, I can cope with more visits abroad for his work.
Over the years, the stress of moving has really changed me, but so has dealing with many friendly folks that turn out to be less than friendly quite quickly. I understand that I've withdrawn into myself and set my boundary walls very high for both friends and family lately. Treat me badly and you will find yourself on the fringe of my life, doesn't matter who you are. This makes my world safer, calmer, but rather isolated at times. I'm okay with it, I prefer it if I'm honest.
I've made many changes to how I behave online and who I do business with in the last few months and it has improved my mental health significantly. I'm still learning, but I have changed and fundamentally I now keep my circle tiny and closed. I don't think I will ever go back to being so very open ever again. Also real friends do have to make an effort to spend a little time with each other at least once a year, don't they? I move so much that even meeting these basic friendship expectations isn't often possible.
I love people. I'm a people watcher, curious about humans and their lives. I'm a huge fan and a massive supporter of women, but I now severely limit who I publicly support! It's a sad reflection of the last few years of my life in France, I feel.
Everyone arriving in France needs a leg up somehow, but there have been many stories, mine and others of folks being taken advantage of by fellow British migrants who would step on you to get where they want to be without care! There's so many of them as expat life is very concentrated.
I have recently heard that the carpenter we fell out with is saying that we didn't pay him! We did, even though he didnt finish the job and the work wasn't of an acceptable standard in parts. His communication was pretty much missing in action and he was impossible to pin down, but it suits him to play the victim, whilst we are left with an unfinished window we can't shut! I'm not worried as he appears to be the type that drops one job for the next best offer. In the end the community will stop promoting him for good reason.
Our new carpenter starts today and I hope we have a better run with him!
Our old carpenters last invoice only arrived after a little fall out. We can't pay if he doesn't invoice on time and anyway, his last invoice had to be doctored heavily to reflect the work NOT done! He really was happy to try and charge us for a job completed when it wasn't! There's been a lot of that with people charging us for time they haven't been in the house working, which is why we are going to be visiting the site on spec from here on.
One thing we all need to remember, is that the expat community is small and the damage this nonsense does is incredible. Gossip spreads far and wide faster than a COVID sneeze! We all find out what is being said pretty quickly, or a version of it at least, so I'd really advise you all NOT to poop on your own doorstep! If you know of think you know someone else's business, keep it to yourself!