Who wants back in the good old UK?

I always worry a little about upsetting our new neighbours - it's usually such a quiet little hamlet but then me and the Twerp arrived, our dogs don't stop bluddy barking and me and Twerp are either yelling or fighting over the football. Mind you, when I see them, I usually make apologetic noises about the dogs etc and they just seem to dismiss it. I'll have to think of something for Christmas to say thank you for being nice.

Three years should be enough to get the measure of someone. We got to know our first neighbours here by introducing ourselves the day we moved in and by being very friendly towards them. I remember his look of alarm in fact as I told him my name! Now I understand why, but at the time I thought it odd.

Anyway, we eventually became good friends and we look after their house and cats for them when they go on holiday.

well we have been here 3 years Ian....I might be in a nursing home by the time I have a dialogue with the neighbours! we send xmas cards...smile and try to chat....but you are right..much harder than uk..but also much harder than the Languedoc..here we have several neighbours we speak to..and its only our holiday home...not complaining...just saying.....and the UK neighbours are still friends...so you are not right on that point Ian...difference probably was my husband was the local GP....but speak to the old farmer...from 30 years ago...my first visitor...a neighbour from half a mile up the lane...still a dear friend and she is 90 now...so disagree the UK ones were goodies.

I suppose, as anywhere, there are so many different personalities and much of it depends on luck who your neighbours happen to be. We've only been here since the last week of February but our neighbours down the lane give us lettuce and the husband helped me put the wheel back on the petrol mower (after watching for 20 mins over the fence, probably seeing how hard I would try myself) and our lovely lady next door has given Shaun chewy sweets across the fence. Oh and Serge up another lane invited us (Shaun, me and another English couple) round for fizzy wine and cheese cubes. Lovely. Many of the Maltese were very friendly and I love it that we're experiencing similar here.

Carol, you need to remember that unlike Brits, the French start from a position of mistrust or wariness and gradually work to trust. I have found that the good friends I have here are much deeper friendships than I had in the UK. Just different cultures.

Maybe because I live in Dordogneshire...but havent had the same experience....we live in a country lane...and apart from smiles and nods...and xmas when we were cut off and had to ask our neighbour..(smart people with winter tires!) to bring back our shopping...non of them do more than..well nod. In the UK we lived in the country...and similar situation..a mile along a country lane...I used to be offered lifts by the farmer on his tractor on my way home from work...used to be given pheasants for hanging...another neighbour would pluck them for me...for a bottle of brandy..I like my game ripe! we had so many kind neighbours in the UK....in the countryside...not when we lived in Brighton...even next door neighbours managed not to speak....but rural neighbours were brilliant...just find the French where we are...a little stiff and reserved...

We are always helping, and being helped by our neighbours. I know the country is different to the big city but I did live in the country in the UK too and it seems more "real" and genuine here. One of the stranger things I did here was to help carry a neighbour's dead body down a staircase as we couldn't get the wheeled stretcher thing up the tight staircase. It was really warm! I can't imagine anything like that happening in the UK- health and safety nightmare. Also trained to skin a sheep. The village also "closes" when the gendarmes arrive as we prefer no outside interference- it's a sort of usually unspoken thing. Although we are in Brittany flying the Breton flag is frowned on due to war time complicity between local Breton nationalists and the Nazis. dark stories- by the way there's a v interesting prog on Vichy times on Arte tonight.

Like ours, since I broke me thingummy they have been only helpful. Our daughters go out to see them to take flowers and chat now, they feel so confident in the two hamlets here.

Jane, to me you have just described how neighbours should be. Lovely.

We live in very rural France and last night the farmer across the land asked us if we could let him leave his tractor in our yard because there are gangs going round taking diesel from tractors. We were only too happy to oblige and we had to leave early this morning and when we returned, there was a bottle of Saint Veran.

No I won't be ging back to the UK!

I think Camila B is a fantastic lady!

Also read that last night, Celeste, turns my stomach to think of the lengths some parents will go to in order to feel "proud" of their children.

I agree, it is exploitation, and, in some cases, abuse,when you see how the children are moulded into whoever the parents wants them to be. Kids need to be kids. i know it's not the same thing, but it strikes a parallel with the Chinese gymnastics teams, and how they are abused as children, and all for a medal.

I tend to agree with you, Celeste. I love little talent shows (or the school concert!) etc but full-on pageants with the excessive make-up, hair and costumes worth thousands - it makes the parents so competitive and determined, especially after the amount of money they've invested, that I should imagine the child is almost bullied into performing to perfection or perhaps ridiculed or belittled during 'training' and then, if the child is successful, the parent treats it as their own accomplishment, not the child's. All that angst and from possibly age 3 upwards.

I love your little ditty, David - that made me laugh. Don't overdo it in the garden.

Woke up this morning, feeling kind of blue, reached my computer, wow, hey, phew.

As an architect I felt it was only us taking the heat for society's ills. Over to the researchers, lawyers, and sociologists and my life looks very dull. Must get into the garden. Must be the heat down south, here in Brittany we still have on 17 degrees.

This is a very good point:

What interests me is that the definition of poverty has changed from being absolute (enough to meet basic housing, feeding and clothing) to relative poverty (earn 2/3 of what your neighbour does and you are 'in poverty' even if your basic needs are met).

This is what they refer to as Social Mobility, isn't it? Helping people move from below the poverty line to above it, or just generally from lower to higher. However it seems just silly to define poverty in relative terms since by definition some people will always be poorer.

Cate: On Catharine's blog on 6 May, you said to Jennifer Hagan: 'JH - chill out luv or we will have to name this the anti-social network :-) but acknowledging that you are rude and aggressive is the first step in the right direction:-)step two might be realising that conversation and ranting are two different things (just joking of course :-)))'.

Joking or whatever, you said things I have said here, and other bits say more in a similar tone. As I said, I am out of here. But when you have an opinion be careful that you have not accused people of the same yourself, it makes you look a tad foolish. I told Richard Partridge he was rude, which was my subjective opinion based on my values not yours, but Jennifer did not go into the same league, therefore I assume what you said was based on your values. I also asked him not to leave the post. You wanted Jennifer off Catharine's page quite clearly. Just think before you leap in future and leave the j'accuse bit out before you do it to somebody les tolerant than me. Not joking, just offering friendly advice.

I agree with Carol...... it is a point that the governmnet is struggling to win with the civil service on the question of pay at the moment, with civil servants on the same pay grades around the country. It is hard to argue that pay linked to the cost of living in your area should not apply in my view...

Also the article refers to "an acceptable" standard of living, but the full article does note that this is fairly ill defined. I tend to agree though that £37k is a ball park figure of what is 'acceptable': the national average pay is £27k, so that is one parent working full time and one part-time on the average - or various other combinations. It is I would have thought enough to pay for a fairly average standard of living across the country: a three bed semi in small town, a trip to Majorca once a year, swimming lessons for the kids etc. It is tight, but do-able. Children would undoubtedly have to take loans for uni......

What interests me is that the definition of poverty has changed from being absolute (enough to meet basic housing, feeding and clothing) to relative poverty (earn 2/3 of what your neighbour does and you are 'in poverty' even if your basic needs are met). The definitions on the BBC eduction site point out that 'poverty' is a flexible thing, changing in times and circumstances: http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/education/int/ms/health/wealth/def_of_poverty/definitions.shtml

The article points out the with rising child-care costs and falling tax-credits those on £36k are feeling the pinch. I think that coupled with the idea of poverty being relative is is what drives the like of me and Richard P (see below) to argue that those 'in poverty' should lower their expectations - it is a middle class response to their incomes being straightened - they expect to see themselves relatively better off than those on the bottom rung......

havent read the article Valerie...will have a look tomorrow...and I have worked alongside the JRF before...the problem sometimes with these bits of research...and remember I havent read the article...but 36k goes no where in London but a lot further in Rotherham...Nottingham....The Potteries etc. paying a mortgage on a £190k flat as opposed to a £50k flat....or rent of £850 a month or £450.....that £36k can be plenty in one place and short of enough in another...

Picking up on Brian's last sentence of his post "I suspect it is not the UK you left or have in your minds", a few minutes ago I read a report the Guardian have just referenced. It's protected by copyright so I can't simply paste but the gist is:

"Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) found that a couple with two children had to earn £36,800 for an acceptable standard of living, up by almost a third since 2008.

The foundation said working families with children were being dealt a "damaging triple financial blow" of increased childcare costs, more expensive transport and cuts to tax credits.

A quarter of the UK population live below the standard - three million more than in 2008..." .

The full article is at http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/feedarticle/10328426

Life does not seem too rosy for some.

There you go....we agree....I really am off to bed now...night night folks..dont stay up fighting too late!