I was chatting with someone recently about my move here, and they asked whether I had any advice for others doing the same. As you know, this blog is full of my missteps, moanings and general experience of getting permission to relocate, finally moving, and then being here in the reality of it. There are lots of things I could say, and probably should. Important things, like: get Skype and use it, you will need connection with friends and family back home; bring sentimental items to put around your new house, those familiar things will be a life saver; this new adventure will put stress on your relationship, be gentle with each other; simple things will suddenly feel strange, it’s ok, that is normal; enlist a friend or family member to send you items from home, sometimes Texas BBQ sauce is like mana from heaven; and get to know your neighbors.

That’s what I really want to write about; neighbors. I did not experience this near Dublin, but out here in the country people want to know who you are. I don’t blame them. Most everyone on my lane grew-up here, so when we moved-in we were both novelty and potential trouble. (maybe that’s my Texas attitude showing) Regardless, if you move to a country area introduce yourself to your neighbors.

The folks on our lane are big walkers (and who wouldn’t be with heaven outside your front door!), so we try to get out and walk every day. This was a great way to meet people at first. If folks in your area don’t walk much, or you just don’t see them, stop in to them, introduce yourself and invite them around for tea. (they may decline, but the effort will be appreciated) Set a day and time that is convenient for them, and then make sure you have the following on hand:

black tea
tea pot
assorted little sandwiches
fruit bread

Our neighbors invited us around for tea when we moved in, and the lady of the house instructed me on how to provide “Irish tea”! She had wedges of chicken, cheese, ham, and egg salad sandwiches, as well as a variety of cookies, little cakes, and some sliced fruit bread (barmbrack). We set the time for rather late at 8pm, but they didn’t seem to mind. We brought a bottle of wine as a gift, and we all shared a glass first before being taken into the kitchen to have tea and food.

You might also consider exchanging numbers with the neighbors, and offering to keep an eye on their place if they are away, etc. Again, they may decline and have loads of family around, but the effort will be appreciated. Another thing I like to do is ask questions about the area, its history and the story of those living there. I think most people appreciate being asked about their stories, and Ireland, especially, has a long history, full of beautiful and heart-wrenching tales.

Finally, shop local. A wonderful ‘auld guy down the lane fixes tires on the side. We make a point of using his services when we need anything like that done. Likewise, we buy all our sausage, ham, and bacon from the superb organic, free-range farm across the valley (another shout-out to Woodside Farm). I also found a woman doing hair from her house in the village next to ours, so I go to her now. I recently heard of a seamstress in our own village, but haven’t given her a ring yet. All this to say, get involved in the community where you are.

And enjoy yourself! No place is like home, but every place has its wonders. Discover what the wonders of your new place are, and remember…… You are so lucky to have this opportunity. Soak it up!