About six months ago I relocated from the city to the countryside with my husband and two children. It was a dream move for us and we really stretched ourselves financially to do it.
We felt it would give us a better quality of life, relieve stress and our kids would really benefit too.
Well how wrong could we be.
We now live opposite a big house, and the owner – who I’ve only seen once or twice collecting her mail from the letterbox outside her gates – seems to have it in for us.
It all started when our removal van blocked her driveway when we were unloading our belongings, then our dog got into her garden and trampled over some flower beds (relieving himself while he was at it).
We tried to speak to her to apologise, but she wasn’t at home on either occasion and hasn’t replied to any of the notes I’ve put through her door.
Unfortunately, when we were on holiday, we also had some noisy work done in our garden and the contractors forgot to tell her and the other neighbours that it was happening, so we returned home to find an angry letter from her, complaining that we are being anti-social and don’t respect the other people in the street. I know she’s complained to all the other neighbours about us and, maybe I’m being a bit paranoid, but now I feel ostracised.
I’m so miserable in my lovely little house. My husband tells me just to ignore it, but I can’t. What should I do to improve relations?
I think doing everything via letter is a mistake – once you actually meet someone, however upset you are, it’s easier to sort out any disputes. You’re also less likely to say anything you’ll regret and that person doesn’t seem such a scary prospect.
The next time you see her at the gates, go over and introduce yourself and start a dialogue. Invite
her over for a coffee and apologise again in person.
Hopefully, she’ll mellow and you won’t feel so intimidated.
You’ve had a bad run of luck, but it always takes a bit of time to settle into a new community and find your feet and like-minded friends and neighbours. It’s nice to get on with the people next door and across the road, but it’s not essential.
I know people who’ve lived in flats in London for years and still don’t know their neighbours, and it doesn’t bother them one bit.
If your children are young, you’re bound to make friends through them – through school, nursery and playdates.
If your efforts with the neighbours fall flat, then take a leaf out of your hubby’s book and don’t let the situation get to you.
* More of our agony aunt Coleen Nolan’s advice on your sex, family, health and relationship problems