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Suggestions for your visit

Some suggestions for your visit to a British home (although many points may be obvious to you, they are not obvious to everyone):

* When you receive an invitation from a host/hostess, reply as soon as possible, even if it is to say that you are too busy to go. If you are asked to 'drop in', take them literally (but ring up first if possible to check whether they are in).

* If you are accepted, then it is considered bad manners to fail to turn up. If you cannot go for some very good reason, then it is important to let them know, if possible by telephone, as the post may take several days. If you cannot do this in time, do write and apologise. Our etiquette is such that invitations to meals are considered definite appointments, and it causes some misunderstanding when preparations are made and the guest does not come. We are more rigid in this than many other countries.

* Your hosts may indicate the time that they expect you, and if they do, try to be punctual. Remember that we are slaves to punctuality and it is not polite to keep others waiting!

* If you are asked to spend the night, then remember to take pyjamas, toothbrush, razor etc. A towel is not needed.

* You will probably find opportunity to help in the household tasks (washing up, making your bed etc). They may not want you to do so; there is no need to insist. But do offer, and say you want to be thought of as a member of the family.

* If there are members of the opposite sex about your own age in the family, may we give you a personal hint. Some of our overseas friends have read too much into what is the natural friendliness of a girl in her own home. We are probably freer in this respect than you are at home. If you presume on her friendship, the end result is that you may be hurt. Be natural but cautious.

* We sometimes find it difficult to make interesting conversation when there are few points of contact. Please do all you can to make it easy for your shy host/hostess by making conversation yourself! Tell them about your home, family and country. Don't wait to be asked lots of questions. Show them any photographs you may have with you.

* Please don't get upset if they show their ignorance of your country or say something that appears patronising, but put it down to a difference of outlook. They certainly don't intend to be insulting. Just try to explain how things are. You can ask questions about our way of life too. But please remember the natural reserve of the typical Englishman, and it is up to you to help him out. You are an ambassador for your country!

* Most hosts write to tell us how much they have enjoyed these visits, and how easy it was once the initial shyness wore off.

* After your stay do write a short letter of thanks to the host/hostess.

(adapted from Kairos Trust)

Ingrid and Viren Glorious food Roger and Jo

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