No one told me about the insects.
It turns out country houses are full of them. We arrived to find the aftermath of World War Woodlouse in the kitchen, their corpses strewn everywhere, the remaining survivors cowering in corners or fleeing for refuge under the stairs. Everyone I’ve mentioned this to says, ‘Oh, they’re perfectly harmless, they don’t carry disease or anything.’ Like that’s the point.
Meanwhile there’s a great chunk missing from the back door, where something has tried to force its way in. I kid you not – look:
‘Probably a fox or badger,’ the estate agent said breezily. Now we were no strangers to foxes in Shoreditch. But at no point did they try and force their way into my flat.
But worst of all are the spiders. Or should I say this particular beast, which has been staring at me through the living-room window since we got here. Never trust a spider with skeletal markings, I say. Or a belly that fat:
Ugh. I’d evict the fucker, but I also like knowing where it is. But they’re everywhere, too, the spiders. We’re massively outnumbered. On opening the pantry door, my first reaction (well, second – after, ‘Ooh! A pantry!’) was, ‘It’s a spider house. Nice.’
People talk of being ‘close to nature’ as if this is a good thing. When we were in Shoreditch, people from less urban climes would make slightly sneery comments about the lack of wildlife. But we had wood pigeons and squirrels and blue tits and surely that’s enough? You want more, go to a petting zoo. But the difference with urban wildlife is that it respects boundaries. I’m not sure I saw a spider in the 12 years I was in Shoreditch. And definitely, definitely never a woodlouse. And you know what? That was just fine.
On the plus side, the garden is nice. Lots of this sort of thing:
It’s an upgrade from the scrap of decking we had before.