Tag Archives: countryside

Country creepy crawlies

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.



Filed under General rants and moans, House and home

Leaving Shoreditch…

So it looks like we are finally – finally! – moving out of our one-bed into something a bit more family-friendly. Not sure where that’ll be yet, but we are trying to be open-minded, and yesterday I went to look at a place in the Sussex countryside, outside Lewes. It was beautiful, unnervingly big (where would we find the furniture to fill it?) and cheaper than anything we’d find in last week’s area of choice, Battersea.

But, like anyone who’s lived in London for a long time, I’m slightly terrified of living anywhere else, and assume the world outside to be a backward, parochial place where everything shuts at five o’clock and the food runs the gamut from pub grub to the Panda Chinese takeaway.

I know, I know, this is misguided prejudice and these days you country folk have Daylesford Organics and literary festivals and everything. And it would be nice to see the sky and the seasons. Plus there are other things to think about these days, boring things like schools, parks and sufficient bedrooms.

I’m still not sure where we’ll end up. But although there’s lots about Shoreditch I won’t miss – the dirty main roads, the pollution, the endless fucking scaffolding – having lived here for so long, there is loads I will. Such as:

The cinemas
We have three within easy walking distance: the Barbican, the Rich Mix and the Aubin. They are all great, the problem being that, once you factor in babysitting, the cinema becomes gob-smackingly expensive. Not so long ago, we went to see Attack the Block in Leicester Square, which ended up costing about 70 quid. I wouldn’t mind but it was crap.

Babies are a test to one’s sanity and exercise is how I preserved mine. Namely at this place, which considerately runs a crèche on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. They do fun classes, like ballet to rock music, and tribute Jane Fonda aerobics, and Joan and Pip, the girls who run it, are lovely.

The markets
Columbia Road, Brick Lane and Spitalfields. On Sundays there’s no better place in London to be.

The transport
My friends in other parts of London often comment that they rarely leave their West/East/South/North comfort zone, which always strikes me as a shame because no one part of London is so uniformly great there’s no reason to go elsewhere: to West London for its schmancy boutiques and rich-person people-watching; North London for Hampstead Heath, Primrose Hill and gastropubs; East London for creative edge and comedy hipsters; South London for…

Anyway, what’s great about living where I do is that, with three walkable Tube stations, it’s easy to get anywhere else (except Fulham). And in 2017 there’ll be Crossrail, which means it’ll take six minutes to get to Bond Street and 30 to get to Heathrow. Only six more years to go…

Having proper bars/pubs/cafes/restaurants
Lots of people think that the cafes/pubs/restaurants where they live are nice. They are wrong. They’ve just lowered their standards. Shoreditch has no shortage of rank venues popular with the skirt-n-shirt brigade, but there are still some goodies if you know where to look (and don’t come on a Friday night). The Albion, for instance, or Bottega Prelibato, or the Princess for Sunday lunch.

So – sniff – Shoreditch I will miss you. Thanks for the memories. But I’ve a boy who needs a bedroom, and room to run.

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Filed under General rants and moans, Kids, parenting... Non-mums may want to move along