Does anybody remember the song ‘Something for the weekend’ by Divine Comedy? The lyrics begin “She said, there’s something in the woodshed, and I can hear it breathing, it’s such an eerie feeling darling”. I hadn’t thought about it for years and years but now I think about it often, because we now have a woodshed, and there’s definitely something in there. I can’t actually hear anything breathing (apart from me!) but there are some strange scuttling noises whenever I approach.
Just part of the joy of living in the country I suppose – and one of many things that didn’t cross my mind when we fell in love with this house. Being a committed ‘townie’ I had rather an idealistic idea about what living in the country entailed and imagined that I would be spending my days sitting on the terrace with a slice of home-grown lemon in my gin and tonic, admiring the panoramic views across the vineyard and enjoying the peace and quiet of life. OK yes, that does happen (a lot!) but there is a price to pay. For example, we have a small orchard which had been well-tended by the previous owner so last year enjoyed olives, figs, peaches, apples, pears, clementines, apricots and lemons but this year we have had to prune, thin and treat the trees ourselves and will no longer wonder why fruit is so expensive in the supermarkets. Actually, what am I complaining about – it’s all worth it for the sheer joy of biting into a freshly picked peach, still warm from the sun.
We also have what I consider to be better than having our own vineyard – at the bottom of our garden a gate leads into somebody else’s vineyard so we can walk around it and take pleasure in watching the grapes grow without any of the hard work. I suppose I can forgive the farmer for occasionally turning up in his tractor at 5am to do whatever he has to do before the heat of the day kicks in!
The isolation is wonderful – we are on the outskirts of a small village so have neighbours within walking distance but cannot see or hear them. It does mean that I have to plan well ahead and if I have run out of sugar or coffee there is no longer the opportunity to nip out to the shops – the village is a 10 minute walk away and the few shops that there are have such strange opening hours that the chances of me finding one open when I need one is remote. But, strolling down a country lane rather than jumping into the car to go to the Co-op is so much more interesting that I end up not caring whether I get my coffee or not.
The one thing I am having the most difficulty with is the wildlife. I like most of it – particularly the red squirrels and rabbits; the frogs still make me jump (no pun intended) but as long as they stay in their own pond and out of my pool they are ok; and I am still undecided about the lizards. Small lizards running across the terrace are fine but I am not sure about the gecko that seems to live in the ceiling of my office. Our worst problem was a mouse. At first it was quite cute and hid underneath the fireplace but when it then took over the kitchen and ate my son’s easter egg, war was declared. I won’t go into all the gory details but suffice to say my bounty bars are now safe!
Am I saying life is too difficult here and that I want to go back to my city life? Not a bit of it – but next winter it won’t be me going to the woodshed to get the logs!
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