I haven’t been idle while the internet was down. I spent the first few days trying to make a hell-hole into a home before my first visitor arrived. The morning after the move I looked as if I’d gone ten rounds with a blackberry bush, my forearms were scratched to high heaven from carrying boxes and I was aching in places that shouldn’t be possible and cursing the local rooster who had made his presence known at an ungodly hour. He hadn’t been part of the deal…
By the second morning, I had gone ten rounds with the brambles…cutting them all back so I could get to the windows to clean them. Everything smelled of artificial fragrances and cleaning products with a mid-note of cardboard as I began unpacking boxes and a distinct base-note of cow.
The eco-friendly footprint of my little flat is about half the size of the old place. A lot of stuff had to go and what could not be disposed of via Freecycle and charity shops ended up as a small mountain on the drive to be collected and recycled by a specialist company. Consequently, I brought comparatively little, other than the books…and even they had to be whittled down and will require further whittling as I acquire bookcases.
The walls here are not book-friendly… most of them are full of windows and doors, or enclose the steamy atmosphere of kitchen and bathroom. The hallway, a spacious area which would have been perfect for bookcases, is all doors. The living room is not large and, although it looks pretty with its newly painted furniture, will have to become both office space and library too.
It will, no doubt, be a reasonable expression of my life, dominated by books and desk, strewn with dog toys and wearing my own paintings on its walls. Which is pretty much perfect.
The current working arrangement is not, with my old sewing table pressed into service as a tiny desk, squashed into a corner until I can find one that fits. Ani approves though, as she is currently able to sit on the sofa within stroking distance while I work… and still watch the garden and the newly-inherited fish that my son just happened to leave behind…
By the time my friend arrived, just a few days after the move and fully expecting to spend at least half his holiday helping me get settled, the place was somehow comfortable and looking half decent. As long as you don’t look under the bed or in the walk-in wardrobe that is still piled head-high with books, props and costumes.
It was enough though that we could simply sit and watch the sky and throw tennis balls. We even managed a couple of days away before the workshop in Wales … in compensation for the second cancellation this year of our research trip to Ireland.
Meanwhile, I am also reconnected to a wilder world, as the garden of my little flat is visited by hedgehogs, bats, birds and a possible mole. I had hoped the moles had long since vacated the premises. My younger son who lived here before me, had tried every possible method to dispose of them, up to and including sitting over their holes dangling worms on fishing lines.
Ani seems to think they are still in residence and roots at the holes in the grass. Maybe it is just a fieldmouse in there… which will be another new experience for the small dog, who is in her element here. I can actually sit on the sofa and throw tennis balls to the end of the garden or watch her frantic efforts to chase the crickets.
There are rabbits, foxes, hares and pheasants in the field at the bottom of the garden. Ravens and jackdaws occupy every tree in their hundreds and their raucous cries seldom cease. There is a constant symphony of trilling, warbling and chirrups while ever there is light in the sky.
Dawn is sung into being each morning from a thousand throats and dusk brings the chorus of evensong and the calls of owls. Red kites soar overhead, swallows skim the treetops and… cows stick their heads over the fence to gaze at the perplexed doglet.
The most frequent visitor is a gentle creature. Her only official name seems to be ThreeFourFour, but her determination to become part of the family and her insatiable curiosity demanded that we call her by a name more fitting. With a whole field of hazards to go at, and with an abiding hope that the small dog will become accustomed to the presence of ThreeFourFour and her friends, I named her Pandora.
Quite what was likely to occur when Ani met Pandora and her kin was anybody’s guess. The fences and greenery were enough, for the first few days, to shield the denizens of the field from her sight. She sat on the grass for hours, nostrils flaring, trying to identify the strange scents and fleeting glimpses, but to no avail.
It would seem that Pandora was equally curious about her new neighbour and, already occupying higher ground as it were, took the initiative and stuck her head into the garden through the bushes.
The small dog was a little bemused, with an odd look in her eyes… but after a startled bark to alert me to the intruder and a scramble behind the shed to see if she could scale the fence, she seemed content to watch from the safety of my side.
Ani is far more content here. We live in a cul-de-sac, separated from the road that leaves the village by high hedgerows. No-one passes the windows, it is quiet and the garden doors are always open. She can run in and out all day yet still see me through the wide open windows… and our walk in the countryside starts just a minute away from our door.
Mistwraiths dance in the fields and the sky is an ever-changing canvas in sunshine or rain. We watch the dawn from the sofa every morning and catch the reflected glory of sunset as it paints the east… or walk out to the fields to watch it flame in the west. We have watched the wide horizon filled with lightning as we cuddled on the sofa and watch the birds come into the garden all day and the canopy of stars at night.
A resident sparrow sits at the corner of the roof and twitters at the small dog… she just grins up at it instead of the once-frantic barking. An odd-looking young pigeon crash-landed on the grass and sat for a while to recover on the fence… Ani just watched.
Blackbirds, thrushes and a juvenile robin come right up to the threshold of the open door, showing no fear at all and we watch them come. Ani’s nose does not stop twitching as she scans the air and it is a delight to see her loving her new home and exploring new fields and woods. I think we are settling in nicely.