A change in location has certainly meant quite a change in the sights and sounds that surround me.
I no longer live my day to the background hum of traffic punctuated by sporadic squeals of emergency sirens. The view from my window is no longer of a similar house opposite, with the residents’ actions mirroring my own – that old suburban routine.
My new lifestyle largely runs to the soundtrack of nature, with the occasional hum of boats drifting by. OK, some of their engines can be a tad noisy, but as we live on a tidal stretch of river, the times when these pass are restricted. I’m much more likely to hear birdsong (though screeching gulls can be less restful) and animal calls than the hustle and bustle of human life. Sometimes it’s almost silent.
This said, I did find the nights a bit unsettling at first. Not only did the building creak and groan in ways that I wouldn’t have imagined, keeping me alert to every noise, but I was hard-pressed to identify the sounds piercing the darkness outside.
Even I, as a lifelong townie, could recognise the bark of a fox, but other strange chattering and squealing sounds had me flummoxed. The strangest I’ve heard, I could only describe as a duck being throttled – actually in view of my former comments, let’s just not go there.
The first day that I spent alone in our makeshift home, there was the most awful commotion on the roof. I was rather startled and at a total loss as to what on earth could be happening. Answer – a sparrowhawk had landed and caught a pigeon. I’ll spare you the details, but I thought to myself, “Welcome to country life!”
To add to the atmosphere, we have experienced frequent episodes of river mist since we arrived, some so dense that the river itself seems to disappear completely. The whole effect can be quite surreal.
So all things considered, I don’t think I chose the best time to read ‘River of Destiny’ by Barbara Erskine, a story of a couple who move to a converted property by the river. When the mists roll in so does a ghostly ship and strange things start happening all around them. Oh well, at least my new circumstances meant it left less to the imagination!