Rats in the roof, mice in the pantry and foxes watching me instead than the other way round; our experiences of raising and educating kids in the countryside can be read about in my new book ‘A FUNNY KIND OF EDUCATION’. It’s as much a story about life in this antiquated cottage as anything educational – well – it’s all educational really isn’t it? And it’s lovely living in close proximity with the natural world. Gives such a good opportunity to increase children’s understanding of it; its value to us as a species and environmentally.
BUT… sometimes, just sometimes, it’s a little too close for comfort.
Like the slug I found in the kitchen the other day.
“How the heck did that get in here?” I shrieked – more as an exclamation as anything.
Hubby always feels the need to come up with some kind of answer; “We probably brought it in on our clothes.”
That made me shriek some more; “On our clothes!? I don’t know about you, but there’s no slugs on me!”
And take last night as another example. Right in the darkest, earliest, creepiest hours comes a fright-wakening scratting in the blinding dark. I lay there thinking the mice were in the roof again and banged on the sloping ceiling right above my head hoping that would stop it. Then put the light on to go for a wee.
But on the landing I realised the noise was much, Much, MUCH louder and more fierce and frantic than scratting. More like scrabbling and clawing and desperation as if something was trying to get in. And it wasn’t in the roof, it was downstairs, in the hall and the other side of the front door! Rising hairs on the back of my neck was nothing. I had goosebumps on everything, even my toenails. It sounded totally creepy and was too much for me to tackle on my own. I fetched the man who has slugs on his clothes.
Timidly, we went down to investigate. We listened. There was definitely something chewing and clawing our front door. But what? A bear? Sabre-toothed tiger? What – on the East coast?
By the time we’d stopped pussy footing about, got the key in the lock and yanked the front door open it had made off. So we never did get to see what it was. But what we are pretty sure it was, having spotted one before in the back garden rummaging among my decorative pebbles one night and terrifying the lives out of us, was a badger. It had been scrabbling behind my plant pots each side the door trying to get at the slugs and snails that collect in these dark damp places for winter. He’d splintered so much of the door frame it looked positively freaky in the quiet country dark.
Took me ages for my follicles to smooth over enough to get back to sleep. Sometimes the natural world can be as freaky as it’s fantastic. And I couldn’t help thinking that if Hubby is wearing slugs he’ll have the badgers after him too!
(Read more of our funny, rural frolics in A Funny Kind Of Education – it isn’t all about education – honest!)