We are living in New Ground. Alan read that New Ground has been named such since the 18th Century; though in the past few years there has been a lot of house-building activity in the area making the name as appropriate today as ever. Periwinkle Cottage is 50 years old. It was built by the father of our landlady, Val, and has the look of an extended postwar ‘prefab’ still found in some parts of Britain. There are four doors leading to the outside: from the bathroom, kitchen, living room and third bedroom. All, but the bathroom, are linked by inside doors. The living room, between the kitchen and ‘main’ bedroom has three doors leading off it, as well as windows front and back. As the room size is only 10 by 12 feet, we have to be unusually tidy and organised not to block the passageways or overcrowd the sitting area. Still, having a door off the living room, which can now stay open thanks to warmer weather, is such a treat affording an amazing view from one’s armchair. Today, the horizon is sharp and distinct with an almost navy blue sea meeting an ice blue/wispy cloud sky, which I can gaze at as I try and find inspiration to write.
Outside there is an established (if rather overgrown and unkempt) garden. In addition to a lot of dry grass there are roses, statice, chrysanthemum-type shrubs, scented geranium, nasturtiums, Indian stinking sage (nice flower!), blue agapanthus, lilies, ebony, agave, jade tree, sour fig (like big Livingstone daisies), banana palms (with lots of ripening bananas), prickly pears, solandra (“cup of gold”), a peach tree, several as yet unidentified plants as well as pineapples (non-fruiting), parsley and thyme. For a couple of weeks there were also Alan’s radish and lettuce seedlings. Sadly, egg shells, coffee grounds and wire meshing did not stop these being systematically chomped away to nothing.
From Periwinkle, we look down Young’s valley, basically a gully, or “gut” – the local expression, with increasingly steep sides ending in cliffs almost 1,000ft high leading directly to the ocean. There is no sandy beach at the bottom. It’s an interesting fact that Periwinkle is at the same altitude as Hangjik. The next valley along is Friar’s valley, named after a rocky column on the far-side ridge, said to represent a friar that was turned to stone because he fell for a shepherdess whose lost goats he found. When he renounced his vows and was at the church getting married, there was an earthquake and the church disappeared into a hole with all those present disappearing apart from the friar who remained petrified on top of the resulting ridge.
We are not the only inhabitants of Periwinkle. As I write a gecko has been running around the walls. He comes and goes and is often attracted to the outside of the windows at night when the lights are on. Cockroaches have increased their visiting habits, with one or two being caught every evening. Thankfully, they are rather slow, so susceptible to being sprayed or squished. Every night the house fills with moths. Early on these were little black ones that flutter round our faces and were such a nuisance. Now the number of moths has decreased but there are still more than enough of all sizes; some minding their own business, others wanting to be a bit too friendly for my liking. As the moths have decreased, the mosquitoes have started to be more troublesome. We did not bring any repellent as I had had no problems last time, but then it was winter… The bathroom has been a playground for button worms, the black wormy sluggy caterpillar things that enjoy the damp atmosphere in there, with up to six or more at a time on the walls, floor and in the bath too. There were a lot of old ant traps around when we first moved in, but not much evidence of ants. Now we regularly find lines of tiny, tiny “formicids” purposefully going about their work, which is all very well when the task is to dissect and remove a squished cockroach a thousand times bigger than one of the tiny workers; but when the goal is to get into our food cupboards, that is a different matter all-together. We have DOOM spray, not good to use around food, and ant powder, not good to use on surfaces used for food preparation. The ant entrance is a series of cracks in the grouting of the kitchen tiles that are becoming every looser. Alan has carefully inserted ant powder into the cracks and, for now, the ants appear to have moved elsewhere. They were last seen swarming round a wood louse body in the corner of the sitting room late last night. That’s another species to add to the household list of inhabitants.
No rats have turned up yet, which I am very happy about, but I know they are out there….