About 18 months ago my landlady sold her house forcing me to find alternative accommodation. I ended up in a small village called Easton, just outside Wells, Somerset. It is a beautiful place and I am so lucky to live in the country surrounding by rolling hills, farmland, beautiful animals with both Ebbor and Cheddar Gorges a stonesthrow up the road. I am lucky to have such a great house to live in at such a reasonable rent, and my landlady is amazing in that she just leaves us to get on with it.
There are a number of properties up for sale in our street at the moment. You may wonder why because at face value the top end of the street is a quiet little cul-de-sac, especially if you turn up mid morning/early afternoon. The estate agent’s blurb is “a quiet, desireable, village location”. Sounds fanatastic!! My advice is come along first thing in the morning, about 7am. This might give you a clue.
Now before you read this and come to the conclusion that I’m just a moaning old bat, I am NOT alone in these complaints. And they all say the same thing: they don’t want to knock the door of the offenders because “these days you are never sure what the reaction will be”. So people stay silent. I really need to get this off my chest!!
So, what’s the problem? The problem is it may well be a village location but it certainly is not quiet. Trades Descriptions Act anyone? The noise stems from maybe 3 or 4 households in the whole street so if you can avoid their immediate area you would imagine you will be unaffected. Not so, people have complained to me from the other end of the street about the noise levels, the type of noise it is, the combination of the various types of noise and the time of day it occurs.
Noise is inevitable. Yes it is, and we all make it, but most people take care to avoid making noise unnecessarily or at times when it would disturb their neighbours. My next door neighbour for example pops round if he is going to do any DIY work involving drilling or excessive noise. I know I made a noise the night of my brother’s funeral because we were up toasting him till 4am on a work night. I posted a letter of apology and explanation through the door. It’s all about consideration, courtesy and common sense. I got woken up at 3.30am to move my car which was on my own hardstanding at the time (long story) it was bloody annoying but at least the guy apologised for it.
So what do estate agents mean by “quiet village location”? In this case I can cite at least 8 points as to how this is a lie, and maybe I should consider suing the arseholes that rented me this place after I specifically told them I wanted to live in a quiet area without noisy neighbours!
- Boy racers – face it, some guys just never grow up. Or they obviously have “issues” which they express through buying ridiculously souped up cars with exhaust pipes the size of a small country. Now that’s fine, each to his or her own. Why sit and rev the engine for no reason at 7am, or stand outside with the bonnet up and rev the engine for hours on a Sunday afternoon whilst your equally sad middle aged mates look on? Your guess is as good as mine.
- Car Alarms – nearly everyone with a car alarm in the village is incapable of working out that if you switch the alarm off before you unlock the doors it won’t go off and wake everyone up.
- Car Stereos – similar to the alarms really. No one realises they could turn their car stereo down or even off when they stop rather than leave Jay-Z pumping out at top volume while they wait there for 20 minutes for the girlfriend to put her face on. Or failing that they could actually shut the windows of the car and spare us all the torture.
- Dogs – I love dogs! I have a dog and I am a mad dog lady. In fact all the dogs are great here, but some of the owners suck. The owners who sit inside and then let their dog stand outside and bark constantly, eventually setting off the other 2 or 3 barkers in the street. For some reason these owners are either completely deaf or have a highly developed sense of selective deafness combined with a severe case of “I don’t give a fuck about anyone else” thrown in. Then there are the outside dogs, who having been abandoned all day, stand and howl for hours at a time through loneliness and boredom. This is a fab place to live if you work from home, it really helps you concentrate on your tasks. And if you work nights or have to liaise with people in other countries and have been awake all night it’s even more fun trying to get any sleep at all during the day.
- On Street Communications – this does not mean we all stand and chat to each other. I have spoken to probably 8 or 9 people in the 18 months I have been here. And everytime I have, usually walking our mutual dogs, it’s for them to have a good moan about the noise. What I mean is that to some of the residents it seems odd to say goodbye in the morning inside the house, rather they stand on the pavement and shout back to the house that they are “off to work”. They often shout this to the person next door who is also broadcasting the fact that they are “off to work”. Maybe they think they are making a point just in case someone nearby isn’t in a job, I have no idea. On the plus side, this can be interesting since one of the guys has developed a series of grunts interspersed with Somerset gibberish whch can make translating what he says a pleasant mental exercise first thing in the morning. Later on, if you are really lucky, you can listen to the dulcet tones of the village fishwife screeching at her little darlings to get in the car for school.
- Mobile Telephones – I have one, I love mine and I think they are a brilliant invention. I, along with most people, do not feel the need to go outside the house to carry on an extremely loud conversation on them though. I would certainly not go and sit in my car with the door open, the phone on handsfree and rev my engine whilst broadcasting my entire conversation. And I certainly wouldn’t be doing it at 8am. This is not normal behaviour.
- Lawnmower/Power tool wars – there is no such thing as only one guy mowing their grass. If you mow your lawn you can bet within 10 minutes every guy in the street will be out there keeping up with the Joneses. Then come the strimmers as everyone vies to have the best kept lawn in the village. Same applies with DIY, if you get a power tool out everyone other guy must get theirs out too. There is no such thing as solo-DIY! There is a man up the road who actually just stands outside his garage surrounded by wood revving his circular saw and never actually cutting anything. But at least he looks busy. I think he may have issues but I am not sure what these are.
- The combination – this is the usual form of noise. All of the above at the same time usually on Sundays (although today it’s quiet but it is extremely hot) starting around 9am if you are lucky. Weekdays, say 6.30am. In the summer it is joined by the sound of off road bikes and clay pigeon shooting and most recently someone practicing their drum kit accompanied by a parrot whose repertoire consists of a wolf whistle and little else.
So, am I moving? As soon as I can! Hopefully into a detached house away from people. I just do not play well with others.
Would I recommend this place to others? Only if you go up the hill and avoid the new build in the valley, you never work from home or you like sleep deprivation.