Sometimes, walking Tara late at night, we hear the sounds of various things, living things, in the banks.

The blessing – and there is only one – of living beneath an almighty beech tree that waves in the wind with such violence that an overtired writer might suspect impending death by falling branch, is that we have owls. Of course, they’d be here whether we were or not, but there’s something endearingly countryside about the calls of owls in the night.


Sometimes, a fox shrieks and sets every dog in the village to barking.

Occasionally, there’s a badger that scampers down the road, intent on something I can’t see, but which is clearly destined for some sort of chewing.

A lot of my neighbours have deer. I’ve only ever seen four of them. One of them, quite young I think, ran into the side of my car as I slowed down to avoid hitting him. Poor thing. Neither of us was at full speed, so he wasn’t hurt, but the damage was entirely one-sided. He hit me. I did not hit him. People who are closer to the edges of the village seem to see many more deer than I do.

We have bats who circle, at speed, underneath the streetlights.


Endless rabbits speed across the road. One night we heard what I thought was the sound of screaming. Tara looked up, concerned but in the laziest possible way. My heart nearly stopped. I went through a dozen possible scenarios in seconds flat, how I would get to a phone, what I would tell the police, how to identify the direction of the scream given that I’m a little hard of hearing.

Luckily, Aimée was able not only to locate the sound but also to identify it. It was two cats mating. May have been the least romantic thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Still, live and learn.