Cows in the Field

Sunrise/sunset: 05:15/20:17 Daylength: 15hr01min

Well the flat handover went slightly worse than I expected. Though I had assumed the landlord might be quite fussy and exacting, I hadn’t expected him to go into full rage mode. We looked round the flat together on Sunday evening and for the most part it went quite well. There was a moment of triumph for him when he found I hadn’t dusted on the top of a couple of very high, inbuilt cupboards and heard I hadn’t cleaned out the U-bends in the bathroom, but despite their expressed disbelief that I could have done the cleaning in two days (I was told over and over that it had taken them fourteen days to clean the three bedroom flat before we moved in) they seemed satisfied. It was agreed that I would go back and rectify the dusting and U-bend situation and so we left to go and eat as it was late and there were still three days of the lease to go.

I received a message while we were eating, to say I hadn’t vacuumed under the seats on the sofas (I had forgotten) and that we had removed an office chair (a miscommunication between John and Andrew, who had both removed one) but otherwise I was quite pleased myself. The remaining work would only take a short time to do, and then I would be free. They hadn’t taken a deposit, so I thought that if I could do the work to a reasonable level, and they were adequately satisfied, there would be no further comeback.

Andrew had offered to come and give me a hand on the Monday evening. So relaxed was I about finishing up, that I almost took some of the afternoon off work and went myself, though perhaps it was some sixth sense that protected me. I collected Andrew after school and we went round to the flat. We hadn’t even had a chance to begin, when the front door of the flat was slammed open and the landlord strode into the room and right up to us. It was obvious immediately that he was angry. He told us in a tight voice that not only had we not come close to cleaning the flat well enough, but that we had damaged three items.

I asked him to show me the items, the first of which was the board under the sink in the bathroom. There had been an ongoing problem with the U-bend, which he knew about as I had asked him how to fix it the first time it cropped up. Indeed the very first time I found I had wet feet on running the tap, I had opened the cupboard to find the MDF was already warped, and so I had concluded that it was not a completely new problem.

I politely pointed out this fact and he began to get angrier, insisting that he knew it had been fine when we moved in because he’d replaced the panel before we came. Ironic that it didn’t even cross his mind that his statement was a clear indication that there was a problem with the U-bend if he had to change the board before (without taking the sensible precaution of getting a plumber out to fix the actual problem) but by this time he was working himself up into a full head of steam.

By the time we left the bathroom, he had gone into full ranting mode. Even with Andrew there, I felt uneasy and uncomfortable. The fact that there had been a sock under the cushions on the couch seemed to be a particular point of vexation. Not sure why they found it quite so shocking. He was shouting by this time and I made the decision that we should leave, so I handed him the key and Andrew and I left. By the time we got home, there was a terse message on my phone about the fact that I was “refusing to engage with the process” with ten photographs, which included a cupboard door where the hinge at the top had come slightly loose and a photograph of the drawer under the oven, which I had opened during cleaning, to find that the base was entirely rusted through, with large rust bubbles bursting out through the black paint, which definitely had not occurred over the course of two years.

It ended up with me blocking their numbers. John went round to further tell them, in no uncertain terms, why I had left. Unsurprisingly he was met with much less aggression, as he is about four inches taller and visibly stronger than the ex-landlord. Typical bullying behaviour to yell at a woman and a young man with Asperger’s and be polite to someone who could easily take you out. I guess I wasn’t entirely surprised. A year earlier, he had randomly come out of the house and yelled at Anna and Andrew for some made-up misdemeanour. In fact, it was after that that I started to look for somewhere new to live. In the event though, it was all pretty unpleasant, and utterly unnecessary. Had he engaged in a normal fashion, I would have completed the remaining tasks and probably would even have agreed to pay a small amount for the damage under the sink. Never have I been so glad, however, that the one thing they had neglected to do was to take the sizeable (two month’s rent) deposit from me.

Anyway, with all that said, what I mostly feel is relief that we have moved out and pride in my sons, both of whom helped me handle a difficult situation. I was shaking when John came home, and he was incensed, but he had the presence of mind to take a calming friend with him. It’s a wonderful feeling every time I see something that tells me that I have raised some truly decent human beings who also love me. The best feeling in the world!

The rest of the week has gone much better. I was in Tromsø for a couple of nights, catching up with all my far-flung colleagues from around the region.

Wooden fishing boat in Tromsø harbour

The end of the week has been really very pleasant. I came home from Tromsø to find that John had strimmed the veritable hay field at the back of the house, where the grass had obviously not been mowed for a good long time. John is likely to move back into the house (though he might stay in his caravan outside the abattoir during the long working days of the season) and it is lovely to have so much help. I’ve really wanted them all to feel like this is truly a home they can return to, should they want or need it, and it’s obvious John is enjoying working on making it a truly pleasant place to live. I would enjoy doing it on my own, but it’s even better with family to share it with.

He called me up on the way to work yesterday, to say that there was ground fog over the valley and that if I wanted to take some photos for this blog, now was the moment. And so I drove out to find that not only were there wonderful views over the valley, but that there was frost on the ground and all the leaves were swathed in white.

Sunrise over the Målselv valley with frosted field in the foreground and fog over the river

Yesterday was the only weekday when I was likely to have a chance to take enough time off work to get some things sorted in the house, so I had arranged for the beds to be delivered, a new heat exchanger/air conditioning unit to be installed and, most importantly, a builder to assess the work that needed to be done on the roof and (money permitting, after the roof was fixed) various jobs inside the house. It seems likely that the roof will cost less to fix than the 50,000-100,000 NOK (round 5,000-10,000 British pounds or US$) and so we will hopefully have more to spare for other things.

And all day, as I worked in and around the house, I could see that there were cows in the field across the road. Of all the domesticated animals, dairy cows are easily my favourite. They are such calm, curious creatures. I had a real feeling of “cows in the meadow, all’s right in the world”. I know that’s not a real saying, but it works for me. It won’t be long before the winter arrives and then the cows will be inside, but they’ll be out again next summer and the summer after that and the summer after that. I have a really good feeling about the move we’ve just made. Onwards and upwards!

The cattle on the other side of the road

4 thoughts on “Cows in the Field

  1. By the sound of it, you’ve had a lucky escape there! The new view may not be of the water but I think it’s peaceful and charming. Bit worried to see frost already! Enjoy nesting in your new home.

  2. Thank heavens for a big man to make that frightening bully back down . (Are there any authoirities you can complain to, about the landlord bully? He ought not to get away with it.) I’m glad the rest of your week, complete with cows, went so much better

  3. Pingback: How Much? |

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