The other day a friend asked me if I felt safer living in the British countryside rather than in LA and I didn’t know what to say.
I lived in a few different neighbourhoods, as they are called there, during my life in California but the majority of it was in a historic (1938) – which by Los Angeles standards is ancient – block of lofts in the heart of Hollywood.
Friends used to visit and be bitterly disappointed because they’d assumed I lived in a mansion in Beverly Hills and that my local supermarket was on Rodeo Drive.
While there was an abundance of celebrity filled restaurants and trendy hotels, sex shops, smoke shops and tattoo parlours were dotted between them too.
My dad used to make me laugh when he’d try to look at the positives, and point out that “it’s nice that they’ve got so many individual and non-chain shops here”. I’m not sure the ‘Adult Warehouse Outlet’ or ‘The Pleasure Chest’ were really franchise material!
Perhaps it’s pretty apt that my apartment block featured on the start of the movie ‘Pretty Woman’ and is regularly zoomed in on for the crime show ‘Bosch’.
There’s a reason Hollywood was often referred to as Hollyweird, I mean among other things I did witness two grown men dressed as Spiderman being arrested for having a turf war, like a couple of prostitutes.
But I grew to love the city and all it’s quirks.
My daughter has always been able to sleep through pretty much anything, and I believe thats thanks to the police helicopters and ambulances that used to fly over and race past every hour of the day.
Sounds horrific to many I’m sure. BUT I did feel strangely safe.
Now, when I moved to the countryside, I was still excited not have to worry about earthquakes, roaring traffic and the other obviously perils of city living.
But it turns out I can’t get away from it all and when it comes to driving here, I’d take a major 5 lane freeway any day!
I’m not good behind the wheel anyway and it’s been pointed out that the majority of the time I actually breath in when I pass a car and practically crap myself when I see a tractor headed my way.
Case in point, I’ve just returned from a little holiday to Cornwall with my FLF (food loving friend), you may remember him from a former blog post.
I was in charge of driving and much to his dismay we had to abort a mission to get into a local village when the roads became so small I feared I’d meet my death wedged between, what was admittedly a beautiful Rhododendron and the way-too-late sign post that indicated ‘narrow road ahead’.
I had to do an ‘Austin Powers’ style 25 point turn to get out of the corridor – because I swear to God the route between my kitchen and bathroom is bigger – and drive out of the village with sweat pouring down my face as my daughter pointed out repeatedly “daddy’s right, you can’t drive”.
Then there are the insects. Going for a hike in Los Angeles meant avoiding rattle snakes or the occasional cougar – both the animal and the older lady seeking a younger man variety.
Here it’s become apparent that it’s the smaller things I should be concerned about. My anally retentive and arachnophobic – slight exaggeration – husband informed me he’d purchased a ’spider catcher’ after he claims he saw “one with teeth, hiding and ready to pounce” underneath his towel.
I had visions of this Spiderman inspired device that shoots a net out to gather up the critters faster than lightening. Turns out the ‘spider catcher’ is just a ridiculously expensive Black and Decker hand held vacuum cleaner.
My dad leaving the hedge cutter in the kid’s sandpit drew way less concern than when I thought my son had a tick! I flipped out even more than when I believed I saw a flea in his bed – hedgehogs carry them you know – and I may now have scarred him for life.
I had him pinned down in the garden as I argued with my husband over the best way to remove it. I knew from having a dog decades ago that you shouldn’t just pull it out and you needed a special device, but the wireless didn’t stretch from the house and there was, as usual, no signal in the garden, so Googling was out of the question.
Lyme Disease raced through my mind as I stood there arguing with my spider fearing husband about who and how we were going to pull this disgusting thing from my, by now, terrified child’s leg.
It was perhaps a tad overkill, because when I gritted my teeth and took the plunge I discovered it wasn’t a tick after all, it was just a leaf.
There’s also a sheepdog, who has a reputation for being a biter up the road and there’s a pack of cows who saw me dive head first into some brambles to escape, what I believed was, an inevitable stampede the other day.
But wilderbeests, creepy crawlies and ridiculously small roads aside, I’m happy to say we do feel safe here!
If I could just get this mosquito out of the bedroom to ease my fears of catching West Nile virus, I’d be able to sleep just that little bit better.