What Can You See?

The WordPress question for today was, look to the right, list three things you can see, and write about the third.

I looked right, saw a camera, a window and the house next door through the window. So here I am writing about the house. It’s not a particularly enlightening subject seeing as how it’s just a typical Wellington house. A small rectangular wood-clad box, tucked under the bank below our yard, and suffering from dampness on its shady side. But in its smallness, its dampness, its lack of beauty, it encapsulates something about the Wellington experience.

Wellington is a harsh environment for a city. It’s windy, much windier than is usual in places where cities develop, or so The Dominion Post tells me. It’s wet. It’s humid. And it has a tricky topography. The huge harbour is surrounded by steep hills bisected by narrow, high-sided gorges and gulleys. It’s not easy being a house here. They cling to the hillsides, battered by the winds, drenched by rain, and shaded by hills and trees. Or they sit on the ridge lines, blasted by winds strong enough that the surrounding trees grow lopsided.

The result is a nightmare for the unwary flat and house hunter. It took Travis longer to find a clean, tidy place to rent when he first moved to Wellington, than it did for me to sell our house in Dunedin. And everyone has an accommodation horror story to share. Mushrooms growing in hall cupboards, landlords selling houses out from under you, three months of searching to find one house that wasn’t mouldy and dirty, and so on and on.

I can bear out the horrors. We’ve been looking at houses to buy and rent and they’ve been a sorry, smelly, shonky (and ruinously expensive!) bunch. The rental accommodation in particular, is dreadful. The houses smell of mould, must, and damp. Or they reek of shitty babies and grubby dogs and general grime that’s embedded in the carpets and curtains never to be removed. I’m surprised and angered that people think it’s okay to rent them out in that state. Surely non-smelly and clean is a basic requirement. But it seems not. We’ve only been into one place that was clean and dry and fresh-smelling, and we snapped it up gratefully, even though the rent is around $200 a month more than we wanted to pay.

I’m so relieved and pleased. I was beginning to fear that we wouldn’t be able to find anything before our lease ran out. And who knows what we would have done then.

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