I may have found a lot of things to love about Penarth, but it seems that I have found the inevitable cloud to go with the silver lining. It’s a small, unhealthy-looking, slimy cloud, and I nearly stepped on it without shoes on.
Any readers of the late lamented First Blog might remember that several posts revolved around the great Cambridge Slugpocalyse of 2006-7: we were living in a rather cold, damp house at the time, which was clearly a magnet for any and all gastropods in the south of the city. Every morning, we’d come downstairs wondering where the horrid silvery trails were going to be that day, or if we were going to narrowly escape stepping on an actual live slug (never happened, but it was a close thing on a few occasions). Sluggy highlights involved picking several of the beasts off the skirting boards on my hen night, and flinging them across the street with gay abandon; and discovering that one slightly confused slug had got into the dining room and, from the tracks he had made, had spent the entire night repeatedly orbiting the table leg. Well, you have to look on the funny side, don’t you? After all, your house is full of a seething mass of slippery, oozing, greedy molluscs: if you let your mind dwell on that, you’d never go barefoot again.
Then we moved, and for a couple of years, all was well in the new house. I mean, the boiler broke, the roof leaked sporadically but dramatically, and the electrics were of a dubious standard for much of the time, but the house was 100% livestock-free. Life was good. Then we moved again…
It started slowly: a suspicious smear here, a glistening spot there. It wasn’t long, however, before the kitchen floor became an obstacle course: slugs of all sizes from baby to “Castro’s cigar” lie in wait for the unsuspecting foot to fall, oozing gently.* So far the nadir has been five in one day, including one in the dishwasher (how? why?) which had got into a stray patch of dishwasher salt and had started to disintegrate. There was a particularly horrid moment when I was convinced one had got into the toaster and was frying gently when I heated up some Welsh cakes. Thankfully, this one, at least was a figment of my slug-addled imagination (I must have been hallucinating the sizzling noise).
I am reliably informed (by @ceridwen339, who is a librarian and therefore automatically to be trusted) that the slug problem seems to be general throughout Cardiff. If we’d moved to Roath, it could have been snails making their way into the house through every crack and crevice. I can’t help feeling that, somehow, that might have been better. Snails, at least, have some sort of cuteness factor: you can paint little numbers on their shells and race them, you can keep them as pets, and, if they’re the right kind of snail, you can eat them with parsley and garlic butter. No amount of garlic is going to improve a slug.
I’m sorry to say that, for us, the long-term solution is going to be to move, and to leave the slugs to the next tenant. We are planning to try egg-shells, coffee grounds and any other remedies we can think of in the meantime, but it seems to be only a small step in a war of slimy attrition. I am, however, having some misgivings about the house we’re planning to offer on: it’s in a good location, the neighbours seem to be pleasant, the house is apparently well cared-for. However, as many wise heads have pointed out, you can never tell if it’s a Slug House until it’s too late…
*OK, I’m sure slugs don’t actually ooze. But these ones look like they would if they could.