Don’t bring me sunshine: a week in the Surrey hills

I’m staying for a week in an 1850s house in the Surrey hills that looks-wise might have been built for the suburban 1920s. I came last night. ‘Sorry about the rain,’ said the UK Border Force lady. ‘Rain is exactly what I was hoping for,’ I said. This morning the owner went to work, leaving me alone in the atmospheric old house. Before he left he warned me about the dictatorial cleaner. ‘She’s called Maria and she comes from Madeira and she’s particular about you not being in the same room while she cleans,’ he said. When she came in I was sitting at the kitchen table looking out of