It's hard to really sum up the effect that had on the beginning of our relationship with this house and neighbourhood. I know that I spent the first few weeks here jumping at shadows, fearing a return of the previous occupants. It wasn't just the old owners' actions at the time, it was the whole package. Everything about this place seemed unknown and terrifying. The snakes in the paddock, the wild dogs we can occasionally hear howling at night, the encroaching hills that loom over our back fence.
The touch of wild that attracted us to this position in the first place also terrified me when darkness rolled around each day.
Over the back fence, into the wild...
On about our second week, a car full of people - one of whom we recognised as being involved with the previous owners' shenanigans - pulled up out front and spent a while staring up at the house.
I called the Police, who did a drive-by that night. Nothing happened then or has happened since. We haven't seen those people again.
We live on a quiet road. When cars go by you check them out, you know what your neighbours drive and come to recognise the sounds of their different vehicles.
You become a little suspicious. Watchful of slow-moving cars you don't recognise. In retrospect, I wonder how many people were keeping a subtle, watchful eye over Dan and I as we drove slowly around this area while house hunting.
At about 10pm last night, a car very quietly drove past our place and stopped out the front with its lights dimmed. I couldn't make out much, just a couple of dimly lit faces turned our way and a small white car. Soon, they drove further down the road and turned and came back, stopping out front for another 45 seconds.
Then they drove slowly away again.
My heart just sank. Straight away, I was back three months ago when I honestly, genuinely feared for my daughter's safety even bringing her onto this property.
I went and locked the back door and the front and then heard a scuffling. A big dog from up the hill, a regular visitor to our place (he's got a thing for Pepper) appeared at the foot of the steps.
It clicked. Our carload of observers was nothing more than our neighbours looking quietly for the dog they know all too well loves hanging out at our place.
I really realised then that the old residents, the residents we've done so much work to cleanse our home and selves of, are truly gone for good.
And maybe, now, there's one less thing to fear in the dark.