Who had seen us go out and then broken in, all within twenty minutes of us leaving? None of it made any sense!
Smart homes aren’t always as smart as we might think!
On Sunday, we got invited out for a fairly casual catch-up with the family, It wasn’t supposed to be anything much, just a quick dog walk, followed by dinner, a cup of tea and a chat and then home. My Mum has just recovered from Covid-19 for the second time, so we hadn’t seen one another in a short while.
“Isn’t it great, I mused to Matt as slid on my ankle boots and pulled on my faux leather jacket, “we have speakers in every room to control the home from wherever, robovacs to clean while we’re out and a home security system with police back-up and remote access? I love this smart home!”
I called “in the troops” (“Call in the troops” is my Google Home routine that activates the robovacs) and we left. Matt activated the alarm and locked the door behind us then we headed off to join Mum in the car and began our much-awaited catch-up. On the way home, a decision was made on where to exercise the dogs.
“We could stop off at Kings weston House?” Mum suggested.
“Go for it” I shrugged. I knew Matt loved Kings Weston House.
We pulled into the four parking bays at the top of the road and bundled out of the car. It seems bizarre that so few parking spaces could ever have an empty spot, and yet, there is usually at least one. As we pulled in, I noted the war memorial – the memorial that I’d mentioned to Will, not too long before we broke up. I sighed and gave a weak smile.
We walked though the grass and between the patches of stinging nettles, marching single file and holding down the overhanging stems with our feet. As we walked, I tried to recall whether I’d ever taken Matt through this part of my old village before.
“You’ve not been up this way before, have you?” I asked Matt. I knew he’d been to Kings Weston House, but I couldn’t remember him accessing it the way that I knew of. Matt shook his head as he pondered the overgrown footpath before him.
“Ah, well there’s ruins of some old loos up here too. Roman era I think, right Mum?” I called.
“World War Two era” Mum corrected.
“So not quite that old, then” Matt quipped. I playfully glared at him.
“Not like you, you’re prehistoric!” I teased.
“Didn’t we look at Kings Weston House for our wedding?” Matt asked.
“Yep. You loved it, but we would have needed a second mortgage to afford it, and don’t you remember the guide who kept pronouncing canapes, ‘canopies’?” I asked.
“Oh yeah, it would have been intense though…”
I looked at him quizzically. A Grade II listed building? Intense? I didn’t follow.
“Intense, in tents… get it?” he affirmed.
“Oh! You want to strike up a pun battle with a wordsmith? Do you really want to rope me into that one one or do you want to be the good guy and give up now?” I smirked.
“Oh no…” he groaned.
“Exactly” I grinned, “so don’t pitch pun jokes to me, you know I’ll start with a blank canvas and then… “
“Stop…” he sighed. I laughed.
We walked deeper into the woods and towards the house, enjoying the golden colours, the crisp leaves and the autumn sun streaming between the trees. As we walked, we noticed a medieval reinactment group gathering among the trees.
“Oh look! A roleplay group!” my Mum gushed.
“And not the kind of roleplay that you’re into” I muttered to Matt. He laughed.
Roleplay was something of a joke and a new idea for us. On the one hand, it was something that we tried once and talked fondly of, and on the other hand, it’s a long-standing joke that the only time we ever dress up for one another is when I cut Matt’s hair. Even if it’s non-sexual in itself, it’s still an act that brings us closer together.
As we entered the clearing towards the house, we met Hunter and Skye, two brindle-coloured English bulldogs. Hugo and Hunter played together for a while, and then having realised that Hugo was both faster and taller than he was, Hunter just as quickly gave up.
Out in front of the house, I paused to take a quick photograph of the building. As I did, my phone rang.
Not knowing anyone from Milton Keynes, I declined the call. Not more than two minutes later, the same number called Matt. It was our home security provider – our home alarm system had been activated. If we coudn’t provide the password (a phrase which, in my heightened nxiety and much to my family’s amusement, I accidentally called “the safeword” instead!) then the police would be dispatched to our address.
What the fuck?!
Who had seen us go out and then broken in, all within twenty minutes of us leaving? It wasn’t the robovacs, they’ve never triggered the alarm before, so somebody had to be in our home. Why the bedroom motion sensor and nowhere else? Why had they broken in via the room that faced the street? None of it made any sense!
Mum drove back to our flat as fast as the roads would allow. I surveyed the evidence, checking out the front doorbell camera, the indoor camera and the other sensors for evidence. Nothing made any sense, they’d triggered the bedroom motion sensor but bypassed the front door camera – whoever it was had known about the front door camera!
When we arrived home, the home looked exactly as we’d left it and the doors and windows were intact. That was when we realised that it must have been a false alarm.
Sure enough, Derek the bedroom robovac had bumped into our electronic clothes dryer and the bedroom motion sensor had detected the wobble. As a result, the sensor had triggered the alarm and the monitoring station had then called us. To add insult to injury, both robots had got stuck at seemingly nothing at all and only half cleaned either of their appointed rooms.
I’ve decided to rescind my ‘smart home’ praise at this time. Right now, I consider mine as just an old home full of cables and daft electronics!