Our old house had a lovely attic room – sloping wooden roof, small and spidery window, dark corners full of old boxes containing great-grandma’s crockery… It was the perfect place to keep all those things we couldn’t bring ourselves to throw away. In the early days at the house, we didn’t need the space and didn’t bother much about the attic room. Until one summer we had visitors up there.
Several hundred visitors.
It started very early one morning when the boys were five and three. I had just persuaded Son 2 that another little sleep would be a good idea, and was exiting his bedroom when I heard a splashing noise coming from the upstairs loo.
I peered round the door. The upstairs loo was a long, narrow room with a toilet at one end. Nothing was visible, but there was definitely something splashing down there… I advanced cautiously until I could see the water – then turned and ran downstairs as fast as I could, waking both boys in the process. In the kitchen, I grabbed the soup ladle and rushed back up again.
We fished the bat out and laid him on the potpourri basket to dry off.
‘There’s another one up there!’ Son 2 was on the landing, pointing to the curtain rail above the balcony door.
It was an abrupt kind of start to the day…
The boys christened our visitors Max and Moritz, and checked on them at regular intervals that day. Moritz, the curtain rail bat, was gone by lunchtime, though Max stuck to his potpourri until late afternoon.
But that, I hoped, was that. An interesting visit from two fascinating creatures – but they were gone now.
A day or two later, I went up to the attic to look for something, and noticed immediately – a damp, earthy smell. I could hear something too, a rustling, moving, chirping noise coming from the space between the attic roof and the slates.
We watched Max fly across the attic room and disappear through a hole in the wooden roof. I grabbed a handy cloth, climbed onto a table, and stuffed the hole shut.
What do you do when your roof space is invaded by bats? We were still arguing about it a few evenings later, standing in the garden and trying to see where the bats were getting in, when all at once there was a whoosh! – and they all flew out, a huge dark cloud of them. They circled round the garden, then disappeared down towards the lake.
And they didn’t come back.