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Chris van Schaick: Our family room is unnervingly attractive to winged blighters

PUBLISHED: 11:54 01 December 2016 | UPDATED: 11:54 01 December 2016

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto


Letting the outside in is all very well until an unwanted visitor makes itself at home in your family room says Chris van Schaick

Throwing open the doors is all the rage these days. French windows. Floor-to-ceiling glass. Bi-fold doors on to the deck. It’s all about making the outdoors part of the indoors. Or is it the other way round?

But there’s a pitfall. It’s becoming clear here in the Meon Valley, that even a casually opened bi-fold is an invitation for the wildlife to come inside.

Only the other day, a couple of our friends were enjoying the southerly view from their lofty beamed garden room. Then in flew a bat, causing consternation all round. Due respect was paid to bat rights and conservancy. The mammal was ushered out of one of the open doors – only to stubbornly fly back in the other. Cue more faffing before the creature was directed gently on its way.

The welcome probably wasn’t so gentle at the home of a late neighbour of ours who was a countryman at heart. He certainly wasn’t a bi-fold door man. But that didn’t stop two inquisitive fox cubs turning up at his back door one day. Our neighbour was no sentimentalist and I understand that on their return visit, the cubs were greeted with a twelve bore. It was a clear case of the camel’s nose concept – the idea that once the camel gets his nose inside your tent, it won’t be long before the whole animal is inside.

There’ve been moments at our place. I think I’ve already regaled you with the time Mrs.v.S. stood barefoot on a hedgehog. It had presented itself on the front door mat late one night. Mrs. v.S. was letting the dog out and the bulb had gone in the outside light. Considerable noise pollution was the net result.

But most of our wildlife intrusions have been by birds, rather than mammals. Our family room, with its high ceiling and double doors, has proved unnervingly attractive to the winged blighters.

Once a small bird – we never got to see what it was – got in the room and spent some time flitting around before disappearing. But it had simply gone into a gap between a beam and a ceiling panel. It emerged several times amid more screams - many of them mine - until it finally found its way out.

The most recent avian visitor – a partridge – was actually a walk in case. I was tapping away at the laptop, with the double doors open, when I became aware of the visitor. There it was, pacing up and down - for all the world like an estate agent sizing up the room and its westerly aspect. My response has since provoked considerable derision in the pub. I went and got a duvet. Surely the worst aspect of a bird in the house is the danger of it flapping in your face. My reasoning was that I could usher the partridge back out through the French doors, protecting myself behind the quilt. But as I said, ridicule was the result, after the bird - and the story - got out. 


Chris van Schaick: We’ve become obsessed by keyboards - This month, Chris is haunted by the tippity-tap of the QWERTY


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