Alex James: What a shame to miss bat man's visit

Share
Related Topics

The trouble with leaving the farm is that it always means missing something. The bat man came while we were in Bournemouth and his report was a beautifully written, fascinating document. I knew it would be. He did a really excellent job. You could tell that he was an expert just from his name. There were so many letters before and after it. I really wanted to see if he looked bat-like, too. But we missed him.

From his report it seemed he knew more about bats and their habits than they do themselves, but he cost less than a plumber. He had made two visits, both at unreasonable hours. The bats have to be measured at dawn and dusk. It's the only way to tell where they live. They go out at dusk and they come in at dawn.



They are nice to have around, bats. As soon as twilight falls, they are all over the garden with a glamour all their own, a fanfare of swooping and dipping. I thought everyone had them, like pigeons, but it's just us, apparently. They are quite scarce, to such an extent that all species are protected. You can't eat them or move them or even disturb them.



The bat is to the moth what the bird is to the butterfly, a darker mysterious cousin. The more you think about them, the more interesting they appear. They have all kinds of advanced weapons technology: radar, gps, the works.



I found out last night that Burford, the picture postcard fudge emporia epicentre of the billionaires' playground that is the Cotswolds, was half-empty after the war. Literally, only every other house was occupied. It's hard to imagine as now you can't park there.



As well as all the empty houses a generation ago there were grain stores, outbuildings, barns, sheds and lofts that have now, along with the empty houses been turned into 5:1 dolby surround cinemas. I recommend a bat box over a satellite dish.





Japanese tourists are harbingers of recovery



The bats are a pleasant sight but I must admit my heart always leaps just as much at the sight of Japanese tourists in the neighbourhood. If there are Japanese tourists it is a sure sign that everything is tickety boo. They are a harbinger of economic recovery.



Like a rare species of migratory bird, they are only to be found in the places where absolutely everything is just so. They are as timid and tight as groups of deer, shunning any kind of danger or ugliness, travelling in small herds to feed on only the very highest quality culture. They seem to like Shakespeare, cathedrals and Daylesford best.



The summer holidays are in full swing and it's glorious. Unlike the beach, the countryside never becomes unpleasantly busy. Life is enhanced by the whole range of tourist types, all here just to enjoy themselves. I discovered a backpacking cousin of our Australian au pair in an outbuilding yesterday.



There are campers singing Beatles three fields over, spa spinsters in the gastro pub, house-guests in every home, boutique hotels full of holidaymakers as far as the eye can see in every direction from Oxford to Cheltenham.



As I was driving to the other side of the Cotswolds yesterday I passed a squadron of brightly dressed mature knapsacked marchers. God bless 'em. Walking uphill along the busy road at speed, maps flapping.



The vigour in their stride, their sense of purpose and organisation put the Japanese to shame and kept me smiling all the way to Lechlade.





The simple majesty of spherical objects



I'm not really on holiday but I am enjoying myself. People ask me what I'm doing at the moment and I start trying to explain and ten minutes later I'm still talking and I haven't even got on to how the place I call home has somehow turned into a walkabout pizza with its own airport and parking facilities.



To my surprise and joy I found myself playing croquet for the first time this weekend. I've wanted to have a game for years. Like all country houses and country games it seemed to be exactly as interesting as the people you were doing it with. The most popular people seemed to be the best at it. Someone had bought his own mallet thing but wouldn't share it. That was funny. The girls took it in turn to ask him, teasing him, and watching that was more fun than actually hitting the balls through the hoops.



Every week when the kids spend their pocket money my one-year-old daughter buys another ball. There aren't many things that speak to you loud and clear when you're one but no doubt a ball is a simple but fascinating thing. To start with I told her she already had a ball and didn't need another, but you can't reason with a one- year-old.



Sometimes she picks small ones, sometimes large. There must be a dozen in the garden now and they look like art or flowers. Perfectly round things are ornaments. My favourite game at the moment is when my wife and I kick them all into the trampoline while the children try to throw them out. Great fun. Surprisingly a trampoline and a dozen footballs costs less than a croquet set.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in August  

Ferguson: The sad truth is that Michael Brown was killed because he was a black man

Bonnie Greer
A protestor poses for a  

Ferguson verdict: This isn't a 'tragedy'. This is part of a long-running genocide of black men in America

Otamere Guobadia
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital