Friday 17 August 2012

A ball, books and bats

Last weekend we had a small invasion --their words-- not ours! Friends, with their three children, came to visit on their way home from a holiday in Poitou-Charente. They live in the Netherlands. It was lovely to find that we were all roughly in the same place at the same time and could catch up, as it had been far too long since we had last seen them.

In the 1990's K and Antoinette worked at the same International School. Since then we have all moved about a bit: we to Maastricht and UK; K & M to Italy and now back to NL. K is British and M is Dutch and the children all speak English, Dutch and Italian--a pleasing international mix!
the ball did not survive the visit!
While adults caught up with news of mutual friends the kids rambled around, became acquianted with Katinka--always keen to be the centre of attention-- and made good use of the ball they'd brought. We don't have items such as badminton sets and footballs. We did once have a boules set, but much rootling in the barn prior to thier arrival left us empty handed. No idea what's happened to it.

It was quite hot last Saturday, so after lunch everyone was quite soporific. Ball games slowed down.  Not long after, while chatting to the lad, Niall found out that he really liked "Horrible Histories". It only took a mention of the fact that we have 5 or 6 of these books [revolting historical facts, all accurate written for children] to cause a move into the house and the question 'where please?' Once located they were carried outside and shared out between all three kids. It went quiet .... except for the lad who treated his sisters and the rest of us to some excellent extracts of the particular "Horrible History" he was reading. The kids had also found the hammock chair at the front of the house so they, and the books, to-ed and fro-ed between the terrace and the hammock.

kids reading even while waiting for adults to get organised for group photo
We fired up the BBQ as dinner time approached and, thankfully, it did what is was supposed to do: burn well. A production line of sausages and hamburgers were nicely charred on the outside and cooked inside without turning into old shoe-leather. Slowly it got dark and we moved round to the front of the house.

During the day the kids had asked about the wildlife and we'd mentioned that amongst other things we have pipestrelle bats [3 or 4] using the shutters at the front of the house as summer roosts -- they squeeze themselves between the wall of the house and the shutter.

They wanted to see our bats fly out at dusk as one of their memories of living in Rome had been the bats swooping through the huge double windows of their palazzo apartment, flitting round the living room and zooming out again. So from about 21:00 we sat at the front waiting; soon the pipestrelles, which are truly tiny, emerged and obligingly swooped round the house in their regular search for insects.

It was a lovely day. Sometimes simple things work just fine: a ball - sadly deceased by the end of the day! - some books and some bats.


the fly in the web said...

It really doesn't need anything....just children who are able to amuse themselves with whatever is to hand because that's the way their parents have brought them up.
Our young visitors used to want to sit up to see the bats pouring out into the evening sky too.

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Niall and Antoinette:
Your post reminded us of watching the bats flying round our cottage in Herefordshire at dusk as they lived in the roof there. Our cats were mesmerised!

What a wonderful time you had catching up with your friends. It is difficult when one's friends are in far flung places to see them as much as one would like. But, when the occasion permits, with good friends, nothing much is needed and one can just carry on from where one left off!!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@fly - exactly! they were a credit to their parents :-)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jane & Lance - we don't have that many but they are a joy to watch.
Our cats too. They treat them as 'mices with wings' and try to get at them behind the shutters [happily with no success].

So true. With good friends the conversations just carry on as if one has only been out of the room 5 mins not 5 yrs.

LindyLouMac said...

Simple pleasures made for a very enjoyable reunion going by the tone of this post. :)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@LindyLou - yes they certainly did :-)

Perpetua said...

What a perfect day. :-) Grandson#3 arrived for his recent visit with a couple of the Horrible Histories in his suitcase and his cousins love them too.

We have bats, which I think must roost in the woodshed, and they've done a good job of mopping up the insects this summer.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Perpetua - we love the Horrible Histories. Anything that gets children interested in history has our vote :-)

Read somewhere once that bats can eat thousands of small insects a night [but may have remembered this wrongly!]. We certainly love watching them emerge and flit about. The more mosquitos they eat the better!