LIVING in a country town that's fairly pickled with pubs means that sometimes we play host to uninvited guests. Mostly we offer hospitality, before sending them packing.
But this house backs on to a river, so local wildlife occasionally drops by. We've got bats, rats, otters and minks on our doorstep. This is 'The Tale of Two Bad Mice' that came calling – and their friends who tagged along.
I first met Mrs Tittlemouse and her entourage when two powder-grey, black-eyed little creatures popped out of a hole near the bathroom window. Their ears were so transparent that the light shone through them. They performed a mime, sitting up and twitching their whiskers. Then I moved and they scampered.
I took to coughing before entering the bathroom, giving them notice to scram. Though sometimes, out of curiosity, I would creep up to see if they were there.
Everything was fine and dandy and very David Attenborough, until we started hearing them elsewhere in the house. So much for being quiet as a mouse. Sitting at my desk staring at a blank screen was happily interrupted by a rustling in the far corner, where we store the dog food. Then my boyfriend found them in the attic. Finally they made it to the kitchen, surely the mother ship for Mickey Mouse.
I don't know if there were three blind mice among their party, but there were certainly some in dire need of exercise, as I discovered when I happened upon Johnny Town-Mouse desperately trying to clamber up our steep stairs one evening. I almost felt like offering him a leg-up.
But it was a pitter-patter too far when they invaded the bedroom. We went to the hardware store, where our options were mousetraps or poison. We didn't want a mouse in the house. But nor did we wish to destroy them altogether. So we scouted around till we found live traps. They're much pricier than death ones, but they're reusable.
We smeared peanut butter in them and set them up. It was exciting when we caught our first mouse, and as we continued it even became fun. Like hunting, there was a sense of triumph when we trapped one. But that's where the similarity ended. We took our little prisoner deep into the country, where sometimes we had to encourage him to leave the trap.
All in all, we released 19 mice. We haven't been bothered by any more since. It was satisfying to know we hadn't killed them. After all, it's hardly hospitable to greet gatecrashers – both of mice and men – with a guillotine.