What goes bump in the night?
Well, it was late, very late. The countryside was peaceful. There was nothing to hear apart from the odd hoot of an owl in the distance.
The crash on the roof woke me up with a start. The slates rattled, followed by banging and crashing and what sounded like a pneumatic drill driven at full pelt.
The first instinct — after ensuring the heart had started beating again — was to dive under the pillows and pretend it wasn’t happening.
That proved to be impossible.
The noise went on and on. What on earth could it be? A crow with a crusher? A bat with a bandsaw? A weasel with a power wrench?
Whatever it was was making an awful racket. And it was now coming from behind the wall — eek!
There was no-one else in the house that night; any investigations would be up to me.
Logic dictated that it must be small. The wall space isn’t that big. Could it be an owl, a bat, a mammal of some kind?
And then it started making “that” noise.
I don’t know if this sound has ever been used as a horror film effect, but it scared the bejabers out of me. Surely nothing natural could produce that?
So, at half one in the morning, I stood, phone in hand recording “the thing behind the wall”.
There was no way to help the creature at that time of night, but it wasn’t happy, not one bit.
As the racket could be heard all over the house, and continued for hours, it was a sleepless night later that a very tired Features team member staggered into “Friend” Towers to see if anyone had any bright ideas.
Polly was brilliant. She managed to convert my sound file to something that worked on her computer and then deduced that the noise was probably made by . . . a pine marten in distress.
With Angela’s blessing, I grabbed my work laptop and high-tailed it back home, calling the joiner on the way.
His mission (and I did give him the option not to accept it after playing the recording, but he bravely carried on) was to cut a neat hole in the upstairs landing through which the critter could escape.
The critter was still there. Tired now, but still growling a bit.
It was the work of five minutes to cut the plaster and start on the laths.
Then, suddenly, there was movement.
A claw — dark, narrow, curved — flashed over one of the intact laths, then vanished just as fast. The work continued, with a little more trepidation.
Then it was done. An escape hatch had been created. But where was the pine marten? Had he decided to become a house marten?
Polly had given some great tips.
Apparently, pine martens are nocturnal. They love to crawl into small spaces (they can get through a gap of only 4 cm), and they have a really, really sweet tooth!
After closing the inside doors and opening the outside ones, a trail of blueberries was laid, along with the odd saucer of jam, en route down the stairs.
Only . . . he wasn’t coming out.
Polly had also said they’re shy animals, so I took myself and the laptop off to another room to work and left him alone.
Several hours passed. There was no sound from upstairs. In fact, there was no sign of life at all (in a good way).
The pine marten had well and truly gone.
I was sad not to have caught sight of this unexpected visitor, but glad he’d made his escape.
However — just in case — the hatch was left open for a good while afterwards.
Yet there was no return, and no sign that he’d ever been there.
In fact, if it wasn’t for that recording, I’d probably think by now that it had all been a dream!
For more from the team, read our blog here.
Read Polly Pullar’s thoughts on the “Friend” by clicking here.