It had already become clear on this journey that Biggles was living up to the old adage that any cat in unfamiliar territory immediately forms a one-feline escape committee – that’s why they’re into every room, cupboard, drawer, whatever: always looking for a way out.
Heading down the Trent & Mersey through familiar territory towards Fradley Junction on a hot sunny day, as we approached Wood End Lock (soon, it was to appear, to be christened Wits End Lock), it was clear there was a queue of boats in front of us so we decided to stop for an early lunch while it cleared.
The first mate came up and said that the Captain was throwing a wobbly and not at all happy. On descending into the saloon to investigate, Sir fought his way through the locked cat flap into the well deck – didn’t think that was possible. Then he burrowed under the bottom edge of the securely fastened cratch cover – didn’t think that was possible either. Finally, with the feline equivalent of a cry “Geronimo” he leapt three feet across the water to the towpath while we were still travelling, and disappeared into the thick hedgerow.
It was impossible to moor where he’d gone overboard, so we backed up to the nearest place and started searching and calling. After lunch – with no sign – and in need of provisions, SWMBO went on a long trip down the towpath to Fradley Junction, while I continued calling and searching up and down the hedgerows for some distance either side of where we were moored (which was some distance from where he jumped overboard).
At about 19:00 he strolled in through the front deck area completely unconcerned – butter wouldn’t melt – and started eating his dinner.
As he now seemed to be well settled, we left him with his usual access outside overnight so he could do his business. Vaguely aware that he went out at zero:dark early, there was no sign of him at breakfast. Or lunch. This time he came back, again completely unconcerned, about tea time.
A 28 hour snack lunch must be some kind of record.
Locking him in, we steamed through Fradley Junction on to the Coventry canal without stopping for a beer at The Swan (sacrilege) and ended up moored at Whittington, a nice little village with a decent pub for dinner.