With the arrival of Brunhilde onto the Windswept Acre, we looked forward to having many adventures. Misadventures were not anticipated. Let me introduce a new member of the Two Snails cast: Treacle.
Treacle is one of our two Bengal cats and he has the melanistic gene - this make him black, very black indeed... coal-black, sloe-black... black as molasses. He is wicked too - the very spawn of the Devil, I swear that his soul is as dark as his fur - and if he can play us up, then he will. His favourite game is to show himself for a while - just amble around, being obvious. This normally happens about half an hour before we go to bed. Come bedtime, Treacle is nowhere to be seen - just like Macavity, he is simply not there!
"You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air— But I tell you once and once again, Macavity's not there!"
We can go through the house two or three times, calling enticingly: "Treeecle, Treeeeeeee-cle" and checking all of Treacle's known hiding places, and simply not finding him. He has the ability to lurk unseen in any shadow, whilst we say things like "I saw him a few minutes ago!" "He can't be far away." and "Bloody Treacle!"
Should I have been surprised then, when yesterday afternoon as we were ready (in ample time, I should like to point out) to leave for the ferry on a jaunt to Sutherland and Caithness, Mr Snail came out to the van and said "I can't find Treacle!" Horrified at the notion of leaving the cat shut out, or shut inside somewhere he could not reach the auto feeder or a water bowl or, heaven forfend, a litter tray - he would not listen to reason and Treacle had to be found.
Treacle did his usual thing and simply appeared from nowhere, looking very calm and relaxed and with a questioning air: "Did you want me?" - just at the point where Timeliness had turned into Tardiness. Ours, I mean, for the ferry.
Mr Snail was very much ruffled and it rather affected his backwards navigation. He repeatedly steered Brunhilde almost off the track, shifting gear and moving forward to reposition again, and repeating the process until we were bogged in the mud.
Vehicles are supposed to be queued at the ferry 20 minutes previous to boarding time. However, nobody is going to turn you away just because you arrive only in the nick of sailing time, all tyres smoking - so long as the boat has not already been filled by promptly-arriving stand-by vehicles, that is. It was worth doing our very best then to try and rescue the situation.
It was a situation not helped by the fact that the battery from the Land Rover had been cobbled into Brunhilde's power array.
We tried carpets, cat litter, planks of wood and all manner of ideas but could not drive her out. We tried towing with the Picasso, it had insufficient power. Mr Snail removed the Land Rover battery from the van and refitted it to the LR... which then had an immediate sulk via a seized clutch. She does not like being ignored for long periods.
Of course mere Tardiness had by now turned into Seriously Lateness, Impossible Lateness, and we were not going to reach the ferry terminal without the help of some Tardis-ness. Unsurprisingly, none could be found.
Treacle, our horseshoe-nail. Bless him. Life would not be the same without our impossible cat.
Is that his point, I wonder. Treacle is 10 now and his buddy Ted is 14. They are getting on a bit and we feel that if we are away for only a couple of nights then it is better not to disrupt their routine. They have each other for company and we have a 90 meal auto-feeder that speaks to them in our voices. We leave three fresh litter trays when we go and a ridiculous amount of fresh water, in case of need. They get to sleep on our bed and generally live like Kings for a while.
Naturally if we took a long break, the cats would come too. They don't care for it much and Ted in particular will bust a gut rather than use a cat tray in a campervan - this we discovered on the trip up to move to our house here in Orkney. Picture it: two humans, two collies and three cats (we had another back then) in a converted Sherpa. What fun!
Anyway, that's our experience and that informs our reluctance to disrupt the cats for our convenience and pleasure. I wonder if maybe Treacle has other ideas and just wants to be included. Perhaps he was being awkward for a reason. I would not be disinclined to the notion that he made the bogging-down thing happen with his demonic influence either. I mean... just look at him! Would you not believe it too?