Never mind snakes on a plane, its…. cats on a train!
The perils of Piano and Puzzle: part one
[maow – do we have to?]
So comes time to place the final part of the jigsaw that is moving house – back up the smoke to collect Piano and Puzzle. As far as we know, the furthest they have ever moved is when we collected them from Mayhew and brought them back to Greenford, when they miaowed constantly.
Step one: from the cattery to Euston station courtesy of friend Malcolm, who provided the transport. Yes, they miaowed almost constantly…
[Maow – are we nearly there yet?]
We then have step two: a couple of hours on Euston station, when they were very good, before: Step three: the Euston – Inverness sleeper. Now, I’ve always wanted to travel on a sleeper, but I hadn’t anticipated doing so in the company of two cats (not forgetting Claire!) And I hadn’t anticipated the cat box not fitting through the door into the sleeping compartment (well, not until I saw the size of the door on the journey down…) Fortunately the cat box is collapsible: unfortunately, the cats aren’t. Indeed, as anyone who has every tried to put a reluctant cat into a cat box will know, cats can actually expand such that they have a cross-section slightly larger than the entrance to a cat box, however small the cat, or large the box.
So, Piano and Puzzle have to leave the box. [Maow – freedom!]
This means the carriage doors are closed and guarded by the carriage attendant. The cat box is brought as close to the sleeping compartment door as possible, the box door is rapidly opened and the first cat to emerge is grabbed and stuffed, somewhat startled, into the compartment. The process is then repeated with the second cat. Puzzle nearly managed to go for a walk down the carriage, but wasn’t quite quick enough. Both cats are then restrained by Claire (having been retrieved from under the bed) while I retreat to the carriage doorway where there is more space, collapse the box, enter the sleeping compartment, re-assemble the box, and cats are then inserted back in the box, and the door closed. This isn’t helped by my never having actually collapsed the box before (that’s another story…), and the rather limited space in a sleeping compartment. I don’t fold a small as I used to either.
After this the train journey was reasonably uneventful. Piano and Puzzle settled quite well, and having decided that they couldn’t dismantle the box from the inside, were quite quiet during the night.
Then we have a reverse performance of the night before. Remove cats from box; collapse box; rapidly exit sleeping compartment; reassemble box; approach sleeping compartment door [this time I have to straddle the length of the box, from which I will recover soon with enough bed-rest, as it is only about a centimetre narrower than the corridor]; stuff increasingly bewildered cats into box; move box to end of carriage. All this time the train is in motion, which at least means the doors won’t be opened, but does mean the box has to be raised about five feet in the air to clear the grab handle by the carriage door…
[Maow – this is all getting rather undignified!]
Step four: move cats from train to car in long stay car park in Inverness. Suffice it to say that a luggage trolley that was clearly marked “Not to be removed from Inverness Station” was last seen on level five of the car park, some hundreds of metres away from its natural abode. Cats get breakfast on reaching car. Neil and Claire don’t…
Step five: three-hour drive (including stops, including a belated breakfast for the humans in this story). Cats very quiet. Claire very quiet. Neil very tired! Arrive at Old Byre and release cats into dining room/kitchen/stairs/landing (there are no doors in this area) to settle down. [Sleepy maow]
All are now safely gathered in. Too tired to crack open the champagne, which will wait. The write-up for the blog can wait. The other jobs I had thought of for that day can wait. We can do all that on Skye time…
Currently listening to: Let England Shake, PJ Harvey