This is Rat, who has just embarked on a new career as a Travel Writer. If you'd like to read Rat's early history before you read his first travel article (and it may be wise ....) it's here at http://ilurveenglish.blogspot.com/2009/06/why-unduck-like-looking-ducks-might.html
Here's Rat's first article, written especially for this blog. In fact, I think he's my first guest blogger. Don't say I don't ask the top guys.
SHORT BREAKS FOR RATS (and advice about who to avoid ...)
I never intended to go to London for a short break via someone's coat sleeve. Yeah, I know. Most people travel via car or bus or train. But coat sleeve travel is good, folks. I recommend it. Warm. Cosy. Nice and dark to snuggle down into if you get bored of watching all the green and brown and green and brown and green and brown rushing past and pretending you're loving nature but really you're bored out of your tiny mind with it, and just want a nap.
But how do you board a coat sleeve, I hear you ask? Do you have to buy a ticket? Which platform do you stand on? Can you get a monthly season pass for regular coat sleeve trips? Can you take a dog?
Well, I boarded mine while at Fran's house. You see, Fran and I go back a long way. She's been a great influence on me, which you may notice in a certain similarity between our writing styles - and our attitudes to nature.
I usually do live at Fran's house. Been there a while, ever since I was bought. She and her husband play this silly game called 'Hide the Rat in Surprising Places' - it's a kind of throwback from the days their kids were home and, yes, it's as sad as hell, but not as sad as listening to Classic FM together.
Well, Eldest Daughter came to stay for a weekend, and the Hide the Rat thing got a little out of control. Sock drawer, knicker drawer, in a shoe, in a boot, in the cutlery drawer, down the side of a cupboard, in a very tall, thin vase (that was a tricky exit) ... it was a busy weekend.
On the Monday morning ED was leaving, Fran decided to stuff me up her coat sleeve while it was hanging on the coat rack, thinking that she'd find me when she put her arm in the sleeve to drive home.
And that's how I got to London. Yep. It was a warm day. No need for coat. Coat got slung in the back of ED's car. In I went with it.
I was kind of okay with this. You see, life with Fran and the Husband gets sort of tedious. Neither of them have a great imagination, and if I had to spend one more night in a drawer full of socks or at the back of the fridge or stuffed into the top of a cereal packet, I'd eat my own tail with boredom. And I say one night, but sometimes it was three or four if it was warm (no socks), they ate out (not much fridge) or they were into a yogurt and toast phase (no cereals).
So I ended up in ED's flat in London.
And guess what?
She has pets that look like me.
This is a degu. Eldest Daughter has two. You want to see the other one? Oh, alright then. Here it is. But it looks no different.
So, not only did I have a short break in London, but I learned a new language, Deguspeak. Don't believe me?
This means, 'Yeah, maybe you are prettier, and maybe you are REAL, and maybe your teeth aren't quite so extreme as mine, but did no one teach you how to be polite to guests?'
You got it. My short break in London with the degu pair was okay, but things got a bit tense. I said to them that at least I didn't have to live in a cage. They said they'd rather a cage than a sock drawer. I said sock drawers were great (yeah, so I lied). They said at least they were real pets and weren't stuffed with cotton wool and could run about, and I said, well, you'll never get the chance to get driven down the M40 in a coat sleeve. They didn't know what to say to that (maybe their Deguspeak wasn't brilliant either) so yah boo, Degu. Degus. Degues? Deguoos? Oh, shoot. Plurals never were my big thing at rat school.
So what's with being stuck in the side of a bicycle pannier bag like in the picture, you're asking? Or maybe you're not, but you're getting it anyway.
Well, after I'd been in London a few weeks, and to be honest, was hankering for a night in a fridge, leftover cauliflower cheese or no leftover cauliflower cheese, the Husband came for a short stay, and he and ED decided it was time I came home. Husband had brought his bike with him on the train, so that's how I got to be peeking out of the pannier like that as we travelled back. Yep, it meant looking at all the green and brown, green and brown, green and brown, green and brown, on the way home, but, hey, anything's better than a couple of stuck-up degu (you do the plural thing in your head, I'm knackered) telling me they live a charmed life and at least they never got put in a light fitting and burned.
Now you really will have to read my history, as Fran suggested, if you want to know about the light fitting incident.
Fran here - hope you enjoyed Rat's first travel article. Watch out for his next piece, which should appear fairly soon and will be entitled something exciting like 'Travelling Between the Pillowcase and The DVD Drawer'. Who needs Paul Theroux or Bill Bryson, peoples?