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‘What? WHAT? Dear, stop the van, we have to stop the van. STOP.’
‘Oh goodness, oh goodness.’
Whilst Mr and Mrs Clover panicked, I started cleaning myself. I couldn’t believe I’d been asleep all that time.
‘Dad, just pull over when it’s safe,’ Viola said sensibly.
A few minutes later, Mr Clover found a lay-by.
‘We’ll just have to go home,’ Mr Clover said.
‘But we’re nearly there!’ Viola pointed out.
‘Then we at least need to phone Alfie’s family,’ Mrs Clover said. ‘The number’s on his collar.’
‘Yes, let’s phone them. That’s exactly what we’ll do,’ Mr Clover said.
‘But then what?’ Mrs Clover asked.
‘Just explain we’re in Devon and that Alfie will have to come on holiday with us for a week,’ Viola suggested.
‘But a cat, on holiday. I mean whoever heard of such a thing?’ Mrs Clover shrieked.
Actually, I had been on holiday before, but I couldn’t tell them that.
‘Mum, Dad, calm down,’ Stanley said.
Viola’s plan sounded good to me. I’d miss my other families but a holiday might just be what the vet ordered.
‘OK.’ Mrs Clover calmed down and phoned my home. I was going on holiday!
For the rest of the journey, I was as excited as Stanley. Only Viola was quiet.
We stopped by a sign that said Curly Wood Campsite and were greeted by a man and a woman.
‘Mr Clover and family.’ Mr Clover got out of the van.
‘Welcome to Curly Wood. I’m Mr Green the campsite manager, and this is my wife, Mrs Green.’ The man who welcomed them was tall and thin with a funny moustache on his face which looked a bit like a slug. I hoped it wasn’t a slug. The lady was wearing a tool belt.
‘Thank you,’ Mrs Clover said.
‘I need to undertake a routine check of your vehicle,’ said Mr Green. He pulled a book out of his shirt pocket.
‘Oh, OK.’ Mrs Clover looked unsure.
‘Nice camper van.’ He climbed in and came face to face with me. He jumped; I put a paw up in greeting. ‘A cat?’
‘Yes, funny story, he sort of ended up here, we didn’t mean to bring him—’ Mr Clover explained.
‘I don’t think visiting cats are permitted on our campsite,’ Mr Green said. ‘We have a cat called Humphrey but he lives with us.’ He began looking through his book. ‘We do allow well-behaved dogs, although they must be kept on a lead at all times, but …’ He scratched his head.
Dogs? Did I hear right? I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay now.
‘We promise he’ll be no trouble,’ Stanley said.
The man looked at him, took a whistle out of his pocket and blew it loudly. We all jumped.
‘I’m looking through my rule book and I appreciate silence.’
After a while, he put the book back in his shirt pocket. ‘I am not happy but unfortunately I can’t find anything in the rule book about visiting cats. And I can’t break the rules when enforcing the rules, so, against my wishes, he can stay.’
‘Hooray,’ Stanley said; he was silenced by a look.
‘But one whiff of trouble and you’ll be out.’ Mr Green pointed his whistle at me. ‘Enjoy your stay.’ As he left the van, he asked Mrs Green to show us where to park.
We stood outside the van; we were going to look around the campsite.
‘Alfie, you need to stay inside,’ Mr Clover said, lifting me back in. ‘We assured your family we’d take care of you and we can’t risk you getting lost. Or worse,’ he finished.
What could be worse than getting lost? Some holiday this was! But then I noticed an open window. When the coast was clear, I jumped out. There were tents, caravans and other camper vans and in the distance I could see the wood. It was lovely—
I stopped, turned and found myself staring at a plump ginger cat.
‘Hello.’ My legs trembled.
‘What are you doing here?’ he asked nastily.
I flashed him my most charming smile. ‘I’m Alfie; it’s very nice to meet you.’
‘I said what are you doing here?’
‘I accidentally came on holiday.’
I wondered if he would attack; he was huge.
‘This is my campsite and I don’t need the likes of you on it,’ he said.
‘Humphrey?’ a woman’s voice said. The cat softened as he turned round. ‘Humphrey, it’s teatime,’ the voice repeated.
He narrowed his eyes at me then ran off.
I felt unsettled by my encounter so I went off in search of Stanley and Viola. I came across a small building and snuck in through an open door. Mr and Mrs Clover were sitting at a table with some other adults. I stalked, unobserved, to the back of the room and found Stanley and Viola. Stanley was laughing and joking; there were two other boys and a girl with them. Viola hung back – she seemed to be hiding behind her long hair. I wanted to go to her but Stanley spotted me first.
‘Alfie,’ he whispered, scooping me up and hiding me under his jacket. ‘If anyone sees you, you’ll be in trouble.’
‘Who’s that?’ a boy asked.
‘Alfie, our cat from home,’ Stanley explained. “Well, not exactly our cat. You see, he is and he isn’t.’ I saw the other children look at Stanley in confusion. ‘Oh, but that’s a bit of a long story—’
‘Hey, best not to let Uncle Green see him in here,’ the boy interrupted. ‘Let’s go outside, quick.’
The boy had an accent I hadn’t heard before.
‘Cute cat,’ the girl whispered, as the smallest boy stood beside her. I saw Viola’s cheeks redden as they did when she was around new people.
‘Thank you,’ she said quietly, with a smile.
She could be awfully shy, poor thing. I knew she was nervous about starting her new school when they got back too. I rubbed against her legs to offer support.
Stanley walked out with the boy and girl next to him and Viola went to follow, but Mrs Clover stopped her.
‘Ah, Viola, there you are. Mr Green has said you can see the piano now.’
‘Piano?’ said Viola.
‘Yes, we found a campsite that had one,’ her mother explained. ‘So that you could practise while we were away.’
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