The ‘great crab escape’ that left us shell-shocked

editorial image

Everybody, young and old alike, loves peering into rock pools.

It’s the thrill of lifting a rock and finding something unusual underneath it.

Now, as years ago, you see kids with their parents prowling the sea’s edge, buckets and fishing nets in hand, ever hopeful of seeing something other than limpets and weed in the water.

This brings me nicely back to where I was yesterday – when I was talking about days out summer- holiday exploring with my mates.

On this particular day, we’d headed for the coast.

After a couple of games of beach footy, we decided to take to the rocks. Slipping and sliding on the wet surface (and probably popping loads of bladderwrack seaweed for good measure) we scoured the rock pools for signs of life.

Lo and behold, not a winkle! Pool after pool came and went until we were about to give up. Then finally, under a particularly stubborn rock, we discovered a beast from the deep – well actually it was a crab.

Not a big crab, mind you, nor an edible one at that, but a crab nonetheless. And despite its size, it still had a pretty menacing-looking pair of pincers.

So the question now was: what to do with our catch? We should, of course, have put it back, but kids being kids, we decided to keep it and take it home with us – on the bus!

Having found an old empty cardboard box that had once housed a Dinky or Corgi car (that tells you the size of the crab!) we then headed for the nearest stop. When the bus arrived, we headed upstairs (only old people sat on the bottom deck) and put the box under the seat.

Unbeknown to us, however, the box wasn’t “crab-proof” and the cunning crustacean quickly escaped.

It wasn’t until a woman, a few seats away, let out an almighty scream that we learned the truth.

No matter how much we pleaded our innocence, the clippy was having none of it – “get off my bus and take your pet with you!”

Pet, who keeps a crab for a pet? Anyway, we walked the rest of the way home, with our “pet” carefully held between my finger and thumb.

And what became of it? I’m glad to say it was returned to the sea thanks to one of the lads’ dads, a fisherman who offered to take it with him to work that night ... or at least that’s what he told us.

Sound fishy? Let me know what you think.

Please e-mail your memories to or ring 501 7476 or write to me at Alexander House, 1 Mandarin Road, Rainton Bridge Busines Park, Houghton, Sunderland, DH4 5RA.