A TOY bear called Porridge has gone missing for the 13th time in seven years – including disappearances in Africa and France.
Antique dealer Rob Armstrong takes Porridge on trips because his son Luca wants him to ride along as a lucky mascot.
Amazingly, the bear was returned after a two-week spell missing in Uganda and turned up in the dirty laundry of a Paris hotel.
The toy has also been recovered three hours’ hike up a mountain, fished out of a lake, found stuffed in a coal cellar and left at the side of the road. It has even been carried off by a dog.
The family, from Minto in the Scottish Borders, is now offering a £50 reward for the recovery of Porridge after his latest disappearance two months ago at a gig where Rob was playing guitar.
Heartbroken Luca, seven, got Porridge when he was two weeks old and now fears Porridge may be gone for good.
Rob, 45, said Luca loves his bear but insists he accompany his “crazy” dad on trips.
“Luca thinks his dad is a bit crazy,” said Rob. “I’m always dressing up to go and sell antiques and go and play with the band.
“He thinks normal dads just go to work and then come home, whereas I’m gone for a few days.”
The most extraordinary return happened when Rob went to Africa on business.
He said: “Some villagers in Uganda contacted my hotel after Porridge fell out of my motorcycle bag.
“They posted him back to us in a brown package tied up with string, he arrived a few weeks later.”
Rob then lost Porridge on a business trip to the French capital.
“He was found in a bag of dirty laundry in a hotel in Paris. The hotel posted him back.”
He added: “He’s been found lying in the road, a dog ran away with him, he’s been found at relation’s houses.
“He somehow always makes his way back.”
Rob said: “Porridge was left at the venue and nobody has handed him in.
“Everywhere Luca goes, Porridge goes with him. He’s not interested in his other bears, he’s only interested in Porridge.
“He’s got no tags, he’s a big saggy, he’s a bit old.
“Luca truly believes that Porridge in alive somewhere. He does have a homing device.”
Porridge has been lost and found his way home again 12 times….but is still missing
1. 2007 – 3 weeks. “He got lost when Luca was a baby. He got thrown down the back of someone’s TV when the kids were playing. He wasn’t found for about 3 weeks.
2. 2008 – 1 night. “He got left outside in the garden. We had a barbecue, and the kids had barbecue for their bears. Everyone else took their bear away but Luca left his. In the morning Porridge was sitting on the blanket on his own surrounded by chicken wings. It looked like he had eaten the whole lot.”
3. 2010 – 1 day. We went up a big hill- Rubers Law – and he was left out on the top there by himself. I had to do a three hour walk to get him. He was there by a clump of heather.
4.2010 – 1 day. “He was found on the side of the road near our house, sitting up by himself, looking at the cars. He must have been dropped.”
5.2010 – 5 minutes. “We went sailing and Porridge fell off the boat by himself – it was Derwent Water in keswick. We had to get him back with a fishing rod.”
6. 2011 – 2 weeks. “He got lost in France, he landed up in the hotel laundry. I was away working and Luca had put him in my bag, he must have fallen out.”
7. – 2011 2 months. “He got lost in Africa. I was motorcycling in Uganda and he fell out of my bag. Some villagers contacted the hotel and when they found out where we lived they posted him back us, in a brown paper package with brown string.”
8. 2011 – 5 minutes. “We were loading stuff in the car and the bear was left on the roof. When we were halfway down the road Luca started asking: “Where’s Porridge Bear?” and we found him still on the roof.
9. 2011 – 20 minutes: “A friend’s dog came to stay. It picked up Porridge in its teeth and ran off into the village with him, for no reason. It took us 20 minutes to get him back.”
10. 2012: 5 hours: “Luca put Porridge in a bag of rubbish in the car – Luca thought it was a bag of clothes. He ended up in the dustbin at the side of the road. We looked everywhere until we tried the bin. There he was.”
11. 2012 – 2 weeks. “We moved out and put lots of stuff in a coal shed. Some mice had made a nest in one of the boxes, so we cleaned it out, and there he was under a pile of books.”
12. 2013 – 1 week. “He was left with friends in Gifford, East Lothian. He was there about a week. We asked if they had seen him and there he was, sitting on the kitchen table looking like a member of the family.”
13. 2014. October 25. Porridge disappears after being taken to one of his dad’s gigs. He is still at large.