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Once upon a time Big Fat Momma, Little Titch and Tonka the One-Eyed Tortoise all went to live in new homes. Big Fat Momma and Little Titch had an enormous caravan to sleep in, with brand new bunk-perches, lots of straw and some old orange boxes to lay eggs in. ‘When you’re a grown up chicken’ said BFM to LT, ‘you’ll be able to lay eggs in them too.’ LT looked – well, like a half grown chicken. Outside their caravan was a shiny new chicken run with lots of grass, some trees, and a fine view of the ducks, in the next pen.

Meanwhile Tonka the One-Eyed Tortoise was taken to see his new home. This was a splendid affair, with a sitting room inside the greenhouse so he could stay warm when it was wet, and a little en-suite bedroom with straw on the floor. A window opened onto a cleverly designed garden full of green stuff to eat, and interesting things to climb over, all covered in net so the cats couldn’t get in but the sun could. Tonka took one look (he couldn’t do more, only one eye you see), and felt sick. He felt so sick he had to go back in the house where the humans lived, have a bath and then a very big poo. That made him feel better.

And so it is that we live in a weird DIY television series directed by Gerald Durrell and Enid Blyton. My works might not be mighty but they’re certainly time consuming. I do not know a single animal, even here, which has had more effort (and money) lavished on it than Tonka. And yet he still lives in the conservatory, spurning his fantastic outdoor run that has an indoors too.

I’m quite surprised that Sarah and I still live in a house ourselves, although the encroachment of the dogs (and the threat of having two more) make this less and less likely, and we will soon be living in a shed made from pallets and corrugated iron while the animals roam around the house.

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