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So you will be interested to learn that Tonka the Accidental Tortoise has been put into hibernation.  This is the most stressful thing that we have ever had to do.   We have had 8 major arguments about the subject – mainly because neither of us wants to take responsibility for the fact that Tonka might die in hibernation if we get it wrong.  In fact we row more about the tortoise than we do about anything else in life.  And I don’t mean we get a bit tetchy with each other.  I mean major strops (me), door slamming (me), ‘Right, I’m leaving’ (me), sulking (him), banging things on tables (him), ‘Go, see if I care’ (him).  My top tip for marital harmony would be – don’t get a tortoise.

Anyway, having finally managed to call a truce, I read and re-read the many advice sheets and books we have from the Tortoise Trust about hibernation and instructed Christopher on the accommodation required.   Half a day later and knee deep in shredded newspaper we had the required box-within-a-box fully insulated and ready for Tonks.  We did the last health checks required  and recorded his weight and then put him in his winter accommodation.  He needs to be kept at around 5 degrees in order to hibernate safely.  Some people do this by putting their tortoises in the fridge – I’m not joking –  it’s true.  I don’t mean they put them in tupperware in the salad drawer – but they do put the hibernation box in the fridge because it’s a regulated temperature.  However,  you can’t do this if your fridge is in a room which regularly gets colder than 5 degrees because that will obviously mean your fridge is colder too.    Keep up!!

Sod’s law, our fridge is in a really cold room, so we couldn’t do that method. Instead we had to find a space in the house which is no colder than 5 degrees and no warmer than 10 degrees so we could stow Tonka safely.  You’d have thought that was easy?  WRONG.  It is DIFFICULT.   Especially in this weather.  The cold places are too cold and the warm places are too warm.  So we spent about four hours walking around with a thermometer checking out the temperature of various corners of the house getting increasingly desperate and angry with each other….

 ‘How cold is it under the window in the hall?’ 

‘It’s ELEVEN DEGREES’

‘ALRIGHT – DO YOU NEED TO SHOUT!’

 ‘How cold is it by the washing machine? 

‘FOR GOD’S SAKE – IT’S THREE DEGREES’

‘It isn’t MY FAULT that the house is so F***ING FREEZING!!’

 ….and so on.  We finally found a spot in the loggia which is fine by day, but too cold by night, and a spot in the hall which is too warm by day but fine by night.  So we have now begun a sort of tortoise relay where we move the box about to make sure that whatever the time of day, he is located in the right part of the house.  Friends and family who visit over Christmas may think this is a new and fashionable party game and they are welcome to join in so that we can take a rest for a while. 

And if that isn’t enough we have to check on him once a week to make sure he isn’t dead and if not – whether he is losing too much weight or has accidentally wee’d in his sleep –  the list goes on.  It was NEVER this difficult on Blue Peter was it?  I mean they just stuck George in a box and forgot about him for four months.   Do you think we were had?   Do you think George actually snuffed it each year and it was an altogether new George that emerged from the box each spring?  I am starting to have my suspicions.  If I am right – I am sending the bill for my marriage guidance counselling to Biddy Baxter.

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