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I have many obsessions. Counting logs is one, and I’ll go on about that later. Dandelions is another. Not counting them but knowing where they all are. I didn’t use to be a dandelion obsessive but now we have Tonka I have no choice. Tonka is our accidental tortoise. He arrived in August. Alone. Without an owner. Or, it seems, a home.

The vet said he was knackered and underweight so we assume he had been walking a long time from somewhere. No-one claimed him and the Tortoise Trust (yes, there is one) said he would need to be kept awake all winter because he wasn’t strong enough to hibernate.

One tortoise, a 23 centimetre Greek Marginated, c 40 years old, has now cost us a) our dining room (he conservatory), and b) about £200 in bottled gas, to keep alive all winter. Plus every dandelion I can lay my hands on. Apparently the best diet is dandelions and clover. Not salad. So I picked every dandelion on the farm (I had a list of where all the best patches were, but they’ve all gone now). Then I moved to the lane. And finally other people’s gardens and the supermarket car park. I’m running short now, and the snow is a foot deep outside, so, although I know where there’s a good crop (the front drive of a house at the end of the lane) I don’t think I should be seen creeping around digging through the snow in other people’s gardens picking frozen dandelions. The funny farm would beckon. 

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