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A worrying development, this. As you know we have reversed roles. I want the tortoise to go to a good tortoise home. Sarah wants him to stay. And to prove how much she loves him she’s started talking to him. ‘Hey Tonky Tonks’ (yes really) I found her murmuring. ‘Hello mate.’ Hello mate? The tortoise is her mate? Like some kind of armoured hoodie. ‘You all right then? How’s your eye?’. It’s really really hard to tell if a tortoise is feeling off colour. And asking it isn’t going to help. But I think all this is still to do with Sarah’s determination to include Tonka in the ever expanding animal family.

Conquering her maternal anxiety about both the tortoise and the dogs, we went to Copenhagen for a few days. Yes, us, actually going away for a break. Of course, we didn’t really plan it that well – Copenhagen is even snowier than it is here, but at least someone else did the cooking and the washing up, and we slept almost non stop for about 48 hours.  We met a very cheery English waiter in an Italian restaurant and asked what he was doing over there. ‘You seen the women?’ he asked. Why did he think I might be ogling the glorious-breasted blonde Vikings of Copenhagen while on holiday with my wife? Unless he thought she was my daughter and I ought to try my luck. ‘I’m a sexual refugee’, he said. Interesting concept. Wonder how it would go down with the Home Office.

Meanwhile, the hedgerow we have to plant had arrived, and it rained, or snowed, or generally things got in the way, so my paranoia now is that it’s all dying in its plastic bags in the barn. Roy and I did manage to pin down 250 metres of weed mat yesterday, but if you’ve ever seen what 1,100 bare root hedge plants look like, you’ll know that we aren’t going to get them in the ground in a day. Especially not a double row, which really means half a kilometre of hedge, complete with rabbit guards and little sticks to hold them up. There are seven species – hawthorn, spindle, field maple, dogwood, guelder rose, hazel and blackthorn. I am pleased we have a lot of the last because apparently they’re good for a rare species of butterfly but I can’t remember which one.

Since there are 560 of the hawthorn, and 100 each of the rest it is almost impossible to work out what order to plant them in, even if you know it’s five plants per metre of double row. You try and see if you don’t end up with a long line of one species.

I’m also rather insecure about the diminishing log pile. I think we might make it to the end of Feb which will be better than last year, but nonetheless it means I have to go out log cutting and this is not the weather for it.

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