You know me, I’m always at a loose end these days but I do manage to keep myself pretty busy. So today’s ‘job’ was to get back to basic communication and create a flyer and publicise my ‘Lost’ notice to my neighbours and use some good old fashioned door to door leafleting.
I found myself inhabiting a strange new junk mail world as I opened creaking gates and posted my flyer through the NO JUNK MAIL stickers on letterboxes. I met a nice VSO lady on the way round, she was doorstepping for volunteers, and a rather gorgeous delivery man who eyed my leaflet very sweetly (he obviously thought I was the neighbourhood kook, and I guess he’s right).
The whole thing was quite scary. While I managed to get a good old gander at the decor and decay of the houses in my close vicinity, I was terrified of being pepper sprayed or worse, attacked by dogs. Thankfully I was not, and amazingly that was my whole morning taken up.
I’m sure you’re wondering by now what my particular ‘Lost’ thing is.
Well, when we moved here last year, Miniminx and I thought it would be a great idea to let our gorgeous little tortoise Shelley experience the great outdoors and experience summer on the lawn. I’ve never seen her so lively, she chomped and tiptoed her way around the garden like Angelina Ballerina, she grew, her eyes sparkled, it was a good thing. Whenever we brought her inside, she would walk up to the french doors and gaze longingly at the big wild world outside and even bring herself up onto two legs. So you got it, we gave in and set her loose. She’s a born wanderer, and started disappearing for the odd day, and come back, then a week and come back, and then three weeks and back. But by September she had upped and left us. I was worried that she’d taken up home with the tortoise four doors down or worse, snaffled by the foxes under the shed. Worried as I was, I knew she could peck her way out of any situation, but come the snow, Jack Frost would get her. I have had terrible dreams about her demise over the last few months and felt haunted by her loss. While I feared the worst, and Miniminx has shed a few tears, I’ve always kept the faith strong and believed she would return triumphantly in the spring.
So the nature of my DIY-Direct-Mail shot was a last concerted effort to find Shelley. It was quite poetic…
HAVE YOU SEEN OUR TORTOISE?
Our lovely tortoise Shelley has gone walkabout.
We have a feeling she may wake up out of hibernation in your garden because we’re neighbours. Her usual habitat is XXXX XXXXX, so if you find her keeping your lawn in trim please call us on XXXXXXXX
We have all the documentation to prove she is ours.
You get the idea.
Much as I’d like to say I felt a bit smug about my little lost tortoise campaign, I was actually feeling really guilty for losing her. And how upset Miniminx has been. And what if an empty shell is found in someone’s garden and they drop it by. And was I showing myself up as a complete and utter loser. And, and…so enough of all that, I had done all I could, and that was that, it was now in the lap of the gods.
I decided to get busy with the garden. I picked weeds at random and ventured to the bottom of the garden to check on our resident newts in the water butt. I know I’m naughty but when they’re basking in the water they look a bit dead so I’m not averse to poking them with a stick. Phew! The floating one was alive. I looked around the shed and felt a bit glum. Then I spotted the new ringweed shoots (that hideous scourge of any garden) I became a toxic avenger, brandishing the weed killer and spraying it with venom. I my eyes darted around the foliage, something moved, or did it?
‘OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!’ I boomed.
There was a shell, a Shelley shell. With little feet sticking out of it, but no head. I grabbed the poke-the-newt-stick and gingerly reached out towards my muddy beloved.
‘Is she…..?’ I whispered to myself
‘Is she….?’ I reached over and tapped her shell. She moved! Her head popped out.
I ran inside shouting
‘The tortoise, she’s back! Hurray!’
A startled cleaner jumped up and down.
‘Sweet’ she said. Maybe I should have offered her £20 ages ago and she would have found her in the manner of my iPod?
Weirdly enough, I’d been checking tortoise web sites to find out what I should do with one straight out of hibernation. So I put the taps on in the sink to get the water running and filled it, adding some sugar.
I headed back outside, darling Shelley had the appearance of a little space creature that had just landed – slightly dazed and looking around wildly (well as wildly as a tortoise can) at her new surroundings. She was covered in mud so must have tunnelled out of somewhere pretty recently. What a result!
She is now bathing in the manner of Cleopatra in a large warm bath and happily chomping on greens. I still can’t quite believe she just appeared, but hang on a minute. On second thoughts, do you think some bastard got the leaflet, realised that she belonged to us and then just lobbed her over the fence in a panic?
I’ve obviously lived too much of an urban life. For just a moment ago, I got a call from a concerned neighbour.
‘Hello, I got your note’
‘I haven’t found her, but I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for her’
‘Thanks so much. But do you know what? Oh, you’ll never guess what.’
‘Can you believe it, I just found her at the bottom of the garden. Alive and well and she’s reviving after hibernation in the sink, happy as larry’
‘Aaaah, that’s such a lovely story, that’s made my day’
‘And mine, thank you so much for calling’
‘No problem, that’s really great’
…now, much as I’d like to think it would be a better story if this caller had been the secretive tortoise-over-the-garden-lobber, I’m not going to believe it.
I’m happy to have my other little baby back…