Pip and Dot arrive

It’s been an eventful Summer. Dominated by Covid, uncertainty around the future, strangeness and apprehension in the air. We’ve stayed home for the most part, avoided towns and shops, got all of our goods online, and enjoyed the one thing that is always there for us and going for free… nature.


From April to August we’ve been on a walk or bike ride almost every day, and been on two wild swims in the river Ouse just 10 minutes drive from our house. Mole loves a wild swim, as long as there are no hissy swans. She splashes and whoops about with her armbands on, and when we turn upstream she clings onto my back so that I can swim against the current for both of us. Hedgehog is not so keen on the river swimming. She stands on the bank watching us, silently munching on an apple, and when invited in she says decisively with a far away look “No”. Beaver’s favourite place to be right now is on my hip, so she’ll get carried in anyway, but then I get strong squeals and protests as we sink into the cold water, so I’m guessing Beaver is not a fan of wild swimming either.


Our day-to-day lives mainly consist of playing, eating and sleeping at home. I have a new job with a painful start of 6am, but I’m finished by 2pm, which means an hour doze in bed with Beaver attached to my boob when I get home. After that most of my afternoon is spent in sweeping up crumbs under Beaver’s highchair, trying to eat chocolate without being caught, wrestling the scissors away from Mole, and if all else fails, escaping to the allotment. The trouble is they usually want to come with me, but the good news is I can use them as bean and raspberry pickers. Mole and Hedgehog are still quite small so they can get into all the hard to reach places. Mr M&H likes to watch Disney films with Mole and Hedgehog, which he uses as bribery to get them to do their home-ed (it works), and I think he secretly likes the Disney anyway.


But we have some new additions now, after months of debating what a suitable first pet for Mole, Hedgehog and Beaver would be. So we are the proud owners of Persephone and Aphrodite (Pip and Dot for short), a pair of baby spur-thighed tortoises. For reptiles they are quite cute, with their little legs and their bobby heads. I’ve learned a lot about tortoises in the past month. They like to burrow, a lot. In fact I would say they spend most of their time underground, but when they do surface it’s fun to watch them eat, and bask in the sun. We give them a bath most days in the quiche dish, which is meant to hydrate them and encourage them to pooh. They do surprisingly big poohs for their size. They are very economical to feed as they live on greens and leaves, and they’re so small that a single sorrel leaf lasts them all week. Their life expectancy is around 100 years, so they’ll outlive us and be something else to leave the children in our will. That’s a strange thought.


I think they were a good choice. The problem with having cold-blooded pets is that I’m always worrying if the temperature is right for them. My reptile thermometer arrived today, which is helpfully colour coded with a white zone (too cold), a green zone (just right), and a red zone (too hot). This is very reassuring so I now know when they are about to freeze, and when they are about to catch fire. Getting a new pet is a bit like having a new baby, in that you are constantly worrying about whether they are okay. It is especially hard to tell with tortoises, as they don’t exactly have facial expressions.


They seem to have settled in with us now. They live in the garden, and Beaver loves to toddle out to them and watch them through their chicken wire lid, which is as much to protect Pip and Dot from Beaver as it is from the cats and the birds of prey. Beaver likes to prod them roughly and is always asking me to pick them up and put them down again, but she doesn’t want them on her hand. She gets super excited when they come indoors to have their bath in the quiche dish. I would say hysterical is the word. It’s nice to see her so keen on our new pets anyway. If we get a dog she’ll probably explode.


Apart from Pip and Dot, I’m embracing the simple life and trying to keep this pattern going out of lockdown and beyond.


To that end we’ve been on many camping trips throughout the Summer with the tipi tent, getting more efficient and minimal with our stuff each time, until last week when we went to the Cotswolds in our new Nissan Leaf electric car, in our bid to get away from rising oil prices, and charged it at the electric hook up pitch on the campsite. How neat is that?.


On the downside Mole threw up all over the back seat on the journey there, and we had to do an emergency roadside clean up operation. So now the car smells of sick, but you can’t have everything.



The Mad Hatters Campsite in Cambridgeshire



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