First published in the Portsmouth News, Tuesday 8th July 2014
In this day and age, we don’t expect to see much of our neighbours. Everyone leads busy lives, dashing in and out of their homes, and having little time to get to know the people who live around them.
However, my family and I are lucky. All of our neighbours, without exception, are lovely. Within our little area of the street, each of us knows that if we needed something, then we could knock on the doors around us, and help would be there.
Our neighbour, Wendy, has lived next door to us for many years. My children love Wendy, and they particularly love her tortoises, Walnut and Pippin. India tries to watch Walnut and Pippin, in the manner of a tiny tortoise stalker, from our bedroom window. She knows that Walnut and Pippin adore strawberries, and that if Wendy claps, they come running. (That’s not a typo; they do run. The ‘tortoises are slow’ tale must be a myth spread by snails.)
My girls were devastated therefore when we had a knock on our door today to tell us that Walnut was missing. We went to Wendy’s house and sure enough, there was no Walnut to be seen.
The only scenario that Wendy could think of was that Walnut had decided to escape the building whilst the gardener tended to her lawn. In which case, it seemed unlikely that Walnut would be found.
We searched outside with my daughters’ friends to no avail. I typed up posters and attached them to lampposts, and popped some through letterboxes, before ringing the local vets and leaving contact details should Walnut be handed in. But no-one had seen him.
We returned home feeling somewhat downhearted and very sad for Wendy. Her dear husband, Bill, passed away after Christmas, and they bought the tortoises ten years ago when they were babies. She had raised Walnut since he was tiny, and it seemed desperately sad that she might not see him again.
Until that is Wendy’s gardener rang her. Having driven back to his home in Waterlooville, with the garden rubbish in his boot, he had quite a surprise to see little Walnut looking out at him when he opened it! It’s no exaggeration to say that we were absolutely thrilled for Wendy. Down came the posters and out came the smiles: pets become part of our families and I am so pleased that Wendy has been reunited with hers.