|Honey Thorpe with James the tortoise in 1940|
James lived in style in solitary splendor on the bank above the tennis court. He had a large enclosure and a big fall onto the court if he tried to stray. This was to stop him eating the pansies. However this did not stop him getting out and occasionally a Hunt the Tortoise call went out when James had escaped.
This happy life continued into the fifties but in 1954 after my grandparents death my aunts sold Thamesway and moved to Eton Square, Belgravia and there was nowhere for James to go so he came to live with us in Stanmore.
Poor James, Middlesex clay is not good for tortoises but he survived for years with us. He was not enclosed but had the run of our garden and to our surprise did not decimate the pansies but lived on bread and milk and dandelion leaves of which there were plenty.
Sadly in 1963 James met his end. Tortoises hibernate and this particularly cold winter James did not wake up. Daddy buried him beneath the fir trees.
The next year we moved to Pinner and Daddy decided that it would be nice to take James with us or at least his beautiful tortoise shell. Daddy knew exactly where James was buried and started to dig. NO James! Daddy dug deeper and in fact a very large hole developed during the course of the morning. James had vanished!
Obviously James had woken up! What happened to him we shall never know but I still loves tortoises and I can't resist any tortoise ornaments.