Transhumance is usually taken to describe the seasonal movement of people with their animals between summer and winter pastures. I feel that we have just gone through a version of it, the family and livestock (one tortoise) having just completed their annual migration from Ramsgate back to town. It has been made more difficult this year by the absence of the car. Or, more strictly, the absence of the car keys, lost-I won’t say by whom-in the act of packing our middle son off to Italy.

They’ve simply vanished, along with the spares. My wife ordered, at huge expense, another set from Mercedes, only to be told that she can’t collect them without also producing the car. As this would mean our paying to have the car winched onto a lorry, there is, at present, something of a stand-off, as negotiations continue. Mercedes may be German and rule-bound, but in this battle of attrition, I wouldn’t bet it’ll win.

We need the car to collect the vivarium. My memory of childhood tortoises is that they roamed through the borders of the garden, so that you mightn’t see them for weeks (or ever, if they’d hibernated in the bonfire). These days, they are deemed to require UV lamps and controlled heating-only slightly cheaper than a car key.