war tortoise

This is Timothy the tortoise in the garden of Powderham Castle in 1993. Despite the name, Timothy was actually a lady - and a rather special one. Her little tag reads: ‘My name is Timothy. I am very old – please do not pick me up.’ She was indeed very old, in fact a veteran of the Crimean War where she found herself the mascot of HMS Queen during the first bombardment of Sevastopol in 1854. She had been found aboard a Portuguese privateer the same year by Captain John Courtenay Everard, of the Royal Navy. Later she sailed aboard HMS Princess Charlotte and HMS Nankin, exploring the East Indies and China from 1857-60.

She retired from naval service in 1892 and found herself in the care of the Courtenay family, taken in by the Earl of Devon. From then until her death in April 2004, she lived at Powderham Castle. On her underside was etched the family motto, ‘Where have I fallen? What have I done?’ This little veteran was approximately 165 years old at the time of her death. She was the last survivor of the Crimean War.

If a man spits in a viper’s mouth and the viper swallows the spit it will die immediately.

Vipers can be killed by garlic and are deathly afraid of mustard seed.

A viper will go through fire rather than touch a yew branch, and a viper stroked with a reed will be unable to move until it is stroked again.

“Above all kinds of drink, they are most insatiable of wine.”

The tortoise and the viper are at war. If the tortoise eats oregano or rue before fighting it will become immune to poison and will win. If not it will die.

The best cure for a viper bite is a live hen.

A regular diet of viper meat cures leprosy. (Some sources say this works because the entire skin comes off like snakeskin.)


Happy Star Wars Day!

We present to you … the handheld BB-8 ready for adventuring into galaxies far, far away!  May the Fourth bring you adventures and noms aplenty!

(If you look closely, my costume is already a little too small for me!  Mom is sure it won’t fit me at all after my summer growth spurt!)


Mom says I am finally big enough this year to wear a party hat for my birthday!  Since my birthday is fast approaching, I tried on a party hat for size after meeting the ancient droid for our Tortie Scouts photos.  Then the hat fell off, so I decided to taste it, too!

I never used to be able to bite through paper before, but I am a big boy now!  The video cuts off when Mom realized I was actually managing to eat my party hat!

My head is even bigger than Mom expected, and paper party hats are even yummier than I imagined!

Mom needs to make me a new, bigger party hat for my birthday!


It’s Belmont Day!  The last jewel of this year’s Triple Crown is rather unusual in that none of the expected favorites are racing:  Always Dreaming (the Kentucky Derby winner), Cloud Computing (the Preakness winner), and even Classic Empire are all not in the field today.  The field is wide open!

We think the horses to watch today are Irish War Cry and Tapwrit.  Irish War Cry is up-and-down, but he is due for a good run and has a good post position.  Tapwrit is also looking strong, although he will be starting from post 2.  If we had to choose, we would probably pick Irish War Cry as the more likely winner today.  But, Mom has a soft spot for grays, so my new gray friend and I will be rooting for Tapwrit!


Happy birthday to beautiful Mango, the sweetest tortie princess we know!! Mango is one tough princess, too—just look at how she keeps an eye on her big little brother Waffles!  🎉 🎂 🐢 🎉

To tell Mango just how special she is, we found a special card for her all in her favorite color, and I signed it with a kiss! 🐢 💝 🐢