Getting The House Ready

Me: Look at my darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. He’s completely exhausted.

Nell: We’re all a little tired of Getting The House Ready.

Me: I know, but there’s nothing to be done. This is a stressful time.

Nell: What about Christmas?

Me: We’re still having Christmas, Nell. We just have to get the photos out of the way.

Nell: Should I wear my pearls?

Me: Your pearls?

Nell: Yes. For the photos.

Me: The photos aren’t of you, Nell. They’re of the house.

Nell: Surely having me in them would only add to the value?

Me: I agree, but not everyone is a dog person.

Nell: You don’t think cats are going to move in here, do you?

Me: There might not be any animals.

Nell: No animals?

Me: Hard to believe, I know.

Nell: Does this mean you don’t want Gladys and the llamas to perform in the field when the photographer is here?

Me: Not really.

Nell: What about the Welsh Corgi Choir?

Me: I’m afraid not.

Nell: This is going to be hard for them to accept.

Me: Selling a house is about space not clutter.

Nell: The Welsh Corgi Choir isn’t clutter.

Me: Of course not. I just meant we’re having to try and take ourselves out of the pictures.

Nell: But we are what makes it home.

Me: Yes, and that’s why I know you will all make it home wherever we go.

Nell: You’re right. So, Herr Hoffmann won’t need to provide tea for people viewing the house?

Me: No, we will all go out when they come.

Nell: You mean we won’t even meet them?

Me: No. The estate agents show them around.

Nell: I don’t like the idea of this at all.

Me: It’s the way it has to be, Nell. Sorry.


Frothy Feet and a Secret Smile

Me: Look at your frothy feet and secret smile.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: As for Harriet, she’s a real merdog. Strange to think she’s actually Oxfordshire born and bred.

Nell: We come from a long line of pedigree Labradors.

Me: Well, Harriet’s a proper Devon girl now.

Nell: She and David were only 4 months when we moved here.

Me: You’re right. They were tiny.

Nell: David was never tiny.

Me: He’s turning into a Dalmatian at the moment.

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: White paint on his ears. White paint on his tail.

Nell: I told him to keep away from the kitchen walls.

Me: It’s very difficult when you’re so large. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Harriet has managed to get some on her too.

Me: Yes, and Kev’s covered in it.

Nell: Kev is doing the decorating. He’s allowed.

Me: It was lovely my sister Charlotte came for tea, wasn’t it? I’m so glad she and Scarlett are joining us for Christmas.

Nell: So am I. It’s going to be a difficult one.

Me: Our first without Alex and our last in this house.

Nell: Not to mention our first here without Poppy.

Me: How will we cope?

Nell: She has dictated an extremely long list to me.

Me: A list?

Nell: A Countdown to Christmas. What to do when.

Me: Sounds like Poppy. Will you remember it all?

Nell: Don’t worry. She’ll remind me.

Me: Everything is changing, Nell.

Nell: It’s the way of the world. It keeps on turning.

Me: And there’s no getting off.

Nell: Anyway, I must love you and leave you as I need to talk to Herr Hoffmann about Christmas trifle.

Me: Is that on Poppy’s list?

Nell: Yes, and she wants it sorted now.

Me: Sorry.


Happy St. Nicholas Day

Me: Happy St. Nicholas Day.

Nell: Thank you. Did you put your boots out for St. Nicholas last night?

Me: Yes, I did.

Nell: Were they nice and clean?

Me: They were. No sand.

Nell: And were they filled with treats, or coal, this morning?

Me: Christmas treats thank goodness, so I must have been good.

Nell: David had a small piece of coal in one of his boots.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: It was to be expected after the porridge incident. The other three boots had treats.

Me: At least his nose is mended. He showed it to me this morning after we watched the sunrise.

Nell: Herr Hoffmann is extremely excited about today.

Me: He would be. It’s a big day in Germany. All the children will have woken up this morning excited to see what Nikolaus has left in their Stiefeln.

Nell: Stiefeln?

Me: Boots. I hope Herr Hoffmann had some Lebkuchen.

Nell: He did. Lots of the stuff by the look of things. I caught him munching away in the kitchen this morning.

Me: Bless him.

Nell: We’re having a big German breakfast later with freshly baked rolls, cold meats, pickled fish, boiled eggs and honey.

Me: I’d rather have my boiled egg without honey.

Nell: Very funny.

Me: I wonder how you all are going to cope with pickled fish.

Nell: We aren’t. We’re leaving the fish to the seals and birds.

Me: I love it and so does Herr Hoffmann.

Nell: It’s a step too far for me. Now, I know you’ll be missing the family today.

Me: I am. St. Nicholas Day was such a special time for us. So many happy memories of the children’s little faces.

Nell: Just concentrate on David’s little face. That will cheer you up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


A Deserted Beach and Porridgegate

Me: There’s nothing like a winter walk on a deserted beach.

Nell: I saw a couple of spaniels and a whippet.

Me: Virtually deserted then.

Nell: We certainly had enough space.

Me: Every time we walk over that hill and I see the sea and our little island my heart lifts and I can breathe again.

Nell: I’m always glad when the hill climb is over, too.

Me: I didn’t mean that, Nell.

Nell: I know. I’m just teasing you.

Me: Dave even had a swim with Harriet. Brave little thing.

Nell: David is a lot of things but little isn’t one of them.

Me: Handsome is. A lady on the beach was captivated by his handsomeness.

Nell: There’s no such word.

Me: She said ‘Look at that dog’s wonderful head.’

Nell: Never mind all that. We need to discuss David’s behaviour.

Me: Why? He had a lovely time on the beach and behaved really well.

Nell: I’m not talking about the beach. I’m talking about breakfast.

Me: Are you talking about Porridgegate?

Nell: I am.

Me: I was stirring my porridge because it was still rather hot so it might have looked like I was inviting him to taste it.

Nell: He stuck his nose in your bowl.

Me: Yes, and he burnt his tongue. Poor darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: He needs to know he cannot go around sticking his face in people’s porridge.

Me: It was a little annoying.

Nell: It was rude.

Me: And sticky.

Nell: It can’t happen again.

Me: It probably will. He’s been particularly naughty since Poppy left us.

Nell: I’ve noticed that too. Demanding cuddles and attention all the time.

Me: Losing someone can make you feel really insecure.

Nell: It doesn’t make you eat someone else’s porridge.

Me: No. Sorry.


Rainy Days and Mondays

Nell: What are you doing up so early?

Me: I couldn’t sleep, Nell. Too many thoughts buzzing around my brain.

Nell: I’m afraid Harriet is not her usual happy self either.

Me: She’s probably got a touch of the Mondays. It happens to us all.

Nell: It has nothing to do with Mondays and everything to do with rain.

Me: It hasn’t stopped, has it?

Nell: No. It’s absolutely dreadful.

Me: I hope Gladys and the llamas aren’t thinking about gliding in the field this morning. It’s far too wet.

Nell: No. They’ve moved their fitness class into the barn.

Me: Are the large animals ok with that?

Nell: Not really. Olive the Other Reindeer needs her sleep. It’s a busy time of year.

Me: Talking of busy, how did Manuel’s date with Barbara from Brixham go?

Nell: Not well.

Me: Oh no. What happened?

Nell: Princess happened.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: She decided to applaud everything Barbara said.

Me: It’s a seal thing.

Nell: She wasn’t even supposed to be there.

Me: It was her pool, to be fair.

Nell: The Beefies didn’t help either.

Me: They rarely do.

Nell: Throwing mackerel into the prawn cocktail.

Me: Is that what Manuel made for dinner?

Nell: Yes. Apparently crabs love prawns.

Me: I know they go well together in a seafood platter.

Nell: That’s an extremely insensitive remark.

Me: Yes. I wasn’t thinking.

Nell: I’m not sure there’s going to be a second date.

Me: Oh dear. What a shame.

Nell: I don’t think a crustacean is the right fit for Manuel. He’d be better off with a nice young squid.

Me: Or another octopus?

Nell: Exactly.

Me: Preferably from Barcelona too.

Nell: I think you might be asking too much. Spanish speaking would do.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


First Advent

Me: It’s First Advent. Only 3 weeks to Christmas.

Nell: Those are lovely photos of David and myself.

Me: I’ve been meaning to share them with everyone for quite some time.

Nell: Where’s the Christmas tree and what about the decorations?

Me: Kev and I decided to delay getting the tree until after the photographer has been because otherwise all the photos of the house will have Christmas in them.

Nell: What’s wrong with that?

Me: If it doesn’t sell quickly it will look wrong.

Nell: Our house could never look wrong.

Me: You know what I mean. But we’re having the four advent candles because that’s an important part of my German tradition.

Nell: And Herr Hoffmann’s.

Me: Exactly. This is his first Christmas away from home.

Nell: And we’re having roast beef with all the trimmings for Sunday lunch because that’s what Poppy wants us to do.

Me: How is she?

Nell: She says the Guardians are a little too fond of Christmas carols for her liking.

Me: I love a good carol.

Nell: Personally, I enjoy listening to Michael Bouvier.

Me: Don’t you mean Michael Bublé? The Canadian crooner.

Nell: No. I mean Michael Bouvier des Flandres the Belgian herding dog.

Me: Oh, I see. I wish I could talk to Poppy. I miss her so much.

Nell: You can. She’s usually listening.

Me: As for my sister Alex. How are we going to manage Christmas without her? It’s heartbreaking.

Nell: I know it is.

Me: I’m so glad we three sisters celebrated together last year. It seems unbelievable to think we lost her only a few months later.

Nell: She’s watching over you all with your mother and Mutley.

Me: Yes.

Nell: It’s time for Sunday Songs.

Me: Of course. Sorry.

Nell: No sorries. Not today.


Winter Walks and First Dates

Me: I’d like to begin by thanking people for their support. I appreciate every single cup of Earl Grey.

Nell: It really makes a difference to our little economy, so please continue to do so if you can.

Me: A sunny day is also something to be thankful for, even when it’s cold and frosty.

Nell: Our friends in the north wouldn’t call this cold.

Me: Probably not.

Nell: Harriet still swam in the river.

Me: She reminds me of an otter when her ears are back.

Nell: Nonsense.

Me: She blends in perfectly with her surroundings. Sometimes it’s hard to see her amongst the leaves.

Nell: That’s because she’s rolling around on her back.

Me: Dave does that too. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Herr Hoffmann wants to know if a pasta bake is acceptable for dinner this evening.

Me: Absolutely. I love pasta.

Nell: It can be eaten in bowls and cooked in the one dish which saves on washing up.

Me: Yes. I heard Manuel was going out so wouldn’t be helping in the kitchen.

Nell: He has an assignation.

Me: What?

Nell: He’s going on a date.

Me: How exciting. Who’s the lucky octopus?

Nell: Barbara from Brixham and she’s a crab.

Me: How did they meet?

Nell: Manuel was out swimming and got his tentacles caught in her claws.

Me: How romantic.

Nell: I think it sounds rather painful.

Me: Was it love at first sight?

Nell: I have no idea but they’ve been texting ever since.

Me: I hope they have a lovely evening.

Nell: Princess has offered the use of her pool.

Me: How kind, although it’s going to take Barbara an awfully long time to walk here. Sideways.

Nell: Manuel has organised a taxi. Do keep up.

Me: Of course. Sorry.


Snow Watching

Me: Welcome to December.

Nell: Thank you.

Me: Hard to believe it’s the last one in this house.

Nell: All the more reason to make it a special one.

Me: You’re right. The puppies are going to miss this window. We had a wonderful time snow watching yesterday.

Nell: There will be other windows and more snow, no doubt.

Me: It was the pretty kind of snow that just falls and doesn’t settle.

Nell: My favourite kind. Less cold under paw.

Me: When I lived in Berlin I loved waking up to a magical world after snow had fallen over night.

Nell: Until you had to scrape the snow off your car.

Me: Alright, spoilsport.

Nell: So, today is the 1st December and you know what that means.

Me: Opening the first window of the advent calendar?

Nell: Sharing the link to where people can support your writing by buying you a cup of Earl Grey.

Me: I don’t like to ask.

Nell: You post a story every single day.

Me: I know.

Nell: Well, go on then. Share it.

Me: It’s https://www.buymeacoffee.com/saramartin.

Nell: Good.

Me: I hope they know how much I appreciate their support.

Nell: They do. Now, you’ll have noticed breakfast is a little makeshift today. Nothing hot, except tea of course.

Me: No boiled eggs, or bacon?

Nell: You sound like David. You can manage a few days without a hot breakfast.

Me: I can, but I’m not sure about Dave. Why?

Nell: Kev is painting the kitchen with Ron Gilbert and his team.

Me: Is that the Great Dane from Torquay?

Nell: Do you know any others?

Me: Someone once suggested Dave might have a bit of Great Dane in him.

Nell: David is a pedigree Labrador. He is Kennel Club registered.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Deep Discussions and Elephant Clouds

Me: A lovely run in the activity field was just what was needed.

Nell: Yes. It’s always a good opportunity for us all to stretch our legs.

Me: Dave was able to let his hair down.

Nell: David is not a Yorkshire Terrier.

Me: You know what I mean. He could really run around.

Nell: David saw an elephant cloud, by the way.

Me: Yes, I took a photo of it because the sky was so beautiful. Is that what you were discussing with Kev?

Nell: No.

Me: What were you talking about?

Nell: None of your business.

Me: Was it about Christmas?

Nell: Why would you say that?

Me: It’s not long until Christmas now.

Nell: It’s still a few weeks away.

Me: It was about my present, wasn’t it?

Nell: I thought we weren’t doing presents this year.

Me: We aren’t, but I know Kev will probably still get me something.

Nell: Rupert is organising soft scarves for everyone in their favourite colours.

Me: Dear Knitwear Wolf. So handsome and kind.

Nell: Herr Hoffmann suggested we make gingerbread animals.

Me: That’s very German of him. I don’t think it’s safe for dogs though.

Nell: That’s what I told him. Maybe bacon biscuits would be a better idea.

Me: Bacon biscuits?

Nell: Why not?

Me: I’d rather have Lebkuchen. I used to love the heart shaped ones covered in chocolate when I lived in Germany.

Nell: Maybe Herr Hoffmann will make you some. You never know.

Me: I need to know what you and Kev were really talking about.

Nell: Never you mind.

Me: But I do mind.

Nell: Patience is a virtue, possession of it rarer. Often found in Labradors but never found in Sara.

Me: That’s a bit harsh.

Nell: Prove me wrong then.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Nothing Stays The Same

Me: It was lovely to see Tony again, wasn’t it? We missed him while he was on holiday.

Nell: David didn’t need to throw himself at him.

Me: Tony doesn’t mind. He and Dave are best friends. Don’t forget they hadn’t seen each other for over a week.

Nell: Dorothy’s my best friend but a simple nod and a smile is more than sufficient as a greeting.

Me: You’re not Dave. He’s just a giant ball of emotion. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: He shocked the life out of Elliot the Gardener.

Me: I know he did. Elliot wasn’t expecting such a large animal.

Nell: Nobody does.

Me: Elliot’s done a good job of clearing the garden, hasn’t he?

Nell: Yes.

Me: There’s just some painting and de-cluttering to be done before the photographer comes and takes photos of the house and then it goes on the market.

Nell: I don’t like this at all.

Me: I know you don’t but there’s nothing to be done.

Nell: Tony isn’t happy about it either.

Me: Nobody is.

Nell: He won’t be our postman any longer when we move.

Me: He’ll still come and visit.

Nell: It’s not the same.

Me: No, it isn’t, but nothing ever does stay the same. We’ve learnt that over the last year.

Nell: Yes. You’re right and I need to stop being so negative. As long as we have each other all will be well.

Me: Exactly. The perfect house is out there waiting for us.

Nell: I thought you said you’d found it.

Me: We have, but we can’t buy it until our house sells so we have to hope nobody else does in the meantime.

Nell: This is an extremely stressful time for us all, isn’t it?

Me: I’m afraid it is. Sorry.