Happy Birthday Shannon

Me: It’s Shannon’s birthday today. Look how cold and snowy it is in Toronto.

Nell: They are lovely photos.

Me: Happy Birthday Shannon. Let’s hope we finally get to see each other again soon. It’s been far too long.

Nell: Young Marvin certainly seems to be wrapped up warmly.

Me: Yes, it is wonderful to see him now when you think of what a difficult start in life he had.

Nell: Chris and Shannon changed his world when they rescued him.

Me: Darling Marv.

Nell: Now, Marvin and I have been working hard on a little poem for Shannon.

Me: How lovely.

Nell: Would you like to hear it?

Me: Very much.

Nell: ‘Hi, this is Marvin calling from Toronto

And a life full of cuddles and love and snow.’

Me: There’s plenty of all of those.

Nell: May I continue?

Me: Of course.

Nell: ‘The reason for my happiness is quite clear to me,

It’s down to Dad Chris and Shannon my mommy.’

Me: Isn’t it mummy?

Nell: Marvin is from North America. It is mom not mum there.

Me: Oh yes.

Nell: ‘What I want to say now,

Is both heartfelt and true,

Happy Birthday Mommy Shannon

I truly love you.

You’re the sweetest of moms there ever could be.

You’re my safe place to go.

You mean everything to me.

So have a wonderful birthday

Full of laughter and joy

And cuddles from Chris

And Marvin, your boy.’

Me: What a sweet poem. I’m sure Shannon will love it.

Nell: Yes, Marvin worked very hard on getting it just right for her.

Me: It’s all about love and family, isn’t it?

Nell: Yes, it is. And even if they are far away we always carry them with us in our hearts. So, no tears.

Me: Yes. Sorry.



Me: What’s going on?

Nell: The puppies are auditioning for the role of Protectors.

Me: Protectors?

Nell: Yes, Protectors of Kev after his operation. He will need constant surveillance so it’s all paws on deck.

Me: Dave seems to be auditioning without Kev being there at all.

Nell: Yes. I thought I would start him off slowly with some cushions but look at him. Half on the sofa and half off.

Me: I think he’s just trying to be careful, Nell. It’s actually quite a good try.

Nell: No, it isn’t. Look at him climbing right on top of Kev.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. At least he made him laugh.

Nell: I’m not sure he’s supposed to laugh.

Me: You’re right. I’d forgotten. I know Harriet is just resting her head on him but even that might be a little too much at first.

Nell: They are supposed to stay near and not crowd. They have clear instructions. I don’t know why they can’t just follow them.

Me: I’m afraid the puppies are natural snugglers.

Nell: This is going to be a job for the lighter animals.

Me: Do you mean Gladys?

Nell: Are you insane? We don’t want Kev being used as a trampoline. You’ll be suggesting the llamas next.

Me: I wouldn’t be that silly, although they are wearing pyjamas which is rather apt. What about Malcolm?

Nell: Malcolm has lovely manners so he’s a definite possible.

Me: I know Princess is eager to help.

Nell: We can’t have her clapping at Kev all day. He’ll never get any rest.

Me: It’s a seal thing.

Nell: This is a job for Henry and Horst.

Me: What about you?

Nell: I’m Chief Protector of course. I shan’t be leaving his side. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Happy Birthday Tony

Me: It’s Tony the Postman’s birthday today so I thought we should all wish him a very Happy Birthday.

Nell: Yes, Happy Birthday Tony. We would be doing this in person, of course, if he wasn’t away on holiday.

Me: Everybody needs a holiday, Nell. Tony works very hard. He will be back soon.

Nell: Toby is having a holiday with Tony and Sue’s daughter and family while they are away.

Me: Is he?

Nell: Yes, he was telling David about it on WoofsApp.

Me: I hope he’s behaving himself. Tony says he can be a bit of a scallywag. Stealing Sue’s knitting and Tony’s socks.

Nell: I’m afraid he may have inherited that from his Uncle David along with his good looks. David does have a penchant for socks.

Me: He looks an awful lot like Dave, doesn’t he? Sweet boy.

Nell: This is a week of birthdays.

Me: Yes, it is.

Nell: Tony’s today, Shannon’s birthday on Friday and yours on Sunday.

Me: I’m not really going to be celebrating my birthday this year, Nell.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: I’m afraid Kev has to go into hospital on Sunday for another operation so I will driving to and fro to Plymouth.

Nell: Oh dear.

Me: We are hoping he can come home the same day but I will need to look after him, so no partying.

Nell: There can still be cake, you know.

Me: Yes.

Nell: And cuddles.

Me: That would be nice.

Nell: Poppy will cook you something tasty.

Me: I’m not sure Kev will be hungry.

Nell: You have to eat.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Why didn’t you tell me about this before?

Me: I didn’t want to worry you.

Nell: That’s what I’m here for. You and me. Always. Remember?

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Dave is feeling a little low

Me: Manuel says Dave refused a second pancake.

Nell: He didn’t want any cereal either.

Me: Maybe he’s coming down with something after all the excitement of the last week?

Nell: No, it’s because of Sally.

Me: Sally?

Nell: Yes. She’s going back to London.

Me: Oh dear. Why?

Nell: Her mission was successful. The cubs are safe. In fact Beauregard is taking Tigerlily home to his brother today.

Me: Roary will miss her.

Nell: Yes, he will. Fortunately, he has Oliver to play with.

Me: Is Oliver happy about that? Only opossums don’t usually have lions as playmates.

Nell: Oliver has a tiger as a best friend. I’m sure he can deal with a lion cub.

Me: I expect Mrs King is keeping an eye on everything.

Nell: She certainly is. She’s not letting Roary out of her sight.

Me: What about Lionel King and the rooks?

Nell: The Royal Owl Force are continuing to monitor their activities.

Me: My poor Big Brave Beautiful Boy. He’s going to miss Sally dreadfully.

Nell: Yes. Long distance relationships aren’t easy.

Me: Have you ever had one?

Nell: There was a rather attractive Irish Wolfhound from Belfast I dated for a while in my youth, but it never really worked.

Me: Too far away?

Nell: Too hairy. I’m not keen on beards.

Me: I see.

Nell: Talking of hairy, my friend Dorothy said two rather unkempt bears have been spotted on Dartmoor.

Me: Gosh. I didn’t know there were wild bears roaming around.

Nell: They aren’t wild. They’ve got rucksacks on their backs and good sturdy boots.

Me: Are bears even allowed on Dartmoor?

Nell: Of course. Well behaved walkers are always welcome.

Me: I’m going to call them the Beary Hikers. See what I did there?

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Sorry.


Happiness is

Me: Happiness is an interesting thing, isn’t it?

Nell: Here we go.

Me: You love to go down to the beach.

Nell: Yes, I do.

Me: But it’s a controlled sort of happiness.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: A gentle amble, sand under your paws, sniff the seaweed sort of feeling.

Nell: Yes, I suppose it is.

Me: You could just as easily be by the river. In fact I think you enjoy paddling in the river more.

Nell: I like the fact that I can cool my paws while drinking the cool, clear water.

Me: And our river walk is near the Garden Centre so there’s usually time for tea and a slice of cake.

Nell: Life is always better with cake.

Me: For Harriet going to the beach is her absolute heaven. It’s an ears back, paw raised, big smile happiness.

Nell: Yes.

Me: It’s a dashing into the sea, chasing the Beefies, surfing the waves kind of joy.

Nell: Harriet certainly loves the sea.

Me: It’s like her home. She sings all the way there.

Nell: I wish she wouldn’t do that.

Me: It is a little screechy.

Nell: And David doesn’t have to join in.

Me: My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy sort of hums. It’s adorable.

Nell: If you say so.

Me: I’m sure Harriet is really a merdog.

Nell: There’s no such thing.

Me: You don’t know that.

Nell: I most certainly do. Stop getting carried away.

Me: I bet Arctic Bob has seen a few merdogs in his time as a travelling walrus.

Nell: Don’t go bothering Arctic Bob with your nonsense. He’s enjoying a mackerel breakfast.

Me: A mackerel breakfast is probably Arctic Bob’s idea of happiness.

Nell: Only if he’s allowed to eat it in peace.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Home Again

Me: Look at my Big Brave Beautiful Boy enjoying special cuddles with Kev.

Nell: David has been through an extremely traumatic time.

Me: It’s wonderful to be home again. Where are Henry and Horst?

Nell: Enjoying a crisp leaf salad in the kitchen with Poppy. Richly deserved.

Me: They’re a pair of superheroes. Is the hypnotised Beefy still here?

Nell: No. Henry and Horst took George out of his trance as soon as he dropped them home. He won’t remember a thing.

Me: Do we know he’s called George, or did you just make that up?

Nell: Excuse me? I think you’ll find I am anchored in reality. Unlike some. George introduced himself to Henry and Horst when they parachuted onto him.

Me: How polite.

Nell: Yes, they said he has impeccable manners.

Me: Well, George was certainly a great help escorting us down to the sea tractor. None of the rooks questioned a Beefy.

Nell: What about Lionel?

Me: We waited behind a walrus until he’d gone.

Nell: Did you say walrus?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Was it Arctic Bob?

Me: No. I think it was a tourist. It was carrying a map.

Nell: Fair enough.

Me: It was lovely to see Knitwear Wolf waiting for us on his motorbike.

Nell: Did you ride in the sidecar?

Me: I did. Dave sat behind Rupert. How are the darling cubs?

Nell: They’ve been staying up in the treehouse with Beauregard and Mrs King since they got back but they’re allowed to join in Sunday Songs today.

Me: I hope they’re allowed some of Poppy’s roast dinner later.

Nell: Of course. We shall all dine together to celebrate everyone’s safe return.

Me: I quite enjoyed playing a famous author.

Nell: Well, keep writing then and you may become one.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


You’re really not going to believe this.

Nell: I’m down on our beach. Beefy footprints everywhere as usual. Any news?

Me: You’re not going to believe this.

Nell: Go on.

Me: Just now there was a knock on our door.

Nell: Did you open it?

Me: No, because we’re locked in.

Nell: Oh yes.

Me: I said, ‘I’m a famous author with a giant singing labrador and we are locked in. Could you open the door?’

Nell: Why all the extra information?

Me: I’m undercover, Nell. They replied, ‘Your room can only be locked from the inside, madam. Kindly open your balcony door and I’ll fly round and open it for you.’

Nell: Wait a minute. You locked yourselves in?

Me: The rooks told us to.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Anyway, the next moment a Beefy flew in. And that isn’t even the strange part.

Nell: It isn’t?

Me: It had really heavy eyebrows.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: And it was smiling.

Nell: Have you been sampling the mini bar again?

Me: No. Guess what happened next.

Nell: I’d rather not.

Me: The eyebrows fell off and it was Henry and Horst.

Nell: Really?

Me: Yes. When Dave threw his hat in the air they activated their parachutes.

Nell: Their what?

Me: They always wear them when they are on manoeuvres. Anyway, they floated down and landed on a Beefy.

Nell: As one does.

Me: Now, unbeknownst to most.

Nell: Good word.

Me: Thank you. Henry and Horst are hypnotists. Learnt from their time with The Great Mutliano.

Nell: Of course.

Me: So they whispered in the Beefy’s ears and to cut a long story short it’s helping us escape.

Nell: Well, you’d better get a move on because Lionel King has just been spotted crossing to the island on the sea tractor.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


To the Rescue

Me: I’ve got good news and bad news again.

Nell: Start with the good news.

Me: When Dave and I got to the Agatha Christie suite the rooks were a bit sceptical at first.

Nell: Understandably.

Me: Although I had my knitting and Dave was wearing his top hat so they recognised us.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: After a few songs and a knit one pearl one, or two, they finally let us in and we admired the view.

Nell: Good.

Me: The suite is vast with several bedrooms but I knew where the cubs were because of the growling.

Nell: Well done.

Me: While Dave invited them onto the balcony for a couple of sea shanties he learned from Tony, I located the cubs and smuggled them out under my cloak.

Nell: Didn’t the rooks notice?

Me: No. I just waved goodbye at them in a confident and imperious sort of manner.

Nell: Did you run up the hill?

Me: The cubs did. I told them to lie low by the ruins and wait for the helicopter and went back to get Dave.

Nell: Poppy was on standby so they won’t have waited long. I’m expecting them back here at any moment. What’s the bad news?

Me: We probably shouldn’t have cheered.

Nell: Cheered?

Me: I might have yelled ‘Yes!’ when I saw the helicopter flying over and Dave threw his hat in the air.

Nell: But Henry and Horst were on the hat. Where are they?

Me: We don’t know because the rooks have locked us in our room until Lionel gets back.

Nell: You were supposed to leave as soon as you saw the helicopter. Now Henry and Horst are missing in action and you and David are imprisoned.

Me: At least the cubs are safe. Sorry.


The Plan

Nell: Why are you calling me so late? I’m watching University Challenge.

Me: I wanted to run through tomorrow’s plan to save the cubs again.

Nell: Lionel King has a meeting on the mainland so he will be off the island all morning.

Me: Who with?

Nell: You mean with whom and that’s not the point.

Me: No.

Nell: The cubs will be in the Agatha Christie suite guarded by rooks. You and David will go there and ask to be let in.

Me: What if they refuse?

Nell: You insist. You’re a famous author. You need to see where Agatha stayed.

Me: So I am famous?

Nell: This is just the role you are playing.

Me: Oh yes.

Nell: Once inside, David will distract the rooks with his singing while you find the cubs and smuggle them out under your cloak.

Me: I don’t have a cloak.

Nell: Yes, you do. Check in the wardrobe. The Cat sent one over.

Me: I forgot. Are you sure I can fit a tiger and a lion under it?

Nell: No, but you’ll have to find a way. Once you are out you must run to the top of the hill next to the ruins and leave the cubs there.

Me: Would a brisk walk do? I’m not much good at running.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: I don’t like the thought of leaving them there alone. It’s ever so cold at the moment and they are only babies.

Nell: They won’t be alone for long. Poppy will fly in with her helicopter and rescue them.

Me: What about me and Dave?

Nell: You have to pretend to help the rooks search for them.

Me: Can’t we go in the helicopter too?

Nell: You need to give Poppy time.

Me: Of course. Sorry.


Good News and Bad News

Nell: So, how was the soirée?

Me: I’ve got good news and bad news.

Nell: Go on.

Me: The good news is that Dave was a huge hit with the rooks.

Nell: Any particular reason why?

Me: They enjoyed the singing but it was mainly down to the pie.

Nell: Before we get to the pie, would you like to explain the singing, please? Only, I seem to remember you were asked to be discreet.

Me: I was ever so discreet. I just sat and knitted.

Nell: You don’t knit.

Me: I know but Miss Marple does so I thought it might be a good idea.

Nell: Good grief. Just tell me about the pie.

Me: Well, for someone unknown reason there was a Victorian theme going on.

Nell: I’m beginning to regret asking this.

Me: And the hotel decided to serve the old favourite of four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.

Nell: Don’t tell me David ate the blackbirds?

Me: No. He bit into the pie and released them all to tumultuous applause.

Nell: Especially from the blackbirds, I expect.

Me: Yes. They were only sitting in the pie but it was ever so cramped.

Nell: Dare I ask what the bad news is?

Me: I’m afraid we didn’t manage to take any photos in the ballroom. Only one of Dave in the garden, but it’s a good one.

Nell: Was Lionel King there?

Me: Yes, alone though. No sign of Roary or Tigerlily.

Nell: That’s where you are wrong. Sally’s plan worked. While you and David were acting as decoys Sally’s team managed to locate them.

Me: Where are they?

Nell: In the Agatha Christie suite and you are going to help us save them.

Me: I am?

Nell: You can do this.

Me: Yes. Sorry.