John is not happy

Nell: John came to see me this morning?

Me: John the Doberman who runs Starbarks?

Nell: Yes. Poppy’s fiancé. How many Johns do we know?

Me: I was just checking.

Nell: It seems someone saw Poppy holding paws with Tall Hollywoof in the cafe near the quay and now everyone is talking about it.

Me: No.

Nell: I suspect Dominic Simmons.

Me: Of what?

Nell: Meddling. His jewellers shop is near the cafe. We all know Dominic is a dreadful liar and in the pay of Stephen Seagull and the Beefies.

Me: We do.

Nell: Insipid skinny creature.

Me: I don’t think you like Dominic Simmons.

Nell: What would the Beefies gain from breaking up Poppy and John?

Me: A claw in the door?

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Actually, Nell, that was quite a good one.

Nell: Except that seagulls have webbed feet not claws. However, they might be hoping to take over Starbarks.

Me: What did you say to John?

Nell: I told him to take no notice of idle gossip and to tell Poppy what is being said.

Me: Good advice. How did it go with Sebastian, by the way?

Nell: He’s invited me to the yacht club for drinks.

Me: Are you going?

Nell: Perhaps. Did I just see a seagull fly past?

Me: They often do.

Nell: No, this wasn’t a local. It looked more like a Beefy. Find Poppy. There is something going on.

Me: I wonder what.

Nell: No, please don’t start wondering. Who knows where that will end.

Me: Yes, sorry.


Welcome back, Tony.

Nell: Well, David couldn’t have been more pleased to see Tony.

Me: I know. It made me feel quite emotional.

Nell: Antiques Roadshow makes you feel emotional.

Me: Dave was so happy. He saw Tony’s van and he rushed to welcome him.

Nell: We all did. Tony has been away far too long. The other postmen were very nice, of course.

Me: Yes, they were.

Nell: But they weren’t Tony.

Me: No.

Nell: Tony is like family.

Me: Yes. Are you coming with me to the hairdressers this afternoon? Only Doug was wondering.

Nell: Stop interfering. Doug and I are just friends. Anyway, I’m having tea with The Cat if you must know and the passing spaniel.

Me: What passing spaniel?

Nell: The one who called the RNLI. His name is Sebastian and he lives in Salcombe.

Me: Does he now? One of the yachting crowd?

Nell: Why are you looking at me like the dog who caught the biscuit?

Me: I’m not. Are any of the others coming to tea?

Nell: No, they are busy.

Me: Dave is never too busy for tea.

Nell: Mutley is in London, David has gone surfing, Harriet is out with Jim.

Me: And Poppy?

Nell: Poppy is having lunch with Tall Hollywoof. They are talking bread.

Me: Is he the one from Bake Off?

Nell: No. Where did you get that from? He’s the Giant Schnauzer who runs a bakery near Kingsbridge. Piercing blue eyes. Excellent buns.

Me: Really? I hope John the Doberman isn’t jealous.

Nell: It’s only a friendly lunch. Poppy wants advice on a sourdough. Now stop interfering.

Me: Yes, sorry.


Going home

Nell: Keep your eyes on the road, please.

Me: I am.

Nell: James will wait for us to catch up if we lose him, so no need to speed.

Me: I’m not, Nell. Especially on these tiny lanes.

Nell: I did enjoy our walk across the fields yesterday.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Harriet was an excellent leader.

Me: She was.

Nell: That sheep was a bit rude though.

Me: Was it?

Nell: They can be very mouthy. Bla bla bla. I told it to be quiet and behave.

Me: Did it listen?

Nell: No.

Me: So it was just sheep and nasty.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: They come in all sheeps and sizes.

Nell: Do stop.

Me: I’ll quit wool I’m ahead.

Nell: Enough. Slow down and mind that tractor. You are worse than Jeremy Barkson.

Me: You mean Clarkson.

Nell: I do not. I mean that opinionated Bloodhound Jeremy Barkson. He does some kind of driving programme with a scruffy Border Terrier and a feisty little Yorkie.

Me: Not my kind of thing.

Nell: Mutley and David love it.

Nell: I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed.

Me: Me too.

Nell: Poppy is going to cook us a cottage pie for tea. Warm and comforting.

Me: Lovely. We can watch tv and eat it on our laps.

Nell: We might just do that.

Me: With a spoon.

Nell: No. That is taking it too far. You are not a child. Although I wonder sometimes.

Me: Yes, sorry.


Tired but safe

Nell: So there I am at the hotel enjoying my tea. And I see the RNLI rescue helicopter fly over.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Not an unusual sight for this time of year.

Me: No.

Nell: And then I happen to glance at the television in the hotel lounge.

Me: Yes.

Nell: And they are showing a live rescue.

Me: Yes.

Nell: And it’s David being airlifted from a rock.

Me: What?

Nell: Carrying Gladys in my handbag and The Cat on his back.

Me: No. What did you do?

Nell: I was in shock but Kev said it was just nearby so we jumped in the car and raced over.

Me: Did you find them?

Nell: Yes. We thanked the lifeguards and bundled them into the car.

Me: Oh my goodness.

Nell: We have taken them back to the hotel first for some hot sweet tea and scones. David has eaten three and is falling asleep.

Me: What happened?

Nell: They wanted to eat their picnic on a rock with a nice view. As they were climbing up Gladys fell out of my handbag and rolled on to a ledge. When David went to rescue her he got stuck.

Me: Poor darling Dave. I knew something had happened. How did they get help?

Nell: The Cat climbed up to the top and started singing “Fernando” and waving its sequinned raincoat.

Me: Why “Fernando”?

Nell: Because it went to see Mama Mia 2 with David recently and it loves Cher. Do keep up.

Me: Of course.

Nell: Anyway, a passing spaniel finally heard the singing. It saw The Cat’s shiny sequins and David and Gladys stuck on the rock and alerted the RNLI.

Me: Gosh. The Cat did well.

Nell: So I am the one who needs to apologise this time. I should have listened to you.

Me: It’s ok, Nell. I know I am a worrier.

Nell: Yes. David is safe and you will be able to cuddle him soon. A bowl of Poppy’s soup and a story by the camp fire tonight I think, and then early to bed.

Me: You’ve got quite a story to tell everyone.

Nell: No, I think I will leave that to you.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Don’t disturb my afternoon tea

Me: Nell, why did you take so long to answer your phone?

Nell: Kev and I are at the hotel and we are in the middle of afternoon tea. The sandwiches are delicious.

Me: But this is urgent.

Nell: Honestly, it was kind enough of Kev to come and whisk me away to civilisation for a few hours without you disturbing us. Can’t I be allowed to enjoy it in peace?

Me: No. Dave has gone missing.

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: Well, Dave decided to go hiking with Gladys and The Cat.

Nell: On their own? In this weather? What a dreadful idea. Why did you let him?

Me: He took a map and some of Poppy’s sandwiches. And a flask of tea I think. He said they wouldn’t be gone long.

Nell: I hope he is wearing his hat as the rain is really heavy.

Me: He is.

Nell: I’m surprised Gladys and The Cat agreed to go. They hate getting their hair wet.

Me: Don’t worry, Dave took Gladys in your handbag and The Cat has a sequinned raincoat.

Nell: Oh, well that’s alright then. How long have they been gone?

Me: A few hours. Jim and Harriet have set off to find them. Poppy is busy making soup for dinner.

Nell: Where is Mutley?

Me: He’s gone with James to get a new air bed. They are hoping some of the shops are open.

Nell: A few hours isn’t very long. I don’t know why you are worrying. We are in Devon It’s not like the time I went trekking in Nepal and was lost for days.

Me: I never knew you went trekking in Nepal.

Nell: I went with Marvellous Great Aunt Pam. We only made it to Base Camp in the end which was a little disappointing. The sherbets were ever so helpful.

Me: Don’t you mean Sherpas?

Nell: No. Marvellous Great Aunt Pam always carries a few sherbets with her. You know that.

Me: Yes, I forgot.

Nell: Anyway, my tea is getting cold and I would like to enjoy my scone while it’s still warm. David will turn up soon. Stop fussing.

Me: Yes, sorry.


At least Gladys is safe

Nell: It’s amazing how wet one can get. Did you enjoy the wind howling round the tent this morning?

Me: Not really.

Nell: It’s National Dog Day today, sometimes called Dog Appreciation Day.

Me: Is it? Happy National Dog Day everyone.

Nell: Yes. Never mind. This is certainly a different kind of Sunday.

Me: I agree.

Nell: No morning papers with a cup of Earl Grey.

Me: No.

Nell: Although there was something grey in my tin mug but I am past caring.

Me: Poppy cooked an excellent fry up.

Nell: She did. The rain added moisture.

Me: Yes.

Nell: I don’t think David should go anywhere near our tent again. It’s not much, but it’s home.

Me: I agree.

Nell: Yes. As we were walking back from the beach I did think to myself that one of the tents looked a little saggy.

Me: Yes.

Nell: And I even remarked that it looked a lot like ours with the middle caved in.

Me: You did.

Nell: And indeed it was ours with the middle caved in.

Me: It was.

Nell: So it seems David was playing catch with Poppy over our tent. In the rain.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Using Gladys as a ball.

Me: She didn’t mind.

Nell: And he slipped and fell.

Me: Yes, but he saved Gladys.

Nell: Well, that’s alright then.

Me: And Jim put the tent back up.

Nell: Yes, he did. Thank goodness for Jim. And everything will dry eventually.

Me: So all’s well that ends well, really.

Nell: Except that David burst the air bed.

Me: He did what?

Nell: But at least Gladys is safe and warm in my handbag. We should be thankful for that.

Me: Yes, sorry.

Book · Summer

The best laid plans

Nell: I can’t believe I am sitting in a car with you.

Me: That’s not very kind.

Nell: And we are lost.

Me: We aren’t exactly lost, Nell. I just can’t see James and the others and I don’t have a signal.

Nell: Why did I ever agree to this?

Me: A few things went wrong but it will all be fine.

Nell: How did you forget it was a Bank Holiday weekend?

Me: To be fair we all forgot.

Nell: No caravans available, not even a Mongolian.

Me: Yurt.

Nell: Have you got wind?

Me: No.

Nell: Just tents. Mouldy old tents borrowed from the surfers and still damp from that Barkmaster festival.

Me: We will make it nice and cosy.

Nell: And sleeping bags. Me in a sleeping bag.

Me: Actually I packed your pillow and duvet.

Nell: You did?

Me: And Jim is lending us his double air bed.

Nell: Us?

Me: We are sharing. You often share with me when we go away.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Jim says it’s a lovely spot just near the river so you can swim whenever you like. We’ll have barbecues and sing around the camp fire.

Nell: David didn’t bring his guitar did he?

Me: He did.

Nell: But he didn’t bring The Cat?

Me: He did.

Nell: If I open my handbag and find Gladys or Rita I’m going home.

Me: I’d keep it shut then.

Nell: Unbelievable.

Me: Sorry.


Jim has a solution

Nell: Well, thank goodness for Jim.

Me: Yes. He’s very sensible isn’t he?

Nell: I think his idea is excellent. Apparently there is a suitable place not too far away run by a cousin of his with a variety of options.

Me: Perfect.

Nell: Mutley and I can stay in a caravan with en suite facilities.

Me: Good.

Nell: Harriet and Poppy can glamp in one of those Mongolians.

Me: Yurts.

Nell: Bless you. And Jim and David can go back to nature and camp in a tent.

Me: What about me?

Nell: What about you?

Me: Am I caravanning, glamping, or camping?

Nell: I would have thought the answer was obvious.

Me: I’m in a tent, aren’t I? On my own, miles from anyone. No phone, no bed, no bath. Wild animals all around me.

Nell: In Devon? Calm down. You are sharing a caravan with me.

Me: Thank goodness.

Nell: You can’t possibly be left to your own devices. Your imagination would completely run away with you and then where would we be?

Me: Yes, sorry.


To camp or not to camp

Nell: Mutley is in two minds.

Me: What about?

Nell: Camping. At his age he says he prefers five star accommodation.

Me: I’m on his side.

Nell: Harriet is desperate for him to come. She’s upstairs now trying to persuade him. It all sounds a little too outdoorsy for me.

Me: Have you considered glamping?

Nell: The Cat already suggested it but I don’t do sequins.

Me: It’s not like that. Well, I suppose some of the gypsy caravans might have a few.

Nell: And I am not playing a tambourine.

Me: Of course not, but what about a Mongolian yurt, or a North American tipi?

Nell: I was thinking of staying in Devon, thank you.

Me: Maybe we should talk to Jim.

Nell: Yes, he’s a sensible chap. As long as I have pure Egyptian cotton bed linen I will be fine.

Me: I’m not sure that’s possible.

Nell: I suppose I can bring it with me.

Me: Yes.

Nell: I hope there is a good sized television. I don’t like to miss the local news.

Me: I’m not sure there will be television, or the internet, or even electricity.

Nell: I beg your pardon. You’ll be telling me there’s no bath next.

Me: Well, actually….

Nell: Enough. This is too much. We need a family meeting. I cannot be expected to live like Bear Growls. I am a labrador.

Me: Yes, sorry.


It’s a strange world

Me: Nell, have you got a moment?

Nell: I am enjoying the scenery.

Me: No, you aren’t.

Nell: If you must know I am keeping an eye on a very suspicious Border Terrier in a flat cap.

Me: Where?

Nell: Stop looking.

Me: Ok.

Nell: It’s the downside of being a celebrity I suppose.

Me: What is?

Nell: Stalking. David was mobbed by whippets when he went into Plymouth. He and The Cat went to pick up a few items from Pribark.

Me: How annoying.

Nell: They loved it. David gave an impromptu performance with a passing chihuahua. I wouldn’t be surprised if isn’t already on the internet.

Me: Gosh. We live in a strange world of friends who we’ve never met, don’t we?

Nell: We do.

Me: People share their ups and downs and even what they have for breakfast.

Nell: Yes, I quite enjoy talking to you about life over a pot of Earl Grey and some toast and marmalade.

Me: I mean on the internet.

Nell: I don’t do that.

Me: Yes, you do. We share our conversations every day.

Nell: We do?

Me: You know we do. People love you.

Nell: That’s extremely gratifying. Please pass on my thanks.

Me: You already have.

Nell: Don’t be silly. Anyway, on another note, what do you feel about camping?

Me: I’m not a fan.

Nell: Jim seems to think it would be just the ticket. A few days of quiet in the countryside.

Me: I can’t see you in a tent. You enjoy your home comforts too much.

Nell: You’ll enjoy it when you are there.

Me: What? Why am I included in camping but not the Royal Wedding, or Wimbledon?

Nell: “Yours is not to reason why. Yours is just to nod and sigh.”

Me: Yes, sorry.