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You will be fine

Me: Harriet has got her concerned face on.

Nell: Yes.

Me: I wonder what Dave has done now.

Nell: David has done nothing wrong for a pleasant change. He was marvellous several times yesterday.

Me: I hope Harriet hasn’t had a row with Jim.

Nell: No. Harriet and Jim are fine. He was so impressed with Malcolm’s poncho that she is knitting him a winter scarf for when he is out in the fields.

Me: I wonder what’s troubling her then.

Nell: Actually, she is worried about you.

Me: Me?

Nell: Now, I know you don’t always live in the real world.

Me: That’s a bit harsh, Nell.

Nell: You get carried away and you forget things.

Me: I do?

Nell: So, I encourage you to write them down on the whiteboard, or the calendar.

Me: Yes.

Nell: I monitor the whiteboard and Harriet monitors the calendar.

Me: That’s kind of you.

Nell: And that’s why Harriet knows you are going to the dentist this morning.

Me: I am?

Nell: Yes.

Me: I don’t like the dentist.

Nell: We know. Nobody does. Kev has agreed to take you and Poppy will make you a lovely lunch on your return.

Me: I may not be able to eat, Nell, so it had better be soup.

Nell: You will be fine. It’s always the bit before that’s the worst. The apprehension.

Me: Except for dentists.

Nell: Enough doom and gloom. David has prepared an encouraging song and Harriet is offering extra cuddles. You will be fine.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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My money is on the flamingo

Nell: If David and Gladys appears in crowns and cloaks just ignore them.

Me: Why?

Nell: They’ve becomes addicted to that series Game of Bones.

Me: I think you mean Thrones.

Nell: Anyway, David stole Poppy’s sword and my winter cloak with the faux fur trim so he is in trouble.

Me: I like that cloak.

Nell: Yes, it is both warm and elegant. Gladys is wearing The Cat’s purple pashmina and a very small crown.

Me: Where did they get the crowns?

Nell: Ron Gilbert. He is over here to help with our Thanksgiving re-enactment and he had a couple of crowns in his props basket. He would do anything for Gladys, of course.

Me: I hope he doesn’t end up fighting a duel with Count Bingo. You know how smitten Bingo is with her.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Pistols at dawn on Bantham beach. I can see it all. Smoking guns. A wounded Great Dane and a triumphant flamingo.

Nell: Why do you think Count Bingo would win?

Me: He is in the foreign legion and there is way more of Ron Gilbert to shoot.

Nell: You have a point there.

Me: My money is definitely on the flamingo.

Nell: Enough. We are supposed to be concentrating on pilgrims not pistols.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Cooky and Pluto

Nell: Who is that?

Me: Her name is Cooky and she and her brother Pluto are working Guide Dogs. They travelled down on the train to Devon with me yesterday.

Nell: I hope you showed them your appreciation.

Me: I did. The whole three hours to be honest. You know Kev supports Guide Dogs anyway so it was lovely to meet them and their owners.

Nell: It is a wonderful cause and I am very proud of my fellow dogs for their tireless devotion to duty.

Me: Yes. Talking of duty, did I notice The Cat coming out of the kitchen wearing a plain white apron?

Nell: Yes. There has been a settlement out of court.

Me: Good.

Nell: The Cat may enter the kitchen but sequins are banned. Sequinned hats and coats are to be hung on hooks outside and white aprons and hats put on.

Me: Quite right.

Nell: Poppy is happy to use edible glitter now and again and she and Malcolm are making a sparkling pink celebration cake for this afternoon’s tea.

Me: Perfect. Did that whippet get the job?

Nell: It did. David was in charge of its training but when I discovered it wearing tap shoes and a top hat I put a stop to it and Harriet took over.

Me: I’m glad everyone is friends again.

Nell: Friends again? We are not at primary school. Did I just see David entering the kitchen with my handbag?

Me: Yes.

Nell: It’s Gladys flaunting the rules again. I know she was wearing a sequinned headdress the last time I saw her. Run and get the handbag before Poppy sees it.

Me: Do I have to put on chef’s whites?

Nell: No. you aren’t the one wearing sequins. Good grief.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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David is distraught

Me: How is everything at home?

Nell: You has better get back here soon. David is distraught. Harriet is doing her best but he is inconsolable. He only ate a small breakfast.

Me: Why? Didn’t you tell him I’m coming home today?

Nell: It’s not you. It’s the falling out between Poppy and The Cat.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: They are only communicating by email.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: They simply won’t compromise and David is caught in the middle. Poppy says sequins have no place in the kitchen and The Cat says life without sequins isn’t life at all.

Me: That’s a little dramatic.

Nell: We’ve had to take it to court. Mutley will preside. Each party will present their case calling on an expert witness and then the jury will vote.

Me: Who are the expert witnesses?

Nell: Gladys is supporting The Cat, as David cannot be expected to speak out against Poppy even though we all know sequins are his thing.

Me: A wise decision and Poppy’s witness?

Nell: Young Malcolm. He recently completed his Health and Safety certificate and is aware of the dangers of non edible decorations in the kitchen.

Me: The jury are going to have a difficult task. Who are they?

Nell: Fortunately, the Dartmouth dachshunds have stepped up.

Me: I wish it hadn’t come to this.

Nell: Don’t we all? Harriet is attempting a last minute mediation so we can only hope. Anyway, how was the wedding?

Me: Absolutely lovely. The bride looked beautiful. Excellent company and delicious food and drink.

Nell: Did you dance?

Me: Yes, I was with the Irish and they certainly know how to party.

Nell: Good grief. You didn’t attempt that fast leg dance I hope. Only with your little legs it doesn’t bear thinking about.

Me: No. Don’t worry.

Nell: May I suggest you leave a little earlier as you took a long time crossing London and you don’t want to miss your connection?

Me: Yes. I already thought I would.

Nell: Good. Kev and I will be there to collect you at the station.

Me: If you are wearing sequins I will know The Cat has won.

Nell: The Cat isn’t going to win. You know it and I know it. Poppy is family and she is right.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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No cats in the kitchen

Nell: That’s me at the station yesterday.

Me: Yes. It’s a lovely photo.

Nell: I was letting Kev know that I would be there for him during this difficult time.

Me: I’m coming home tomorrow you know.

Nell: Yes. Anyway, we decided against lunch at the Garden Centre and drove straight home.

Me: Why?

Nell: We felt the twins needed us. David had three biscuits before he could even think of being marvellous and to be honest he was only mildly fabulous.

Me: What about Harriet?

Nell: Jim the Farm Dog came over with some flowers which cheered her up and then we had Malcolm’s fitting.

Me: For his winter jumper?

Nell: Yes. It’s more of a poncho if you ask me. No arms to speak of.

Me: Does he like it?

Nell: He loves it but The Cat is insisting on sequins.

Me: I don’t think Malcolm is the sequins type.

Nell: Poppy put a stop to it. She said there were to be no sequins in her kitchen and no cats.

Me: Gosh!

Nell: Well, that put the dog amongst the sheep I can tell you.

Me: Don’t you mean the cat amongst the pigeons?

Nell: No. Poppy said no cats. Sometimes I think you aren’t listening to me at all.

Me: What did The Cat say to that?

Nell: It flounced out. It didn’t even finish its crumpet and they were delicious. So what are you doing?

Me: I’m actually enjoying a rather nice breakfast before I go and join the others to go to the wedding.

Nell: Bacon and eggs no doubt. I know you go a little wild when you are away.

Me: You must tell Tony the postman that the eggs weren’t anywhere near as good as the ones from his chickens.

Nell: As I always say: “One cannot expect Devon eggs when one is not in Devon.”

Me: True.

Nell: Much as I would love to chat to you all day I must go as I have a whippet waiting.

Me: A whippet?

Nell: Yes. We are interviewing for the cafe. David can tap dance but his waiting skills leave much to be desired and those shoes make a dreadful noise.

Me: I see.

Nell: Now, go and get ready and give the bride and groom my love. Don’t forget your hanky as you know you get emotional.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Off gallivanting again?

Nell: Did I just hear you correctly?

Me: Yes. I’m going to Liv and Ben’s wedding in Essex.

Nell: The parents of little Lily?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Without me?

Me: It’s only for a few days.

Nell: How many more times are you going to go off gallivanting all over the country leaving me to deal with the chaos you leave behind?

Me: That’s a bit harsh, Nell.

Nell: David is inconsolable for a while after you leave.

Me: How long is a while?

Nell: At least two biscuits.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: He isn’t really marvellous until you come back.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: And Harriet just goes very quiet.

Me: Harriet is quiet.

Nell: This is a different kind of quiet. A sad, abandoned one. Fortunately she is busy knitting Malcolm a winter jumper.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Well, I suppose there is no point in dwelling on it. I shall ask Poppy and Malcolm to cook us all something really special like Swedish meatballs.

Me: But they are my favourite.

Nell: You should have thought of that before.

Me: I didn’t know about it before.

Nell: A lame excuse. You can’t go to a wedding and have Swedish meatballs. It’s either-or.

Me: What rubbish.

Nell: A little less attitude, please. Now do try and behave and make sure you wear layers.

Me: Yes.

Nell: I suppose Poppy could make you a small picnic again. A few scones and some sandwiches. Try not to share it with everyone in your carriage. Have you finished packing?

Me: Nearly.

Nell: I’ll organise some Earl Grey and a boiled egg and soldiers. You need a good breakfast before you leave.

Me: I will miss you all, Nell. You know I would take you with me if I could.

Nell: I know. Make sure you enjoy yourself and give the happy couple our love. I expect you suited and booted downstairs shortly so don’t dilly dally.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Labrador yoga

Me: Why does Harriet do that?

Nell: Do what?

Me: Rest her bottom on one step and legs on another.

Nell: It’s Labrador yoga.

Me: Rubbish.

Nell: Excuse me? Have you never heard of the upward dog waiting?

Me: You mean downward dog, don’t you?

Nell: I do not. Harriet’s rear end is clearly higher and her legs are beautifully stretched. Notice her head is turned to the side.

Me: I know you are teasing me.

Nell: I am not. You can ask anyone from our yoga class.

Me: Yoga class?

Nell: Yes. David’s friend AJ, the gardening Afghan, runs a weekly class down by the harbour. We all go, except for Malcolm. He’s not very bendy.

Me: No. I don’t expect he is.

Nell: In the summer we exercise on the beach but it’s getting a little cold. Mavis has started wearing leg warmers.

Me: Do I know Mavis?

Nell: She’s a Pyrenean Mountain Dog. We met at the vets during one of those awful weigh ins.

Me: I wouldn’t have thought it was Mutley’s thing.

Nell: He takes it very gently nowadays. Poppy is at instructor level, of course, and runs the classes if AJ has a problem with his marrows.

Me: Why his marrows?

Nell: That was just an example of a vegetable. It might be carrots. Honestly, do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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I blame you for this

Nell: Is David still asleep?

Me: Yes.

Nell: I blame you for this.

Me: The puppies were scared of the thunder and lightning.

Nell: I’ve told you repeatedly that you must remain calm and disinterested.

Me: I know, but you and Kev were at the pub and it was ever so loud.

Nell: So you thought a storm dance would help?

Me: I thought it would be a distraction. Dave threw himself into it and so did The Cat.

Nell: Kev and I couldn’t believe it when we got back.

Me: I don’t know where all the feathers came from, or the drums, to be honest.

Nell: How did the dancing chihuahuas get here?

Me: They arrived on a bus.

Nell: Kev and I haven’t been to the pub in weeks. We go for a quiet pint and come back to find we are in the middle of a samba.

Me: Come on, Nell. I saw you enjoying Poppy’s tacos.

Nell: They were good. I just wish Gladys hadn’t kept shouting “Tequila”. My head hurts.

Me: At least nobody was worried about the storm.

Nell: Nobody was worried about anything. I’ve been stumbling over sleeping chihuahuas all morning.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Monday morning attitude

Nell: David is doing that thing again.

Me: What thing?

Nell: The Monday morning attitude.

Me: I don’t know what you mean.

Nell: He holds the bone in the corner of his mouth and gives you an “Are you looking at me?” stare.

Me: Let me see. You’re right. It’s awfully good, isn’t it?

Nell: It is inappropriate behaviour for a Monday morning. It’s Mutley’s fault.

Me: Why?

Nell: They were watching “The Godfather Part II” again last night. You know how David loves it.

Me: As long as he doesn’t start calling himself Michael.

Nell: What on earth are you talking about?

Me: Michael Corleone.

Nell: It’s Michael Collie-Only. He is one of the Kingsbridge Collies and he runs the bookshop down by the harbour. Do get it right. Why David should want to be called after him, though, is quite beyond me.

Me: Never mind.

Nell: Now Poppy has had an excellent idea.

Me: Good.

Nell: We have a lot of American friends so she thought we could celebrate Thanksgiving this year.

Me: What a lovely idea. Will there be a turkey?

Nell: Of course there will be. Don’t be such a goose. There will also be pumpkin pie.

Me: Do I have to have marshmallows on my turkey?

Nell: I don’t think everyone does that but we will ask our friends for advice. David and Gladys will be performing but only if he drops that ridiculous gangster look.

Me: I think it suits him. Very Al Pacino.

Nell: It’s Al Pawcino. What is the matter with you today?

Me: Sorry.

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The Flamingo Ball

Nell: Well, Mutley certainly enjoyed himself.

Me: He did. Count Bingo had everyone on the dance floor.

Nell: I wasn’t expecting the conga.

Me: No. Those flamingos are awfully tall.

Nell: Yes. Gladys got tangled up in their legs so David put her on his back. I just held on to their feathers.

Me: I loved Dave and Sally’s duet.

Nell: Yes. “Something Stupid” is a favourite of mine. Sally looked lovely in white.

Me: And then there was Charlie.

Nell: Indeed, there was.

Me: Walking into the ballroom and on to the stage.

Nell: Yes.

Me: Impossibly handsome in his DJ and carrying a red rose.

Nell: Yes.

Me: And singing “I’ve got you under my skin”.

Nell: It was a special moment.

Me: There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Nell: The Cat didn’t need to blow its nose quite so loudly though.

Me: It did rather ruin the atmosphere.

Nell: It ruined that whippet’s gown. You don’t just use someone as a handkerchief.

Me: That was a little rude.

Nell: I think Count Bingo is rather smitten with Gladys.

Me: Why?

Nell: He danced with her all evening and when that Beefy tried to step in he said: “On your bike, Gull.”

Me: You don’t expect a Frenchman to say that, do you?

Nell: I think it’s Mutley’s influence. He and Bingo have been spending time at the golf club together.

Me: So are you spending today with Charlie?

Nell: Yes. We thought a walk on the beach and a quiet lunch with you all. Today is a day of remembrance.

Me: “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.”

Nell: Always.

Me: Yes. Always.