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Count your blessings

Me: I like that photo of Harriet.

Nell: Yes, she was enjoying the sunshine yesterday. We had an outside day as it was so warm.

Me: This time last year we were waiting for snow and the Beast from the East.

Nell: I remember, and this year people were in shorts and t shirts and even swimming in the sea.

Me: You swim in the sea all year.

Nell: I am a Labrador. We were made to swim.

Me: Like seals. You have seal eyes.

Nell: I wish you would stop comparing me to a seal. They are ungainly creatures.

Me: We are actually very lucky, Nell. I know it doesn’t feel like it with Charlie’s illness but it’s true.

Nell: Yes. Charlie was saying how much he appreciates all the love around him.

Me: Why are you frowning?

Nell: There is a rather large seagull hammering on the front door.

Me: What?

Nell: It looks extremely angry and it’s shouting.

Me: What is it saying?

Nell: “Malcolm Martin. I know you are in there. Where is my daughter?”

Me: Malcolm Martin sounds rather nice, doesn’t it?

Nell: You are missing the point. Malcolm is in danger. If I’m not mistaken that’s Stephen Seagull, the evil head of the Beefies.

Me: What? You mean Susan is a Beefy?

Nell: I don’t know, but her real father certainly is. Run and warn Malcolm. I will deal with this. I’m not going to let some bolshie Beefy ruin my day.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Let’s write to Emma

Me: We received a message today from a nice lady called Jane Walsh about a little girl called Emma Martens.

Nell: Yes. Emma is 7 years old and terminally ill. She adores dogs and it would give her great comfort to hear from your dogs either by email, or as a letter and preferably with a photo and/or video.

Me: So all you wonderful dog lovers out there could you get your dogs to contact Emma?

Nell: Her address is:

Emma Mertens

P.O Box 230

Hartland, WI 53029

USA

Me: Or by email: emmalovesdogs7@gmail.com

Nell: Good. Everyone knows now so let’s get writing to Emma. No dawdling. She needs us.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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What a surprise

Me: Where is Poppy?

Nell: Enjoying a little quiet in the sunshine.

Me: After yesterday’s excitement she probably needs it. Tell me what happened again.

Nell: It all started really well. Harriet had printed out recipe cards and people were gathering to enjoy a macaron, or a pasty and get their recipe signed. Charlie was in a comfortable chair by reception so he could chat to the customers.

Me: Was David watching discreetly?

Nell: If tap dancing in a top hat and tails is discreet then yes, he was.

Me: He’s an awfully good dancer.

Nell: That’s what Charlie said. Anyway, suddenly there was a kerfuffle at the door and these three floozies sauntered in.

Me: Floozies? That’s a bit harsh.

Nell: Yes, painted claws, false eyelashes and more bling than The Cat at Christmas.

Me: Gosh. Who were they?

Nell: The Kardashandrun sisters. Kitten, Katney and Klawy. Painted hussies with fluffy tails. I mean they can’t even spell.

Me: Goodness me.

Nell: They barged past The Cat, knocking over Gladys just as she was making her entrance.

Me: How rude.

Nell: Yes. They were making a beeline for Malcolm when Susan stepped in.

Me: How awfully brave for a small seagull. What did Susan say?

Nell: “Would you mind joining the queue, please?” Well, that stopped them in their tracks.

Me: What did they say?

Nell: “Of course, Sweetie, anything for Malcolm and his marvellous macarons.”

Me: What a surprise.

Nell: Quite. It seems underneath that somewhat vulgar exterior they are actually quite approachable. Gladys got on famously with them, of course.

Me: She did?

Nell: Yes. Kitten apologised for knocking her over and complimented her on her hair. They loved her dancing and were charmed by David.

Me: Are they the secret admirers then?

Nell: Yes. But Kitten was only ever interested in Malcolm’s macarons. She wants them for their next party and now that he and Susan are engaged they have invited us all to celebrate with them.

Me: Wait a minute. Malcolm is engaged?

Nell: Yes. He proposed on one leg. It’s a flamingo thing.

Me: I never knew.

Nell: Everyone knows that. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Smiling again

Me: It’s good to see you smiling again.

Nell: Yes. The swim was delightful. Charlie was right.

Me: Being by the sea always helps to give me perspective. It reminds me I am just a tiny piece of a huge puzzle.

Nell: Here we go. Talking of puzzles, Charlie and The Cat are setting a trap for Malcolm’s admirer.

Me: How exciting.

Nell: It’s Cornish Pasty Week and Malcolm is going to do a recipe signing.

Me: Where? This is Devon, not Cornwall and Malcolm doesn’t like pasties.

Nell: At the cafe with Poppy. The Cat is calling it Macarons with Malcolm and Pasties with Poppy.

Me: It’s not exactly zippy.

Nell: Never mind. Poppy is delighted because she has a new range of pasties she can try out on customers.

Me: Good idea.

Nell: Charlie will engage visitors in conversation and The Cat will take photos. Harriet will make notes and David will watch discreetly.

Me: But Malcolm is shy.

Nell: Susan will be with him. And here is the thing. She will be wearing a sparkling ankle ring.

Me: Hang on a minute. Do seagulls even have ankles? You didn’t tell me they were engaged.

Nell: They aren’t. It’s far too early in their relationship but the secret admirer doesn’t know that. And of course seagulls have ankles. Everyone knows that.

Me: I knew flamingos had knees.

Nell: Charlie thinks the secret admirer will definitely give themselves away and even if they don’t, it will all be tremendous fun. Mutley will play the piano and Gladys will perform a contemporary dance.

Me: Yes. And who can resist a fresh pasty?

Nell: Anyway, stop holding me up. Poppy’s pasty class is starting and we are learning how to crimp.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Life goes on

Me: How are the Puppies?

Nell: They haven’t left each other’s side since Charlie told them the news.

Me: He is a bit like a father to them, Nell.

Nell: Yes, I know. But Charlie says this won’t do and he is not having his last days filled with sadness.

Me: He is right.

Nell: He was completely overcome by people’s support yesterday.

Me: I know the numbers ran into thousands.

Nell: Yes. It was truly wonderful to know how much people care.

Me: It certainly was.

Nell: But now we have to keep going. We are beginning with Malcolm and his mysterious admirer. Charlie thinks he knows who it is.

Me: Has there been another present?

Nell: Yes. A mackerel arrived this morning.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: Poppy is thinking mackerel pate with wholemeal toast.

Me: Was it delivered by hand?

Nell: Of course it was. You don’t think poor Tony is going to be delivering parcels of fresh mackerel all over the county do you?

Me: Tony only delivers in our area.

Nell: That’s not what I meant. Anyway, the mackerel isn’t the interesting thing.

Me: It isn’t?

Nell: No. It came on a silver platter. Poppy is thinking late 18th century.

Me: That has got to smell.

Nell: Not the mackerel, you fool. The platter. Poppy is an expert at antiques.

Me: I didn’t know.

Nell: She is great pals with that presenter who always smiles even when there is bad news.

Me: Fiona Bruce?

Nell: Yes. Fiona Moose though why they chose such a large animal to talk about antiques will remain a mystery.

Me: Quite.

Nell: Did I just see David carrying Gladys into Charlie’s room on a silver platter?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Was Gladys carrying a mackerel?

Me: Yes, and some beetroot. It goes really well with mackerel. Sorry.

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Bad news

Me: Nell, tell me. What’s wrong?

Nell: Charlie’s results came back. It’s bad news.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: He is dying. My lovely Charlie.

Me: No, please don’t let that be true.

Nell: He might make it to Christmas but we have to expect to lose him way before then.

Me: I don’t know what to say. I have no words.

Nell: There is nothing we can do. As Charlie said himself it is all about acceptance.

Me: Life can be so cruel.

Nell: So, we have to make the time he has left a special time. Filled with love and laughter. He doesn’t want doom and gloom. Life must go on.

Me: Yes.

Nell: He says it means a lot to him to know he is loved.

Me: He is greatly loved by us all. Do the others know?

Nell: Not yet. Charlie and I are going to tell them together at Morning Thoughts.

Me: I can’t bear it, Nell. This is so sad.

Nell: Yes, it is. But I am going to treasure the time I have left with him and be thankful that he came into my life. You should do the same.

Me: I am so very sad.

Nell: I never knew there was a place beyond sad, but I do now.

Me: I am so sorry.

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Meadow Walk

Me: How was your training session?

Nell: It was beautiful on Meadow Walk this morning but Poppy is quite the taskmaster.

Me: I thought I saw her with a whistle in her mouth.

Nell: Yes. I think I’m going to hide the wretched thing. She had us running up hill and down hill.

Me: Thank goodness for the stream.

Nell: Yes, a swim in the sea would have been better but it’s out of bounds at the moment because of half term.

Me: Why?

Nell: After the Picnic Incident we decided David was best kept away from holidaymakers.

Me: What did he do?

Nell: Joined in. Uninvited. Several times.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: I mean it’s acceptable to introduce oneself and if a sandwich is offered one can accept it, but you don’t just barge in and help yourself.

Me: No. Certainly not.

Nell: He ate a whole quiche. In one go.

Me: I’m sure he didn’t mean it badly.

Nell: He says he was just welcoming visitors and sharing in the fun.

Me: Dave is ever so sociable.

Nell: Anyway, after Poppy’s morning training I need a cup of Earl Grey.

Me: I’m sure Malcolm would make you a smoothie.

Nell: Smoothies are a healthy pre-workout meal options. We had ours at 6am. Do keep up. Did The Cat just jog past wearing lycra?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Followed by Gladys in leg warmers?

Me: I’m afraid so. Sorry.

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David needs a cuddle

Nell: What on earth is the matter with David?

Me: He just needs a cuddle. We all have days like that.

Nell: I know but he is wearing his “I’m just a poor boy nobody loves me” face.

Me: Yes. Isn’t it adorable?

Nell: He’s just tired and he’s been watching Bohemian Rhapsody with The Cat again if you ask me. Up until all hours.

Me: Probably.

Nell: I think he knows about Harriet’s trip to London to see Sally. He feels left out.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: It’s all this spy nonsense. He’s been prowling around in that sequinned lined trench coat listening at doors and you know what they say?

Me: “Eavesdroppers never hear good of themselves?”

Nell: No. “If you can’t hear, don’t listen.”

Me: Mutley can’t hear but he’s a wonderful listener.

Nell: That’s not what it means. If you can’t take what you hear don’t listen in the first place.

Me: Oh. How is Charlie today?

Nell: He is doing well, considering. He says acceptance is the key. He has M’s full support.

Me: Maybe Mutley is M. He and Charlie were in deep discussion yesterday.

Nell: They were discussing fat free yoghurt, if you must know. Mutley is not a fan.

Me: Why on earth were they doing that?

Nell: It’s Poppy’s new healthy eating regime. She called a meeting and even suggested wholemeal scones.

Me: No?

Nell: Gladys actually fell out of my handbag with the shock of it. She only recovered after one of Malcolm’s macarons.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: By the way, how can Mutley be M when I told you she is female?

Me: Yes, but it might be a double bluff.

Nell: More like double fluff when it comes to you.

Me: Mutley’s name begins with M.

Nell: So does Malcolm’s.

Me: Malcolm? I’m not sure. He’s too shy for a spy.

Nell: Do stop.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Monitoring

Me: How long does Charlie have to wear his mobile ECG jacket?

Nell: Just 24 hours and then they will analyse it.

Me: Does he mind wearing it?

Nell: Not at all. He says it suits him.

Me: It does. Do you know why Dave is wearing sunglasses?

Nell: David has decided he wants to be a spy. He knows Charlie is recruiting and thinks he has a good chance.

Me: Oh dear. I suppose that explains the hat too.

Nell: He asked if he could change his name to David Bond.

Me: I hope you said no.

Nell: Of course I did. The Cat isn’t helping. It spent the whole evening designing David a trench coat with a sequinned interior.

Me: Spies don’t wear sequins.

Nell: That’s what I said.

Me: How is Harriet?

Nell: Fine. She and Sally were on the iBone for ages last night laughing about David’s antics.

Me: I’m glad they get on.

Nell: Yes. Harriet is planning to visit Sally up in London soon but don’t tell David. It’s a girls only visit.

Me: I see Susan is helping Malcolm in the kitchen. He said she makes excellent pastry.

Nell: Yes. Poppy is busy with extra healthy meals for Charlie and Timothy is off painting so Malcolm was glad of her help.

Me: Who would have thought a flamingo would fall for a seagull?

Nell: Far stranger things have happened in this house. As you well know.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Daring to dream

Me: Harriet is looking rather pensive.

Nell: Yes. I think it was something Charlie said at Morning Thoughts about Daring to Dream.

Me: It sounds profound. I’m glad he decided to join you.

Nell: Yes. He slept well and is feeling quite invigorated and positive this morning

Me: Malcolm made him a smoothie first thing with kale and all sorts of healthy green things. He and Poppy have put together a special diet.

Nell: Good. He is already starting to adapt to his new circumstances. He was on the iBone to HQ for hours yesterday.

Me: It’s not going to be easy to replace him.

Nell: Charlie is irreplaceable. You know that.

Me: I meant in his James Bond role.

Nell: Yes. I think he is going to take on an advisory role in the future.

Me: Like M?

Nell: No. Why are you talking in letters?

Me: The Head of the Secret Service is called M.

Nell: No, she isn’t. Not ours anyway.

Me: So she’s a woman? Like Judi Dench?

Nell: She is a dog and she is not at all like Judi Dench. You are fanciful at times.

Me: I wish I knew who she was.

Nell: You do, actually.

Me: It’s you. I knew it.

Nell: Of course it isn’t me. Don’t be so silly. How on earth would I cope with you and the Secret Service?

Me: True. Who is it then?

Nell: Enough. I need to talk to Harriet alone. Every great dream begins with a dreamer.

Me: I hope Harriet isn’t M.

Nell: For Goodness Sake. Will you just listen to yourself sometimes? Ridiculous.

Me: Yes. Sorry.