Last day on the beach

Me: Great action shot of Kev about to throw your ball.

Nell: Yes. It’s our last day on the beach today. No dogs from 1st May until 1st October. It’s a disgrace.

Me: Are you going to campaign again? It seems very harsh to ban you all.

Nell: Yes. I was talking to No Good Boyo last night and he is willing to lead the Welsh campaign.

Me: I’m sure the Welsh corgi choir will support him.

Nell: Yes. Those girls are always up for a song. They’ve knitted a beautiful blanket for Meghan and Harry’s baby. I’ve promised to take it with me the next time I visit.

Me: The baby must be due any day now.

Nell: I couldn’t possibly say. My lips are sealed.

Me: Do you have campaigners in Scotland?

Nell: We have Sir Andy Furry, of course.

Me: You mean Murray.

Nell: No, I mean Furry the Scottish deerhound. He plays a little tennis but fishing is his passion. J.K. Howling is supporting us too.

Me: The author?

Nell: The Shetland sheepdog. I believe she has written a few books which have sold rather well.

Me: You can say that again.

Nell: I’d prefer not to repeat myself. Then there is Ban Morrison in Northern Ireland.

Me: The singer?

Nell: No. The soft coated Wheaten Terrier, although he does like to sing now you mention it. I’m not sure it’s his real name to be honest but he is dedicated to the cause.

Me: You have quite a team already.

Nell: Is David up on the roof singing ‘Our House’?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Wearing a bowler hat and carrying a handbag?

Me: Yes.

Nell: While Gladys performs a contemporary dance on the scaffolding to rapturous applause from the roofers?

Me: I’m afraid so. Sorry.


Scaffolding day

Me: You lot are a bit jumpy this morning. Have you been gossiping again?

Nell: We do not gossip. We discuss. The scaffolders will be arriving at any moment and we are on alert.

Me: Do I have to wear my hard hat everywhere? Only I’ve got to pop into Kingsbridge later.

Nell: I despair of you sometimes. I really do. Do you see surfers wearing unnecessary wetsuits in town? Or me in an unnecessary boy’s collar and lead?

Me: Actually, Nell, there have been some rolled down wetsuits worn off the beach and you have worn a boy’s collar and lead when you weren’t spying.

Nell: You know what I mean. Hard hats and safety vests are only necessary on the building site.

Me: That’s a relief. I wonder why the Beefies are wearing hard hats then.

Nell: Wretched creatures are probably trying to sabotage the roofing.

Me: Or steal one of Poppy’s bacon sandwiches. Dave says they are particularly good today. He’s had three already.

Nell: He doesn’t deserve any after his disgraceful behaviour yesterday. Bouncing your friend Irene like that when we were in the middle of a delightful conversation about Tai chi.

Me: She was fine about it.

Nell: Fortunately. Now where did you see the Beefies?

Me: They were throwing mackerel at Malcolm in the garden again. Poppy says it’s the limit and she’s going to sort them out.

Nell: Was she carrying a pistol?

Me: Goodness me. Do you think it’s reached that stage?

Nell: No. A water pistol. She was wondering if maple syrup might work. Sticky feathers prevent flying.

Me: We don’t want maple syrup on the scaffolding, though.

Nell: Poppy is an excellent shot. Terrier champion two years running.

Me: Of course. Sorry.


Sundays are for snuggling

Me: Mutley is very tired.

Nell: Yes. He is going to be 16 in September so he needs his rest.

Me: And look at Dave.

Nell: David is on Snuggling Duty. He is exceptionally gifted in this area. He is keeping Mutley warm while watching over him.

Me: I think he might be asleep too.

Nell: Sleeping is fine while snuggling. I always say Sunday is the snuggliest day of the week.

Me: You are right. We all need a snuggle.

Nell: Actually we need to enjoy the peace and quiet while we can. It’s hard hats and sequinned safety vests from tomorrow when the scaffolders arrive.

Me: Sequinned safety vests?

Nell: The Cat has been busy embroidering them with our names. We don’t want our vests mixed up with the roofers.

Me: I wish Charlotte wasn’t going today.

Nell: She will be back before you know it and you are having lunch with your friend Irene.

Me: Yes. I haven’t seen her in years. Thank you for cheering me up, Nell.

Nell: As I always say: ‘On hungry days be the biscuit in the bowl’.

Me: I’m not sure that’s right. You could get eaten.

Nell: That’s not the point. It’s about something to look forward to.

Me: Dave doesn’t even remember eating his biscuits.

Nell: Just stop with the biscuits.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


This has gone too far

Nell: David is actually sitting on guests now.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: The odd kiss is one thing but this has gone too far.

Me: He isn’t aware of his size.

Nell: Obviously. He flattened poor Charlotte.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Your friend Irene is visiting tomorrow. She can’t be sat upon the minute she gets through the door.

Me: What are we going to do?

Nell: Mutley has agreed to have a word. David listens to him. And we are also going to use the fake guest.

Me: Who is that?

Nell: It is more of a What than a Who. Timothy is a creative turkey, as you know, so he has made us a person out of old sheets and straw.

Me: Like a guy.

Nell: Its gender is immaterial but we can call it Guy if you like. The fact of the matter is, when sat upon, it leaks straw and squeaks.

Me: What fun.

Nell: This is not fun it is Education. On hearing the squeak and seeing the straw we expect David to be shocked.

Me: He might be delighted.

Nell: This is exactly why the training of the puppies should be left in my paws. When David sits on you he is cuddled and called a great big darling boy.

Me: He is a great big darling boy.

Nell: Just keep out of it. The subject of squashing will be introduced at Morning Thoughts. While David is outside with Mutley, Guy will be put in place on the sofa.

Me: I hope Guy has a winning smile because Dave doesn’t just sit on anyone. Imagine if he takes against Guy. Poor Guy. Just sitting and waiting while everyone else gets sat upon.

Nell: Enough. Stop worrying about Guy. I despair of you sometimes I really do.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Over familiar

Nell: David is getting over familiar with our guests.

Me: Charlotte doesn’t mind.

Nell: Call me old fashioned but I feel you cannot simply take it upon yourself to kiss someone uninvited.

Me: Dave has a lot of love to give.

Nell: Yes. He did the same to your little sister Alex, you know.

Me: Yes. The delivery guys are used to it now. I hear them saying ‘Hello, Dave’.

Nell: So where are the scaffolding people then? I’ve been wearing a hard hat and boots for hours now and no sign of them.

Me: I forgot to tell you they aren’t coming until Monday because the roofers don’t start until Tuesday.

Nell: You could have told us. I was supposed to be hosting a book club tea but cancelled because I knew hard hats would play havoc with the girls’ hair.

Me: I thought most of them were short haired.

Nell: Yes, but we have the odd poodle and Lesley the Lapsang Souchong, of course.

Me: Don’t you mean Llhasa Apso?

Nell: Do I? Anyway, what are your plans today?

Me: I’m hoping the rain will stop and we can go to the beach.

Nell: Watch out for Beefies. The one in the black wig is back. Rude creature. It threw a mackerel at Poppy.

Me: Big mistake.

Nell: She was wearing her hard hat so it bounced off but I am afraid she saw red and got her catapult.

Me: Rock cakes?

Nell: Stale scones spread with strawberry jam.

Me: Clever.

Nell: Yes. Beefies hate jam.

Me: All jam, or just strawberry?

Nell: That’s not the point. It’s the stickiness of it, not the taste. You don’t notice your sleeve in the jam and then lick it and say ‘Oh, thank goodness it’s raspberry’, do you? Good grief.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Hard hats must be worn at all times

Me: It’s lovely to see your smiling face.

Nell: What do you want?

Me: Nothing. I’m just glad to be home and to have Charlotte with me.

Nell: The weather is a little disappointing. David was hoping for beach time.

Me: Yes, we need to ride those waves.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Feel the wind in our hair and the salt on our tongues.

Nell: Just calm down. We both know you have never surfed in your life.

Me: I like the idea, though.

Nell: A brisk walk will do you more good. Now, we were discussing after dinner games.

Me: How about Twister?

Nell: You know perfectly well that Twister is a recipe for disaster. Can you imagine David? Especially after meatballs?

Me: True.

Nell: Poppy and Harriet want to play poker but Gladys doesn’t know how to bluff and The Cat always wins.

Me: Yes, it’s exceptionally devious.

Nell: Charlie and Mutley think Trivial Pursuit might be the way to go. It’s relaxing, not arduous, and can be played around the fire. If we had one, of course.

Me: I hope they can fix the chimney.

Nell: You know the scaffolding people are arriving soon. They are starting work on the roof next week.

Me: What if it rains?

Nell: Don’t fuss. Poppy is project managing. We have all been issued with hard hats and work boots must be worn at all times.

Me: Will there be bacon sandwiches and mugs of tea?

Nell: Yes, for workers not watchers.

Me: To be fair, Nell, watching is actually part of my work.

Nell: Just go and get Charlotte a nice cup of Earl Grey and explain about the scaffolding. Don’t forget your hard hat. They are hanging by the back door. Ours are the ones with sequins.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Watching and Waiting

Me: How is the Dragon this morning?

Nell: Waiting at the front gate, of course.

Me: For Tony?

Nell: No, silly. For you and Charlotte.

Me: That’s lovely.

Nell: It’s a little tedious. He keeps giving a warning bark so Poppy and I come running out and it’s just a wretched Beefy flying over.

Me: He is excited. I hope he isn’t still wearing his costume.

Nell: No The Cat has taken it back for next year. Gladys ripped her jumpsuit doing a Barani.

Me: What’s a Barani?

Nell: A front somersault with a half twist. Everyone knows that.

Me: I didn’t.

Nell: Well, it’s probably not one of your skills.

Me: I wouldn’t imagine it’s one of yours either.

Nell: No. Gymnastics was never my thing. I much prefer retrieving. Now, what’s your ETA?

Me: Estimated Time of Arrival?

Nell: No. Early Thoughts on Activities. We need to make sure Charlotte has an enjoyable stay.

Me: Well, I’m not quite sure.

Nell: At Morning Thoughts we were gathering ideas. David suggested surfing at Bantham but I think the water might still be a little cold but I have her wetsuit if needed.

Me: I agree. Paddling is a possibility, though.

Nell: Harriet suggested lunch at the Cottage Hotel overlooking the sea.

Me: Perfect.

Nell: Mutley’s idea was a gentle walk along the coastal path followed by one of Poppy’s special afternoon teas with plenty of scones, jam and cream, of course.

Me: She would enjoy that.

Nell: I have also invited your little sister Alex to dinner tomorrow for Swedish meatballs and after dinner games. It is exactly what Charlotte needs.

Me: Yes. Everyone loves a good meatball and a game of charades.

Nell: That is not the point. It is the fact that we will all be together. Sometimes the thing you need most is simply time with your family.

Me: You are right. Sorry.


Happy St. George’s Day

Me: Poppy looks happy.

Nell: Yes. It’s St. George’s Day and she is about to fight the Dragon

Me: Where is the Dragon?

Nell: Finishing his soft boiled egg and soldiers.

Me: In costume?

Nell: David insisted. I’ve told him he is going to get egg on his scales and Malcolm has fallen over his tail twice already.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Fireball hasn’t helped by getting marmalade on her costume.

Me: Fireball?

Nell: The Dragon’s assistant, otherwise known as Gladys in an orange jumpsuit.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: Every time the Dragon roars, Fireball does a somersault.

Me: How impressive.

Nell: Yes. The Farm Dogs have lent Gladys their trampoline.

Me: I didn’t know they had a trampoline.

Nell: Haven’t you noticed them bouncing?

Me: I did wonder. Do Dragons actually roar?

Nell: This one does. Now, what time is your taxi arriving? Only Poppy doesn’t want to get into her suit of armour until the last minute but we have to allow time for the fight.

Me: 11:30. It’s a shame Kev can’t drive me but the chimney people are coming.

Nell: So the fight will take place at 10am.

Me: Good. It gives the Dragon plenty of time to finish his egg and even have some toast and marmalade with Fireball.

Nell: Yes. Princess Harriet wants to show you her costume and Merlin is waiting in the wings.

Me: Merlin?

Nell: Why do you think Mutley is wearing a long white beard and carrying a staff?

Me: I didn’t think Merlin was in this story.

Nell: But you don’t know he wasn’t. Stranger things have happened.

Me: Fireball just somersaulted over the Dragon.

Nell: Proving my point.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Easter Monday blues

Me: Dave is outside on his lounger looking serious.

Nell: It’s just the Easter Monday blues. Sally had to go back to London this morning and he ate too many scones at the Parade yesterday.

Me: So did I.

Nell: I don’t think you will be Morris Dancing again. You get over excited.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Throwing your bells at a passing pug was not your finest move.

Me: I was jingling them so hard they flew out of my hand.

Nell: Fortunately Harriet saw it happen and offered the pug a macaron as compensation.

Me: Fortunately the pug liked macarons.

Nell: Pugs will do anything for a macaron. Everyone knows that.

Me: Poppy’s Easter Terrier was a great hit.

Nell: Yes. The boxing gloves were inspired.

Me: Yes.

Nell: At least I know how to put a smile back on David’s face.

Me: Sausages for tea?

Nell: No. Tomorrow is St. George’s Day and he will be playing the Dragon again.

Me: Wonderful. Will Poppy be St. George?

Nell: Yes. She has her suit of armour polished and ready.

Me: Do you think you can perform it early, Nell? Only I have to go away tomorrow.

Nell: Again? You are always gallivanting off somewhere.

Me: But I’m bringing Charlotte back with me the next day for a visit.

Nell: A visit from your sister Charlotte? How delightful. She is so witty and entertaining.

Me: I can be witty and entertaining too, you know.

Nell: Comparison is foolish. A Labrador can run after a Great Dane forgetting there is a little Dachshund trotting behind it.

Me: I’m not a little Dachshund.

Nell: That’s not the point. We are all unique and should embrace it. Now let’s tell David the good news. He’s going to be a dragon.

Me: And Charlotte is visiting.

Nell: Exactly.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Happy Easter

Me: Happy Easter to family and friends near and far.

Nell: Yes. Happy Easter from us all.

Me: Harriet certainly seems very happy.

Nell: Yes. Jim the Farm Dog brought us all some fresh eggs so Poppy is making pancakes for breakfast.

Me: Harriet’s favourite.

Nell: Yes. David says he’s Canadian this morning in honour of Chris so he would like crispy bacon and Maple syrup on his.

Me: Did it work?

Nell: Of course. Poppy finds him irresistible. You didn’t happen to see a stray corgi, did you?

Me: No. Why?

Nell: The Welsh corgi choir are singing at the Easter parade and Myfanwy’s gone missing again.

Me: I saw a mini bus arrive at the Big House just now.

Nell: That will be the Whippets Institute. The Cat is doing their costumes. They are going to have to wait, however, as The Cat never surfaces until after 10am and then only for a black coffee and a Madeleine.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: I’ll see if Malcolm can take them over some tea and toast. Those girls are so skinny they need feeding if you ask me.

Me: I think they are just naturally slim. Lucky things.

Nell: Once breakfast is over I want everyone assembled in costume ready to go. Just follow the Beagle brass band and the cheerleading Chow Chows.

Me: I never thought of a Chow Chow as a cheerleader. They always seem a bit grumpy.

Nell: They are lion dogs. They take their cheerleading very seriously.

Me: Will Gladys be dancing?

Nell: Of course, she and David are on the posters. Go and get yourself a pancake before they all go. You will need your strength for the Morris Dancing later.

Me: What Morris Dancing?

Nell: You will be fine. Just copy Malcolm and don’t forget your bells.

Me: Yes. Sorry.