2020 is going to be our year

Me: It’s the end of a decade.

Nell: I am aware.

Me: And the dawning of a new one.

Nell: Are you in one of your philosophical moods again because I’ll need a cup of Earl Grey and some shortbread if you are?

Me: I’m just ruminating on times gone by.

Nell: Well, don’t ruminate too long, please. Some of us have things to do.

Me: It’s been a rather life changing decade.

Nell: Yes, it has. I was born for a start.

Me: You all were.

Nell: Not Mutley.

Me: No. But Jonathan Sky and Faye Raine.

Nell: Yes. Such happy times.

Me: We lost my mother and little Monty.

Nell: We did.

Me: But the smiles outweighed the tears.

Nell: They did.

Me: Alice got married and so did Charlotte. We moved to Devon.

Nell: Are we going to have a long list now, only I think you should definitely put the kettle on?

Me: I think 2020 might just be our year.

Nell: I am inclined to agree.

Me: The book comes out on 28th April.

Nell: It’s extremely exciting.

Me: And a little terrifying. I hope people like it.

Nell: Do stop. Just look at the title.

Me: ‘Conversations with Nell.’

Nell: Exactly.

Me: Do you know what I’m looking forward to most?

Nell: Seeing the book in print?

Me: Yes, and actually meeting some of our readers at the book signings.

Nell: Yes. Now could you ask The Cat to come and see me about tonight’s party, please?

Me: Why The Cat?

Nell: David and his Merry Dogs are performing ‘Robin Woof’ and there’s a problem with Henry and Horst’s hats.

Me: Too many sequins?

Nell: No. More feathers. They are being eclipsed by the larger animals and we can’t have that.

Me: No. Sorry.



Me: Look at those two.

Nell: Reunited after the Christmas break.

Me: They love each other.

Nell: Apparently Young Ollie stole some chocolate coins from the Christmas tree and was sick.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: I think David told Tony about the cream. They were definitely discussing Accidental Naughtiness.

Me: Accidental Naughtiness?

Nell: Yes. It can happen to anyone.

Me: But that’s not what happened to you yesterday is it?

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: When we went to the hotel for lunch with my sisters.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: And you went missing during lunch.

Nell: I did not go missing.

Me: You left your seat next to me and you left the dining room.

Nell: Yes, I did.

Me: We called you and searched for you.

Nell: You made an unnecessary fuss.

Me: I finally found you in the hotel lounge on the sofa in front of the fire.

Nell: I needed some quiet.

Me: The manager explained to you that dogs were not allowed on sofas.

Nell: A ridiculous notion.

Me: She asked you politely to get off and you refused.

Nell: There was plenty of room. Nobody else minded.

Me: You pretended you couldn’t hear her. I know what you’re like when you don’t want to do something. You have Selective Hearing.

Nell: The article on Knitwear Wolf in The Growl on Sunday was most complimentary, wasn’t it?

Me: You are doing it again.

Nell: It should definitely boost his sales.

Me: You can hear me perfectly well.

Nell: It mentioned Myfanwy too.

Me: I don’t think he was very happy about that.

Nell: No. He likes to keep his private life private.

Me: So you can hear me now then?

Nell: Of course. We are having a conversation.

Me: Yes. Sorry.



Me: You look extremely thoughtful.

Nell: Sunday is my day for reflection.

Me: Yes, I know you like your quiet time.

Nell: Can you let me know when the Sunday papers arrive, please?

Me: Yes, I just wanted a quick word.

Nell: I am hoping The Growl on Sunday give Knitwear Wolf a good review.

Me: I don’t like to disturb you but if you have a spare moment in between all your reflecting Poppy needs you in the kitchen.

Nell: Good grief. Can’t it wait?

Me: Well, Caroline is here and there appear to be a few discrepancies in our milk bill that need explaining.

Nell: Discrepancies?

Me: Extra cream for The Guest Barn for instance.

Nell: What Guest Barn?

Me: The one for our larger guests.

Nell: You mean Jim’s Barn where Alejandro, Monty and Olive are staying?

Me: Yes. I think Dave visits them now and again.

Nell: Clotted cream or double cream?

Me: Both.

Nell: And David is a regular visitor?

Me: Well, Dave is on the borderline to being a large animal to be fair.

Nell: That is not the point.

Me: He only visits now and again. Usually in the morning.

Nell: We all know that David is partial to cream on his morning cereal.

Me: I don’t think you should jump to conclusions, Nell. Anyway, Dave has been having bacon sandwiches for breakfast.

Nell: David is always open to second breakfasts.

Me: True, but we still don’t know.

Nell: No. I will talk to Poppy and Caroline first.

Me: It’s best to keep an open mind, Nell. My Big Brave Beautiful Boy might be innocent.

Nell: It’s possible. Wait. Did David just walk past with a bowl of Weetabix?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Was there cream on his mouth?

Me: I’m afraid so. Sorry.


Knitwear Wolf is awfully handsome

Me: Knitwear Wolf is awfully handsome, isn’t he?

Nell: Yes. Now, if you see a small Jack Russell with a pencil behind its ear and a rather flamboyant Pekinese holding a camera send them through to the kitchen please.

Me: More Merry Dogs?

Nell: No. The Growl on Sunday is doing an interview with Knitwear Wolf about the new knitwear line and they want to take photos.

Me: I thought he was looking particularly stylish today. Is that a cashmere cardigan?

Nell: Yes. In a warm brown. The Cat says it brings out the colour of his eyes.

Me: The Cat is good with things like that.

Nell: Poppy is making him a bacon sandwich and David is helping.

Me: I’m not sure Dave can be trusted to make the sandwiches.

Nell: No, he is taste testing the crispness of the bacon. It needs to be just right.

Me: Don’t be surprised if there is none left then. You remember the last time.

Nell: That was by mistake.

Me: Maybe he can promote the pantomime as well as his knitwear.

Nell: I’m not sure that is a good idea.

Me: Why not? It’s the perfect opportunity and Dave could join in.

Nell: Wolves don’t have the best reputation and he is playing the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Me: I’ve had a dreadful thought. He’s dating a small corgi.

Nell: That is none of their business.

Me: Myfanwy mustn’t wear her red shawl.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf.

Nell: I despair of you sometimes I really do.

Me: It’s probably best if he doesn’t wear a cardigan and he definitely shouldn’t smile.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Although nobody could possibly mistake him for a grandmother.

Nell: Just stop.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Getting ready

Me: What is Dave doing to Harriet?

Nell: She was a little salty faced after her swim so he is tidying her up.

Me: That’s kind of him.

Nell: We Labradors like to maintain standards and David is particularly keen on clean ears.

Me: Yes, I’ve noticed. I’m not sure she is enjoying it though.

Nell: Face and ear cleaning is something one endures not enjoys.

Me: I see.

Nell: It is quite different to a gentle ear massage which is most relaxing.

Me: Yes, you like those. Would you like one now?

Nell: Certainly not. Now is a most inappropriate time. We have a whole line of Merry Dogs waiting for their morning scones.

Me: I didn’t know they got morning scones.

Nell: Of course they do. They’ve been rehearsing since dawn. An animal can’t survive on enthusiasm alone, you know.

Me: You are right.

Nell: And someone needs to wake the beasts in the barn.

Me: Are the cows performing too?

Nell: They are far too busy. Caroline has a vast number of orders for dairy products at this time of year.

Me: Caroline?

Nell: The cow who runs the dairy. She delivers every morning. Do keep up.

Me: I haven’t heard her.

Nell: I suppose her milk float is quite quiet. It’s electric you know. How it gets up and down those hills is beyond me.

Me: I’ve heard bells.

Nell: She wears those round her neck. Awfully clunky for a necklace but there’s no arguing with her.

Me: Who are the beasts in the barn then?

Nell: Olive, Alejandro and Monty. We discussed this yesterday.

Me: I forgot.

Nell: Anyway, start distributing the scones, please.

Me: I would love one, too.

Nell: The last time I looked you were not a Merry Dog.

Me: No. Sorry.


Boxing Day

Me: You are looking a little tired, Nell.

Nell: David has been chewing on a bone since first thing this morning.

Me: He’s not harming anyone.

Nell: Have you ever tried sleeping with someone crunching through a packet of crisps next to you?

Me: No.

Nell: Well then.

Me: You seem a little delicate this morning. Has it got anything to do with last night’s celebrations?

Nell: Was there rather a lot of singing?

Me: There might have been.

Nell: But I didn’t dance on the table, did I?

Me: Only once and you were very good.

Nell: Oh dear.

Me: I’m so glad Olive has decided to stay for a while.

Nell: May I ask where she is staying? Those antlers need space.

Me: Jim the Farm Dog has a spare barn. Alejandro is over there now with Monty the Moose making it comfortable.

Nell: I presume all the large beasts will be staying there then.

Me: Not Dave, though, Nell. That would be awfully mean.

Nell: I was talking about Alejandro. I know David is large but he’s not the size of an alpaca. Yet.

Me: How long can dogs keep growing?

Nell: Labradors reach adult height by 12 months but some continue to fill out during the next 2 years.

Me: I think the filling out might continue beyond that.

Nell: What exactly are you implying?

Me: Well, Labradors are known for enjoying their food. You are a greedy breed.

Nell: I beg your pardon? A greedy breed?

Me: You have good appetites.

Nell: Just because we don’t play with our food like some, or even walk away from an unfinished bowl like others, does not mean we are greedy.

Me: No.

Nell: ‘A tidy bowl is a tidy mind.’ All Labradors know this.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Christmas Day

Me: Nell and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Nell: What on earth is that reindeer doing?

Me: It’s Christmas, Nell. You have to have reindeers.

Nell: I don’t mean in the photo. I mean outside.

Me: What?

Nell: It’s wearing bells.

Me. You don’t think Santa left it behind do you?

Nell: I know people ask for extravagant presents nowadays but a reindeer? That’s excessive.

Me: No. I mean it might be one of the famous eight.

Nell: They’ve long gone. I just hope it isn’t auditioning to be a Merry Dog because that is a step too far.

Me: Oh look. It seems to know Knitwear Wolf.

Nell: And Monty.

Me: It’s probably Canadian then.

Nell: So that makes it alright, does it? I mean does Poppy even know she is catering for a reindeer today?

Me: You know Poppy. Nothing phases her. Reindeers eat carrots, don’t they?

Nell: Personally if I was a reindeer I would be heartily sick of carrots.

Me: Anyway, I’d also like to thank our friends and family from all over the world for their continuing support.

Nell: We read all your comments and appreciate every single one.

Me: We certainly do.

Nell: In fact you make our day. Every day.

Me: We hope you’re having a wonderful Christmas and for those of you who are spending it alone, or without family, this year we send extra special hugs.

Nell: And please know that you always have a family in us.

Me: I’ve just had a thought.

Nell: What now?

Me: You don’t think that’s Olive outside, do you?

Nell: Olive?

Me: She’s in the song about Rudolph. ‘Olive the other reindeer.’

Nell: Good grief. Just go and peel some carrots.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Christmas Eve

Me: It’s Christmas Eve today. Why are you hiding in the kitchen in a Santa hat?

Nell: I am Poppy’s taster as David is indisposed.

Me: Did you stick your tongue out at me?

Nell: No, I was trying a flapjack and it was a little on the sticky side.

Me: What’s wrong with Dave?

Nell: He overindulged last night at The Cat’s.

Me: What happened?

Nell: He ate a whole bowl of cheese fondue by mistake. He didn’t realise you were meant to dip small cubes of bread in it and used a whole baguette.

Me: That’s a lot of cheese.

Nell: Yes. He was very thirsty afterwards and mistook the Schnapps for water.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Sally had to roll him home.

Me: It’s lucky The Cat lives nearby.

Nell: Quite. Anyway, he’s feeling a little delicate this morning and only managed two lightly boiled eggs.

Me: Have you heard from Myfanwy? How was their first date?

Nell: The evening went extremely well.

Me: What did they eat? Spaghetti and meatballs?

Nell: What are you talking about? They had breast of chicken. Knitwear Wolf requested gentle food for Myfanwy as she is so little.

Me: But Myfanwy eats everything. She has a huge appetite.

Nell: I know that and you know that, but he doesn’t.

Me: She must have been starving.

Nell: Poppy made a Bombe Alaska for dessert to remind Knitwear Wolf of his snowy Canadian home. He must be missing it at this time of year.

Me: Alaska is in the US.

Nell: Yes, but it’s cool and delicious.

Me: A bit like Rupert then.

Nell: Do stop. Have you packed your presents?

Me: Not yet.

Nell: Well, hurry up. The Welsh corgi choir are arriving soon for carols and Christmas treats.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Myfanwy tells all

Me: That’s a sweet photo of Myfanwy.

Nell: Yes, I agree.

Me: Well, don’t keep me in suspense.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: I know she’s told you all about it.

Nell: She might have done. In confidence.

Me: I won’t tell anyone.

Nell: We both know that isn’t true.

Me: Yes, but only our friends and they are ever so good at keeping quiet.

Nell: Well, they had a pleasant stroll by the quay.

Me: And?

Nell: Knitwear Wolf was very kind and courteous.

Me: Oh dear. People are usually kind just before they say something awful.

Nell: Not in this case. He explained that he was extremely touched to hear that Myfanwy cared for him.

Me: But he just thinks of her as a friend?

Nell: Stop leaping in. You aren’t writing this conversation. May I continue?

Me: Yes.

Nell: He said he’d like to get to know her a little better and wondered if she might join him for dinner some time soon.

Me: When?

Nell: This evening actually. Poppy is cooking them dinner here.

Me: What are we having? Lasagne, or fish? Or steak? Wolves probably enjoy a good steak.

Nell: We are not having anything at all. It is a dinner for the two of them. Not us and definitely not you. Good grief. The mere idea.

Me: Dave won’t cope without dinner, Nell. It’s nearly Christmas and he needs to keep his strength up.

Nell: Of course we are eating something. The Cat has invited us all to a fondue night at the Big House.

Me: So it will just be Myfanwy and Knitwear Wolf here then?

Nell: Apart from the Welsh corgi choir. They are providing the background music.

Me: That’s a bit much, Nell.

Nell: I’m joking.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


A Day of Kindness and Caring

Nell: Today is the shortest day of the year.

Me: Oh yes, it’s the Winter Solstice.

Nell: We were discussing it at Morning Thoughts and we have decided today should be a day of Kindness and Caring. Some of the smaller animals fear the darkness so David is aiming to be particularly caring.

Me: Well, he’s upstairs doing that standing over you thing. Harriet and Poppy have crept underneath him.

Nell: He will be keeping them warm. He’s very good at that.

Me: I know. We share an armchair.

Nell: Now bring your tea into the living room. Kev has made a fire and turned on the Christmas lights.

Me: Will Knitwear Wolf be joining us? I saw his motorbike.

Nell: No. He has gone for a walk with Myfanwy.

Me: Oh my goodness. Did she give him the letter?

Nell: She did. Yesterday.

Me: Brave little corgi.

Nell: Yes.

Me: What did he say?

Nell: He took it away with him and we haven’t seen him until just now when he delivered the Sunday papers.

Me: Did he look happy? What was he wearing?

Nell: A rather stylish cardigan in dark brown and walking boots if you must know. But that’s not the point.

Me: No.

Nell: He looked thoughtful and more importantly he brought a gift for Myfanwy.

Me: He did?

Nell: Yes. It was a beautiful warm shawl in a dark Christmas red.

Me: She must have been delighted.

Nell: She was. He wrapped it around her and asked if she would join him for a quiet stroll.

Me: This could go either way, Nell.

Nell: I know. We will just have to wait for them to return.

Me: But I hate waiting.

Nell: Drink your tea and stop staring out of the window.

Me: Yes. Sorry.