Hope, Leo and a penguin

Me: Happy 29th February. A leap day.

Nell: Who are those two young puppies?

Me: Hope and Leo. They’re brothers. Aren’t they gorgeous?

Nell: Friends of Frankie?

Me: No. They’re only 17 weeks old. Their mother is a Westie and their father is a Dachshund. I met them at the hairdressers yesterday.

Nell: They don’t look in need of a haircut.

Me: No. They belong to Sophie my hairdresser. Hope and I had a lovely cuddle, but Leo was a little shy.

Nell: You can’t take them home.

Me: I know that.

Nell: Did you see any penguins?

Me: Not that I noticed. But then again I wasn’t really looking.

Nell: Well, try and be more alert because they’ve been spotted elsewhere.

Me: Wearing a hat?

Nell: Yes, but not always the same one.

Me: Do you think it’s the same penguin with different hats, or different penguins?

Nell: We don’t know but they all have film cameras.

Me: Interesting.

Nell: My friend Pamela the Pyrenean Mountain Dog said Mavis saw one filming their Pilates class through the window.

Me: Is Mavis a Pyrenean Mountain Dog, too?

Nell: Yes. But that’s not the point. The penguin was filming.

Me: Is the Pilates class only for Pyrenean Mountain Dogs?

Nell: No. Myfanwy goes, along with The Cat and several members of the Whippets Institute. Why?

Me: Just trying to get it all straight in my head.

Nell: The question is why are the penguins filming?

Me: Maybe they are making a documentary about the area.

Nell: But why film through the window?

Me: Undercover?

Nell: Our penguin was wearing a yellow sou’wester hat.

Me: That’s not very undercover. Not like my all encasing hat.

Nell: Let’s just leave your hat out of this. You are not a penguin.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Harriet is in trouble

Me: What is going on?

Nell: I have just had harsh words with Harriet.

Me: I noticed she was wearing her guilty face. I can’t resist her when she does that.

Nell: Well, you are going to have to, because this cannot continue. If she doesn’t stop she will find herself sleeping in the barn with the large animals.

Me: Goodness me. What has she done?

Nell: She pulled off the protective blankets and ate the sofa cushion again.

Me: Oh dear. That is naughty.

Nell: She has been told repeatedly not to do it.

Me: I know. It’s so unlike her.

Nell: She is easily bored. She says she can’t help herself.

Me: She is such a good girl normally. I’m sure she feels awful about it.

Nell: Feeling awful after you’ve done something doesn’t forgive doing it.

Me: True.

Nell: David is walking around covered in feathers.

Me: Do you think he was involved?

Nell: No. He’s not a sofa chewer. He has his favourite towel to chew if needed, and his toys.

Me: Maybe the feathers are the attraction?

Nell: Yes, I rather think they might be. Anyway, this definitely has to stop.

Me: I agree.

Nell: I woke up with a feather in my mouth. I thought it was a sign from Charlie.

Me: Perhaps it was.

Nell: It was from the sofa. You know that and I know that.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Please tell me there isn’t a penguin outside with a film camera.

Me: Do you mean the one in a hat?

Nell: Of course I mean the one in the hat. How many penguins do you think there are filming through our window?

Me: Shall I ask it in?

Nell: No.

Me: It’s getting awfully wet.

Nell: It’s a penguin.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Stealing, or sharing?

Nell: I expect the lovely young couple were delighted to have Frank back.

Me: Yes. They were. Dave isn’t very happy, though. He loved Frankie so much.

Nell: He will be back to visit no doubt. Bristol isn’t too far away.

Me: Yes, that’s what I told him but after losing Charlie he is vulnerable.

Nell: The loss of Charlie has shaken us all.

Me: Of course it has. How are you?

Nell: Coping. I noticed the Beefies have managed to get themselves on to the local television news again.

Me: What have they done now?

Nell: Stealing. They are always badly behaved during holiday times and it was half term.

Me: So what happened?

Nell: One poor woman only managed a lick of her ice cream before a Beefy took it.

Me: How rude.

Nell: Apparently it wasn’t being rude, it was simply wanting to share. The reporter decided to try and examine the Beefy’s motives by setting it a test.

Me: What did he do?

Nell: He offered the Beefy the choice of a fresh untouched pasty, or one that someone had been eating.

Me: Which one did it choose?

Nell: The half eaten one of course.

Me: Why?

Nell: Beefies like to steal from people. They want you to be upset and shocked.

Me: Yes.

Nell: The reporter kept saying Beefies are influenced by our food choices and just want to join in. Stuff and nonsense.

Me: It sounds unlikely. Beefies don’t care about anyone.

Nell: Quite. Personally, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the reporter wasn’t in their pay.

Me: Stranger things have happened.

Nell: It was a penguin, so it’s a distinct possibility.

Me: Are penguins easily bribed, then?

Nell: No, they are sea birds. Honestly, do try and keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Life goes on

Me: I won’t ask if you need another cushion.

Nell: Please don’t. The puppies seem to have given me all of them.

Me: They want you to be comfortable.

Nell: Do you think we could persuade the Welsh corgi choir that Sunday Songs is quite enough?

Me: I’ll have a word with Myfanwy.

Nell: Its not that I don’t appreciate it, because I do, it’s just that I would prefer quiet.

Me: I understand.

Nell: Sometimes you just need to be, not do.

Me: Yes.

Nell: It’s lovely to see some sunshine at last. Knitwear Wolf told me it is dreadfully cold this morning and some places even have snow.

Me: I thought we might all go for a walk later.

Nell: A good idea. David needs to stretch his legs.

Me: Where is he?

Nell: Sleeping. He was watching over me all night and the poor pup is exhausted.

Me: He and Harriet will always be the puppies, won’t they? Even when they are grey and old.

Nell: You still call me ‘Puppy’ now and again.

Me: Yes, I do and you love it.

Nell: Charlie was my darling.

Me: I know he was.

Nell: And Kev is yours.

Me: Yes, he is.

Nell: People need to cherish each other more. There is too much sadness in the world.

Me: I know it feels like that to you now, but if you look at all the comments people have made and the kindness it will warm your heart.

Nell: Yes, you’re right. I think I’d like a cup of Earl Grey?

Me: And a scone?

Nell: No. A dippy egg and soldiers is what is needed. In front of the fire. With you.

Me: Are you sure?

Nell: Of course I’m sure. You and Me. Always.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Now is the time for kindness

Nell: It was very kind of Tony to come and offer his condolences even though we had no post.

Me: Tony loved Charlie.

Nell: Yes, I am extremely touched by everyone’s kindness. It is a great comfort.

Me: Yes. Sheila said the same. It really does help to know people are thinking of you, doesn’t it?

Nell: Yes. I woke this morning to find myself surrounded by animals of all shapes and sizes.

Me: I know. They all want to be near you.

Nell: Even Little Frankie is still here.

Me: The young couple agreed to let him stay a little longer. He doesn’t want to leave.

Nell: Bless him. Is that the Whippets Institute minibus outside?

Me: Yes. They’ve brought us some cakes and casseroles.

Nell: How thoughtful.

Me: Poppy says it’s completely unnecessary as she has everything under control, but the larger animals are delighted.

Nell: I’m sure they are.

Me: Dave is in charge of food distribution which is a dangerous choice in my opinion.

Nell: David will make sure everyone is fed and if mistakes are made we shall ignore them.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Now is the time for kindness.

Me: It certainly is. Talking of kindness Knitwear Wolf was here earlier with blankets and bacon.

Nell: Charlie loved a bacon sandwich in front of the fire with Mutley. Do you remember how they would chat away together putting the world to rights?

Me: I do. Mutley is keeping himself busy comforting the younger ones with his stories.

Nell: Did I see Sally arrive?

Me: Yes. She didn’t want to disturb you. She is with Harriet. I think something is going on.

Nell: Yes. Charlie was worried about something.

Me: Wasn’t it to do with Joyce?

Nell: Honestly, stop this obsession with Joyce.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Rest in Peace Charlie

Me: Would you like me to tell everyone?

Nell: Yes, please. I don’t think I can.

Me: Nell and I have some very sad news. As you know, Charlie had been suffering from heart failure for some time but seemed to be doing better.

Nell: I thought he was just tired. I would never have gone away if I had known.

Me: He wanted you to go.

Nell: He was so pleased to see me when I got home.

Me: Yes, he was.

Nell: I think he waited for me.

Me: He probably did.

Nell: My darling Charlie.

Me: Yesterday Charlie suddenly went into severe heart failure and had trouble breathing. There was no way back from this, so the difficult decision was made to let him go.

Nell: My heart is breaking. He was the love of my life.

Me: I know. We all loved him, Nell. Try to remember what you told me when I lost my mother. The ones we love are never really gone. We carry them in our hearts and they are always with us.

Nell: Yes, I believe he is watching over us now and he is no longer in pain.

Me: That’s right. We’re all here for you, Nell, and for Sheila, who had to make that difficult decision.

Nell: Yes, I know her heart is broken. She loved him so much.

Me: But he will never be forgotten and he will live on in the book as Charlie Shepherd the handsome secret agent.

Nell: Yes, he will.

Me: It’s hard to accept that we will never see him again.

Nell: Just because we can’t see him now doesn’t mean he isn’t there. He and I will meet again.

Me: I am so sorry for your loss.

Nell: We are all sorry today.


An amazing day

Me: Don’t you all look smart?

Nell: I thought Harriet’s hat was a little attention seeking until I saw what Gladys was wearing.

Me: Not everyone can wear a bowl of fruit on their heads.

Nell: Half eaten fruit. The large animals snacked on it during the journey.

Me: How was the first afternoon tea?

Nell: A little worrying at first. David was sitting next to The Queen as a guest of honour but he overdid it as usual.

Me: He didn’t climb on to her lap, did he?

Nell: Not quite, but they were very close and he ate her scone by mistake. He said it was nerves.

Me: It can happen.

Nell: I rather think she thought David was a horse, as she kept stroking his nose and feeding him sandwiches.

Me: I bet he loved that.

Nell: He did. Talking of horses, she and Mutley had a very interesting conversation about horse racing.

Me: Mutley can’t hear.

Nell: No, but he is excellent at nodding and saying ‘Exactly.’ And Joyce helped.

Me: What did The Queen think of Myfanwy and Knitwear Wolf?

Nell: She found them an unusual couple. She complimented Rupert on his kilt.

Me: What about Little Frankie?

Nell: He sat on her knee with Henry and Horst. Lady Anwen was not amused.

Me: Does she object to woodlice?

Nell: I can’t think why. They were discreetly placed on Frankie’s hat and behaved impeccably.

Me: The Welsh corgi choir sang beautifully at the second tea.

Nell: We probably didn’t need the dancing, especially from the larger animals, but I think it was a great success overall. I was proud of everyone.

Me: Even me?

Nell: Especially you, even if you did hold on to her hand for a little bit too long.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


We are visiting The Queen

Nell: Too much?

Me: Well, it might be.

Nell: I told The Cat it was more of an evening tiara.

Me: It is a little formal. In fact it’s almost a crown, to be honest.

Nell: One doesn’t want to upstage The Queen.

Me: Not really. She might not be wearing a hat at all.

Nell: Not inside, perhaps, but I’m sure she will wear one later when we tour the stables and I introduce her to the larger animals.

Me: Won’t they be joining you for tea?

Nell: Due to the excessive and diverse number of guests, some will dine outside.

Me: But they’ve got boots and name badges.

Nell: Buckingham Palace isn’t designed for alpacas, reindeer and moose. David suggested a second tea and this was accepted.

Me: A second tea?

Nell: I think most of us will manage another scone and some cake.

Me: Dave certainly will.

Nell: Why are you wearing a hat?

Me: You said hats must be worn by everyone. Frankie is wearing one.

Nell: Of course he is. Frank will be meeting The Queen.

Me: What about me?

Nell: You know this is a strictly animals only visit.

Me: I just thought as I’m driving the minibus I might say a quick hello.

Nell: Do you think the Prime Minister’s chauffeur joins him when he visits The Queen for a quick hello?

Me: I suppose not.

Nell: I’m afraid my paws are tied. But you can join in the second tea if you promise to be discreet.

Me: I can?

Nell: A simple curtsey, or bow, will suffice when The Queen walks by.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Don’t forget your notebook and pen. This is a visit that needs recording. And no hugging. I know what you’re like when you’re excited.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Dreams can come true

Nell: David certainly has Winning Ways.

Me: Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: People have even started drawing him.

Me: Isn’t Susan Hogan talented? I love that picture.

Nell: Yes, after a great deal of pleading from David, Frank’s family are allowing him to stay with us for a few more days.

Me: Did Charlie find them?

Nell: Yes, they are a lovely young couple who are down here on holiday.

Me: They must have been so worried.

Nell: They were. Apparently they were enjoying lunch when a peacock and a cat entered the restaurant wearing Birdberry scarves and sequins.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: This was a little disconcerting for everyone.

Me: You don’t expect cats to get on with peacocks, do you?

Nell: That’s not the point. Then a small black Pomeranian performed a contemporary dance.

Me: Go Gladys.

Nell: Which was received with tumultuous applause and calls for an encore.

Me: She’s an excellent dancer.

Nell: Finally, an extremely large and impossibly handsome black Labrador joined the group carrying a handbag.

Me: Not something you see every day.

Nell: No. The couple were so engrossed in the dance they didn’t realise Frank was missing until later.

Me: They must have been so worried.

Nell: They were very relieved when we called them.

Me: How did you get their number?

Nell: We found his ID tag in the bottom of the handbag.

Me: I can’t believe Dave would steal a puppy.

Nell: He didn’t. The naughty pup jumped in his handbag. David didn’t realise until they were home.

Me: I see.

Nell: Anyway, he can stay until Sunday.

Me: But Frankie wanted to meet The Queen.

Nell: He will. We’re going tomorrow.

Me: Tomorrow?

Nell: Yes. Dreams can come true you know. Especially when we are involved.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Dave is defiant

Nell: You won’t believe this.

Me: I just might.

Nell: There was a tiny dachshund puppy in the bag.

Me: No?

Nell: Yes. His name is Frank and he wants to meet The Queen.

Me: So my Big Brave Beautiful Boy decided to make his dream come true?

Nell: David cannot go around stealing puppies.

Me: But Frankie wanted to come here.

Nell: Don’t start calling him Frankie. I know where that will end.

Me: It still wasn’t kidnapping. Dave would never do that.

Nell: I have to tell you that David is not at all sorry and is being completely defiant. In fact he seems rather proud of himself.

Me: Surely not.

Nell: And every time I tell Frank he has to go home he just smiles and eats another piece of bacon.

Me: Is there bacon then?

Nell: Of course there is bacon. Emergency situations demand bacon sandwiches and cups of tea. Everyone knows that.

Me: I think Frankie should be allowed to visit The Queen.

Nell: I knew you would say that.

Me: I noticed he is wearing a coat.

Nell: He’s a puppy. Do you want him to freeze?

Me: No, I just wondered where it came from.

Nell: The new Pupwear line.

Me: Do we know how David found him?

Nell: Not yet but we soon will. Charlie is talking to them both now. Mutley is sitting in on proceedings and Joyce is taking notes.

Me: Joyce? What she’s got to do with it?

Nell: Mutley can’t hear, so Joyce is being his ears.

Me: I’m not sure about that, Nell. She isn’t coming to the Palace, is she?

Nell: Of course she is. You don’t think we would let that wretched peacock come along and not Joyce, do you?

Me: Of course not. Sorry.