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Who is in the handbag?

Nell: Could I have a word, please?

Me: What have I done now?

Nell: Why do you always think you’ve done something?

Me: Because I usually have.

Nell: Have you seen today’s Daily Growl?

Me: No. Not yet.

Nell: Berry Pomeroy thinks he’s coming with us to the palace.

Me: Who on earth is Berry Pomeroy?

Nell: The Face of Birdberry, of course. Do keep up.

Me: I thought it was a female.

Nell: Well, it isn’t. It’s a very annoying male and according to the Daily Growl he is joining David Martin as a guest on his upcoming visit to The Queen.

Me: Does Dave know?

Nell: I have no idea. He is out with The Cat and Gladys.

Me: I suppose it can’t do any harm if Berry Pomeroy wants to join us. I mean everyone else is.

Nell: We can’t have an arrogant bird parading around and showing off when we are trying to enjoy a quiet chat and a warm scone with The Queen.

Me: Her Majesty will be used to peacocks. You shouldn’t be so judgemental. Not all peacocks are the same.

Nell: Have you read the article? ‘Berry Pomeroy enjoys nothing more than a night out on the town shaking his tail feathers.’

Me: Gladys is going to love him.

Nell: What’s that dreadful kerfuffle outside?

Me: Dave is back and he is carrying a large handbag.

Nell: Maybe he will finally stop stealing mine. Is Gladys in it?

Me: No. It looks like a Birdberry bag and Gladys definitely isn’t in it, although someone else might be.

Nell: How do you know?

Me: Because Gladys and The Cat are talking to the peacock. And they are all wearing Birdberry scarves.

Nell: I meant who is in the handbag.

Me: I can’t tell. Sorry.

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Little Marvin has grown

Me: Look at Little Marvin. Hasn’t he grown?

Nell: He’s turning into a very handsome pup.

Me: It’s been rather cold in Toronto recently so I hope he’s keeping warm.

Nell: We can ask Knitwear Wolf to send over some soft pullovers from his new Pupwear line.

Me: I didn’t know he had one.

Nell: Oh yes. He and The Cat are holding auditions as we speak.

Me: Auditions?

Nell: After the Face of Birdberry fiasco, they have decided to find the Face of Pupwear.

Me: Has the Face of Birdberry been chosen?

Nell: Yes. The wretched Beefies decided on a peacock. I mean have you ever seen a peacock in a trench coat?

Me: Not yet.

Nell: It doesn’t work. Peacocks can model necklaces, or even hats, but not coats.

Me: Why?

Nell: Feathers, of course. The whole point of a peacock is its feathers. You don’t cover them up.

Me: I expect it looks good in scarves, and I can definitely see a peacock with a handbag.

Nell: Anyway, Rupert and The Cat are out looking for puppies as we speak.

Me: What about Marvin? Or Tony’s Little Ollie?

Nell: Marvin is in Canada and Little Ollie is more Big Ollie nowadays. I think they are looking for someone smaller.

Me: Well, there’s definitely no chance for my Big Brave Beautiful Boy then. Even though he has supermodel looks.

Nell: If you are referring to David, he is more than busy keeping an eye on his sister.

Me: Is Harriet still taking notes?

Nell: Yes. Spying in a beret and sunglasses. The silly animal has taken it too far, as usual.

Me: I bet she looks awfully stylish in them, though.

Nell: No. David is the one wearing the beret and sunglasses. Not Harriet.

Me: I see. Sorry.

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David is Keeping Her Safe

Nell: Harriet is up to something.

Me: No, she isn’t. She’s lying upstairs on the bed with Dave. He’s resting his head on her. It’s very sweet when he does that.

Nell: David is doing an excellent of job of Keeping Her Safe.

Me: Safe from what?

Nell: We don’t know. She has been behaving very oddly since she received that message from Sally.

Me: If you mean that tucked in tail twirling thing she does, it’s just a mad five minutes. She’s usually fine afterwards.

Nell: No, I don’t mean that. She keeps watching us all and then she writes something down in her notebook.

Me: I do that.

Nell: You’re just making notes for stories. We all know that.

Me: Maybe Harriet has been bitten by the writing bug.

Nell: The Writing Bug? Good grief. How many more insects am I supposed to put up with? The downstairs facilities are full of them you know.

Me: Yes, I do know. It’s just a saying, Nell.

Nell: If it tries to bite me it will be in serious trouble. That’s all I have to say. In fact I’m going to speak to Henry and Horst about it. We can’t have biters in the house.

Me: Oh dear. What does Charlie think?

Nell: About biters? He doesn’t like them either.

Me: No. About Harriet?

Nell: He thinks I should keep out of it and let Harriet get on with her job.

Me: Has he remembered where he met Joyce yet?

Nell: No. What’s this obsession with Joyce all of a sudden?

Me: I just wondered.

Nell: I know you. Once you get an idea in your head you can’t let it go. You have far too much imagination for your own good if you ask me.

Me: I know. Sorry.

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Waiting for post

Nell: I came downstairs this morning to find the kitchen full of corgis.

Me: Is that why Harriet keeps looking at the door?

Nell: No. She’s waiting for a message from Sally.

Me: But it’s Sunday, Nell. No post today.

Nell: Sally is sending a courier pigeon.

Me: Don’t you mean carrier pigeon?

Nell: No. It works for UPS. The Urgent Postal Service.

Me: Never mind. What’s so urgent anyway?

Nell: I don’t know.

Me: This weather is getting me down. Rain, rain, wind and rain.

Nell: Try being a corgi. Myfanwy says she hasn’t had a dry undercarriage in days.

Me: Excuse me?

Nell: Wading through puddles with short legs is not fun. The Dartmouth Dachshunds have cancelled all their performances.

Me: Maybe the Welsh corgi choir should do the same?

Nell: They won’t give up Sunday Songs. At least they know there’s a hot cup of tea and one of Poppy’s warm scones at the end of it.

Me: Did I see Joyce arrive earlier?

Nell: Yes. Mutley sent a Woofer to collect her.

Me: A Woofer?

Nell: Yes. It’s like a taxi. He uses them all the time.

Me: You mean Uber.

Nell: I do not. That’s a ridiculous name.

Me: How are the large animals coping in the barn?

Nell: Monty and Olive are accustomed to the cold but Alejandro is struggling.

Me: At least he has his thick alpaca coat.

Nell: Yes, but he’s a sunshine animal. He is used to a sombrero, not a sou’wester.

Me: I’m the same.

Nell: When did you last wear a sombrero? The mere idea.

Me: I meant I miss the sun.

Nell: Stop moaning and let that pigeon in. The urgent post is getting wet and it will be in need of a scone.

Me: Will do. Sorry.

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Joyce is concerned about Charlie

Me: Mutley and Joyce seem to be getting on well.

Nell: Yes. She’s a delightful animal. We had the most interesting conversation about James Bond yesterday.

Me: James Bond?

Nell: Yes. She was asking me about Charlie and we moved on to our favourite Bond.

Me: You didn’t tell her Charlie worked for the Secret Service, did you?

Nell: She already knew. Mutley must have told her, which was a little remiss of him I must say, but then he is getting on in years.

Me: I am very surprised. That’s completely out of character. Mutley is normally so cautious.

Nell: I know, but when one first falls for someone, caution is thrown to the wind. You must remember those early days.

Me: Yes. I suppose so.

Nell: Anyway, I was telling Joyce that Sean Connery will always be my favourite Bond. Who is yours by the way?

Me: I’m hoping Idris Elba will take over.

Nell: Yes. Idris is charming. I met him at the Royal Wedding you know.

Me: I remember. Who is Joyce’s favourite then?

Nell: Joyce said she is rather partial to Daniel Craig.

Me: What did she want to know about Charlie?

Nell: Just how he is doing health wise. She was very concerned.

Me: Mutley certainly opened up to her about him.

Nell: It’s funny because Charlie thinks he knows her from somewhere only he can’t remember where.

Me: Really?

Nell: Yes.

Me: So what are your plans today?

Nell: I think cuddling up in front of the fire with a good book is the best idea today.

Me: I agree.

Nell: Joyce said she might call round later.

Me: Did she indeed? To see Mutley, or Charlie?

Nell: Mutley, of course. Why would she want to see Charlie?

Me: I just wondered. Sorry.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Me: Happy Valentine’s Day.

Nell: And the same to you.

Me: It was lovely on the beach, wasn’t it?

Nell: Yes, a little windy but the puppies were able to splash and swim.

Me: Did Mutley come to a decision about who to take to the ball?

Nell: He did. Apparently there were some awfully glamorous ladies eager for his attention.

Me: I bet there were. Do we know who signed him up to the website yet?

Nell: No, we have no idea.

Me: So, who did he choose?

Nell: After a great deal of thought he said it was actually quite easy.

Me: Really?

Nell: Yes. He said when it comes down to it you need to listen to what your heart is telling you.

Me: You do.

Nell: What use is a shiny new bowl if there is nothing in it?

Me: No use at all.

Nell: It is just an ornament. There to be admired.

Me: I don’t think any of you would admire an empty bowl to be honest, shiny or not.

Nell: That’s not the point. Mutley says he is like an old bowl now. A little chipped and losing its colour but still doing the job and well loved.

Me: True.

Nell: So he decided to invite Joyce.

Me: Joyce? Do I know her?

Nell: Of course you do. She’s that elderly Border Terrier who collects for the Rescue Dog charity. She and Mutley have been friends for years.

Me: The friendly one with glasses?

Nell: Exactly.

Me: I’m awfully surprised she joined that dating website.

Nell: She didn’t. When Mutley started to go through the photos he realised Joyce had been there all along. Sometimes love is right in front of your eyes. You just need to open them.

Me: Of course. Sorry.

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Nell makes a discovery

Nell: You are not going to believe this.

Me: I just might.

Nell: Look at this photo.

Me: It’s darling Mutley laughing.

Nell: Exactly.

Me: Actually, it’s a younger Mutley. Where did you find it?

Nell: Now, this is going to surprise you and I was only on there doing some research for a friend.

Me: On where?

Nell: Plenty of dogs.com.

Me: I don’t think I know it.

Nell: You must. It’s a famous dating site.

Me: Are you online dating? Charlie will be furious, Nell.

Nell: No, I just told you I am merely helping a friend.

Me: Who?

Nell: Never you mind. Let’s just concentrate on Mutley. Goodness knows what he’s been up to.

Me: You mean Mutley is online dating?

Nell: Look at his profile. ‘Dog about town and entrepreneur looking for a lovely lady to take to the ball.’

Me: Well, good for Mutley. What ball?

Nell: Count Bingo Flamingo’s Valentine’s Day Ball of course. Do keep up.

Me: I didn’t know.

Nell: He has it every year. Haven’t you noticed the excitement?

Me: I thought it was because of the royal visit.

Nell: That’s delayed until next week due to the inclement weather.

Me: What a shame.

Nell: It gives us time to sort out a few things. Transport for a start. The large animals ran riot in that horse box. Knitwear Wolf has suggested a double decker bus.

Me: Now, that’s an idea. Do you think we should talk to Mutley about this dating thing?

Nell: There’s no point. He can’t hear.

Me: Maybe he should have mentioned that in his profile.

Nell: You mean ‘Applicants in writing please, as I am hard of hearing.’

Me: Something like that.

Nell: Don’t be silly. It’s all by text nowadays, anyway.

Me: Of course. Sorry.

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Are you serious?

Nell: ‘Let’s go to the beach,’ she says.

Me: I thought it was a good idea.

Nell: ‘It will be fun,’ she says.

Me: I thought it would be.

Nell: ‘The storm has passed,’ she says.

Me: I thought it had.

Nell: Do you know how much flying sand mixed with sea water hurts?

Me: I do now.

Nell: Getting over the dunes with the wind against us was like climbing Mount Everest.

Me: Going back was fast though.

Nell: Even Harriet took one look at the sea and shook her head.

Me: I know. It was a dreadful idea. The weather seemed calmer back at home.

Nell: Did it really though? Weren’t the overturned bins a clue?

Me: It wasn’t one of my wisest decisions. It looks much brighter now.

Nell: Oh no you don’t. I am going to ask Tony when he delivers the post. I’m not trusting you. He usually knows what’s happening with the weather.

Me: Fair enough.

Nell: Now, what’s your opinion on poetry?

Me: I like it. Especially yours.

Nell: But what about the Queen?

Me: Does she write poetry?

Nell: No, I mean would she like a poem dedicated to her?

Me: Absolutely.

Nell: David has written one you see.

Me: Has he? Bless him. Can I hear it?

Nell: ‘Dear Queen I want to say to you,

We love you lots, we really do.

You’re like a dog bowl full of joy

To me, your Big Brave Beautiful Boy.’

Me: That’s adorable.

Nell: I’m not at all sure one should address Her Majesty as ‘Dear Queen’, or refer to her as a dog bowl.

Me: She’ll love it.

Nell: But he wants to perform it in interpretive dance with Gladys as the bowl.

Me: Priceless.

Nell: Are you serious?

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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David takes it too far

Nell: David has taken it too far again.

Me: What?

Nell: Morning cuddles with Kev.

Me: What did he do?

Nell: We were all enjoying ourselves and then he climbed on top of us to get on to Kev’s lap.

Me: He doesn’t realise how big he is. He’s like a puppy.

Nell: He is like a giant bulldozer.

Me: After that storm I expect cuddles were needed.

Nell: They were.

Me: Where is everyone else? It seems a lot emptier than it was.

Nell: They had an early breakfast of porridge with local honey and have gone to check on the damage.

Me: Is it safe?

Nell: Yes. They all have sou’westers and hats.

Me: I hope Mutley didn’t go with them. He is far too old to be traipsing around the countryside in this weather.

Nell: Of course he didn’t. He’s sleeping in his favourite chair. Didn’t you notice?

Me: No.

Nell: Now, Poppy thinks tray bakes are the answer.

Me: Tray bakes?

Nell: Yes, they can be cut into squares and held in the paw, or claw, quite easily. Everyone will be cold and hungry when they get back.

Me: Yes, they will.

Nell: We have decided on Poppy’s Fruity Traybake, a moist sponge made from banana, apple, carrots and mango, topped with a fruity cream cheese frosting.

Me: Sounds yummy.

Nell: David is doing the icing.

Me: That’s a dreadful idea, Nell.

Nell: Why?

Me: Don’t you remember what happened last time?

Nell: No.

Me: He kept saying ‘One spoon for the cake and one for Dave.’

Nell: He won’t do that again.

Me: On your head be it.

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. I don’t want icing on my head. It goes on the cake. Honestly, the things you come out with sometimes.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Sunday Shelter

Me: You are not going to believe this.

Nell: I probably will.

Me: My bedroom is full of animals.

Nell: Where else were we going to put them?

Me: What about downstairs?

Nell: It’s full. Once word got round during the evacuation that we were providing shelter for the wet and homeless, they all came here.

Me: What evacuation?

Nell: Have you noticed there is a storm going on?

Me: Of course. But I don’t think there were any animals in the bedroom when I went to bed, apart from the usual ones.

Nell: We only started moving them upstairs when it became too full downstairs.

Me: I see. How did I sleep through it?

Nell: Camomile tea. Poppy made your evening cup extra strong. And the larger animals wore slippers.

Me: Do we know how many animals we are sheltering?

Nell: Harriet is making a list.

Me: Good.

Nell: David has worked tirelessly all night providing warmth and security.

Me: My Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Poppy and Malcolm haven’t stopped in the kitchen.

Me: Is there enough food?

Nell: Lunch will have to be soup and a sandwich.

Me: Bacon?

Nell: No. Cheese. The bacon sandwiches went during the night shift.

Me: Understandable.

Nell: Henry and Horst have organised a quiet space for the insects in the downstairs facilities.

Me: Thanks for the warning.

Nell: The Welsh corgi choir are performing Morning Songs from the living room. The fire is lit and there are plenty of blankets courtesy of Knitwear Wolf.

Me: Wonderful.

Nell: We are hoping it will raise spirits as some animals have lost their homes.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: Once the storm has passed the rebuilding will begin. All will be well. We’ve weathered storms before and we can do it again.

Me: Yes. Sorry.