Out of the Ordinary

Me: Harriet seems focussed.

Nell: Yes. She’s on duty.

Me: Is she spying?

Nell: She is keeping an eye out for anything Out of the Ordinary. It might help us in our search for The Hunter.

Me: Is anything ever ordinary around here, though?

Nell: It is all relative. What may seem extraordinary to some is perfectly normal to others.

Me: I noticed Our Penguin isn’t filming today.

Nell: It’s having tea and toast with Timothy.

Me: Some people would say a penguin having tea with a turkey was out of the ordinary.

Nell: Then they would be wrong. There are no eggs, by the way.

Me: No eggs? There are always eggs.

Nell: Not at the moment. Someone has stolen them.

Me: What about Dave’s breakfast?

Nell: He had some cereal earlier and Poppy is making him toast and marmite for elevenses. If we stagger his feeding times he will cope.

Me: But who stole the eggs?

Nell: We suspect the Beefies are behind it. They’ve got fat faces and are being very quiet.

Me: Did you just say they’ve got fat faces?

Nell: Yes. If you had an egg in your mouth you’d have a fat face, too.

Me: Why are they stealing eggs?

Nell: Who knows? To make cakes and omelettes, or just simply to annoy.

Me: Wretched creatures.

Nell: It’s Romeo and the toilet paper all over again, if you ask me.

Me: Do you mean Romeo the Beefy in a long black wig? I didn’t know he stole toilet paper.

Nell: He does it all the time. It’s a Beefy thing. Do keep up.

Me: So nothing Out of the Ordinary?

Nell: No.

Me: No wonder Harriet is focussed.

Nell: Did David just walk past carrying Gladys in my handbag? Wearing hats?

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Making Do

Me: My Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: David thought a photo of him might lift your spirits.

Me: He’s right. Sweet boy with his film star looks.

Nell: Anyway, now that everyone is home safely we can turn our attention to the job at hand.

Me: What job?

Nell: Finding The Hunter. He, or she, is definitely out there and up to no good.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Some animals are behaving very badly indeed.

Me: Really?

Nell: Two Weimaraners had a fight in the supermarket over some pasta.

Me: Spaghetti?

Nell: No. Penne if you must know, but that’s not the point.

Me: No.

Nell: There is no need to fight.

Me: Certainly not. If you can’t get Penne, there’s always Fusilli, or those shell ones.

Nell: That’s not the point either.

Me: Oh.

Nell: Life is too short for fighting. If you can’t have something then you need to make do. Make the best of what you’ve got.

Me: If life gives you lemons make lemonade.

Nell: I’m not very keen on lemonade. If life gave me lemons I would ask Poppy to make a lemon drizzle cake.

Me: That’s a good idea.

Nell: David, for instance, is coping with a lack of bacon for breakfast.

Me: Good boy.

Nell: He had cereal and two boiled eggs instead.

Me: Dippy ones with soldiers?

Nell: Of course. And he didn’t complain. We were discussing ‘Making Do’ at Morning Thoughts and he obviously took my advice to heart. Unlike The Cat.

Me: What’s wrong with The Cat?

Nell: The supply of sequins is running low and it is being ridiculously hysterical about it.

Me: Yes, but sequins are like bacon to The Cat.

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. The Cat hates bacon. It’s smoked salmon or nothing.

Me: Never mind. Sorry.


Another Goodbye

Nell: Now, today is another difficult day.

Me: Yes, it is.

Nell: These photos say it all.

Me: They are lovely, Nell.

Nell: Yes, the first one of Alice and me is from the book but I don’t think anyone will mind me using it.

Me: It’s one of my favourite photos. You both have the same expression on your faces.

Nell: We love each other and in the end that’s all that matters, isn’t it?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Now, I know it’s going to be very hard saying goodbye to them at the airport but they need to be at home now, as do we all.

Me: Yes, they do.

Nell: Home is our safe place and by staying there we are all keeping each other safe.

Me: Yes, we are.

Nell: In times of trouble communities come together because together we are so much stronger.

Me: Yes.

Nell: The difficult part is that coming together means we have to be apart because that’s the only way we can beat this.

Me: Yes.

Nell: People all over the world have had to say goodbye to loved ones.

Me: I know they have.

Nell: But just because they aren’t there physically doesn’t mean you can’t speak to them.

Me: No, it doesn’t.

Nell: We have our iBones and we can FaceTime and WoofsApp.

Me: Yes.

Nell: And if we don’t have those, there are always telephones and we can write letters.

Me: Yes, we can.

Nell: And we carry those we love in our hearts all the time, anyway.

Me: We certainly do.

Nell: So when you wave goodbye today just remember that.

Me: I will.

Nell: And wash your hands with soap and water.

Me: I know.

Nell: ‘Clean paws every day keep the virus away.’

Me: Yes. Sorry.


It was on my paw

Nell: I need to talk to you now.

Me: Why? What’s happened?

Nell: You know Morning Snuggles with the children?

Me: Yes. It’s my favourite time of the day.

Nell: And you know you asked Poppy and I to do some puzzling with Faye and Jonathan?

Me: Yes. I thought you could have some special time with them as they are leaving tomorrow.

Nell: Well, I have to tell you that Faye is an extremely strong willed young baby.

Me: She is only 9 months old, Nell.

Nell: That’s as maybe, but she insisted on playing her way. She put a piece of the puzzle on my paw instead of on the board.

Me: I’m sure it was just by accident.

Nell: That’s where you are wrong. When I asked her to remove it, she silenced me with a wave of her hand.

Me: That was brave of her. Was Poppy playing?

Nell: Poppy was no help at all. She just turned over and went back to sleep.

Me: She was up early baking bread with Malcolm. I think Dave’s organising a picnic to the beach to lift spirits. Knitwear Wolf brought us all blankets.

Nell: He is such a kind and handsome wolf. Sometimes I think Myfanwy takes him for granted.

Me: Why?

Nell: Joyce was telling me that she orders him around.

Me: Joyce is a gossip.

Nell: She just enjoys a chat.

Me: Well, I don’t trust her. Gladys said she was snooping in Harriet’s notebook.

Nell: I’m sure there was a good reason. Anyway, I’m not puzzling with Faye again. It’s too risky. Fortunately Jonathan distracted her and I was able to move out of the danger zone.

Me: It was only a piece of puzzle, Nell.

Nell: It was on my paw.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Saying Goodbye

Me: I hate saying goodbye.

Nell: I know.

Me: I’m just not very good at it.

Nell: David has been demanding cuddles from Chris all morning.

Me: I thought we decided not to tell him that Chris and Shannon have to leave early.

Nell: We did. He just wants cuddles.

Me: You and Harriet joined in and you aren’t even a cuddly kind of dog.

Nell: Of course I joined in. When somebody is going away you need to have as many cuddles as you can.

Me: Why?

Nell: If you close your eyes and simply remember you can still feel their paws around you.

Me: I must try that.

Nell: Now, David will be distraught this evening when he realises Chris and Shannon have gone so Poppy thinks a spaghetti bolognese is the best idea.

Me: Ok.

Nell: It’s comforting and messy and Jonathan and Faye love it too.

Me: It’s one of my favourites.

Nell: I knew that.

Me: Of course you did.

Nell: Did you know Malcolm and Susan have invited Our Penguin to stay with them at The Nest?

Me: How kind. Have you seen Henry and Horst? Chris wanted to say goodbye.

Nell: They had to answer a distress call over at The Barn.

Me: Is there something wrong with the larger animals?

Nell: Apparently Alejandro had a sudden craving for pickled fish.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: It turned out to be a false alarm. He was just yearning for Peruvian sea fish.

Me: You mean ceviche. It’s raw fish marinated in tiger’s milk.

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. A tiger would never agree to that.

Me: No. It’s a citrus marinade.

Nell: Why mention tigers then? Now, go and give Chris a goodbye hug. He’ll be back as soon as he can.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


We are all in this together

Nell: Now, today is the last day we are all going to be together for a while. Chris and Shannon leave tomorrow and Alice and the children on Thursday.

Me: I know.

Nell: But the sun is shining and the sky is blue so we are going to make some wonderful memories.

Me: Yes, we are.

Nell: Our Penguin might even do some filming.

Me: You just called it Our Penguin.

Nell: Well, that’s its name.

Me: I see.

Nell: I realise it is very hard for you that the children are having to leave early but we need to keep everyone safe.

Me: Yes, we do.

Nell: It is all about looking out for each other now, young and old.

Me: Yes, it is.

Nell: We animals have an extremely important part to play in all of this.

Me: You do?

Nell: Yes. We were discussing it at Morning Thoughts. We need to make sure you get fresh air and exercise.

Me: How thoughtful.

Nell: Harriet and the Farm Dogs are creating a fitness plan and Gladys is offering dance classes.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: The larger animals have signed up already. We also need to make sure you eat healthily and well.

Me: Dave’s area of expertise.

Nell: David will be assisted by Poppy and Malcolm. Knitwear Wolf and The Cat are covering fashion.

Me: That’s a relief.

Nell: Our main concern, however, is your happiness. So Mutley will be available to listen.

Me: He can’t hear.

Nell: Exactly. The rest of us will keep you occupied with regular chats, good advice, cuddles and singing.

Me: Singing?

Nell: The Welsh corgi choir insisted.

Me: Will I have time to write?

Nell: Of course. We’ll get through this together, you know. You and me. Always. Remember?

Me: Yes. Sorry.



Nell: Could you ask those corgis to sing quietly please?

Me: Are you feeling a little delicate after yesterday’s celebrations?

Nell: Poppy and I have been learning about trains with Jonathan and Faye since first thing this morning.

Me: Poppy seems really interested. Maybe she is thinking of driving a train.

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. Poppy is a helicopter pilot.

Me: I know, but she likes a challenge.

Nell: Well, I know far more about trains now than I ever wanted to.

Me: Jonathan loves them.

Nell: Do you think you could bring me a cup of Earl Grey and a thin slice of toast, lightly buttered?

Me: Marmalade?

Nell: Just a small amount and crusts off, please. I can’t deal with crusts today.

Me: What about penguins?

Nell: Excuse me?

Me: Can you deal with our penguin?

Nell: I wish you would stop calling it our penguin. It’s an independent creature. Why would I have to deal with it?

Me: It’s been posting videos on Instagram and it wants you to see your Birthday one before it disappears.

Nell: Why would it disappear?

Me: They only stay on for 24 hours.

Nell: That’s ridiculous. Why go to all that trouble?

Me: It’s the way things are done nowadays. Here today. Gone tomorrow. You have to go with the times.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: You know we’ve been asked to grow our Instagram following?

Nell: Yes.

Me: The penguin is helping us do that by filming. Dave was just filmed eating Joyce’s bacon sandwich by mistake.

Nell: How very naughty.

Me: Joyce left it on the table so he thought it was going spare.

Nell: The penguin should have stopped him.

Me: Nothing comes between a penguin and its art.

Nell: I can’t believe you just said that.

Me: Sorry.


Happy Birthday Nell

Me: Happy Birthday to you my darling Nell. You are eight today.

Nell: Thank you. Shall we start with the hat?

Me: I thought it was very Sally Bowles only brighter.

Nell: I’m a Labrador not a cabaret dancer but I see where you’re coming from. Now, let’s move on to the early morning singing.

Me: The Welsh corgi choir thought you would enjoy a selection of show tunes.

Nell: I particularly appreciated ‘Hello Nelly’ and how glad they were to have me back again even though I haven’t been anywhere.

Me: It’s from ‘Hello Dolly’.

Nell: I presume Gladys choreographed the dancing.

Me: I did tell her it was rather ambitious.

Nell: It certainly was, even without the tap dancing.

Me: Now, there will be cake later and a big barbecue for everyone in the evening.

Nell: Dare I ask what happens if it rains?

Me: We will all be wearing hats and carrying sequinned umbrellas.

Nell: Perhaps I might be allowed to watch through the window with a nice cup of Earl Grey and a warm blanket if it gets too rainy. I am 8 after all, so not as young as I used to be.

Me: I don’t like to think of you getting old, Nell.

Nell: I was only joking. 8 is the new 6.

Me: I wrote you a poem.

Nell: How lovely.

Me: ‘My darling Nell

You’re 8 today.

I love you more

Than words can say.

Where there’s me

There’s always you.

I can’t be me

Without you too.

So Happy Birthday from us all

Your loving family big and small.

You’re loved around the world, it’s true,

So thank you Nell for being you.’

Nell: Charlie would have approved.

Me: Yes, I wish he was here.

Nell: He is.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Unpredictable weather

Me: It was good to see Tony today.

Nell: Yes. I wish the puppies would learn a little restraint. Harriet has become quite wild recently. Throwing herself at everyone.

Me: She can’t help it, Nell. The puppies are naturally affectionate.

Nell: They are naturally greedy. Tony brought treats. If you noticed, I waited politely at the back to receive mine.

Me: I know, Miss Goody Two Shoes.

Nell: I never wear shoes and if I did, two would not be enough. I wear slippers, obviously, and socks in winter and the occasional wellington boot.

Me: Talking of boots. The large animals were showing me theirs.

Nell: Yes, they got them for our visit to the Palace and now they don’t want to take them off.

Me: I don’t blame them. They are very smart.

Nell: I’ve told them repeatedly that slippers have to be worn inside and boots left at the door.

Me: Shame.

Nell: We can’t have mud and sand traipsed all over the house. There are children and small animals playing.

Me: Wasn’t that sand storm dreadful yesterday?

Nell: Yes, I’m glad the photoshoot was cancelled. I couldn’t see my paws in front of my face.

Me: We’re rescheduling for next week in his studio.

Nell: Yes. The weather here is simply too unpredictable. My friend Pamela forgot her umbrella yesterday and got soaked leaving the hairdressers.

Me: What kind of haircuts do Bernese Mountain Dogs get?

Nell: They don’t. They have self regulating hair. She goes for a wash and blow dry.

Me: I see.

Nell: I noticed you were wearing your all encasing hat on the beach yesterday.

Me: Yes. Why?

Nell: Were you going to wear it again for the photoshoot?

Me: Maybe. It’s very me.

Nell: The photoshoot is inside.

Me: Oh yes. Sorry.