This simply won’t do

Nell: This simply won’t do.

Me: What’s the matter?

Nell: I’m surrounded by negativity.

Me: Are you?

Nell: David is outside on his lounger watching the gate.

Me: My poor darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Poppy has gone back to bed and gave me a fierce look when I asked why.

Me: She’s fed up with the Lockdown.

Nell: We are all fed up with it, but that’s what is needed to save lives.

Me: I know. It’s just gets you down sometimes.

Nell: Still no need to look like a wet biscuit.

Me: Don’t you mean weekend?

Nell: Certainly not. The weekend hasn’t even started. I mean a biscuit that has fallen into the water bowl and gone soggy.

Me: I’m not soggy.

Nell: Well, don’t behave like it then. Glooming and dooming never got anyone anywhere. You need to be up and doing.

Me: You don’t mean cleaning the house, do you?

Nell: Exactly. It will lift your spirits.

Me: I hate cleaning.

Nell: If everyone mucks in, it will be done in a jiffy.

Me: You sound like a sergeant major.

Nell: Aprons have been issued, along with mops, buckets and cleaning cloths. Team leaders are; Monty the Moose for the larger animals, including llamas, Gladys for dogs, cats and miscellaneous animals, Susan for the birds, and Henry and Horst for insects.

Me: What about me?

Nell: You’re working with Kev.

Me: As joint leaders?

Nell: Don’t be silly.

Me: I hope you’re cleaning, too.

Nell: I’m the General Coordinator. My paws will be full keeping everyone on track.

Me: Will there be refreshments?

Nell: Yes, bacon sandwiches, or cheese and pickle, with mugs of tea, or coffee.

Me: Could I have mine now?

Nell: No. Tasks then treats. You know the score.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


A Wet Wednesday

Me: It’s a bit wet and windy today, isn’t it?

Nell: Yes, it is.

Me: You’ve got seeds all over your face and I’ve got them on my wellington boots.

Nell: I would like to talk to you about your boots.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Most people’s wellington boots are green.

Me: Paddington’s aren’t.

Nell: Yes. Well, that says it all, doesn’t it?

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: The idea is to blend into the landscape not stand out a mile, and you are not a small bear from Darkest Peru.

Me: I have size 2 feet, Nell. I have to buy children’s boots.

Nell: You can wear a 3 in a boot and you know it.

Me: Yes. I think these are a size 3. I got them with Jonathan Sky when he was visiting. His aren’t green.

Nell: Jonathan’s boots are camouflage ones and perfectly acceptable. Yours are not.

Me: Anyway, I’m not a big fan of rain, even though the garden needs it. It dampens the spirits. See what I did there?

Nell: Well, Princess and Our Penguin absolutely love it. They’ve been outside filming since first thing this morning.

Me: Are they filming ‘Dancing Treat to Treat’?

Nell: No, that’s more of an evening show. I think it’s a documentary. ‘Life in the Lockdown.’ They were interviewing the llamas.

Me: Their pyjamas must be getting awfully soggy in the rain.

Nell: Sogginess never bothers a llama. They are naturally optimistic and extremely sociable creatures, apart from the occasional spitting of course.

Me: I wish they wouldn’t do that.

Nell: It’s their way of disciplining those of a lower rank.

Me: Is that how they see me then? Only they spat at me earlier.

Nell: I told you not to wear those boots.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Book Release Day

Me: I saw that look you gave Kev. It was your ‘Give me strength’ look.

Nell: You should have put your glasses on from the beginning. You know you can’t read to us without them.

Me: I saw Kev was taking a photo.

Nell: It wasn’t a fashion shoot. Pretending to read, while seeing nothing. Honestly.

Me: The puppies enjoyed it but Poppy fell asleep.

Nell: She’s been up early baking bread and getting the cake in the oven so Malcolm can ice it later.

Me: What cake?

Nell: It’s book release day. There has to be cake.

Me: How wonderful. And scones, too?

Nell: There are always scones. The Whippets Institute are bringing the sandwiches. Crusts off, of course.

Me: But they can’t come in.

Nell: No. It was going to be a picnic but the weather is dreadful so the larger beasts have offered them the barn.

Me: How are they getting here? They aren’t allowed to use their minibus, are they?

Nell: No. The nimbler ones run and the other whippets cycle. The Welsh corgi choir are doing the same.

Me: Corgis riding on bicycles? Isn’t that a bit dangerous?

Nell: How do you think they all got here for Mutley’s memorial on Sunday?

Me: I hope nobody was hurt.

Nell: There were a few tumbles. Fortunately the roads are still fairly quiet and corgis bounce.

Me: I’m not sure they do, Nell.

Nell: I’m so glad that Mutley and Charlie will live on in the book.

Me: So am I. I hope they arrive soon.

Nell: Covid 19 is causing chaos everywhere but they are definitely on their way.

Me: Everyone has been so patient.

Nell: It is what it is. Let’s just celebrate the fact that the book is finally officially released.

Me: Yes. Sorry.



Me: Where’s Dave?

Nell: In the front garden waiting for Mutley.

Me: But he knows Mutley isn’t coming back, doesn’t he?

Nell: Yes. He says he would still rather wait. Just for now. Just in case.

Me: My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Leave him be. He will come to terms with it in his own way.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Now, tomorrow is an important day.

Me: Yes. The book is officially released.

Nell: I know we had a lot of things planned that aren’t happening now for so many reasons, but it is still a very important day.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Mutley and Charlie live on in your book so we need as many people as we can to read about them.

Me: That’s true.

Nell: Which is why we are asking everyone to help spread the word.

Me: Can we?

Nell: Of course. This is a journey we are all on together.

Me: Yes, and the support we have received from everyone after losing Mutley has been overwhelming. Thank you all so much for your kind words.

Nell: So, when you receive the book, take a photo of yourself reading it with your dog, if you have one.

Me: Or cat, or any animal, really. Flamingos, woodlice. Or none. It’s up to you.

Nell: Then post it across social media on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, tagging #conversationswithnell.

Me: How do you do that?

Nell: The Cat says it’s easy. And wherever you’ve ordered it, through Amazon, or somewhere else, please go and leave us a review. Each review helps us to get noticed.

Me: But the most important thing is that we hope you enjoy reading it.

Nell: Of course they are going to enjoy reading it. They helped make it happen.

Me: Yes, they did. Sorry.


Mutley was greatly loved

Me: Did I hear singing outside, Nell?

Nell: Yes. It’s the Welsh corgi choir. They are paying their respects to Mutley.

Me: But large gatherings are not allowed.

Nell: They are observing social distancing. Look out of the window.

Me: Oh, my goodness. The fields are full of animals and there are hundreds of birds in the trees.

Nell: They all wanted to be here to celebrate Mutley. He was greatly loved.

Me: This is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Mutley would have loved it.

Nell: He’s watching it now. With Charlie. I’m sure of it.

Me: And everyone is wearing a hat.

Nell: Mutley loved a good hat.

Me: Even the llamas in pyjamas have nightcaps on.

Nell: Silly creatures.

Me: Is that a flock of Beefies?

Nell: Princess is about to sing and they are her backing group.

Me: But they’re carrying mackerel.

Nell: She needs to snack during the performance. It’s a seal thing.

Me: I’ve thought of a name for them. Princess and the Sealgulls. What do you think?

Nell: I think you would have made Mutley smile.

Me: Dear darling Mutley. I can’t believe he has gone. How is Joyce?

Nell: Devastated. Knitwear Wolf has spent a lot of time with her. Thank goodness he is here. He is such a comfort.

Me: I found Dave crying in the kitchen.

Nell: Yes, he and Harriet are staying close to each other.

Me: Poppy is keeping busy.

Nell: Yes. Everyone deals with grief in their own way.

Me: I wish I could help Kev. He’s hurting so much. Mutley was his dear old boy. Driving away from him broke his heart.

Nell: I know. But he had no choice. Just remember we are all in this together. Look outside.

Me: Yes. Sorry.



Nell: I am afraid we have some very sad news for you all today.

Me: Yes, we do. Our darling Mutley. This is breaking my heart.

Nell: Yesterday afternoon Mutley was taken suddenly ill.

Me: Yes.

Nell: So you and Kev rushed him to the vets.

Me: We did. We called them and they said bring him straight in.

Nell: Emily the vet was there. She knows Mutley.

Me: She was. We had to wait in the car park while she took Mutley inside.

Nell: She explained to you that Mutley had suffered a major seizure affecting his brain.

Me: Yes.

Nell: There were some invasive procedures they could have tried, but she didn’t hold out much hope at his age, and the kindest thing you and Kev could do would be to let him go.

Me: Yes.

Nell: So that is what you did.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Because you loved him.

Me: We did. We do. We always will.

Nell: Yes, we will.

Me: The awful thing was, because of this horrible virus, we couldn’t be with him.

Nell: I know.

Me: We weren’t allowed to stay with him, Nell. We had to drive away.

Nell: Emily was there with him.

Me: Yes, she was.

Nell: Now he is running free and in no pain.

Me: Our darling Mutley.

Nell: Remember what I told you about when our loved ones die?

Me: Yes.

Nell: They never really leave us. They become our Guardians and watch over us. Love like that never dies.

Me: Yes.

Nell: So Mutley is watching over us now and if any of us need to talk to him we can be sure he is listening.

Me: I miss him so much.

Nell: We all do.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

Nell: No need for sorry. Not today.


Exciting news

Me: Why is Dave wearing his top hat this early in the morning?

Nell: Is there a particular time when wearing a hat becomes acceptable?

Me: I suppose not.

Nell: Alejandro just walked past in a sombrero and you didn’t comment.

Me: I’m getting used to it.

Nell: Malcolm is wearing sunglasses inside again, by the way.

Me: Hangover?

Nell: I beg your pardon? Malcolm doesn’t drink.

Me: He’s been known to have a sweet sherry.

Nell: Only at Christmas. Someone thinks they saw Sven Gully, so he isn’t risking anything. Anyway, who is the lovely young lady with your book?

Me: It’s Jamie from Schiffer Publishing in the US. She chose ‘Conversations with Nell’ as her book for World Book Day yesterday.

Nell: Well, that’s extremely gratifying.

Me: Yes, it is. I was very touched. Anyway, why is Dave wearing a top hat?

Nell: The Daily Growl just called about the results of Handsome Hound 2020.

Me: Oh my goodness. How exciting.

Nell: Yes. As we all expected, David won the public vote.

Me: My Big Brave Beautiful Boy is the Most Handsome Hound. What about your admirer?

Nell: If you mean Boone from Vancouver, Canada, he was voted Most Handsome International Senior.

Me: Was Dog Marley placed?

Nell: You’re not serious? That animal hadn’t even brushed his hair.

Me: He’s a Bergamasco, Nell. Don’t be so judgemental.

Nell: I’ve just remembered. You and Jamie had lunch together and I wasn’t invited.

Me: It was a working lunch to discuss publishing the book and it was over 18 months ago.

Nell: And now she is holding your book in her hands.

Me: Yes, she is.

Nell: Those had better be happy tears. You have been waiting for this for a very long time.

Me: Yes. All my life. Sorry.


Counting Cows

Me: Why has Harriet climbed up there?

Nell: It’s a game.

Me: Does she want to be Queen of the Castle?

Nell: What castle?

Me: You know. ‘I’m the Queen of the Castle

Get down you dirty rascal.’

Nell: If anyone is a dirty rascal, then it’s Poppy, not me. Look at those muddy legs.

Me: Yes, I’m afraid Poppy is being a little wild at the moment.

Nell: I think it’s all that baking. The demand for scones has doubled.

Me: Yes. The trouble with Poppy’s scones is once you’ve tried one, you can’t go back.

Nell: I think you will find both David and Amanda Panda go back several times.

Me: So what is the game?

Nell: Counting Cows. You must have played it.

Me: No, I’ve never even heard of it.

Nell: We always play it when we are out on our walk.

Me: Do you?

Nell: Yes. Kev is very good at it.

Me: How do you play then?

Nell: You count the cows.

Me: Tell me what to do.

Nell: Alright. ‘Excuse me, could you tell me how

I am supposed to count a cow?’

Me: I love it.

Nell: ‘To count a cow, did you just say?

Are you sure you want to play?’

Me: Go on.

Nell: ‘Yes, I’m sure as sure can be.

Should I clap my paws, should I climb a tree?’

Me: I’m not very good at climbing trees.

Nell: That doesn’t matter. May I continue?

Me: Yes.

Nell: ‘No need for trees, just take a bow,

Then shout to the world ‘I’m counting NOW.”

Me: But what if I see more cows than you do and it takes me longer?

Nell: Stop questioning everything. Sometimes you just need to have fun and go with it.

Me: You’re right. Sorry.


David has an ear massage

Me: Have you seen Dave?

Nell: David is upstairs having a morning ear massage with Kev.

Me: My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. Is he stressed?

Nell: He has been a little tense recently waiting to hear who is Handsome Hound 2020.

Me: I think he’s in with a very good chance.

Nell: We all do, but it’s best not to count one’s sausages before they’ve been cooked.

Me: Don’t you mean chickens before they hatch?

Nell: Certainly not. Have you ever tried counting chickens? Wretched creatures never stay still and the shouting. Did you hear them this morning? ‘Another egg. I’ve laid an egg.’

Me: Well, eggs are important at the moment. Did I see PC Amanda Panda coming out of The Barn?

Nell: Yes. It’s those llamas in pyjamas again. Out in threes. Someone reported seeing one going in there.

Me: Was it visiting the larger animals?

Nell: No. It was Alejandro wearing lycra, not pyjamas.

Me: Alpacas and llamas are easily confused.

Nell: They certainly are, and people get them mixed up, too.

Me: That’s what I meant. Never mind. Why was Alejandro wearing lycra?

Nell: ‘Glide with Gladys’.

Me: Of course.

Nell: Anyway, Amanda stayed for a quick scone and a chat while he was there. The larger animals have their own supply.

Me: Social distancing is easier in a barn, I suppose. I was wondering if the distance you have to be from someone depends on their size.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Surely Henry and Horst wouldn’t need to be as far away as Monty because a moose can cough much further than a woodlouse.

Nell: Just stop right there. We are not going to start measuring animals, thank you very much.

Me: I was only thinking.

Nell: Well, don’t.

Me: Yes. Sorry.



Me: I wasn’t expecting him to be called Amanda.

Nell: Yes, it’s an unusual name for a Police Constable.

Me: It’s an unusual name for a male panda.

Nell: Is it, though? Amanda might be a very popular name amongst male pandas, for all we know.

Me: I suppose so, but Constable Amanda Panda? It’s not exactly intimidating, is it?

Nell: This is Devon, not Miami Spice.

Me: Vice.

Nell: Bless you.

Me: I see what you did there.

Nell: Anyway, that’s not the point. Don’t you want to know why he was here?

Me: It was the barking, wasn’t it? Is Harriet going to jail?

Nell: No, somebody reported Knitwear Wolf, Princess and Our Penguin.

Me: Why?

Nell: An illegal gathering of three and an unnecessary journey to the sea.

Me: But it wasn’t an unnecessary journey. Knitwear Wolf needs to deliver the papers and the other two need a daily swim.

Nell: Don’t worry, it’s all sorted.

Me: Even the illegal gathering?

Nell: When I explained they were all from one household, Amanda was happy to let it go. Also, pandas simply adore scones, and Poppy had just made some.

Me: But Knitwear Wolf doesn’t live here.

Nell: He does now. To be honest it makes it easier for everyone. Mutley is over the moon and Joyce can’t stop smiling.

Me: You seem quite happy about it, too.

Nell: Rupert is a comfort to have around. He is a loyal friend and a support to us all.

Me: I’m not sure Myfanwy is going to be very happy about this.

Nell: We think Myfanwy may have reported them in the first place, so I’m afraid she has herself to blame. You eat what you grow.

Me: Don’t you mean reap what you sow?

Nell: No.

Me: Ok. Sorry.