Marvin is on holiday

Me: You look happy. Have you had two breakfasts again?

Nell: Very droll. A dippy egg with soldiers and a nice cup of Earl Grey was quite sufficient thank you.

Me: So what’s made you smile?

Nell: I’ve just heard from young Marvin in Canada.

Me: I thought he was on holiday at the lake with Chris and Shannon.

Nell: He is. He sent us some photos on WoofsApp.

Me: Oh look. It’s Rhubarb the beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog.

Nell: Yes. David was especially delighted to see her.

Me: Was he now?

Nell: Stop that. David and Rhu are just friends. He has something of the mountain dog about him, doesn’t he?

Me: Yes. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Marvin says he is learning to swim.

Me: Dear pup. Look at his little face staring out of the window.

Nell: Yes. It is certainly a very beautiful place.

Me: I would be staring out of the window all the time if I was there.

Nell: I know you would.

Me: One of the best swims I ever had was in a Canadian lake. The water was like velvet.

Nell: Talking of velvet. Have you seen Gladys this morning?

Me: I saw her at her Glide with Gladys class earlier.

Nell: What was she wearing?

Me: Lycra.

Nell: Well, she’s dressed nose to paw in velvet now.

Me: Why?

Nell: That’s exactly what I said. Velvet is most unsuitable for summer. The Cat is behind this. Mark my paws.

Me: What did she say?

Nell: ‘One must Dress to Impress, Nell.’

Me: Impress who?

Nell: That’s exactly what I said. She just tapped her nose with her satin glove.

Me: Satin glove? Crikey.

Nell: Crikey? You do know this is 2020 and you’re not Australian, don’t you?

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Nobody is chatty on a Monday

Me: If I didn’t know better I would say you looked guilty.

Nell: Who? Me?

Me: Yes. You. It wouldn’t have anything to do with eating two breakfasts, would it?

Nell: Refusing Food is not something any self respecting Labrador would do. It’s the height of bad manners.

Me: You could have told Kev that I’d already fed you.

Nell: Kev has other things on his mind.

Me: Does he now?

Nell: And it’s Monday. Nobody is chatty on a Monday morning.

Me: True.

Nell: Anyway, the latest news is that Princess and Our Penguin are joining Benjamin on his travelling salesbird rounds.

Me: Really?

Nell: Yes. Our Penguin has been commissioned to make a series of documentaries so it fits in well.

Me: I didn’t know.

Nell: Yes. It’s called ‘Princess Investigates’.

Me: Don’t you think being filmed as well as trying to sell Gull No 5 is going to be even more stressful for Benjamin?

Nell: People are much more likely to buy on camera.

Me: I suppose so.

Nell: And Princess isn’t someone you refuse.

Me: Who commissioned the series anyway?

Nell: A mystery investor. The money has been transferred so we know it’s Bones on Friday.

Me: Don’t you mean bona fide?

Nell: Certainly not. It’s always Bones on Friday if a deal goes through. Everybody knows that.

Me: I didn’t.

Nell: Anyway, as soon as they’ve finished their pancakes they’ll be off.

Me: I bet you wish you hadn’t had two breakfasts now.

Nell: Why?

Me: You could be enjoying Poppy’s pancakes with the others.

Nell: What breakfasts?

Me: You see this is what you do.

Nell: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Me: You pretend to forget.

Nell: And you appear to have forgotten we were discussing Benjamin not breakfasts.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


David sings for his supper

Me: Was that Dave I heard singing with the Welsh corgi choir this morning?

Nell: Yes. David has a lovely rich baritone voice.

Me: Tony says he should get as much experience singing in public as he can.

Nell: Is ‘Food, Glorious Food’ really the right choice for Sunday songs, though?

Me: There’s nothing like a good musical and everyone’s hungry on a Sunday.

Nell: Yes. Poppy is cooking roast beef for Sunday lunch with Yorkshire puddings.

Me: Mutley’s favourite.

Nell: I know. The recipe is in the book.

Me: I do hope the book will finally be delivered here in the UK. Everyone is being so patient and supportive.

Nell: They are. We are nearly at 50 reviews on Amazon US.

Me: People are so kind.

Nell: We’re all in this together you know. Like family.

Me: Yes, we

are. I wish Benjamin wasn’t a Beefy.

Nell: We all do. I was talking to Rupert and he has an interesting theory about Benjamin’s allergies.

Me: What is it?

Nell: Well, you know how much better he was getting?

Me: Yes, he wasn’t sneezing much at all.

Nell: Then he suddenly went downhill when he started working as a travelling salesbird.

Me: Do you think he’s allergic to Gull No 5?

Nell: In a way. Rupert thinks he’s allergic to Beefies.

Me: But he is one.

Nell: I know.

Me: Well, he’s got to stop being one then.

Nell: I’m not sure he can.

Me: Gosh. This is the ‘Sound of Music’ all over again, isn’t it?

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Benjamin is like Maria. He shouldn’t be a nun.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: In the film the kind Mother Superior lets Maria go but Stephen Seagull isn’t kind.

Nell: And Benjamin isn’t a nun.

Me: No. Sorry.


Daddy’s girl

Me: You’re such a Daddy’s girl.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Look at your face. Sheer happiness.

Nell: Kev and I are simply enjoying our special time together.

Me: Yes, I know you are and I love to see it.

Nell: Sometimes you just need to get away from the crowds.

Me: I know what you mean. Far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Nell: There’s a little too much hustle and bustle at home at the moment.

Me: Well, there definitely seems to be more mackerel flying around.

Nell: You know perfectly well that mackerel can’t fly. Only salmon do that and only occasionally.

Me: Never mind. By the way, do you know why the llamas are wearing helmets?

Nell: You can’t ride a motorbike without a helmet. Do keep up.

Me: I didn’t know they had motorbikes.

Nell: They need them for deliveries. Knitwear Wolf can’t manage it all on his own. There’s been a sudden demand for cardigans

Me: Really? In summer?

Nell: The temperature has dropped and there is nothing like a light cardigan on a summer’s evening. It’s so wonderfully versatile.

Me: It is.

Nell: The Cat is thinking of putting on a fashion show. It’s hoping Sue can help.

Me: Tony’s wife Sue?

Nell: Yes. Sue is an amazing knitter. She can turn her hand to anything crafty. Unlike you.

Me: That’s a bit harsh.

Nell: But true. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. The important thing is to recognise what they are.

Me: Talking of weaknesses, Benjamin’s cough seems to be worse.

Nell: Yes. It’s his allergies and being a travelling salesbird of course.

Me: A travelling salesbird?

Nell: Yes. The Beefies have got him selling Gull No 5. Nest to nest. He’s exhausted.

Me: I didn’t know. Sorry.



Me: My Big Brave Beautiful Boy seems very thoughtful today. Are we running low on bacon?

Nell: No. Rupert organised a delivery from the Farm Shop.

Me: What’s wrong then?

Nell: David has Concerns.

Me: Is it because he can’t be an Old Gaffer? Only I’m sure Tony would let him join in now and again.

Nell: No.

Me: It must be Sally then. Long distance relationships are always difficult.

Nell: It’s not that either. Although, I do wish Sally lived nearer.

Me: Is it his weight? I know you and Harriet have to lose a few pounds but he’s in excellent shape.

Nell: Would you kindly refrain from discussing my weight please?

Me: I’m on a diet, too, Nell. It’s hard for us older ladies. As for the grey lockdown hair.

Nell: I’ve told you before, your greying hair should be worn as a badge of honour.

Me: Yes, I noticed you have quite a grey tummy now.

Nell: That’s quite enough. My tummy is not up for discussion.

Me: Apologies.

Nell: If you must know David is concerned about Benjamin.

Me: Why?

Nell: According to the cows, the Beefies are planning to take him back to Beefy HQ.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: A large group of Beefies in baseball caps were flying around the garden this morning shouting ‘Ben! Ben!’ and throwing mackerel.

Me: I bet Princess was pleased. Who’s Ben?

Nell: Benjamin, of course. You know how Beefies tend to abbreviate. Malcolm is Malc, Timothy is Tim and Our Penguin is O.P.

Me: Really?

Nell: Gladys is fine with Glads and Alejandro loves Al but Harriet hates Hattie.

Me: Well, fortunately Dave is Dave.

Nell: No. Dave is David, if you don’t mind.

Me: I bet they call you Nells.

Nell: They wouldn’t dare.

Me: No. Sorry.


Shanty Crews and Cows

Me: Did you see the video of The Old Gaffers on our page?

Nell: Yes. Tony was in excellent voice as usual.

Me: I love listening to sea shanties.

Nell: David still wants to join the crew. He’s discussing possibilities with Tony now.

Me: My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. I know he loves singing but I’m not sure he’s the right fit.

Nell: Didn’t you notice the cows in the video? If they can join in then so can he.

Me: I’m not sure they were invited.

Nell: Cows don’t care about invitations and they have no respect for social distancing either. They were eavesdropping as usual.

Me: Were they?

Nell: Haven’t you noticed?

Me: Not really.

Nell: They act as if they couldn’t care less. Chewing the grass. Staring vacantly into space.

Me: I think they have lovely stares.

Nell: And all the time they’re listening to every word you’re saying, ready to pass it on to their friends.

Me: Are they?

Nell: You must have seen the Gossiping Groups in the fields.

Me: I know they like to stand together but that’s just being sociable, isn’t it?

Nell: Sociable? Nonsense. Nine times out of ten if there’s a rumour going round it was started by a cow.

Me: I never knew.

Nell: The mistake they make is telling the sheep.

Me: Why?

Nell: Sheep can’t keep anything to themselves. As I always say ‘Never tell a secret to a sheep.’

Me: I’ll remember that.

Nell: Talking of sheep. I heard on the cowvine that even though theatres are still closed there might be a chance of some open air performances this summer.

Me: I don’t particularly like the sound of sheep.

Nell: Excuse me? What about Lady Baba? And the great Baba Streisand?

Me: That’s true. Sorry.


Where is Henry?

Me: This was a good idea of mine, wasn’t it?

Nell: What?

Me: Cooling your paws in the stream before it gets really hot.

Nell: It was until a moment ago.

Me: Why? What are you and Harriet looking for?

Nell: Now, I don’t want you to get agitated.

Me: What’s happened?

Nell: We seem to have lost Henry.

Me: Henry? I didn’t know he came with us.

Nell: Henry and Horst always join us on our walks. Do keep up.

Me: They do? I never noticed.

Nell: Yes. Well, that’s why Kev calls you Sherlock Martin. You never notice anything.

Me: True.

Nell: Anyway, much as I would love to stand around talking to you, Harriet and I need to find Henry.

Me: There is something sparkly floating over there. Can you see it?

Nell: Yes, it’s him. I never thought I’d say this, but thank goodness for sequinned bathing suits.

Me: I didn’t know woodlice could swim.

Nell: They can’t but they love water. That’s why Henry and Horst always wear life jackets when they’re out. Just in case the urge comes upon them to jump in.

Me: Is Henry ok now?

Nell: He’s fine. He’s drying off in my fur. This has happened before you know.

Me: Well, I’m glad he managed to remain calm.

Nell: Fortunately both Henry and Horst attended Princess’s Survival at Sea class. She taught them how to float until rescued.

Me: Yes, the important thing is not to panic.

Nell: Exactly. Would you mind escorting us home now, please? I think we’re all in need of a large breakfast and a cup of Earl Grey.

Me: I never knew Princess was running a swimming class.

Nell: What did you think all those animals in swimsuits were doing?

Me: I didn’t know. Sorry.


Can you smell fish?

Nell: It’s far too hot.

Me: Yes, I know it is. Why don’t you cool your paws in Princess’s paddling pool like the others?

Nell: No. Thank you. I shall wait until we go down to the stream later.

Me: There is plenty of room for all.

Nell: No there isn’t. The larger animals take up all the space.

Me: Just ask them to get out then.

Nell: This hot weather is bringing out the worst in everyone if you ask me.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: Haven’t you seen them in The Cat’s latest designs?

Me: If you’re talking about Gladys in her sequinned swimsuit then I think it suits her.

Nell: Gladys can carry it off but the larger animals need to be sequin free.

Me: Henry and Horst look very sweet in theirs though.

Nell: Lounging around the pool drinking Alejandro’s cocktails and being filmed by Our Penguin.

Me: Alejandro makes excellent cocktails.

Nell: Yes. Alpacas do. There was one who used to work in the bar at my favourite hotel when it was still open. His Margaritas were legendary.

Me: What about the llamas?

Nell: Llamas can’t be trusted to make cocktails.

Me: Why?

Nell: They spit.

Me: Of course.

Nell: Now, I don’t know about you but I’ve been smelling fish everywhere recently.

Me: We live near the sea, Nell, there’s always that lovely salty smell in the air.

Nell: I suspect the Beefies. They’ve been suspiciously quiet recently.

Me: Have they?

Nell: And it’s a Beefy kind of smell.

Me: Maybe it’s Princess’s new perfume?

Nell: What?

Me: The Beefies gave it to her. Gull No 5. It’s all the rage, apparently. Flying off the shelves. See what I did there?

Nell: Why didn’t you tell me before? This is serious.

Me: Sorry.


Poppy offers advice

Me: I think Poppy got a little too involved in the removal of the bees yesterday.

Nell: She was only offering advice.

Me: I don’t think the farmer’s wife wanted her advice.

Nell: Poppy is very knowledgeable you know.

Me: About bees?

Nell: Well, not exactly but she knew the area needed to be cleared so the beekeepers could get to them.

Me: Poppy stood in a plant pot and shouted.

Nell: I don’t think you are in any position to criticise the smaller members of our family for showing initiative.

Me: Maybe not.

Nell: You are a small person with big ideas.

Me: It’s a Welsh thing. We’re small but mighty.

Nell: Yes, and so is Poppy.

Me: The beekeepers were really careful , weren’t they?

Nell: They were.

Me: I think they were surprised when we all clapped.

Nell: They were shocked. They hadn’t realised we were watching from inside.

Me: I suppose it’s not every day you look up to see several dogs, a flamboyant cat, a flamingo, and two seagulls, one wearing a tank top.

Nell: Benjamin has a weak chest.

Me: Not to mention a turkey, an alpaca, a moose, a reindeer, a Canada goose, a penguin, a seal and two woodlice.

Nell: I don’t think they noticed Henry and Horst.

Me: You don’t know. Beekeepers have keen eyes.

Nell: Actually I think it was Rupert waving at them that surprised them most. I heard them say ‘Is that a wolf?’

Me: Was it his cardigan? Only you don’t expect to see a wolf wearing one.

Nell: No. I think it was his kind smile.

Me: He does have large teeth. It’s the Red Riding Hood thing. It’s given wolves a bad reputation.

Nell: Rupert has an excellent reputation.

Me: Yes, of course he does. Sorry.



Me: Look at the puppies in the sunshine.

Nell: I’m glad to see David is remaining alert. Harriet fell asleep during Sunday Songs.

Me: It’s easily done. I noticed all the Welsh corgi choir were in tank tops.

Nell: Yes. When they left home it was quite chilly apparently.

Me: You’re going to laugh but I thought I saw a Beefy in a tank top just now.

Nell: Was it sneezing?

Me: Yes, and I think it shouted ‘Sorry’.

Nell: That will be Benjamin.

Me: Benjamin?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Benjamin Beefy?

Nell: I don’t actually know his surname but he is part of the Beefy gang. He’s a friend of Malcolm and Timothy’s.

Me: Malcolm and Timothy?

Nell: You’re repeating everything I say again. Please stop.

Me: But Malcolm is a flamingo.

Nell: Yes.

Me: And Timothy is a turkey.

Nell: I am aware. I saved him if you remember.

Me: And Benjamin is an evil seagull.

Nell: I’m going to have to stop you right there. Not all seagulls are evil.

Me: I know. Susan is a good seagull.

Nell: Exactly.

Me: But Benjamin is a Beefy.

Nell: Not all Beefies are bad.

Me: I think you’ll find they are.

Nell: No. Timothy assures me that Benjamin would leave the Beefies if he could but he is too scared.

Me: Is that why he keeps sneezing?

Nell: No. That’s because of his allergies.

Me: Why is he wearing a tank top?

Nell: Rupert is worried about his weak chest.

Me: So Knitwear Wolf knows Benjamin too?

Nell: Yes. We all do. We met him after Timothy’s art class.

Me: You did?

Nell: He’s been going to classes for months. He painted the portrait of Henry and Horst in the living room. Do keep up.

Me: I didn’t know. Sorry.