Making Do

Me: You three gave me an awful shock this morning.

Nell: That’s not a very nice thing to say. Most people would be extremely happy to see three labradors by their bedside.

Me: I’m not sure they would. Why do you have to watch me sleeping?

Nell: We were just showing our concern. Everyone else has been up and doing for hours and we wondered why you were being such a slugabed.

Me: It’s Saturday. Dave had his face right up next to mine.

Nell: Yes. That’s because David worries about you most. Almost as much as bacon.

Me: What’s bacon got to do with it?

Nell: We’ve run out. Knitwear Wolf is going to try and get us some more but he’s very busy today delivering tank tops.

Me: Tank tops. I haven’t seen one of those for years.

Nell: They are excellent for keeping tummies warm in the wind. Henry and Horst wear them all the time when they aren’t armoured.

Me: I thought they were waistcoats.

Nell: They are if you think about it. Only knitted.

Me: Yes, I suppose so. Anyway, I’m sure you’ll survive without bacon.

Nell: We had to make do with fresh farm eggs, lightly boiled, and soldiers made with Poppy’s homemade bread and local butter.

Me: I wouldn’t call that Making Do, Nell.

Nell: But you’re not David.

Me: You all ate so many bacon sandwiches yesterday. I’m surprised you want any today.

Nell: Don’t be silly. Nobody remembers yesterday’s meal. In fact we Labradors are exceptionally skilled at Moving On.

Me: If you mean pretending you haven’t eaten anything in days then I agree.

Nell: You know what they say. Out of sight. Out of mind.

Me: They are not talking about food.

Nell: How do you know?

Me: True. Sorry.


The Puppies are Three

Me: Lovely photos.

Nell: Where is your hat?

Me: I’m in my pyjamas, Nell. I haven’t even showered yet.

Nell: The puppies are three today. Hats must be worn at all times. The llamas are wearing sombreros and they’re in pyjamas.

Me: They can carry it off. Does Poppy need any help?

Nell: I would steer clear of the kitchen if I were you.

Me: Why?

Nell: There’s been an incident with a missing bacon sandwich.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: David said it was a genuine mistake and he hadn’t realised he was eating Harriet’s until it was gone.

Me: My Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Poppy is furious so they’ve escaped to The Barn. The larger animals have organised a birthday table tennis competition.

Me: The Cat’s bound to win.

Nell: I blame the sequinned bats.

Me: Anyway, I’ve written a poem because I know you’ve been busy.

Nell: Oh dear. Go on then.

Me: ‘What did you say? How can that be?

David and Harriet have just turned three?

Those dear little puppies are now fully grown?

Wasn’t it yesterday we brought them home?

We’ll need lots of bacon and pieces of cake

Because David is bound to eat some by mistake.

And music and dancing for Harriet and Jim

Despite social distancing she’ll want to see him.

And David and Sally will just have to zoom

Because she’s up in London and he’s stuck at hoom.’

Nell: Hoom? You’re not Scottish.

Me: I was stuck.

Nell: Go on then.

Me: ‘So Happy Birthday dear puppies

From all of us here

We want you to know

We hold you so dear.

Mutley is watching you both from above

So please know you are safe

And surrounded by love.’

Nell: Fine. But hoom? Really?

Me: Yes, I know. Sorry.


He’s back from holiday

Me: Honestly those two really are the best of friends.

Nell: Yes, David has been counting the days. He misses Tony so much.

Me: Everyone needs a holiday. Especially all the key workers like Tony who’ve kept us all going.

Nell: You don’t need to tell me that. I just wish Princess wouldn’t clap everyone who comes to the gate.

Me: It’s a seal thing, Nell.

Nell: I know but it’s loud and annoying.

Me: They don’t think so. The last delivery driver bowed.

Nell: Our Penguin filmed it so it’s probably trending again on YouChewed.

Me: Princess is building up quite a following with her videos. Maybe Dave and Tony should make one?

Nell: Don’t you think Tony is busy enough?

Me: They could sing a sea shanty. I know Tony is missing his crew.

Nell: They could certainly perform a few songs at Dave and Harriet’s party.

Me: Yes. How are the preparations going?

Nell: Gladys is party coordinator so expect the unexpected.

Me: I can’t believe they are going to be 3 tomorrow. It was only yesterday that we brought them home.

Nell: The invitations have gone out. Dress code is Smart Not Casual and hats must be worn at all times.

Me: Sequins?

Nell: Of course. Harriet wants dancing and David just wants bacon sandwiches.

Me: There has to be cake and ice cream?

Nell: Poppy is baking the cake and we’ve organised Mr Whippet for the ice cream.

Me: Mr Whippet? Do I know him?

Nell: It’s not always a him but it’s always a whippet. It’s an ice cream van. You must have seen it.

Me: I thought it was called Mr Whippy.

Nell: Don’t be silly. Dogs must be called by their full breed. You wouldn’t call me a Labby?

Me: No. Sorry.


It’s Charlotte’s Birthday

Me: It’s Naughty Nigel and the boys.

Nell: Yes. It’s your sister Charlotte’s birthday.

Me: Why isn’t Xav in the photo?

Nell: Xav is a cat.

Me: Don’t be so cattist.

Nell: May I read Nigel’s poem?

Me: Yes.

Nell: ‘Another year older, well, what can we say?

Except Happy Birthday dear Charlotte on this special day.

Boo, Seamus and I love you awfully much.

More than kisses and rainbows and butterflies and such.’

Me: How imaginative.

Nell: Kisses, rainbows and butterflies? Who cares about those? He should have said bacon sandwiches. That would be caring.

Me: Go on.

Nell: ‘We love you much more than that dreadful cat

Who left mud on the floor and a mouse in your hat.’

Me: I don’t think I’d like a mouse in my hat.

Nell: How do you think I feel about Gladys sleeping in my handbag then? She’s started doing it again, you know. Ever since Alejandro moved out to The Barn with the larger animals.

Me: I think I’d still rather have a Pomeranian in my hat, given the choice.

Nell: One has no choice where cats are involved. Believe me.

Me: Probably not.

Nell: ‘You are the sun in our little sky

Making everything better

Like gravy on pie.’

Me: It’s not the prettiest of images.

Nell: David particularly liked that line.

Me: My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy enjoys anything food related.

Nell: ‘Now, we know there’ll be cake

And lots of presents and fuss

And cake is best shared

With good dogs like us.

Cats don’t like cake

So I wouldn’t bother

To give it a slice

Just give us another.’

Me: Is that it?

Nell: Yes. Nigel ran out of thoughts. It happens when you’re hungry. Are you going to share that toast?

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Bees and Parmesan cheese

Nell: Those bees have to go. One minute you’re having a pleasant nap in the front garden and the next a black cloud flies in and you’re surrounded by bees.

Me: They are quiet now, Nell.

Nell: They can’t just swarm in and gather in a huge pile in the small birds’ tree.

Me: It’s not our tree. It’s the farmer’s tree.

Nell: It’s the small birds’ tree. They live in there. You can’t just invade someone’s home in your thousands.

Me: We certainly get our fair share of visitors.

Nell: I’m not talking about the llamas. They are just having a sleepover at The Barn with the larger animals.

Me: Are they?

Nell: Yes. It’s Book Club on a Monday and it often goes on until late so Monty suggested they stay over. Anyway, where was I?

Me: What book are they reading?

Nell: Ours of course. Although, goodness only knows where they got a copy. They’re like gold dust at the moment.

Me: Oh yes. I forgot to tell you. I heard from Gazelle and the books have arrived in the UK.

Nell: Excellent.

Me: They have to be unpacked but they are hoping to get them out to people by the end of the week.

Nell: I am extremely relieved to hear that. Our UK readers have been so patient.

Me: Our US readers have been amazing too. 41 reviews. I think we can get it to 50.

Nell: I”m sure the UK will manage that too.

Me: We have the best followers. I was in tears reading the lovely things they said.

Nell: We’ve no time for tears.

Me: What’s that in your fur by the way?

Nell: Parmesan cheese, of course. I was making a lasagne with Poppy earlier. Why?

Me: No reason. Sorry.


Being Yourself

Me: It’s a beautiful day today, isn’t it? Sunshine always seems to make everything easier.

Nell: Not if you are feeling a little worse for wear. Some of us would prefer a darkened room.

Me: Did you overdo it at the party?

Nell: Not me. Harriet.

Me: Harriet?

Nell: Yes. Didn’t you notice her still bouncing long after most of us had gone to bed?

Me: I didn’t. That’s not like her.

Nell: That’s the point. Harriet was not herself.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: We were discussing Being Yourself at Morning Thoughts and she admitted that playing the evil Morgan de Fay at the party meant she could be a little wilder than usual.

Me: Maybe that’s why she enjoys being a spy?

Nell: You might be right, even though David is the one who loves to dress up.

Me: My Big Brave Beautiful Boy isn’t cut out for spying . He wears his heart on his sleeve. He made the perfect Sir Launcelot.

Nell: Rupert says David has a heart of gold.

Me: He is a wise wolf. I’m glad he’s there for you.

Nell: He knows I miss my talks with Charlie and Mutley. Sometimes talking things through with someone can put everything into perspective.

Me: I certainly couldn’t manage without talking things through with you.

Nell: Of course you couldn’t. The mere idea.

Me: I just wish I didn’t feel like a complete mess.

Nell: That’s understandable. But now and again a complete mess is exactly what you should be.

Me: Really?

Nell: Sometimes you need to let go for a while before you start putting yourself back together.

Me: I’m not sure I can.

Nell: No. But I can. Putting you back together is what I do. You and me. Always. Remember?

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Poppy is Seven

Me: How is the birthday girl?

Nell: Enjoying a scone with Malcolm before the festivities start.

Me: The Welsh corgi choir were on form this morning.

Nell: Yes. Sunday songs had a distinct medieval feel to them.

Me: I liked their pointy hats.

Nell: They shouldn’t really have been wearing cardigans over their robes but Rupert insisted they keep warm as it’s unseasonably cool for June.

Me: He’s such a caring wolf and ever so handsome in his knitted chain mail.

Nell: Yes. I noticed.

Me: Poppy always looks good in a crown.

Nell: She’s decided to wear it all day.

Me: I found some sweet photos of you two by the way.

Nell: We were a lot younger then.

Me: I know but I just love them. You have such a caring face. You’ve always protected Poppy.

Nell: And I always will. Would you like to hear my poem?

Me: Yes, please.

Nell: ‘Now I overheard David just saying to Kevin

‘Everyone’s dancing because Poppy’s turned seven.’

‘ Seven?’ I said. ‘Now how can that be?

The last time I looked I’m sure she was three.’

‘No, she’s seven alright’, he replied with a grin.

And he put on his hat and started to spin.

There was whirling and twirling

And bouncing and bowing

And no sign of biting

Or raging or rowing.

There were biscuits, cakes and scones galore

And all sorts of treats you can hold in your paw.

Everyone was happy as happy can be

Because nobody argues with fearsome Poppy.

She’s funny and feisty and she never sits.

She’s our special Poppy and we love her to bits.’

Me: That’s perfect. I hope everybody does get on.

Nell: They will. Remember, Poppy has her sword and she’s not afraid to use it.

Me: Of course. Sorry.


Preparations for Poppy’s Party

Me: Why were you three waiting downstairs?

Nell: Kev closed the stair gate. He wanted you to have a lie in.

Me: That was kind of him. I have been sleeping badly recently.

Nell: I wouldn’t have woken you.

Me: I know you wouldn’t but Dave has a habit of jumping on the bed and checking I’m ok by shoving his nose in my face.

Nell: He’s a paws on kind of puppy.

Me: See. You called him a puppy.

Nell: It’s your fault. Anyway, now you’re awake you should look at Amazon US. We are up to 26 reviews so only 9 to go.

Me: That’s amazing. We have the best followers.

Nell: I prefer to call them friends.

Me: And you are right as always.

Nell: Now, preparations for Poppy’s party are in full swing.

Me: That’s exciting.

Nell: Obviously due to social distancing rules the bouncy castle cannot be made available to everyone at once.

Me: No.

Nell: Suits of armour and tall hats will have to be removed on entrance.

Me: Definitely.

Nell: The Cat has a large selection of costumes over at the Big House so choose one soon.

Me: I will.

Nell: David is going as Sir Launcelot.

Me: My Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: And Poppy has asked Knitwear Wolf to be King Arthur and me to be Queen Guinevere.

Me: Really?

Nell: She says we’re best suited to the roles.

Me: You are.

Nell: She will be playing Young Arthur and will carry Excalibur.

Me: There has to be a baddy.

Nell: Harriet will be playing the evil enchantress Morgan le Fay.

Me: She will love that. Darling Mutley was always Merlin.

Nell: That is why Merlin will be in our memories.

Me: How lovely.

Nell: They all will.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Our Happy Place

Me: Yesterday’s walk on the beach did me so much good.

Nell: A refreshing swim and sand under the paws is always good for the spirits.

Me: When I’m by the sea it centres me. It helps me to think and put things in perspective.

Nell: It is definitely your happy place.

Me: Yours too. It makes you smile.

Nell: Kev was right to take us there.

Me: I’m so glad we went to my mother’s grave first. I needed to talk to her.

Nell: I know you did. She is always listening, though.

Me: People have been very kind. We have some wonderful friends, don’t we?

Nell: We certainly do.

Me: All the comments and messages really helped.

Nell: And we have 23 reviews of the book on US Amazon so only 12 to go before they start promoting us.

Me: Hopefully it will arrive in the UK soon.

Nell: It will. These are strange times. We just have to be patient.

Me: I know. I just want to share it with everyone.

Nell: We will.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Now, we have a very important event coming up this weekend.

Me: We do?

Nell: Poppy will be 7 on Sunday.

Me: What are you planning?

Nell: Well, Malcolm and The Cat are organising Poppy’s party.

Me: I wouldn’t have put those two together.

Nell: It’s going to be based on the legend of King Arthur.

Me: Isn’t that rather ambitious?

Nell: Nothing is ever too ambitious for The Cat.

Me: True.

Nell: Poppy will be pulling a sword from the stone.

Me: Excalibur?

Nell: Of course. We shall all be in costume.

Me: I just hope there are no Bites at the Round Table.

Nell: That was very silly but I’ll let it go this time.

Me: Yes. Sorry.



Nell: I will do the explaining. Just leave it to me.

Me: Thank you.

Nell: Yesterday someone very dear to Sara and her family lost his battle with cancer and passed away.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Even though they knew it was coming the loss is devastating.

Me: It is.

Nell: Especially during this difficult time when you cannot be together.

Me: Yes.

Nell: And can only comfort each other from afar.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Tomorrow is also the third anniversary of your mother’s death.

Me: Yes.

Nell: So I have decided you need some time to grieve.

Me: I do.

Nell: And to just be with Kev and us all.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

Nell: No need for sorry. Not today.