Feeling good

Me: It was so good to see you enjoying your walk yesterday.

Nell: Yes, the grass was lovely and soft underfoot and there was a refreshingly vigorous cool breeze.

Me: It turned into a proper gale later.

Nell: It never bothers me.

Me: I hardly slept last night with all the noise.

Nell: Gales like to be noticed. Thunder and lightning are the same. I’ve told the puppies that the trick is not to give them the time of day and they will go away.

Me: Did I see the Albatross in the kitchen?

Nell: You can’t really miss it even if it wasn’t wearing a red tank top.

Me: There’s nothing wrong is there?

Nell: No. It popped in for a fish finger sandwich with Benjamin Seagull to celebrate his freedom from the Beefies.

Me: They make unusual friends.

Nell: Not really. Look at Henry and David.

Me: Why is it wearing a tank top?

Nell: It’s a little chilly today. Why do you think?

Me: I thought it might be because Benjamin always wears one.

Nell: You might have a point.

Me: You don’t think it has a crush on Benjamin do you?

Nell: Don’t start.

Me: Stranger things have happened.

Nell: Ain’t that the truth, sunshine.

Me: Did you just say that in an American accent?

Nell: Yes, I rather enjoyed it to be honest.

Me: You’re in a good mood. I think the hydrotherapy is helping.

Nell: Yes, I have to agree. I do feel a little lighter on my paws.

Me: That’s going to make everyone very happy.

Nell: Everyone?

Me: There are hundreds of people out there who care a lot about you, Nell.

Nell: You mean a lot about us. And we care a lot about them, too.

Me: Yes, we do. Sorry.


Brave Nell

Me: Oh my darling Nell. You were so brave.

Nell: Yes, I was.

Me: Chloe sent me these photos. She said you were very good but you kept trying to sit down on the treadmill.

Nell: It was full of water and I was going nowhere.

Me: That’s the whole idea. You can have a gentle walk in lovely warm water.

Nell: If I’m going for a walk at least let me enjoy the scenery.

Me: Chloe said you had a lovely lie down for the lasering part.

Nell: Of course I did. Having walked miles in a water filled box anyone would need a rest.

Me: I’m sure it’s going to do you such a lot of good.

Nell: Well, I am a little achy today but as you know I’m not one to complain.

Me: Not about pain, Nell, but you don’t like milky tea, or sandwiches with the crusts on.

Nell: I have standards.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Chloe said Labradors are stoic.

Me: Yes, she did. I can’t bear to think of you in pain.

Nell: That’s why we don’t tell you.

Me: I just remembered when Poppy pulled a muscle and we took her to the vets. He was examining her and he said ‘I know you are hurting, Poppy, but you need to let me know where.’

Nell: And she didn’t?

Me: No. She gritted her teeth and refused to show any sign of weakness.

Nell: It’s a Terrier’s Way. They never give in. We Labradors are more concerned about not worrying anyone, especially those we love.

Me: I wish you’d told me. When you suffer, so do I.

Nell: It looks like I’ll just have to put up with this hydrotherapy nonsense then.

Me: Yes.

Nell: You and Me. Always. Remember?

Me: Yes. Sorry.



Nell: I blame you.

Me: Well, that’s not very kind.

Nell: Pretending we were going somewhere nice and then taking me to the vets where I am manhandled in a car park.

Me: Kev was there you know.

Nell: I could tell he wasn’t happy either.

Me: You know you are very achy, Nell, and Chloe is going to help you. She is a physiotherapist.

Nell: You discussed my eating habits.

Me: You only have to lose a couple of kilos.

Nell: In a car park.

Me: They have to do the chatting outside, Nell. It’s because of COVID19.

Nell: But that wasn’t enough, was it?

Me: No.

Nell: I was led into a strange box and made to walk on a floor that moved.

Me: It was a treadmill and Chloe was with you all the time.

Nell: You watched through the window.

Me: I know.

Nell: And the box filled with water like one of those scary rides at Disney World.

Me: You’ve never even been to Disney World.

Nell: That’s as maybe, but you know what I mean.

Me: The water only came up to your ankles, Nell.

Nell: We dogs have hocks not ankles.

Me: Anyway, Chloe just wanted you to get a feel for it so you aren’t surprised when you go next time for your proper therapy.

Nell: Did you just say ‘next time’?

Me: This is something you are going to need to do regularly until you are more comfortable.

Nell: Will there be lasering?

Me: Yes. Do you remember how much better you felt afterwards? You were running around like a spring chicken.

Nell: I felt better because it was over and I am certainly not a chicken.

Me: No.

Nell: So when is the next time, then?

Me: This afternoon. Sorry.


Water under the bowl

Me: I know you’re watching me, Nell.

Nell: I’m doing nothing of the sort.

Me: You’re hiding by the stair gate.

Nell: I am merely enjoying some peace and quiet.

Me: At the bottom of the stairs?

Nell: Why not?

Me: So it has nothing to do with roast beef sandwiches?

Nell: Of course not.

Me: Only it’s funny how you all gather when there is food around.

Nell: The kitchen is the hub of the house. Everyone knows that. Now, how is the Birthday Boy this morning?

Me: Very touched by the lovely birthday wishes from everyone. That was quite a party.

Nell: Yes. It never ceases to amaze me how light the larger animals are on their hooves.

Me: It was good of Laberace to bring his piano.

Nell: It goes everywhere with him.

Me: I bet he wishes he played guitar.

Nell: Why?

Me: It was a joke, Nell. Easier to carry.

Nell: Talking of carrying, did David just walk past carrying someone in my handbag?

Me: Yes. Benjamin. I’m afraid he’s a little bit the worse for wear this morning so my darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy is looking after him.

Nell: I’m not sure being carried around in a handbag is the best idea for a hangover

Me: Possibly not. We got a terrible review for the book, by the way, Nell. One star.

Nell: You can’t please everyone.

Me: No, you’re right.

Nell: Just move on. Water under the bowl.

Me: You mean bridge.

Nell: What have bridges got to do with it? You know perfectly well that water tends to get under the bowl.

Me: Yes, because you’re such messy drinkers.

Nell: That is not the point. Water dries. It’s Monday. A new week. Bowls can always be refilled.

Me: I see. Sorry.


It’s Kev’s Birthday



Nell: David says the bacon sandwiches are just right.

Me: Good. Is he taking the tray up to Kev?

Nell: Yes, with Harriet accompanying him to avoid any mistakes.

Me: Was that the Whippets Institute minibus I saw arriving?

Nell: Yes. They are joining in Sunday Songs this morning.

Me: Which songs have they chosen?

Nell: Happy Birthday obviously and some Fats Waller.

Me: ‘Your Feets Too Big’?

Nell: Exactly. Gladys has choreographed a wonderful dance for the larger animals to perform.

Me: Perfect.

Nell: Would you like to hear my poem?

Me: Very much.

Nell: ‘Happy Birthday Dear Kev

You bring us such joy.

You make us so happy

You dear Birthday Boy.

Although Boy is a slight exaggeration

That’s true

As only Sara

Is older than you.’

Me: That’s a bit unkind, Nell. I’m only older by a few months.

Nell: Truth hurts. May I continue?

Me: Yes.

Nell: ‘Words cannot express

The love that we feel

For you

Our dear Kev

From woodlouse to seal.’

Me: Nicely inclusive.

Nell: I thought so.

‘Times have been tough

We have laughed

We have cried

But we can face anything

With you by our side.

So let’s give a shout

To the heavens above

Happy Birthday dear Kev

You’re surrounded by love.’

Me: Perfect.

Nell: I meant every word.

Me: The Welsh corgi choir have arrived. Look at them all gathering on the hill.

Nell: What are those llamas wearing?

Me: Wellington boots. So what’s the plan after the singing?

Nell: Poppy is preparing Roast beef with all the trimmings for lunch and a late afternoon tea as people will need time to recover.

Me: We will.

Nell: Dancing is from 7pm and Carriages at 10pm.

Me: Carriages?

Nell: You can’t expect anyone to drive.

Me: Of course not. Sorry.




Me: Any news on Benjamin and Henry?

Nell: No. Princess and Our Penguin came back. She circled Drake’s Island for hours but there was no sign. She’s exhausted.

Me: Brave seal.

Nell: David is beside himself with worry. He only had two boiled eggs this morning and no cereal.

Me: He thinks it’s his fault. My poor Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: He and Harriet have gone down to the front gate to check for any incoming seagulls in the hope that Benjamin has managed to get away.

Me: Have you seen Our Penguin’s video?

Nell: Yes. I’m afraid so.

Me: Tell me.

Nell: On landing Benjamin and Henry were immediately accosted by a battalion of Beefies.

Me: That’s not a very nice welcome.

Nell: It got worse. They grabbed his hat and stamped on it.

Me: But Henry was hiding in the hat.

Nell: Fortunately Henry leapt out and managed to hide in Benjamin’s feathers. All that Gliding with Gladys is coming in useful.

Me: Are we sure?

Nell: Yes. Henry wasn’t fit at all until he started her classes.

Me: No. I mean sure that Henry is safe?

Nell: Benjamin was still wired at that point so Henry was able to send news to Horst.

Me: What happened next?

Nell: A particularly large Beefy with a broken beak and a leather jacket started emptying Benjamin’s rucksack.

Me: Not the rock cakes?

Nell: Yes, and the stale baguette.

Me: So Benjamin was weaponless?

Nell: Quite. Then the thuggish Beefy said ‘Stale food? Well, Tank Top Tiddler. We’d better take you to the boss. You’ve got some explaining to do.’

Me: Tank Top Tiddler? I know Benjamin is quite a small seagull but that’s just unkind.

Nell: That’s not the point. We’ve heard nothing since then.

Me: Oh dear. Sorry.



Me: It was lovely to meet Victoria from Schiffer Publishing and her partner Guy, wasn’t it?

Nell: David took it too far again.

Me: You were excited, too.

Nell: I didn’t actually climb on top of them though, did I?

Me: They didn’t mind.

Nell: And Harriet wasn’t much better. Who does Zoomies around the garden when people are trying to talk?

Me: It was rather funny. She just tucked her tail between her legs and started dashing around.

Nell: And then David chased her.

Me: You weren’t entirely innocent, Nell. You barked.

Nell: Someone had to tell them to calm down.

Me: Well, fortunately Victoria and Guy found it funny.

Nell: Yes, they were most understanding. Not everyone appreciates being climbed on by a giant Labrador.

Me: Victoria was particularly delighted to meet you all as she is working so hard on promoting the book.

Nell: I noticed you signing books for her.

Me: Do you realise they were our first visitors in five months?

Nell: It’s been a very long time.

Me: Sometimes I wonder if it will ever end.

Nell: We are very lucky to have such wonderful supporters. Let’s concentrate on that.

Me: I know. All those kind messages and comments. Wonderful.

Nell: Now, Benjamin can’t live at Beefy Towers any longer.

Me: Why not?

Nell: The Beefies have cast him out and are calling him a traitor.

Me: That’s because he helped show the world what a villainous villain Stephen Seagull really is.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Benjamin will have to come and live with us.

Nell: Malcolm and Susan are happy to take him on as a lodger.

Me: Is there room at The Nest?

Nell: Yes, Walter Pigeon’s brother Wayne has been building them an extension. Didn’t you notice?

Me: No. Sorry.


David intervenes

Me: You look tired.

Nell: I’ve just seen the video.

Me: Did Our Penguin manage to get onto Drake’s Island disguised as a puffin?

Nell: Yes, but unfortunately it was raining so his beak started to lose colour and go rather floppy.

Me: Did anyone notice?

Nell: Yes, so he told them to keep their distance as he had Rotting Beak.

Me: Clever. Was the Sea Rescue team nonchalantly circling the island?

Nell: I’m afraid the larger animals weren’t nonchalant at all. I don’t know why Alejandro said he could sail.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Gladys had to climb into the crow’s nest because it was so rainy they couldn’t see.

Me: Wasn’t the crow part of the Air Rescue team?

Nell: It’s not a real crow’s nest. They shouldn’t have taken the llamas with them, of course.

Me: Why?

Nell: Everyone knows llamas are useless at sea. Anyway, the next thing we see is Benjamin in some kind of tussle with Stephen Seagull.

Me: Was Benjamin fighting him?

Nell: Not intentionally but apparently a loose thread from his tank top got caught on Stephen’s stick and when he tried to pull it free Stephen fell over.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Stephen tore off his eye patch and started attacking Benjamin.

Me: Shocking.

Nell: That’s when Air Rescue got involved.

Me: How?

Nell: The Albatross caused a diversion and David intervened.

Me: Dave?

Nell: Yes. Beefies are terrified of Albatrosses so they flew for cover.

Me: Cowardly rascals.

Nell: Poppy was able to lower David onto the island from her helicopter. He scooped up Benjamin and Henry and she flew them all to safety.

Me: Gosh. I’m exhausted just hearing about it.

Nell: Well, don’t be. It’s Kev’s birthday tomorrow and we’ve got a party to organise.

Me: Yes. Sorry.



Me: Why are you and Poppy hiding?

Nell: We are demonstrating Going Under Cover. I am a tablecloth and Poppy is a cushion.

Me: I don’t think it means hiding under something, Nell.

Nell: That’s where you’re wrong. Sometimes it does. Insects are masters of this.

Me: A bit too often for my liking.

Nell: Anyway, Our Penguin has bravely agreed to go undercover to Drake’s Island so he can do some secret filming.

Me: How is he going to do that?

Nell: Disguised as a puffin.

Me: A puffin?

Nell: Yes. The Cat has made him a wonderful false beak. Princess and Knitwear Wolf are taking him to the island now.

Me: Is there any point? Couldn’t he just stay a penguin?

Nell: There are no penguins on Drake’s Island. Do keep up.

Me: There aren’t any puffins either.

Nell: Wrong again. There are plenty of puffins on Lundy Island.

Me: But that’s in North Devon and Drake’s Island is in the South.

Nell: Have you never taken a wrong turning? He’s a lost puffin.

Me: I see.

Nell: Now, according to Henry, the Beefies are having a picnic this afternoon on the island so Benjamin is going to use the opportunity to provoke Stephen Seagull.

Me: Is that really a good idea? He could get nasty.

Nell: That’s what we want. If Our Penguin can film it then we can prove what a nasty piece of work Stephen really is.

Me: But how will they all escape?

Nell: When Benjamin gives the sign the Albatross will cause a diversion and everyone will swoop in.

Me: Hang on. Didn’t I see the Albatross in the kitchen?

Nell: The Air Rescue team aren’t flying in until later. Sea Rescue will circle the island nonchalantly until they arrive.

Me: Oh. Sorry.


News from Drake’s Island

Me: Have you seen the kitchen?

Nell: Why? Is it in a mess?

Me: No. It’s full of birds.

Nell: Of course it is. I hope you didn’t disturb them.

Me: I just made myself a quick cup of tea and Malcolm buttered me some toast. Nobody seemed to mind.

Nell: Good.

Me: You’re going to laugh but I thought I saw an albatross in the large bird corner.

Nell: You can’t exactly miss him.

Me: Oh, so it really was one?

Nell: Yes, now did they seem busy?

Me: Very. It was awfully noisy.

Nell: Excellent. We need them to get everything sorted before the other animals arrive.

Me: What’s going on, Nell? Are they planning a picnic?

Nell: A picnic? Are you not aware that Benjamin and Horst are stranded on Drake’s Island at the mercy of an evil band of Beefies?

Me: Yes, I know but Poppy says you should always take a picnic because You Never Know.

Nell: True.

Me: So what’s going on?

Nell: Henry managed to contact Horst and help is needed.

Me: How did Henry do that?

Nell: On the Insectnet. They have quite a good signal apparently.

Me: That’s a relief.

Nell: Unfortunately Benjamin’s wire got a little bit crumpled but Henry has managed to fix it with some sticky tape.

Me: Where on earth did he get that from?

Nell: His rucksack I expect. That’s not the point.

Me: No.

Nell: Owl Pacino and Tawny Tim are coordinating the Air Rescue team.

Me: Right.

Nell: And Knitwear Wolf is leading the Sea side of the operation.

Me: I thought he was more of a land animal.

Nell: He is a wolf and he has a paddle board.

Me: Fair enough.

Nell: Wolves are excellent swimmers. Everyone knows that.

Me: Yes. Sorry.