Home again

Me: Where is Poppy?

Nell: Outside on the lounger with David listening to Sunday Songs.

Me: Tell me again what happened.

Nell: Well, we arrived at the Imperial Hotel and were taken to our table overlooking the sea.

Me: Yes. Did you order the prawn cocktail?

Nell: Of course. It was delicious. There was a slight altercation on the larger animals’ table after David ate all the contents of the bread basket by mistake but more was provided.

Me: Thank goodness.

Nell: Dinner was delicious and when it came to dessert Malcolm appeared and whispered. ‘Follow the cake.’

Me: With what? A cheeseboard?

Nell: Don’t be silly. Malcom flambéd my dessert and left.

Me: Clever flamingo.

Nell: Yes. Then I noticed a huge cake being wheeled towards the ballroom.

Me: Weren’t you full?

Nell: I’ll ignore that. I managed to say ‘Shall we retire to the lounge for our coffee?’ in a loud, but nonchalant, way, so the larger animals could hear.

Me: Good move.

Nell: As we left the dining room we could hear everyone singing ‘Happy Birthday’.

Me: How exciting.

Nell: And that’s when the madness began.

Me: Surely not.

Nell: Poppy jumped out of the cake with a bandana around her head and a sword between her teeth.

Me: Like a ninja turtle?

Nell: I beg your pardon? Anyway, everyone screamed and Poppy started whirling around stabbing balloons and causing havoc.

Me: That’s what pent up anger can do to you.

Nell: The larger animals joined in and in the ensuing chaos we managed to get Malcolm and Poppy out of the hotel and Knitwear Wolf drove us home.

Me: What about Dave and Harriet, and Gladys and Alejandro, and the larger animals?

Nell: They travelled in the Whippets Institute minibus. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Nell has a Plan

Me: Is Harriet cooking bacon?

Nell: Yes, to raise David’s spirits. Tony just came to say goodbye. He is off on holiday for 2 weeks.

Me: Dave is going to miss him dreadfully.

Nell: We all are. Tony is part of the family.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Now, Knitwear Wolf is taking me out to dinner this evening.

Me: Is he now?

Nell: Yes, to the Imperial Hotel in Torquay.

Me: I wouldn’t have thought you were in a going out mood.

Nell: It’s where they are holding Poppy and Malcolm, you nincompoop.

Me: That’s a bit harsh.

Nell: We are going to free them.

Me: How are you planning to do that, Nell?

Nell: Fortunately I have a few tricks under my collar.

Me: Don’t you mean up your sleeve?

Nell: Certainly not. I shall probably wear a scarf and my usual Chanel but nothing with sleeves.

Me: What tricks?

Nell: Well, Knitwear Wolf is going to ask if he might congratulate the chef.

Me: Good one.

Nell: And I shall order a Crepe Suzette to be flambéd at the table.

Me: That’s a pancake, isn’t it?

Nell: Yes, with fresh oranges.

Me: What if they don’t have them?

Nell: They do. Today’s menu is online. Notice the clues.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: Prawn cocktail in a flamingo pink sauce.

Me: Oh yes.

Nell: Swordfish.

Me: Clever. What if your plan doesn’t work?

Nell: We shall storm the kitchen.

Me: But there’s only the two of you.

Nell: Of course there isn’t. The larger animals are on a table of six with Dave and Harriet.

Me: What about Gladys?

Nell: She and Alejandro are performing a contemporary dance.

Me: Where?

Nell: In the ballroom. Babycakes Gillespie is hosting a party. Do keep up.

Me: I didn’t know. Sorry.


It’s all about the scone

Me: There’s a rather beautiful red setter sitting in the kitchen with Dave and Harriet holding a scone.

Nell: Yes, it’s Dorothy from my reading group.

Me: Dave seems absolutely transfixed.

Nell: Well, he would be.

Me: I suppose he hasn’t seen a scone in a few days.

Nell: Have you seen today’s Daily Growl?

Me: Yes. Good photos of Poppy and Malcolm but why is Babycakes Gillespie in there?

Nell: It was his car. Anyway, back to the scone.

Me: I couldn’t help noticing someone had bitten into it but I didn’t like to say in case Dave had done it by mistake.

Nell: It wasn’t David, it was me.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: It was the only way to be certain.

Me: Of what?

Nell: That Poppy and Malcolm are in Torquay.

Me: Torquay?

Nell: Yesterday afternoon Dorothy and Pamela went to tea at the Imperial Hotel.

Me: Pamela the Pyrenean Mountain Dog? I thought she was on a diet.

Nell: Yes. But that’s not the point. Anyway, the scones were so delicious they hid some in their handbags.

Me: Naughty.

Nell: In fact Pamela told Dorothy that the last time she’d eaten a scone like that was at Poppy Martin’s.

Me: Poppy makes the best scones.

Nell: So when Dorothy saw the newspaper this morning she came straight here with the scone.

Me: Kind of her to share, but a day old scone? Not the best gift.

Nell: It’s not any old scone. It’s one of Poppy’s. I knew it when I tasted it.

Me: Poppy’s?

Nell: Yes. She and Malcolm must be at the Imperial Hotel.

Me: They could have told us they were going on holiday.

Nell: It’s not a holiday. Poppy is baking under duress. Babycakes Gillespie is after her recipe.

Me: Of course. Sorry.


What a Day!

Nell: David hates that cone.

Me: I know. In the night Kev and I decided to re-bandage his foot and take it off. He was so relieved.

Nell: I woke up with Kev asleep on one of the sofas downstairs.

Me: Yes, he gave up his side of the bed to Dave.

Nell: Yesterday was not a good day. Poppy and Malcolm go missing and Dave rips his claw and it has to be removed.

Me: My poor Big Brave Beautiful Boy. Has there been any news?

Nell: Now, I need you to be sensible.

Me: Why? What’s happened?

Nell: The Royal Owl Force found something this morning.

Me: No!

Nell: Calm down. It was the remains of Poppy’s picnic.

Me: Half eaten? Nobody leaves Poppy’s food.

Nell: No. It was Poppy’s cake tin and it was empty.

Me: There’s more. I can tell.

Nell: Yes, I’m afraid they found one of Malcolm’s feathers.

Me: I can’t bear this.

Nell: We discussed it at Morning Thoughts and it was agreed that we should alert the police and the press.

Me: I agree. We need all the help we can get.

Nell: PC Panda is on his way and the Daily Growl is sending one of its lead reporters.

Me: Good.

Nell: We need to choose some photos of Poppy and Malcolm.

Me: Yes.

Nell: In the meantime Knitwear Wolf is continuing his search on his motorbike with David.

Me: Dave is supposed to rest and no walking.

Nell: He won’t be walking. Knitwear Wolf has put a soft blanket in the sidecar and Harriet has made them some sandwiches.

Me: How is she coping with the cooking?

Nell: Let’s just say the sooner Poppy and Malcolm come home the better. Until then it’s cereal and biscuits.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Gone to voicemail

Me: Have Poppy and Malcolm gone to their Anger Management class?

Nell: Yes. An extremely impressive big black Mercedes arrived with tinted windows.

Me: Very gangster.

Nell: Yes, although the driver was rather a surprise.

Me: Why?

Nell: I wasn’t expecting a crow.

Me: Was it wearing a hat?

Nell: Yes. But that’s not the point.

Me: Did it say anything?

Nell: No. It was unusually silent for a crow.

Me: Not everyone likes to chat.

Nell: No. Malcolm wasn’t happy about it. I could tell. His feathers tend to droop.

Me: Oh dear. What about Poppy?

Nell: She was already in confrontational mode so she just got in and waved her sword.

Me: Did the crow react?

Nell: Not really. It just nodded and muttered something into its microphone.

Me: Microphone?

Nell: It was wearing one of those head sets.

Me: I know the ones. Hands free.

Nell: Exactly.

Me: But crows don’t have hands.

Nell: No, they drive with their feet.

Me: What about steering and changing gear?

Nell: They have beaks. It was probably an automatic. Stop fussing.

Me: Do you think you could call Poppy on her iBone?

Nell: What for?

Me: I don’t have a good feeling about this, Nell.

Nell: Good grief. You’re letting your imagination run away with you again.

Me: Please.

Nell: All right, I’m doing it. Do calm down.

Me: Is it ringing?

Nell: It’s gone to voicemail. They left a while ago so they’re probably in class now.

Me: Nell, the house phone is ringing. What’s the matter? Who was it? Tell me, please.

Nell: It was Peter the Afghan who runs the course. Poppy and Malcolm never arrived.

Me: What?

Nell: It looks like you were right to be worried. We need a family meeting now.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Who tastes first?

Me: Why were you four gathered around Kev?

Nell: He was making a cheese and tomato sandwich and we were waiting to see Who Tastes First?

Me: And who was it?

Nell: Actually, this time it was me.

Me: Why you?

Nell: Because it was my turn.

Me: How do you know?

Nell: We don’t. But Kev knows. It’s actually rather exciting and livens up the day.

Me: Not for the cheeseless participants.

Nell: Nobody is cheeseless. And that isn’t even a word, by the way. Everyone gets a taste but it’s all about Who Tastes First?

Me: Yes.

Nell: I was telling the puppies that it is a good way of improving Waiting skills and Dealing with Disappointment.

Me: Poppy doesn’t seem too happy.

Nell: She’s off to her Anger Management class again so she’s working on her Irritability Levels.

Me: I thought it was supposed to be about calming you down not getting you cross.

Nell: Poppy is one of the stars of the course. People expect a degree of short temper from her. She needs to be in the right frame of mind.

Me: Is poor Malcolm going again?

Nell: Of course. I think Babycakes Gillespie is even sending a car for them both.

Me: Gosh. Maybe we’ll get to meet him, or do you think he will just send one of his hit dogs?

Nell: Hit dogs? This isn’t a hit. His driver is simply taking them to class.

Me: Are you sure?

Nell: Yes. It’s a kind gesture and saves Knitwear Wolf from taking them on his motorbike.

Me: Well, I hope Poppy takes her sword and maybe Malcolm should take a whisk, or a wooden spoon.

Nell: A whisk, or a wooden spoon? I worry about you sometimes. I really do.

Me: Yes. Sorry.



Me: What’s the matter with you and Dave? Monday morning blues?

Nell: We’re most unhappy.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: With you.

Me: Me?

Nell: Yes.

Me: What have I done?

Nell: You have shown blatant favouritism towards certain members of the family.

Me: I have?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Did I give someone too many biscuits?

Nell: This is not about biscuits. This is about beds.

Me: Oh, I see.

Nell: Harriet and Poppy slept in your room last night.

Me: Poppy always sleeps in our room. On our bed, actually.

Nell: And Harriet?

Me: Well, Kev thought the barking might have been because she’s lonely so he suggested we allow her to sleep in the dog bed in our room.

Nell: I sleep in that dog bed.

Me: Yes, you do when I’m away.

Nell: Why would Harriet be lonely? She has me and David.

Me: Well, it worked. There was no barking.

Nell: How do you know David and I weren’t lonely? Maybe we were silently barking all night.

Me: Don’t say that. Anyway, it was Kev’s idea so don’t go blaming me.

Nell: As long as it doesn’t become a habit. Now, Poppy wants all paws on deck this morning as she’s planning the return dinner and isn’t sure what gangsters eat. David suggested lasagne.

Me: The Mafia eat pasta but Babycakes Gillespie doesn’t sound Italian.

Nell: Have you spoken to him?

Me: No. I meant his name. It sounds Irish to me. Maybe Irish stew and colcannon?

Nell: Is cabbage right for a dinner party?

Me: Maybe not.

Nell: I’ll give Bonio a call. He’ll know.

Me: Do you mean Bono?

Nell: No. Bonio. He’s an Irish Wolfhound. Wears dark glasses and sings with a band called ChewThrough. You might have heard of them.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Oh Harriet

Me: What was wrong with Harriet last night?

Nell: I don’t know.

Me: Getting me up at 3:30am and then Kev at 6am with her barking.

Nell: She’s outside now listening to Sunday Songs with Poppy.

Me: Good.

Nell: She knows you’re not happy.

Me: I’m just a bit tired.

Nell: Malcolm is feeling a little out of sorts today too, so Harriet is going to help Poppy prepare the vegetables for today’s roast beef.

Me: Will Dave be helping?

Nell: David is not to be trusted. Remember the Yorkshire pudding incident?

Me: They are very moreish.

Nell: A whole tray cannot be a mistake.

Me: I suppose not. Anyway, how did the dinner with Babycakes Gillespie go?

Nell: It didn’t start well. Alejandro was tired when they got to Plymouth and refused to wait outside.

Me: Fair enough.

Nell: So Malcolm had to ask Babycakes if his alpaca could join them.

Me: And could he?

Nell: Yes, but he snored his way through dinner which didn’t help the ambience.

Me: Was the food good?

Nell: It was all rather rich and served on gold plates. Malcolm prefers a leaner cuisine.

Me: What about Gladys’s contemporary dance?

Nell: Fortunately Alejandro woke up so he played his maracas.

Me: That’s a relief.

Nell: Yes. Babycakes was a little taken aback when she jumped on the table.

Me: Understandably.

Nell: We’re used to it by now, of course, but it is a little disconcerting the first time it happens.

Me: Do you think they’ll be invited back?

Nell: Let’s see how the dinner here goes first.

Me: Here?

Nell: Yes. Malcolm felt obliged to return the invitation.

Me: He’s not coming to Sunday roast today, is he?

Nell: Certainly not. Sunday roast is family time. You know that.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Jonathan Sky is Four Today

Me: I can’t believe Jonathan is four today.

Nell: Yes, it seems only yesterday that he was three.

Me: You’re on form today. Do you know that was the last time we went on the big beach?

Nell: I know, but we will be going back there in October when dogs are allowed again.

Me: Yes.

Nell: I have written him a poem. Would you like to hear it?

Me: Yes, please.

Nell: ‘Why are you dancing

With a balloon in your paw?

It’s somebody’s birthday

Of that I am sure.

It’s somebody special

But who can it be?

Shall we start guessing

While we drink our tea?

A cake shaped like a rocket?

That gives me a clue

That someone likes rockets

The question is who.

It’s a someone who knows

An awful lot about space

And planets and stars

And rockets that race.

If I shut my eyes tightly

And fluff out my hair

I can see who it is

As if I was there.

He’s surrounded by presents

All over the floor

It’s Jonathan Sky

And he’s turning Four.

His Mummy and Papa

And little sister Faye

Are all clapping their hands

At this wonderful day.

Granny and Nell

And Grandpa and Dave

And Poppy and Harriet

Are giving a wave.

They want you to know

They love you so much

All the way to the moon

And the planets and such.

Now, Two is quite lovely

And Three is nice, too

But nothing beats Four

So Happy Birthday to you.’

Me: That’s perfect, Nell.

Nell: Just like Jonathan.

Me: Yes. And little Faye.

Nell: Just like them all.

Me: Yes. I miss them so much.

Nell: Today is about celebrating Jonathan Sky and the joy of being four. So no tears.

Me: Yes, it is. Sorry.


Special Time

Me: My goodness that looks so beautiful, Nell.

Nell: Yes. Kev and I had one of our Special Times.

Me: Yes. I know you two do that now and again.

Nell: We do. It was particularly delightful because it was unexpected.

Me: I know what you mean.

Nell: He took me to hydrotherapy.

Me: Chloe says you are doing really well. I can see the difference in you.

Nell: Yes. I feel more comfortable in myself.

Me: I’m so glad.

Nell: After my therapy I was expecting to go home but instead he drove down to the river and we both paddled in the water.

Me: It is so lovely there.

Nell: Yes. We were able to spend some quiet, quality time together.

Me: Shooting the breeze.

Nell: Nobody shot anyone, thank you very much.

Me: It’s just a saying.

Nell: We’ve got quite enough on our plates with this gangster dinner.

Me: Did Malcolm catch any fish, by the way?

Nell: A few I think, but he always puts them back.

Me: Did you hear about the 8 foot tuna? It was on the local news. Some paddle boarders came across it when they were out paddling.

Nell: Yes. Her name is Tuppence. She’s over here on holiday.

Me: Tuppence? That’s an odd name for a tuna.

Nell: Why? What name do you think a tuna should have?

Me: I don’t know.

Nell: Well, then. Anyway, she was probably looking for Knitwear Wolf. She likes to join him when he’s out on his paddle board.

Me: Really?

Nell: Yes, between us I think Princess is a little jealous. Anyway, where was I?

Me: You were talking about your Special Time alone with Kev.

Nell: Be happy that we were happy. You’re behaving like Princess.

Me: Yes. You’re right. Sorry.