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Dave is Meditating

Me: Dave’s upstairs on the bed with his eyes closed.

Nell: That’s what you’re supposed to do on a bed.

Me: No. They are closed in an awake kind of way. He’s not asleep.

Nell: Oh. He’s probably meditating.

Me: Dave doesn’t meditate. He’s not a meditating kind of animal.

Nell: Meditation isn’t just for cats and woodlice, you know.

Me: Cats and woodlice?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Are you going to elaborate?

Nell: Certainly not.

Me: It means explain.

Nell: I knew that.

Me: I never knew woodlice meditated.

Nell: Henry and Horst do it all the time. I’m surprised you haven’t noticed.

Me: I’ve noticed they can go a bit quiet.

Nell: Go a bit quiet? They are not exactly talkers.

Me: They talk to Dave.

Nell: David has keen ears. I’ve told you this before.

Me: Why does Dave need to meditate?

Nell: Sally is going back to London soon.

Me: Oh dear. Is her mission accomplished?

Nell: No, but Rupert and John are on the case.

Me: I thought not because Babycakes Gillespie is out there again.

Nell: Where?

Me: In the field with the llamas doing some kind of strange dance.

Nell: That will be Tai Chi. The llamas do it every morning.

Me: I never noticed.

Nell: That’s because you write in the mornings. You don’t notice anything.

Me: I noticed Dave meditating.

Nell: David is hard to miss.

Me: Sally is going to miss him.

Nell: Yes, she is.

Me: And he will miss her.

Nell: I know. Poppy is going to make him a nice bowl of goulash for his tea.

Me: He loves goulash.

Nell: Yes.

Me: But it’s not Sally.

Nell: Of course it isn’t Sally. What a ridiculous thing to say. Sally is a Golden Retriever.

Me: I know. Sorry.

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Tongue out Tuesday

Me: Harriet has the floppiest tongue I’ve ever seen.

Nell: Yes. She is very relaxed on the beach.

Me: I know. She’s a proper little water rat.

Nell: I beg your pardon? Harriet is a pedigree chocolate Labrador. There is nothing rat like about her.

Me: It’s just a saying. What did you think about yesterday’s antics?

Nell: I’m afraid Babycakes Gillespie is not meant to wear a wetsuit.

Me: No. It wasn’t very flattering. I don’t think he’s a natural surfer, either, but his boat was impressive.

Nell: I prefer a yacht myself. Speedboats are too flashy for my liking. Especially when they are driven by a gangster pug in a captain’s hat wearing sunglasses in October.

Me: Poppy loved the water skiing, though.

Nell: Yes. Poppy has great balance and she is fearless.

Me: Dave struggled a bit. My poor Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Water skiing favours the smaller animals.

Me: You don’t mean Henry and Horst?

Nell: Of course not. Henry and Horst are wild swimmers, not water skiers. Do keep up.

Me: Did you see Poppy holding on with just one paw?

Nell: Yes. Until she fell off.

Me: And that’s exactly when John and Knitwear Wolf arrived on their paddle boards like knights in shining cardigans.

Nell: I wasn’t sure about the cardigans, but I must say I admired the way John calmly paddled towards Poppy, scooped her up on to his board and paddled away with her.

Me: Babycakes was furious.

Nell: Yes.

Me: My money is definitely on John.

Nell: What money?

Me: Gladys has a bet going on who will win Poppy over.

Nell: Matters of the heart are not something one should place a bet on.

Me: Well, we all have, Nell, and John is the favourite to win. Sorry.

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Sunday Morning Antics

Me: What are Dave and Harriet looking at?

Nell: Have you looked outside today?

Me: No. I’ve been writing and listening to Sunday songs. The Welsh corgi choir are in fine voice today, although ‘My American Boy’ is a rather unusual choice.

Nell: Just look out of the window. I can’t bear to again.

Me: Oh my goodness. The Beefies are carrying a huge banner across the sky. It says ‘Marry Me.’

Nell: I know.

Me: I presume it’s for Poppy.

Nell: Of course, it is.

Me: It’s not like John to make such an extravagant gesture. He’s more of a ‘bended knee on a quiet walk’ kind of Doberman.

Nell: That’s because it isn’t John. It’s that wretched Babycakes Gillespie. And if you ask me, he’s chosen Sunday Songs too.

Me: Gosh. Do you think Poppy is going to be impressed?

Nell: She’s busy preparing the Sunday roast so I’m certainly not going to tell her.

Me: I agree. We haven’t had roast beef in ages. I love Poppy’s Yorkshire puddings.

Nell: That’s not the reason. It’s best Poppy doesn’t know.

Me: Too late, Nell. Poppy has come outside.

Nell: What is she doing?

Me: She has her sword.

Nell: Excellent.

Me: Why?

Nell: It shows defiance.

Me: I can hear a plane. Could it be the Royal Owl Force?

Nell: No. Owl Pacino is away on manoeuvres.

Me: Someone is jumping out of the plane. Thank goodness the parachute has opened.

Nell: This is ridiculous. My Sunday morning is being turned into an air show.

Me: It’s Babycakes Gillespie with a rose in his teeth.

Nell: How do you know?

Me: It’s being filmed and projected onto the big screen.

Nell: What big screen?

Me: The one behind the Welsh corgi choir. I forgot to mention it. Sorry.

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Hattie Button has Something to Say

Nell: That’s Hattie Button playing Cheeky Animal.

Me: Yes, and there she is with my sister Alex. It’s her birthday today, you know.

Nell: Yes. Hattie and I have been texting on WoofsApp.

Me: Have you?

Nell: Yes, she’s in my Young Animal Group.

Me: You have a Young Animal Group?

Nell: Yes. Marvin is in it and Tony the Postman’s Ollie, and Hattie Button, of course, and Frankie.

Me: Frankie the visiting Dachshund?

Nell: Yes. Sweet boy.

Me: Do you give them advice?

Nell: I do. They like to call me Auntie Nell.

Me: How lovely.

Nell: And no, you cannot join the group. You’re not an animal, and you’re most definitely not young.

Me: But I’m ever so good at giving advice. I helped Dave choose his breakfast this morning.

Nell: David always chooses a bacon sandwich.

Me: Yes, but he couldn’t decide between red, or brown sauce.

Nell: I hope you chose brown.

Me: Of course.

Nell: Anyway, Hattie asked me to write Alex a poem from her. Would you like to hear it?

Me: Very much.

Nell: ‘Little Hattie Button would like me to say

Happy Birthday to you, Alex, on your special day.

She loves you much more

Than biscuits, she said.

Or any of her dog toys

And even her soft bed.

Her most wonderful memory,

And this is quite true,

Is the day you chose her

And the day she chose you.

Some things in life

Are just meant to be

And those things are you

And your darling Hattie.

Have a marvellous day

Full of laughter and cheer

And huge love from Hattie

And all of us here.’

Me: Perfect. Happy Birthday dear sister. Next year we will celebrate properly together.

Nell: No tears. This is a happy day.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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An unfortunate incident with a cavalier

Nell: I think we should discuss yesterday’s unfortunate incident?

Me: I’d rather not.

Nell: I believe you had clear instructions.

Me: I didn’t open the door.

Nell: I know. Our visitor was most annoyed.

Me: I thought it was a test.

Nell: A test?

Me: You told me not to open the door.

Nell: To John. I told you not to open the door to John.

Me: Exactly.

Nell: My instructions regarding our visitor were quite different.

Me: I thought Harriet was joking.

Nell: Joking?

Me: She said ‘Nell says, if a Cavalier comes to the door, let him in. It’s King Charles.’

Nell: What’s so funny about that?

Me: Where do I begin?

Nell: It’s a sorry state of affairs when a dear cousin comes to visit all the way from Wales and you won’t let him in.

Me: Yes.

Nell: And you weren’t exactly welcoming when you finally met him.

Me: I was surprised.

Nell: You said, and I quote, ‘I wasn’t expecting a spaniel. Where’s your feathered hat?’

Me: That’s because I was expecting a man with a curly moustache and beard.

Nell: This is what comes from an overactive imagination.

Me: It was an easy mistake to make, Nell.

Nell: Charles was rather annoyed at the time but a nice cup of Earl Grey and one of Poppy’s scones soon calmed him down.

Me: I’m glad.

Nell: We explained about your funny ways and he quite understood.

Me: What funny ways?

Nell: You know perfectly well. The ridiculous thing is John had been here for ages before Charles arrived. Poppy let him in at once.

Me: She did?

Nell: Oh yes. She was delighted to see him. In fact he hasn’t left her side ever since.

Me: Well, that’s wonderful news. I had no idea. Sorry.

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You Had One Thing To Do

Nell: You had one thing to do. Just one thing.

Me: I know.

Nell: Say ‘Lovely view’ when you saw Knitwear Wolf and John striding across the field in their cardigans.

Me: Yes. Conker brown and Forest green.

Nell: That’s not the point. Then Sally and Harriet would come outside and admire John.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Knitwear Wolf said they must have crossed the field about ten times before you noticed them. John was so hot he had to take his cardigan off.

Me: Oh dear. The thing is that a leaf fell on Poppy’s head.

Nell: Good grief.

Me; She looked so pretty that I made up a story about her. You know how much she loves hearing my stories about when she was young.

Nell: This was not the time.

Me: I did notice them eventually.

Nell: Only when David asked you if you’d seen any llamas. And then you shouted ‘Oh no. I completely forgot to say ‘Lovely view’.

Me: Yes. Poppy gave me a look but Sally and Harriet came outside immediately.

Nell: I bet they did.

Me: They were ever so good at admiring John. Sally made a point of noticing how sensible John was to take a cardigan with him. And Harriet reminded Poppy that John always made sure she was safe and warm.

Nell: They can both be trusted to do as requested. Unlike some.

Me: Poppy pretended not to hear them but I know she did.

Nell: Now, John is delivering the papers this morning and nobody will open the door so Poppy has to do it.

Me: Is Knitwear Wolf unwell? Did all that walking give him sore paws?

Nell: No. It’s part of the plan. And he was wearing walking boots yesterday. Remember. Don’t open the door.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Tony offers his help

Me: Dave can’t stop smiling.

Nell: I know. Sally is here and Tony is finally back from his holiday.

Me: Yes. All’s well with the world.

Nell: Now, that is a silly thing to say.

Me: Yes, isn’t it?

Nell: I noticed Poppy looking a little warily at Babycakes Gillespie, however, so she may be starting to lose those mud splattered spectacles.

Me: You mean rose tinted. You see everything in a better light.

Nell: I mean mud splattered. You don’t see anything at all.

Me: Oh, I see.

Nell: No, you don’t. Anyway, Tony has offered us his help.

Me: What can he do?

Nell: Sometimes the offer of help is as reassuring as the help itself.

Me: True.

Nell: So, I happen to know that John will be walking through the fields this afternoon with Knitwear Wolf in a very attractive conker brown cardigan.

Me: Knitwear Wolf always looks smart.

Nell: No, John is wearing the conker brown cardigan. Rupert is in a forest green one.

Me: Oh, well that’s good to know. Although I’m not sure why.

Nell: I will be at my hydrotherapy session so you have been trusted to take my place.

Me: Gosh. How exciting.

Nell: You need to make sure Poppy is outside with you.

Me: How?

Nell: Sit on your lounger and write. You know Poppy likes to join you.

Me: But it’s quite chilly.

Nell: Get a blanket. When you see John, give the signal, and Sally and Harriet will nonchalantly wander to the gate and comment on John’s attractive appearance.

Me: Why?

Nell: So Poppy sees him in a new light.

Me: What’s the signal? A cough, or a sneeze?

Nell: Not in these Covid times. You’ll have everybody running for the hills. Just say ‘Lovely view.’

Me: Ok. Sorry.

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Naughty Nigel pays a visit

Me: Now, this is going to surprise you.

Nell: What have the llamas done now? You know they’ve started dancing on the hay bales.

Me: It’s not the llamas. Why would anyone dance on a hay bale? They are prickly.

Nell: Maximum exposure, apparently. Our Penguin has been filming them for Princess’s new documentary.

Me: I didn’t know she was making one.

Nell: Oh yes. It’s called Down in Devon.

Me: Is it about depression? Only there’s a lot of it about at the moment with the new regulations and the nights drawing in.

Nell: No. Stop jumping to conclusions. It’s about life in Devon. It’s supposed to be uplifting.

Me: I see. Well, the llamas are extremely uplifting so they are off to a good start.

Nell: Well, what is surprising then?

Me: Naughty Nigel is here.

Nell: Yes, I know he is. Sally wants to talk to him.

Me: So he’s come all the way from Buckinghamshire?

Nell: No. Your sister Charlotte is moving down to Devon. You know that.

Me: Yes, but she’s not moving in until next week.

Nell: Well, Nigel has been here all morning.

Me: I wonder what Sally wants from him.

Nell: Maybe she wants his help with Poppy.

Me: He does have winning ways.

Nell: Or, she wants him to befriend Babycakes Gillespie.

Me: They both have a touch of the naughty about them.

Nell: A touch of the naughty? Babycakes is a bounder.

Me: Babycakes is charming, even if you don’t approve. John is lovely, but he’s not exciting.

Nell: John used to work for MI5. You can’t get more exciting than that.

Me: Yes, but sometimes it’s not what you do, it’s who you are. Not all spies are as charismatic as Charlie.

Nell: He was unique.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Alice’s 36th Birthday

Nell: It’s an important day today.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Alice is 36.

Me: How can she be 36, Nell? My little girl.

Nell: She certainly doesn’t look it.

Me: No.

Nell: I’ve written a poem for her. Would you like to hear it?

Me: Yes, please.

Nell: ‘Darling Alice you are 36 today

We love you much more than words can say.

Even though we are living so far apart

We carry you constantly here in our hearts.

Your mother is wishing so much she could fly

To be with you and Faye Raine and dear Jonathan Sky.

But sometimes the things that you want to do most

Just can’t happen, so may I suggest that some toast

And a nice cup of tea might help things along,

And a slice of cake later and a bit of a song?

Have a wonderful day

Surrounded by love

From near and from far

And from those above

Who cannot be there

But would want me to say

They are watching over you

Every second, of every day.

So Happy Birthday Alice

Mother, daughter and wife

We will always be thankful

To have you in our life.’

Me: That was lovely, Nell.

Nell: There will be cake later.

Me: Is Poppy baking one?

Nell: Yes, she’s busy making pancakes with maple syrup.

Me: Oh yes, it’s Canadian Thanksgiving today.

Nell: David as an honorary Canadian is wearing a Mountie hat.

Me: Why is Dave an honorary Canadian?

Nell: Something to do with his status as a mountain dog.

Me: He’s not a mountain dog. He’s just big enough to be one.

Nell: Actually, we’re all honorary Canadians today with Chris living in Toronto. So Happy Thanksgiving.

Me: Yes.

Nell: It’s okay to miss Alice you know. We all do.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Charming Interrogation

Me: Dave and Sally sang a beautiful duet at Sunday Songs this morning.

Nell: Yes, although I’m not sure ‘You’re The One That I Want’ is very suitable for a Sunday.

Me: I loved it.

Nell: Gladys and the llamas took it too far as usual. Leather jackets and black wigs. I almost prefer their pyjamas.

Me: So what does Sally think about Babycakes Gillespie?

Nell: Not a lot, I suspect.

Me: He seemed rather taken with her. When he was introduced, his mouth fell open.

Nell: Most uncouth.

Me: And then he tried to sit next to her at dinner.

Nell: Until David sat on him.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Normally, I don’t approve of David sitting on guests but in this case I’ll make an exception.

Me: Poppy wasn’t impressed. I could tell by the way she plonked his mackerel on the table.

Nell: I’m not sure I would use the word plonked, but she did place his plate down in an angry manner.

Me: And it wasn’t cooked, Nell. It looked like something recently thrown at you by a Beefy.

Nell: Yes, I wondered why Babycakes was given raw mackerel when we all had grilled sea bass.

Me: Sally asked him, didn’t she?

Nell: Yes. She said, ‘So, Mr Gillespie, it would seem uncooked mackerel is your favourite fish. Would you care to explain?’

Me: I love it when Sally does that.

Nell: What?

Me: Her Sally questions.

Nell: Are you talking about Charming Interrogation?

Me: Probably.

Nell: It was one of Charlie’s skills, too. You find yourself telling them everything.

Me: I know. The things I’ve told Sally.

Nell: Excuse me? I thought I was your confidante.

Me: You are, Nell. I only told Sally about the bacon sandwich.

Nell: You had secret bacon?

Me: Yes. Sorry.